Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Prominent Russian Actress, Director Vera Glagoleva Dies At 61

Russian actress and director Vera Glagoleva (file photo)


Prominent Russian actress Vera Glagoleva has died at the age of 61, Russian news agencies reported on August 16.

Reports cited friends, relatives, and a Russian screen actors' guild as saying that Glagoleva died at a hospital in the United States.

The cause of death was not immediately clear.

Glagoleva gained fame in the Soviet Union for her roles in films such as Don't Shoot White Swans (1980) and To Marry The Captain (1985).

She directed six movies and also worked as a producer and screenwriter.

The last film Glagoleva directed was the 2014 drama Two Women, based on a story by Ivan Turgenev and starring British actor Ralph Fiennes.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Controversial film about last tsar approved for release in Russia - Alexei Uchitel’s Matilda

The Russian culture ministry has cleared a film depicting a love affair between Russia’s last tsar and a ballerina for nationwide release, despite protests from conservative critics who have demanded it be banned.

Matilda, made by prominent Russian director Alexei Uchitel, tells the story of a love affair between the young Nicholas and a half-Polish ballet dancer, Matilda Kshesinskaya. Trailers show romantic scenes between the prince and the ballerina. Conservative and religious critics deny the affair ever took place and say the film is an insult to the memory of Nicholas, who was canonised by the Russian Orthodox church in 2000.

The Russian MP Natalia Poklonskaya filed a request to the general prosecutor’s office earlier this year asking to check whether the film broke a law on offending the feelings of religious believers. She admitted she had not seen the film when she made the request and said she did not plan to.

As Russia marks the centenary of the year that saw twin revolutions upend the tsarist order and sweep Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks into power, the reputation of the last tsar is being rehabilitated. Monuments to Nicholas II are going up across Russia, and last month thousands of pilgrims made a 13-mile overnight walk to the spot where Nicholas and his family were executed in 1918, to mark the 99th anniversary of the deaths.




There is even a small but vocal contingent of Russians who want to see monarchy restored in the country.

Last month, hundreds of Orthodox activists staged a protest in Moscow against Uchitel’s film, and in some cases threats have even been made to cinemas, warning them they face attacks if they show the film.

A spokesman for the Russian culture ministry said on Thursday that the film complied with Russian law and had been issued a 16+ certificate. He said the certificate applied to the whole of Russia, but added that individual regions had the executive authority to ban the film if they wanted.

The hardline ruler of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has already called for the film to be banned, and authorities in neighbouring Dagestan have also said they do not want the film to be shown.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Pavel Chukhray: Cold tango - Холодное танго (2017)

Cold tango (2017)

Directed by Pavel Chukhray
Cast: Yulia Peresild, Rinal Mukhametov, Sergey Garmash

Julia Peresild


By miracle he avoided death and returns to the house where he was born. In the house now lives the love of his life. But the hope for happiness turns sour with a terrible discovery: his beloved is the daughter of his enemy.

 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Alena Davydova: Ivan - Иван (2016)

Director: Alena Davydova
Cast: Kirill Polukhin, Polina Gukhman, Anastasiia Mel’nikova, Liudmila Boiarinova, Sergei Iatseniuk,

Image result for Alena Davydova:  Иван

In her desire to make “an ordinary film about ordinary people” (Manzhula 2016) Alena Davydova, born in a small town in Chuvashia, brings a fresh perspective to the Moscow-centric Russian film industry. Her full-length feature debut Ivan came out at the St Petersburg Sever Film Company, the successor of the famous Studio for the First and Experimental Film (PiEF) founded in 1989 by Aleksei Iu. German and Svetlana Karmalita to nurture emerging talent. The studio selected Davydova’s project for support in 2013 when her script for Ivan received the main prize for “best contemporary story” at the eighth national competition of family-oriented scripts “Faith. Hope. Love.” The film premiered at Kinotavr, the Open Russian Film Festival, in 2016. A rather straightforward drama about a day in the life of two ordinary people in a humble provincial town, Ivan stands out among the more usual fare of flashy commercial productions or complex art house features. This emphatic simplicity has won over the hearts of many Russian bloggers, but it also runs the risk of making the story too obvious and banal for the more sophisticated viewer looking for deeper social and psychological analyses. Despite her “quiet scrutiny” of her ordinary characters that is “devoid of both special effects and speculation on viewers’ emotions,” Davydova is not a new Vasilii Shukshin, as one film critic at the Kinotavr press conference suggested (Uminova 2016). Nor is she a new Larisa Sadilova, another prominent filmmaker from Russia’s provinces whose dedication to provincial Russia is paired with rigorous social critique. That said, Davydova’s compelling casting, convincing dialogue, and semi-detective plot in Ivan will keep many viewers engaged throughout the feature.

The film tells a story of the middle-aged ambulance driver, Ivan, who lives alone in his run-down apartment. One day, when taking out the trash, Ivan bumps into a nine-year-old girl, Tonia, who says she came from a nearby town to visit her grandmother. Tonia unceremoniously asks Ivan for food and shelter because her grandmother is gone and she cannot get in touch with her. Ivan unwillingly assumes responsibility for the opinionated girl and her lapdog, and the unlikely trio embarks on an eventful day filled with hopes, disappointments, and revelations. The viewer gradually assembles Ivan’s traumatic life story by observing his interactions with Tonia and other acquaintances as he scrambles to put together a decent outfit to wear to his daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Ivan’s life “has turned upside down” when, after a bad helicopter accident that involved “falling and burning,” the formerly intrepid pilot with a zest for life has acquired a fear of heights and failed to adjust to his new, earth-bound existence. Ivan’s current life drags on as a pale shadow of his past adventures, and both his family and friends have written him off and moved on. Only a few keep urging him to turn his life around by taking up flying again, thereby aggravating his guilt over his seeming inability to overcome his acrophobia. Others, who still care, offer doubtful half-solutions like moving to a better place or simply moving to avoid the depressing status quo. Predictably for a film with a broken adult and a precocious but compassionate child, Tonia is the only person who eventually manages to turn Ivan “right side up.” Parallel to Ivan’s narrative, the viewer puts together pieces of Tonia’s puzzle: a much more intriguing but poorly developed story of a child traveling alone, wandering the streets away from her hometown in search of a lost parent, a “brave and strong pilot.” At some point in the film, Ivan must live up to this idealized vision if he wants to preserve his growing bond with Tonia, his second chance at getting fatherhood, family, and life right.

Kirill Polukhin, one of the leading actors of the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater in St Petersburg, plays the title character with a believable balance of natural charisma and low self-esteem: reminded at each step that he is an “eagle” turned “penguin,” Ivan nevertheless projects an innate openness and charm that explain the genuine attachment to him of both Tonia and Irina, a woman who loves him despite (or perhaps because) of his current “unmanly” weakness and lack of ambition. Polukhin’s wider popularity based on television series in which he is routinely typecast as a “charismatic scoundrel” (Bobrova 2016) curiously augments his role in Ivan. The palpable chemistry between the seasoned actor and his nine-year-old acting partner, Polina Gukhman, results in compelling acting and dialogue that, in the words of kinoteatr.ru reviewers, make for an “organic” and “soulful” viewing experience that is accomplished “in one breath” (“Ivan” 2016).

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Alexei Mizgirev: The Duelist - Дуэлянт (2016)

Director: Aleksei Mizgirev
Stars: Martin Wuttke, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Vladimir Mashkov

Пётр Фёдоров

An adventure film, with dramatic and thriller elements set against the backdrop of palaces and the noble view of the Russian capital, The Duelist centers on Yakovlev, a retired officer, who returns to St. Petersburg from a long exile. While in the city, he fights as a duelist's representative. (Nineteenth-century Russian duel law allowed for a duelist to be replaced by any one person.) Though Yakovlev fights for money, he also seeks honor and revenge against those who disgraced him, therein, challenging the Russian Providence. Yakovlev fearlessly plays with destiny as an example of traditional romantic characters from the Russian Classics.



Aleksei Mizgirev’s fourth feature-length film, The Duelist, differs significantly from what the director’s rather cineaste audience has seen before. Set in St Petersburg in 1860, the film is a contemporary version of a historical drama and costume film, with an action-driven plot and abundant cinematic effects. Although the IMAX spectacle is intended as up-to-date genre cinema made in Russia, it nevertheless adumbrates the auteur style of directing that Mizgirev pursued in his previous films, Hard-Hearted (Kremen’, 2007), Buben, Baraban (2009) and The Convoy (Konvoi, 2012). First, The Duelist echoes the gloomy urban landscapes characteristic for Mizgirev’s films about contemporary Russia; and second, the nineteenth-century characters are plunged into questions and problems which seem to matter still today. Whether auteur style or genre cinema—Mizgirev’s films reflect the director’s general interest in human behavior, in questions concerning personality and social environment, in honor and dignity as central moments of individual identity.

The story revolves around the professional duelist Iakovlev, who is hired by a mercenary German baron in order to stand in for others in duels. The practice of dueling, in nineteenth-century Russia an illegal but prevalent way to settle disputes and slights against honor between noblemen, was regulated by strict rules. One of them, as we are told right at the beginning of the film, stipulated the possibility of a substitute. In this role the protagonist, a handsome but glowering young man, wins duel after duel. This draws the nobility’s attention to the mysterious duelist, who has recently returned to St Petersburg and whose identity is revealed bit by bit as the story unfolds. Soon Iakovlev finds out that all duels, for which he was hired, were arranged by the cold-hearted, nefarious Count Beklemishev in order to get rid of his creditors. At the same time Iakovlev himself becomes entangled in an intrigue initiated by Beklemishev, involving the idealistic young Prince Tuchkov and his beautiful sister, Princess Marfa. When Iakovlev takes sides with the Tuchkovs, it becomes clear that—apart from feeling attracted by the blonde Princess Marfa himself—Iakovlev has an agenda of his own.

Iakovlev’s identity is revealed in several flashbacks. Running ashore on the Aleutian Islands as an ordinary soldier of the Tsarist army, he was rescued and cured by an Aleutian shaman who foretold him immortality. An offspring of the old noble Kolychev family, he fell victim to one of Beklemishev’s intrigues five years ago. As a young lieutenant he was provoked and offended by Beklemishev in front of St Petersburg’s nobility. The young man’s sense of honor suffered severe consequences. Beklemishev initiated Kolychev’s suspension from the Tsarist army as well as his deprivation of peerage, which drove Kolychev’s mother to commit suicide. After being flogged, he was sent to the Aleutian Islands as an ordinary soldier. There he took the identity of the late nobleman Iakovlev in order to be allowed to duel the man responsible for his misfortune, which would, besides taking revenge, enable him to restore his honor.

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Alexey Zvyagintsev: Loveless - Нелюбовь (2017)

Image result for andrey zvyagintsev loveless

Director: Andrey Zvyagnitsev
Cast: Maryana Spivak, Alexey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, Marina Vasilyeva, Andris Keishs, Alexey Fateev.

 “Loveless,” the title of the compelling and forbidding new movie by the Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan,” “Elena”), seems, for a while, to refer to the state of the relationship between the film’s two main characters, a Moscow couple who are on the verge of divorcing. Boris (Alexey Rozin), bearded and officious, a kind of mildly saddened Teddy bear, and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak), beautiful and knife-edged, with a buried despair of her own, still live together in the same apartment. But they’re trying to sell it off as quickly as possible, because they can barely come up with three words of civility between them.

Image result for andrey zvyagintsev loveless

Their marriage, or what’s left of it, has reached the toxic point of no return. No one understands this better than Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), their pale and passive 12-year-old son, who doesn’t do much besides stare at his computer between crying fits. When Alyosha disappears without a trace, his emotionally estranged parents have to come together to search for him. But no, “Loveless” isn’t a story about how the search for Alyosha brings Boris and Zhenya closer together, or makes them take stock and stop hating each other. What the movie is about, in a way that’s both potent and oblique, is something larger than the charred ashes of one dead marriage.

There have always been oppressive societies that clamp down on filmmaking, but allow just enough wiggle room of expression for a shrewd — and poetic — artist to say what’s on his mind. That was true in the Communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s, or in the Iran of the last 30 years. It’s true, as well, of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. As a filmmaker, Andrey Zvyagintsev can’t come right out and declare, in bright sharp colors, the full corruption of his society, but he can make a movie like “Leviathan,” which took the spiritual temperature of a middle-class Russia lost in booze and betrayal, and he can make one like “Loveless,” which takes an ominous, reverberating look not at the politics of Russia but at the crisis of empathy at the culture’s core.

Boris and Zhenya have both moved on to other relationships, which are far more affectionate than the one they’re in, so that seems to be a sign of hope; after divorce comes a new beginning. Boris is with the perky, very pregnant Masha (played by Marina Vasilyeva, who suggests an Eastern European Michelle Williams), and Zhenya, between visits to the salon and a consuming relationship with her smartphone, has found the man who answers her dreams, or at least her needs: the wealthy, handsome, doting, middle-aged Anton (Andris Keishs). Love, it seems, is possible. But what kind of love?

Zvyagintsev colors in a whole society’s romantic neurosis, and he does it with the details along the sidelines. Boris has to keep his divorce hidden at his corporate sales office, because the boss is a fundamentalist Christian. (If Boris isn’t married with children, he’ll be out of a job.) Zhenya’s lover, on the other hand, has given her entré to the one-percent echelon of the new gilded Russia. The film introduces us to it in a telling moment at an outrageously ritzy restaurant where the camera lingers on a woman flirtatiously giving out her phone number…before sitting back down to dinner across from the man she’s come with. That moment speaks volumes — about a clawing-to-the-top ethos of desperate avarice that scarcely leaves room for “romance.”

So what does all this have to do with a missing child? Everything, it turns out. “Loveless” has been made in a forceful and deliberate socialist-realist Hitchcockian style that recalls the most celebrated films of the Romanian new wave (“4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days”; “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”). The disappearance of Alyosha hangs over the movie and haunts it, and on some level it’s a missing-child procedural. Yet what’s meaningful is the way that he disappeared: He was left unsupervised, and his mother, coming home at night, assumed that he was in his room and didn’t bother to check in on him. A minor mistake…and an epic instance of neglect.

The Moscow police, who lean toward thinking that he has run away (because if so, the statistics suggest he’ll likely return, and they won’t have to add to their caseload), can’t do a lot, and a local citizens’ group is more proactive. They scour the area in their orange jackets and fatigues, leaving no stone unturned. As all of this goes on, the title of “Loveless” begins to expand. A society rooted in corruption becomes a petri dish for a loveless marriage that spawns a family in which a child isn’t loved — that is, looked after — in the right way. And the result, seemingly out of nowhere (but not really), is tragic.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Konchalovsky's 'Paradise' gets Best Film at Russia's Nika movie award

Image result for konchalovsky paradise

'Paradise’ by Russian film director Andrei Konchalovsky won Best Picture and Best Director at Russia’s main annual national film award Nika, the country's equivalent of the Oscars.

The 30th award ceremony was held late on March 28 at the Mossovet State Academic Theater, one of Moscow’s oldest theaters.

The film about the WWII and the Holocaust was first screened at the Venice Film Festival, winning the Silver Lion Award for Best Director. The movie has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Award.

"The disasters of the 20th century, and particularly the Holocaust, must never be forgotten," Konchalovsky said while receiving the prize.

The Best Actress award went to the film's star Yulia Vysotskaya. The Best Actor went to Timofey Tribuntsev for his role in Nikolai Dostal's 'Monk and Devil'.

Source: TASS