Review: ‘One Night in One City’

Intricate stop-motion animation is brought to bear on a trio of bleak, surreal parables in the dyspeptic horror toon "One Night in One City."

Intricate stop-motion animation is brought to bear on a trio of bleak, surreal parables in the dyspeptic horror toon “One Night in One City.” Fastidiously, imaginatively detailed model work springs from the mind of 48-year-old animator Jan Balej (seg director for Jan Werich tribute pic “Fimfarum 2”). At the far deep end of the most adult pool, item is suitable for specialty fests, midnight sidebars, liberal-minded cablers and avant-garde DVD labels.

In a faded apartment block (stories were inspired by Prague’s boho Zizkov neighborhood), various characters with heads like misshapen potatoes indulge in hobbies such as dead insect circuses, urban bear hunts, pet cremations and donkey worship. Later, a fish and a tree share the Christmas holiday. Finally, two drunks go on a nocturnal thrill ride. Style and content owe a debt to Czech pioneers Jiri Trinka and Jan Svankmajer (not to mention the brothers Quay), but it’s doubtful they ever realized a zonked-out longhair snorting ants along with his white powder. Pic was produced sans state TV coin over six years at a cost of nearly $700,000. Voicings consist of mumbles and grunts.

One Night in One City

Czech Republic

Production

A Falcon release (in the Czech Republic) of a Hafan Film, Maur Film production. (International sales: Maur Film, Prague.) Produced by Viktor Mayer. Directed by Jan Balej. Screenplay, Balej, Ivan Arsenyev.

Crew

Camera (color), Miloslav Spala; editor, Magda Sandersova; music, Tadeas Vercak; art director, Balej; animation, Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly. Reviewed on DVD, Karlovy Vary, June 29, 2007. (In Karlovy Vary Film Festival -- Original title: Jedne noci v jednom meste. Running time: 78 MIN. Voices: Jan Novotny, Vaclav Poul, Jiri Labus.
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