One Big Vaudeville Casting Couch

02/03/2010 10:53 AM |


Today, the Walter Reade Theater kicks off a series on Polish film spanning the late 70s to the rise of Solidarity and the fall of Communism in 1989, from directors both famous (Kieslowski, Wajda, Holland) and lesser-known, including the opening film, this afternoon and evening, Feliks Falk’s Top Dog:

In the wake of Poland’s Consumer Communism, a bureaucrat (Jerzy Stuhr) does whatever it takes—sex, lies, violence—to emcee a New Years event. Where Fantomas and Dr. Mabuse shape-shifted to rule society, this adapter, illustrating social normality of the time and place wherever he goes, wants to be its greatest creation. Suggesting a satire on petty ambition, masturbatory celebrity culture/social implosion a la King of Comedy or Tony Manero, Top Dog, gorgeously shot in the constant deep-space and saturated, chintzy reds and yellows of an endless striptease revue, operates as top-to-bottom social documentary of the cheap, mass-produced delusions a country abides by to maintain leisure at all cost: communist Poland as one big vaudeville casting couch.