Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) | Chicago Reader

Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)

109 minutes

A troubled everyman journeys through the labyrinths of his own mind in this "psychoanalytic comedy" (2010) by the influential Czech animator Jan Svankmajer (Alice, Faust). The director appears onscreen in cutout form to explain that his combination of cutouts (for the long and medium shots) and live action (for the close-ups of faces and extreme close-ups of lips speaking) was necessitated by a tight budget. These two elements never really jell, but the animation offers plenty of Svankmajer’s primal, deeply disturbing imagery: nude women with chickens' heads; a businessman with the head of a bulldog who mindlessly humps a poodle he encounters on the street; blocks of office buildings from whose second-story windows crawl an endless parade of snakes, poultry, and other critters. If you haven't been on the couch when you walk in, you may be ready for it by the time you walk out. In Czech with subtitles.

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