The Nova Vina, aka the Czechoslovak New Wave, immediately garnered international celebration through films such as Milos Forman's The Fireman's Ball and Jiri Menzel's Closely Watched Trains. But the most confrontational of the bunch — in its anarchic form, content and disdain for propriety — was Vera Chytilová's antic 1966 sex farce Daisies, currently playing the U.S. in a restored Janus Films print that shows this weekend at The Belcourt. Deceptively blithe, it's a film that fights dogma and indoctrination with dizzy eroticism and an attack of the giggles.
Light on narrative but dense with new ideas, Daisies follows the exploits of Marie I and Marie II, a pair of teenage girls who, from the vantage of their tenement window, see a world that has "gone bad." Deciding that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." the girls decide to go bad along with it, wreaking drunken havoc in nightclubs, posh restaurants and in the hearts of men. Their madcap exploits are bookended by grainy WWII footage, framing their featherweight rebellion as no less valid a response to wartime horrors and the suppression of the spirit that succeeds them.