Machulski, Juliusz

   Director and scriptwriter for all his films and producer of several popular films directed by other filmmakers. A former leading actor in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Personnel (1975), Machulski started his successful filmmaking career at the beginning of the 1980s with Vabank (Va banque, 1982), a retro-gangster comedy influenced by American films such as The Sting (1973). The film tells the story of professional safecracker Kwinto (Jan Machulski, the director's father), who avenges a betrayal by his former partner—a respected banker who convinced Kwinto to rob his bank to cover up misappropriations but then called the police. In this film and its sequel, Va banque II (Vabank II, 1985), Machulski referred to Western cinema rather than a national context, to cinema conventions rather than life "as it is." His next film, Sex Mission (Seksmisja, 1984), was a science fiction farce with some clear references to gender politics in Poland and the Polish political reality. In Deja vu (1989), one of his best films, Machulski employed pastiche as a dominant form of expression. Set in 1925, Deja vu tells the story of Johnny Pollack (Jerzy Stuhr), an American gangster of Polish origin sent by mobsters from Chicago to Odessa. In the most famous sequence, frequently cited by scholars, Johnny Pollack, who is pursuing another gangster, finds himself on the steps of Odessa during Sergei Eisenstein's shooting of Battleship Potemkin (1925).
   The most popular films by Machulski, from Va banque to his box-office successes in the 1990s—Kiler (1997) and its 1999 sequel, Kiler 2 (Kiler-ów 2-óch), both starring Cezary Pazura—were inspired by American genre cinema. The commercial and critical success of these films in Poland relied on yet another important ingredient: formulaic structures that were saturated with numerous references to Polish politics and everyday life. This was also evident in his Girl Guide, winner of the 1995 Festival of Polish Films, which employs elements of Hollywood genre cinema but fuses them with a distinctly Polish idiom. When Machulski tried to move to the realm of art cinema, as he did with his historical drama Squadron (Szwadron, 1992), the result was less convincing.
   In recent years, Machulski maintained popularity with his bitter comedy on the state of Polish film industry, Super Production (Superprodukcja, 2002), and a stylish heist film set in Kraków, Vinci (2004). Machulski continues to head the film studio Zebra in Warsaw, which he founded in 1988, and where he produced a number of well-received films, including those directed by Jerzy Stuhr, Marek Koterski, and Krzysztof Krauze. Since 2003 Machulski has also been President of the Polish Film Academy.
   Other films: King-size (Kingsajz, 1987), V.I.P (1991), Mothers, Wives, Lovers (Matki, Zony, kochanki, TV series, part 1 in 1995, part 2 in 1998), Money Is Not Everything (Pieniądze to nie wszystko, 2001).
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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