The Complete

The Complete Kieślowski 2: The Scar

Travis and Matt welcome Jon Laubinger, host of fellow 25th Frame show Film, Baby, Film, to discuss The Scar, Kieślowski’s second feature-length film. The Scar was Kieślowski’s first feature film for theaters, as Personnel had been made for television. Although it was fairly well-received, including two awards at the Polish Film Festival, Kieślowski was extremely down on the film later in life, calling it “badly made.” It’s not uncommon for filmmakers to dismiss their early films – in Kubrick’s case, he actively tried to prevent Fear and Desire from ever being shown – and it’s not worth taking into account someone’s negative attitude about work made when they were much younger and, from their perspective, much less wise and experienced. Regardless of his own feelings for the movie, there’s plenty of value here for any Kieślowski fan, and the movie represents somewhat of a bridge between the director’s more documentary friendly aesthetic of his early narrative work and the magical realism of his later dramas.

We open by briefly discussing our relationship to Kieślowski’s films before diving into the movie, especially how Kieślowski presents his central protagonist, the film’s use of secrets, and its political intentions.

The Scar is currently only available on an OOP Kino DVD box and a DVD from Artificial Eye in the UK. It will be regularly available on the Criterion Channel when it launches in April. In light of this, our discussion begins spoiler free.

The Complete Kieślowski 1: Personnel

Season three of The Complete begins with the first full-length film made by Krzysztof Kieślowski, the made-for-TV 72-minute feature Personnel. We begin by discussing the director’s reputation and give a brief overview of his early life, time at the Łodz film school, and early documentary work. We also discuss the short narratives he made prior to Personnel, Pedestrian Subway and First Love, both under an hour.

Born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1941, Kieślowski died from failed open-heart surgery in 1996 in the same city. His birth and death virtually bookended the communist era in Poland, and his early documentary work presents this era’s tumultuous and dreary struggle. Personnel in many ways feels like the culmination of his early 70s work, and it kicked off his path toward one of the most heralded careers in cinema.

Note that Personnel is currently difficult to find – it appeared on Arrow’s Dekalog set, which is no longer available. For that reason, we’ve kept the first part of the discussion spoiler free.

Thanks to Julian Wass for the new (and old) opening music, Doug McCambridge for the awesome new logo, and Ericca Long for her soothing 25th Frame send off!

The Complete Supplemental Elaine May

Matt and Travis close out the season with May’s final film, an hour-long profile of Mike Nichols’s career. We start by discussing the special and Nichols’s career before closing out the season with a discussion of May’s films and her legacy.

Mike Nichols: An American Master

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S02E04: Ishtar

Matt and Travis tackle one of the most notorious “debacles” in Hollywood history, Elaine May’s Ishtar. We discuss the sad history of a modest film buried under a legendary backstory, along with the surprisingly entertaining product actually at the center of it all.

Ishtar

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S02E03: Mikey and Nicky

Travis and Matt discuss Elaine May’s first Criterion Collection entry, set to be released on blu-ray in January. We discuss the film’s shaggy filmmaking, the central performances from Falk and Cassavetes, and its place in both May’s filmography and the gangster genre.

Mikey and Nicky

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S02E02: The Heartbreak Kid

Travis and Matt take on Elaine May’s second film, the anti-romantic comedy The Heartbreak Kid. We talk about the film’s emphasis on character and how the movie upends conventions that had barely been invented yet. We also compare it to May’s former partner’s best-known movie and the atrocity that is the Farrelly brothers’ remake.

The Heartbreak Kid

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S02E01: A New Leaf

Matt and Travis kick off the new season of The Complete with Elaine May’s debut film. We talk about the tragic underrepresentation of women in the director’s chair during Hollywood’s “golden” and “New” eras, along with May’s unique path to her own career as a filmmaker, before discussing the many charms and sophisticated execution of the very dark comedy of A New Leaf.

A New Leaf

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S01 The Supplemental Kubrick

To wrap up the first season, Matt and Travis cover books and documentaries about Kubrick, while also touching on his unproduced films and their big takeaways from watching Kubrick’s work in chronological order.

The Supplemental Kubrick

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S01E12: Full Metal Jacket

Matt and Travis are joined by Doug McCambridge of Good Times, Great Movies to discuss Kubrick’s final war film, 1987’s Full Metal Jacket. We explore Kubrick’s larger purpose beyond the Vietnam War and the complicated moral landscape of the film.

Full Metal Jacket

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