Up and Down

Chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the Oscars, this Altman-esque fresco by Jan Hrebejk (Divided We Fall) offers a provocative and entertaining satirical account of intersecting lives, classes, and subcultures in contemporary Prague. At first it seems to be about immigration, but eventually it becomes a wry commentary on racism and xenophobia as manifested in every reach of society, from the violence of soccer hooligans to the more genteel prejudice of intellectuals. Along the way Hrebejk delivers caustic ironies about the postcommunist world, though his movie is limited by the rather dubious suggestion that race hatred is a specifically Czech problem. The large cast of characters allows for many strong performances, especially Jiri Machacek as a security guard and Petr Forman (son of director Milos) as a young man estranged from his professor father. In Czech with subtitles. R, 108 min. Music Box.

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