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Before Tonight is Over - Before Tonight is Over(Blu Ray) [Second Sight Films - 2021]

From the mid-1960s Before Tonight is Over is a once suppressed Czech New Wave drama focusing in on one night in a Slovak mountain resorts nightclub. The film utilizers improvisation and multi-camera shooting, to create an intimate, at times unpredictable drama, that under the surface makes clever and knowing observation on living under a communist resume. Here from Second Sight, who of course are known/respected for their releases from the Czech New wave cinema, is a new blu ray release of the film. It offers up a great 2k scan of the picture and a few extras.

Before Tonight is Over (Kým sa skoncí táto noc ) appeared in the year 1966. It was directed/ written by Peter Solan- who was born in Banska Bystrica, Czechoslovakia, he helmed ten feature-length films, and fifteen shorts/ TV films. A few of his most known/ respected films are 1962's The Boxer( Boxer a smt ) which was set in a German concentration camp, where an escapee awaiting execution is spared when the commandant, a former prize-fighter, discovers the prisoner has amateur boxing ability. And 1965’s Prípad Barnabás Kos- a satire on the art's under Socialism, where a minor musician starts off playing the humble triangle, moving onto become a tyrannical orchestra director. Before The Night Is Over is a skilfully and rewardingly filmed picture- which moves between more formal shot set-ups, and loser-more creative scoping.

The film is set at a swanky underground ski resort bar somewhere in the High Tatras of northern Slovakia. With the film charting the whole nights unfold- key character-wise we have two twenty-something female clerks who have saved up for the break, and two twenty-something plumbers looking for love- and their banter/ trying to get off with each other takes up a large part of the film. But interweaved and darted through this we get interactions with a middle-aged contractor drinking away his workers' wages, a former major who became an alcoholic due to political persecution, and few other characters that drift through the club. The film's structure is decidedly drifting and loose- very much mimicking a night out on the town, and at points, one of the plumbers disappears for a length of time with little or no explanation. 

The performances are largely very naturalistic/ real- and this is clearly due to the use of improvisation, and of course the skilful acting. All of the cast, even those will small parts, are well placed and believable- but worthy mentions certainly go to Marián Labuda as one of the plumbers Milos, a tubby and shy man who tries/often fails to do the chat-up banter. And his buddy Kvetinka- a more self-assured, though still under the surface self-doubting  Youngman played by Stano Dančiak. there's Knowing barmaid Betka played by Valentina Thielová, and slowly-but-surely getting plastered foreman spending his crews' wages Baláz played by Július Pántik. The whole film is captured in well balanced/ moody black and white. Largely it features a compelling enough unfold- though it’s certainly a film where you need to concentrate on the dialogue/ how the characters interconnect/ link.

 
Moving onto this new region free Blu Ray, and we get a marvellous 2k scan- this is crisp and clean, with great balance and contrast in the black and white print. On the extras front, we get A Conversation About Peter Solan and His Film ‘Before Tonight is Over'- this runs twenty-seven minutes and finds two academics/ Czech film experts discussing Solan, and the film to hand. They give an in-depth/ insightful look at his career in general, before moving on in detail to discuss Before Tonight is Over- talking about what inspired the film, its location, themes, etc with some great on-set/ behind the scenes photos. Next, we get two shorts- first we High Tatras- this is from 1966, runs around eleven minutes and is a travelogue film regarding where Before Tonight is Over was based. And there’s Operation BL- this is from 1959 and runs at just over two minutes and focuses in on a man been arrested in a bar. Lastly, as with all Second Run releases, we get a glossy inlay booklet- this is twenty pages in length and offers up a good selection of new writing about the film, stills, and full credits.
 
 

Before Tonight is Over is a great addition to Second Run’s impressive back-catalogue of films from the Czech New Wave. With the company giving their usual care and love to the new scan of the film, and most worthy/interesting extras.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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