Movie Diary 5/13/2015

Jump (Tadeusz Konwicki, 1965). A man leaps off a moving train and stumbles into a village, claiming to have stayed there during the war. He says he’s being chased by somebody. A series of surreal and symbolic things happen, and at the climax the community comes together at the town hall and dances. With very little narrative momentum, this movie can be compelling and tiresome by turns, but its odd mood – conjuring up a variation on Last Year at Marienbad and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – is eerie. Everything that happens is underscored by a strangled desperation, a kind of fury trying to break out – it’s a film that could only have been made in an occupied country. And it makes all the difference that the man is played by Zbigniew Cybulski, who is perpetually called “the Polish James Dean,” although he comes across more like Mastroianni here, busy, bewildered, graceful. You know how there are movies that may or may not be your thing, but you gotta see them because of a single performance? Yeah, this is one of those. Two years later, Cybulski died at 39, jumping onto a train. (Seen at Edinburgh Filmhouse as part of the Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema series.)

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