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Critics reviews
Diamonds of the Night
Jan Němec Czechoslovakia, 1964
Diamonds of the Night, Němec’s startling debut feature, translates the author’s sense of imminent mortality into a vivid atmosphere of free-floating menace that whips up the novel’s mix of real-time experience, memories, and dreams into one heterogenous montage, eschewing any aesthetic cues to delineate the separate planes.
May 09, 2019
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It’s an almost unbearable work of suspense, and a sobering counterpoint to the vague, muted ennui that typifies the mood of what we might call a cinema of the comfortably oppressed. A need of exertion for subsistence is acknowledged in these films too, but its urgency is more often than not convoluted in a mutable haze of options.
March 17, 2017
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Its opening images—of two nameless young men sprinting desperately through a field, fleeing from a pack of invisible pursuers as gunshots echo in the near distance—waste no time building momentum or laying down exposition. The effect is startling: it’s as if the film has been playing for an hour already and we, its dozing viewers, were just now snapping back into focus.
November 06, 2013
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In 64 fleet minutes, we’re utterly and overwhelmingly immersed in a Jewish fugitive’s singular experience, from hunger pains to hallucinatory reveries. Nemec’s technique is as emotionally intuitive as it is masterful, purposefully scrambling past and present, handheld realism (a breathless opening tracking shot) and Buñuellian surrealism (fever-dreamed ants colonizing Jánsky’s angelic face). It’s a torrent of life—and cinema—in the face of death.
November 05, 2013
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This remarkable directorial debut (1964) by 27-year-old Jan Nemec is a bleak, alternately realistic and hallucinatory examination of four days in the lives of two young escapees from the Nazis; its mood of desperation and paranoia works a grim magic.
January 01, 1980
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