| This dark romantic slapstick comedy was the official submission by the Czech Republic in the foreign language film category at the Academy Awards.
An older Jan Dite (English translation John Child) looks back in hindsight to his younger days when he was an ambitious waiter at an old-world Prague hotel.
The sumptuous and surreal story, adapted from a novel by Czech literary lion Bohumil Hrabal, was directed and co-written by Jiri Menzel. It is a saga of opportunism, identity, money, sex and beer. The best way to describe the movie is "Forrest Gump" meets "Life Is Beautiful."
Ivan Barnev plays the younger version of Dite, combining Buster Keaton physicality with Marx Brothers zaniness. He delights in throwing loose change on the floor and watching well-dressed aristocrats kneeling down on all fours to pick up the measly coins.
He also displays a voracious sexual appetite, and skill in pleasuring women.
The movieís message is that money canít buy happiness.
Diteís goal in life of becoming a successful hotelier comes at an awful price in terms of lives lost and the destruction of a thriving society.
The decadence and elegance of the early 1930s are contrasted with the drastic changes that occur when Hitler rises to power. The movie is filled with memorable scenes. Servers twirling around the dining hall with trays piled high with delectable dishes perfectly balanced in mid-air. Eating, drinking and other forms of gluttony treated like a ballet. Naked female bodies decorated with gourmet food and sweet-smelling flowers or frolicking playfully in a swimming pool.
The lavish sets, top-drawer period wardrobes and the beautiful women are a feast for the eyes. The wonderful soundtrack has an affinity for waltz music.
The dialogue is in Czech and German with English subtitles.
Opening exclusively at the Tivoli in KC.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"