VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS (VALERIE A TÝDEN DIVŮ) (Jaromil Jireš, 1970)
136 Metropolitan Ave. between Berry St. & Wythe Ave.
Thursday, August 3, 7:30
Series continues select Thursdays through August 31
Nitehawk Cinema’s “Fashion and Film” series, presented in conjunction with i-D magazine, consists of four movies selected by fashion designers, each preceded by a short “Designers on Their Favorite Films” prerecorded introduction. It kicks off August 3 with Czech New Wave auteur Jaromil Jireš’s (The Cry, The Joke) extremely strange, totally hypnotic Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, chosen by Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters’s Creatures of the Wind. Based on the 1945 Gothic novel by Vítězslav Nezval (which was written ten years earlier), Valerie is a dreamy adult fairy tale, inspired by “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and other fables, about the coming of age of Valerie, a nymphette played by thirteen-year-old Jaroslava Schallerová in her film debut. Valerie lives with her icy, regal grandmother, Elsa (Helena Anýzová), in a remote village, where visiting missionaries and actors are cause for celebration. In addition, Valerie’s best friend, Hedvika (Alena Stojáková), is being forced to marry a man she doesn’t love. Valerie, who is in possession of magic earrings, is being courted by the bespectacled, bookish Eaglet (Petr Kopriva) as well as the Constable (Jirí Prýmek), who just happens to be an evil, ugly vampire who has a mysterious past with Elsa. Also showing an untoward interest in the virginal Valerie is the local priest, Gracián (Jan Klusák).
But don’t get too caught up in the hallucinatory narrative, which usually makes little sense. Characters’ motivations are inconsistent and confusing (especially as Jireš delves deeper and deeper into Valerie’s unconscious), plot points come and go with no explanation, and the spare dialogue is often random and inconsequential. And don’t try too hard looking for references to the Prague Spring, colonialism, and communism; just trust that they’re in there. Instead, let yourself luxuriate in Jan Curík’s lush imagery, Lubos Fiser and Jan Klusák’s Baroque score, Ester Krumbachová’s enchanting production design, and Jan Oliva’s weirdly wonderful art direction. Valerie’s white bedroom is enchantingly surreal, a private world in a darkly magical Medieval land beset by incest, rape, fire, murder, self-flagellation, paganism, and monsters, everything dripping with blood and sex. No, this is most definitely not a fantasia for kids. “Fashion and Film” continues August 10 with Gus Van Sant’s To Die For, selected by Adam Selman, August 17 with Sally Potter’s Orlando, chosen by Joseph Altuzarra, and August 31 with Douglas Keeve’s Unzipped, picked by film subject Isaac Mizrahi, who will be on hand to talk about the film and his career.