Friday, 30 March 2012

Palev Lungin: The Conductor - Дирижер, trailer (2012)

Directed by: Paul Lungin
Cast: Vladas Bagdonas, Inga Oboldina, Darya Moroz

Repentance, atonement of sins, mercy and absolution are the topics that are again in the focus of attention of Russian film director Pavel Lungin. His film The Conductor, which will be shown at cinemas from the 29th of March, has premiered in Moscow. Film critics call his new film a parable, a musical drama and even an audio-visual symphony.

A famous conductor and his orchestra are going to Jerusalem on tour. The musicians are taking the oratorio St. Matthew Passion to the Holy Land. Amazing things happen to them while they are on tour. Thus, the main character, the conductor, who in the past rejected his painter son because he believes the son does not live a pious life, discovers that his son has committed suicide. This death and especially his son’s suicide note reading ‘I love you, Dad’ overturns the maestro’s soul. Tears run from this unbending man’s eyes while he stands in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Unfortunately, there are no films in Russia about people’s thoughts and feelings, about relations in the family, Pavel Lungin says. For this reason, “I have to make ‘perpendicular’ films running counter to many trends of contemporary film-making,” he says.

“I meant to show the inner crisis of a man who was always believed to be good, - Pavel Lungin says. – He is a famous musician who dedicated himself to music and has reached great heights in his profession but in spite of this it turns out that he is cold, selfish and indifferent to people around him. He himself comes to realize this. When prominent personalities understand themselves, it is always interesting and dramatic.”

The music of the oratorio St. Matthew Passion sounds throughout the film. It is the background of eternal triangles on the screen, marriages falling apart, sequences showing life in an old monastery and the aftermath of a terrorist act on a market. The oratorio also sounds during the concert at the end of the film. Inga Oboldina, the actress who performs one of the main parts, calls this music the film’s ‘nervous system’ and the film itself a fantasy based on the oratorio.

“It is also a story about a choir which is anticipating a trip to Jerusalem, - the actress adds. – Each of the singers, like anyone going to the Promised Land, is looking forward to miracles. Each of the characters wants their life to change and become real and truthful. Their dreams come true but not as they expected. Man proposes and God disposes, and this is what the film is about.”

Announcer: The St. Matthew Passion oratorio, on which the film is based, was composed by a Russian Orthodox priest, Metropolitan Ilarion, who is a graduate of the Composition Department of Moscow Conservatory. The priest appreciates Pavel Lungin’s skill and believes that “the film is not a musical drama but a new synthetic production in which music plays its own part and the action develops independently but is constantly intertwined with the music”.

Another important ‘character’ of the film is the city of Jerusalem. Pavel Lungin says that ‘people are transformed there and either find religion or reject it’.

“This is a special place where one can find something important and change oneself, - the director says. – One can probably go mad or, on the contrary, resist the blows of fate. In this respect, I believe that everyone should go through Jerusalem. If you want to find something good and real you will find it there.”

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Soviet Toys, 1924, Dziga Vertov Goskino USSR

 Dziga Vertov (David Kaufman, 1896 – 1954) is famous for his radical fresh approach to the documentary cinema. His Man with a Movie Camera and Kino Eye became true classic of the Soviet silence avant-garde of 1920s. However, he managed to try himself as an animator, too. In 1924 he directed one of the earliest Soviet animation Soviet Toys. Like many works of Vertov, this animation short is a heavily propagandistic piece of art aimed at NEPman, a member of a new wealthy social class of the 1920s. NEP (New Economic Policy) was born in the result of the temporary liberalization of the Soviet economy in the 1920s. This cartoon also aims at the Russian Orthodox Church that was suppressed during the 1920s-1930s particularly harshly although a caricature depiction of the fat corrupt priest was not atypical even for the pre-revolutionary Russia. The other priest is a satirical representation of the so-called Living Church (обновленцы) that was established in 1922 during the schism within the Orthodox church. NEP helped to recover post-Civil War Russia, but was often criticized as a return of the capitalist past particularly by the left-wing activists and avant-garde artists like Vertov who promoted building of the new Communist society. NEP lasted for less than a decade, until Stalin became an ultimate Soviet leader in 1928. Vertov rather accurately predicted the decline of NEP: after the worker and peasant (literally) unite they manage to crush NEPman and take all his money. Soviet toys ends with the scene of the Christmas tree composed of the Red Army soldiers who literally hang fat NEPman, his girlfriend, both priest, and the worker and peasant climb to the top of the new social order. ...

Yusuf Bakhshiev: Date - Свидание - Official Trailer (2012)

Director:Yusuf Bakhshiev
Starring Yekaterina Klimova, Vladimir Kristovsky

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Elina Suni: Veronica is not coming - Вероника не придет (2008)

Director: Elina Suni
Writer: Elina Suni
Stars: Rimma Markova, Mariya Skosyreva, Vitali Yemashov

In Elina Suni’s latest cinematic endeavor after her debut Man in a Case (Chelovek v futliare, 2006), Veronika Isn’t Coming, first impressions can be misleading, love overcomes personal tragedy, and happiness can arrive when you least expect it: “on a dashing horse, sitting on a broom.” All in all, there are few narrative surprises in this whimsical film. The story opens on the day when Veronika Pavolvna Sorokina, a famous journalist, deputy of the Supreme Council, and Hero of Socialist Labor, hits rock bottom.

A miserable old woman, Veronika staggers drunkenly through an empty Moscow morning. The only signs of her former glory are the honorific medal pinned on the breast of her soiled blouse, and her ability to terrorize all who cross her path. Flocks of birds scatter, car alarms sound, and a hapless door attendant cringes away in fear. Like some terrible witch, she stomps through her son Andrei’s apartment, frightening his wife and children and tearing apart his kitchen. As she leaves, she hears him shout through the padded apartment door that he hates her and never wants her to return.

Thirty years before, in 1968, Veronika is an ambitious, attractive, talented, and charming woman, using all of her wiles to secure a better life for her son. She convinces her powerful lover to intercede on Andrei’s behalf to get him onto the Olympic bicycling team. When Andrei discovers her interference, he refuses to join the team and runs away to the “North”.

The action deftly weaves between these two time frames. In the present, Veronika has nothing left to live for. She decides to go to a retirement home for Party officials, where she plans to last for two months before dying peacefully in her sleep. Her arrival at the home is paralleled by her first day on the job as editor-in-chief of a newspaper. In both past and present, she is followed by whispers of her scandalous rise to prominence and she pursues her own goals without recourse to the opinions of others. In the present, she embraces her despair with an almost comical single-mindedness. For example, she shows up in her bathrobe to a formal dinner given in her honor. In 1968, however, it is love which she pursues without thinking of the consequences. ...
Reviewed by Emily Hillhouse © 2009 in KinoKultura

Monday, 26 March 2012

Music from Soviet and Russian films

Lidia Bobrova: I Believe - Верую! (2009)

Directed by Lidiya Bobrova
Cast: Aleksander Aravushkin, Irina Osnovina, Sergey Amosov, Fedor Yasnikov, Aleksander Fedorov, Yury Zhigarkov

Based on the novels by Vasily Shukshin

Awards :
Audience Award Festival ''Cinema and literature'', Russia, 2010

Lidiia Bobrova has dedicated her professional career to films about the glubinka, the past and present rural Russia to which she was born and which continues to inspire her work. I Believe! is based on three stories by Vasilii Shukshin of the 1960s-70s,“Zaletnyi,” “Veruiu” and “Zabuksoval,” which the director-scriptwriter has integrated into an updated narrative of contemporary provincial Russia. Because of budget constraints, the film was shot in the Arkhangelsk region rather than the Altai and, unlike Bobrova’s previous film, Babusia (2003), employs professional actors in the lead roles.

Like Egor Prokudin, the uprooted peasant of Shukshin’s Red Guelderbush (Kalina krasnaia, 1973), Maksim Iarikov is a man in search of himself. This ordinary railroad worker who, like Tolstoi’s fateful peasant in Anna Karenina, bangs the iron wheels of train cars to check their soundness, is deeply tormented. His soul aches (“dusha bolit”) because he cannot find meaning in his life as he searches for something in which to believe. Overwhelmed by metaphysical doubts, Maksim goes on a binge which lands him in jail—and in comic trouble—when he claims to have invented a perpetual motion machine and then sold its blueprint to the Americans. Bailed out by his wife and sleeping it off, he hears his young son reciting a school assignment—Gogol’s famous apostrophe to the Russia of galloping steeds and troika at the end of Dead Souls, part one: “Ne tak li i ty, Rus’, chto boikaia, neobgonimaia troika nesesh’sia?” (“Rus’, in your headlong flight, are you not like a lively troika that none can overtake?”) Maksim suddenly realizes that the familiar troika is carrying none other than Chichikov, just as modern Russia rushes forward transporting crooks and scam artists. In desperation, he goes to visit a former priest who advises him simply to believe in life, convincing him (after a few drinks) to declare his faith in both the sacred and profane, by repeatedly shouting “I believe!”

Seven years pass, it is 2006 and the now abstemious Maksim becomes acquainted with Aleksandr, a terminally ill artist living out his last days in the village. The artist teaches Maksim to love God through the beauties of nature that surround them. Maksim’s exasperated wife, whose heft opposes Maksim’s preoccupation with “soul” by an excess of body, persuades the local policeman to threaten Aleksandr for leading Maksim to ignore his responsibilities at home. Aleksandr soon dies and Maksim blames his now repentant wife. He sits alienated from the dancing villagers celebrating his son’s wedding, but then realizes that he will finally find meaning in life through a podvig, the heroic religious feat of rebuilding the village church destroyed during the Soviet era. The film ends with Maksim’s son and daughter-in-law, standing among the church ruins, as the young woman reads an orthodox prayer asking God to let the Russian people know why he created them, to let them know his holy will. ...

Reviewed by Rimgaila Salys © 2011 in KinoKultura

Friday, 23 March 2012

Andrey Malyukov: Match - Матч, Official trailer and Poster (2012)

Match,a film by Russian director Andrei Malyukov, will open CINEfoot in Rio de Janeiro.

CINEfoot is a special film festival focusing on football-related movies.

Match, starring Russian popular actors Sergei Bezrukov and Yelizaveta Boyarskaya, tell the story of the so-called ‘match of death’ between Soviet and German soldiers in occupied Kiev in the summer of 1942.

Then the game resulted in some Kievan footballers taken to concentration camps. A legend says that four of them were executed for having refused to lose the game.

The film is scheduled to hit the Russian screens on May 1. ...

Director: Andrey Malyukov
Writers: Dmitriy Zverkov, Sosna Igor
Stars: Sergey Bezrukov, Elizaveta Boyarskaya,Dirk Martens

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Vitaly Vorobiev: I Shall Remember - Буду помнить (2010)

Director: Vitaly Vorobiev
Cast: Roman Golchuk, Denis Paramonov, Sergei Makhovikov, Elena Podkaminskaia

In many respects, Vitalii Vorob’ev’s I’ll Remember is a workmanlike example of genre filmmaking about the German onslaught in 1942 in the south of Soviet Russia. The moving parts of the film’s story, about the quotidian bravery and treachery of ordinary citizens in confronting the Nazi occupation, comfortably fall into the furrows that have been thoroughly ploughed by many Soviet films. Vorob’ev’s portrayal of the response of children to invasion and occupation—alternating between quaking fear and an almost preternatural sang froid—naturally recalls Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (Ivanovo detstvo, 1962),among other films. Yet I’ll Remember also yields some unexpected glints of seminal thinking about new or different ways to cinematically represent the Russian experience of the Second World War, particularly in regard to Russian-Jewish cultural relations, the long shadow cast in the Russian provinces by the criminal underworld of the urkas and “thieves in law” (vory v zakone), and the moral ambiguities of collaboration.

The last of these subjects is, of course, especially provocative, suggesting a certain historical revisionism that goes against the grain of the Putinist neo-Soviet view of the Second World War as a moral struggle that can be clearly demarcated among a film’s cast of characters. In this regard, Vorob’ev’s film is clearly a very different animal from representations of the war such as Andrei Kavun’s television series Military Students (Kursanty, RTR, 2004),which offer up what might be regarded as a Russian equivalent of “Greatest Generation” nostalgia à la Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) and David Frankel and Mikael Salomon’s Band of Brothers (2001). Vorob’ev is interested in portraying the unexpected triumph of evil within particular individuals, implying that there is a troubling measure of unknowability about the moral character of others until the point that they actually commit themselves to an act that is demonstrably evil or good; he suggests that the cinematic form is limited in its ability to represent evil, and that in fact moviemaking more often than not is a medium that revels in its power to obfuscate.

The time frame of I’ll Remember is the late summer of 1942, with Soviet soldiers in retreat from an unnamed town within the rocky terrain of the region of the Caucasian town of Mineral’nye Vody. Most of the Jewish residents of the town evacuate as quickly as they can, leaving certain younger family members in hiding with Russian gentile families whom they feel they can trust, while many others go into hiding among the cluster of rocky escarpments outside the town. German bombers strafe and kill almost all of the evacuees as they attempt to clamber onto the trains provided by the Soviet military. One survivor, the ten-year old Emil’ Averbakh (Denis Paramonov), in desperation returns to the communal house in which he and his family lived, and goes into hiding with the Shevelevs, a gentile family that is riven by a conflict between the father Dmitrii and his own, troubled ten-year old son Vadim (Roman Gol’chuk). Dmitrii has been released from a prison term for sabotage of a collapsed mine near the town five years before. Vadim (also known as Vad’ka) regards his father as a traitor, and rebels against him by falling in with a group of urka youths. ...

reviewed by Alexandar Mihailovic © 2012 in KinoKultura

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Avdotya Smirnova: Kokoko -Кококо -Trailer and Poster (2012)

    Anna Mikhalkov, Jan Troyanova

Director: Avdotya Smirnova
Writers: Dunya Smirnova, Anna Parmas
Stars: Anna Mikhalkova, Yana Troyanova,Anna Parmas

In the morning there’s the job in the museum of ethnography, in the evening there are news on Ren-TV, and on days off there are meetings and sex with the ex-husband, a medium squad scientist. Lisa is a typical representative of the intelligentsia. Vika is a true provincial girl. For her, the holiday in Petersburg consists of vodka, parties and adventures. It seems that the two have nothing in common. However, by chance they meet and find a common ground: water and fire, a nun and a libertine, the intelligentsia and the people. Lisa and Vika are two sides of the same coin by the name of Russia. Kokoko is a never-ending comedy of Russian life! ...

Awards : Best actress Anna MIKHALKOVA , Yana TROYANOVA , Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, Russia, 2012
Prize Cine-Club Federation of Russia, Russian programm, Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF), Russia, 2012

Avdotya Smirnova’s new film ‘Kokoko’ examines social conflict, human relationships and female friendship.

‘Kokoko’ explores the relationship between Petersburg ethnographer Liza (Anna Mikhalkova, l), and earthy provincial Vika (Yana Troyanova). Loneliness often leads people to the most improbable alliances. This is the case in Avdotya Smirnova’s new film, “Kokoko,” which started screening nationwide on June 14.

At first glance, as they happen to share a cabin on an overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, the two thirty-something heroines seem to be antipodes: The energetic, down-to-earth, foxy, foul-mouthed and heavily made-up provincial Vika (Yana Troyanova), and the anti-glamorous St. Petersburg ethnographer Liza (Anna Mikhalkova), ever lost in thought, obsessed with charity, overweight and so neglecting of herself that her former husband (Konstantin Shelestun) cannot resist reprimanding her for not shaving her legs.

After both women are robbed on the train, the kind-hearted Liza offers Vika temporary refuge in her St. Petersburg apartment, her late artist father’s former studio. This becomes the start of a most unlikely friendship, with Vika settling in the apartment on a permanent basis.

On the surface, Smirnova is exploring a social conflict: That of a lack of understanding between the country’s working class and the intelligentsia, a conflict that has been described in Russian classics since the time of writer Ivan Turgenev and appears to be as insurmountable as Russia’s confrontation with natives from the Caucasus.

Indeed, social satire can be found in abundance in the film. Liza’s colleagues, harmless verbose researchers from the Kunstkamera museum, who have apparently read too many books about the crusades, conquests and noble missions, seek a way to do good in the modern world. They stage fierce fights over petitions calling for the release of jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, bravely face the riot police as a small group of protesters huddles together in the wind in a dwarf-sized political protest, they make donations to children’s homes — it all feels immensely noble and useful, yet all of them feel useless. “What do I really want to be doing in life?” is the sort of question that the ethnographers do not ask themselves. Vika, in contrast, is disturbingly specific and enviably explicit about her desires, although that does not help her to find a sense of perspective. For that, the young woman from Yekaterinburg is happy to rely on the more educated Liza, who, conveniently, is always more informed and seems to know better.

Yet the story that the director is exploring is really a human one. In a sense, it echoes the question posed by the main male character in Smirnova’s previous film, “Two Days:” why can’t two grown up, intelligent people who are in love with each other find peace?

Liza and Vika’s is not a love story, yet it is a story of an alliance that constantly fails because two people who need each other and care for each other deeply repeatedly fail to communicate their feelings.

“If you have to explain, that means it’s something you shouldn’t have to explain.” This quote from the Russian Silver Age poet Zinaida Gippius is all that Liza, frustrated with Vika’s tactless behavior in her apartment, utters to her flatmate. And she is never able to change this communication pattern, which is, in fact, nothing but arrogance on her part. As a result, the farcical finale, in which Liza attempts to kill Vika at night by suffocating her with a pillow — the final straw was the exasperating sound of water falling from the bronze fountain that Vika bought to celebrate getting a job in a local club, and Liza is a light sleeper — seems all the more natural.

Anna Mikhalkova 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Aleksei German - History of the Arkanar Massacre - Hard to be a God - Трудно быть Богом (2011)

Director: Alexei German
Cast: Aleksandr Ilin, Pyotr Merkuryev, Laura Pitskhelury, Yuri Tsurilo, Leonid Yamolnik

Adapted from the sci-fi novel Hard to be a God (Strugatsky).

Plot: "On another planet, which goes through its middle ages, a group of historians from Earth live pretending to be average people. The main character, known as Don Rumata, is disgusted by cruelties he observes on everyday basis but is prohibited by his superiors from interfering and thus changing the natural course of history of the planet. The only thing the historians have a right to do is to protect and help few individuals who seem to be different from everybody else and can benefit the entire planet through their knowledge and ideas. Rumata has to find one of these people, Budakh, and rescue him from the hands of Don Reba, a grey cardinal ruling for a weak king and later, an insane tyrant." ...

Read also: History of the Arkanar Massacre

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Love story against military background

Russian film-makers have set themselves a serious task of producing a film dedicated to Russian heroes of the war of 1812 against Napoleon’s France. Director Anton Sivers’ film crew is making a film called ‘Vasilisa Kozhina’. The Russian President has announced this year to be a Russian History Year. The war against Napoleon which ended 200 years ago with Russia’s victory and the expulsion of the French troops from Russia’s territory, followed by the liberation of the European countries invaded by Napoleon, is one of the most dramatic pages of our history. The whole world knows about these historic events from Leo Tolstoy’s great novel War and Peace which has been translated into dozens of languages. The film version of this book made by outstanding director Sergey Bondarchuk in 1969 won an Oscar and was shown on film screens all over the world. However, even such a large-scale film epic could not tell of all the heroes of the war of 1812. Vasilisa Kozhina is one of those heroes and her life story is a separate episode of the war against the French invaders, which, nevertheless, explains a lot about the nature of Russian people who rose to resist the invaders. Vasilisa Kozhina was a Russian serf, the wife of a village elder in the Smolensk Region in the west of Russia. Napoleon’s troops invaded Russia through that region and later retreated over that land fleeing from the Russian army commanded by Mikhail Kutuzov. Legend has it that when the Smolensk lands were occupied in August 1812 the French killed Vasilisa Kozhina’s husband. Vasilisa, the mother of five children, decided to take her revenge on the enemy and formed a resistance detachment which mostly consisted of widows and teenagers armed with village tools, such as pitchforks, scythes and axes. They decoyed enemy soldiers into an ambush and took them prisoner, so as to pass them to the Russian troops later. However, the film ‘Vasilisa Kozhina’ is not just a reconstruction of historical events, it is a fiction film, so there are a lot of invented episodes in it, producer of the film Yuri Sapronov said in his interview with The Voice of Russia. – This film is a love story which takes place against the war background. Vasilisa is a serf and her new love is a nobleman, Ivan Rokotov. Their love has no future but true love does not even fear wars. The original film script described Vasilisa Kozhina’s love for a French officer but later the authors wrote a new plot, which is not so dramatic. As for Vasilisa’s struggle against the invaders, it is known for certain that not only Commander of the Russian army Mikhail Kutuzov but also Emperor Alexander I was aware of it. After the war she was awarded with a silver medal and 500 roubles. ...

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Roman Karimov: Inadequate people - Неадекватные люди (2010),official trailer

Director: Roman Karimov
Writer: Roman Karimov
Stars: Ilya Lyubimov, Ingrid Olerinskaya, Evgeniy Tsyganov

Awards :
Audience Award International debut film festival, Russia, 2012
Best first film Window to Europe Film Festival, Vyborg, Russia, 2010
Audience Award Window to Europe Film Festival, Vyborg, Russia, 2010

Psychoanalysis is still a relatively rare profession in Russia, and very few people there seek psychological help. Psychoanalysis, however, plays a central role in Roman Karimov’s debut film, Inadequate People. Rather than reflecting the realities of Russian life, psychoanalysis here is borrowed from the Hollywood tradition, where it often provides both the film’s narrative structure and a better understanding of characters. Like many Hollywood films, Inadequate People also treats psychoanalysis ironically—Dr Kozlov turns out to be a sadomasochist, and the film’s heroine Kristina even refers to the self-analysis of Woody Allen. In accordance with its genre, romantic comedy, the film suggests that the characters’ psychological problems should be solved not through professional help, but primarily through love.

Inadequate People, then, is a romantic comedy with a darker undercurrent. The film’s male protagonist, Vitalii (Il’ia Liubimov), suffers from jealousy and is unable to control his violent outbreaks. He realizes the inadequacy of his life when his girlfriend dies in a car accident as he falls asleep while driving. Vitalii then moves to Moscow to start a new life. He is guided in this endeavor by the psychoanalyst, Dr Kozlov (Evgenii Tsyganov), whose therapy consists of giving Vitalii a key to a new apartment and his own book, Life from a Blank Page (Zhizn’ s chistogo lista), that should help Vitalii in the process of recovery. As Dr Kozlov explains, “No one has died from this therapy yet.” The film then follows Vitalii as he gets a job at a glossy women’s magazine and develops a relationship with the teenage girl living next-door, Kristina (Ingrid Olerinskaia). His past still troubles him, however, as it appears in flashbacks throughout the film. Similarly, his violence simmers just beneath the surface, and he finds it hard to control his anger. Due to the introduction of the protagonist’s troubled past, the film can be described as art-house light (avtorskii meinstrim), belonging somewhere between art-house and pure genre cinema.

Vitalii is not the only character in need of psychological help. The boss of the glossy magazine where he works, Marina (Iuliia Tashkina), suffers from sex addiction, and Kristina has difficulty relating to her mother. Along with other minor characters, they can be described as the “inadequate people” of the title. Significantly, both Kristina and Marina end up at the psychoanalyst’s office. Like the psychoanalyst, these characters have their prototypes in Hollywood cinema. The despotic boss of a women’s glossy magazine can be traced to The Devil Wears Prada, and troubled teenagers like Kristina appear frequently in both Hollywood and Russian films. These characters are then quite “adequate,” and even typical, for contemporary cinema, so that the film critic Elena Paisova can describe the characters of Inadequate People as “serial marionettes.” ...

Reviewed by Irina Anisimova © 2011 in KinoKultura

Inadequate People
is a fascinating independent movie. It does not come off as a low-budget project; one could even compare it to much more expensive products, given the way it looks in a high-definition video release. We never have the feeling that this is a ‘homemade’ film in any aspect. The cinematography is professional, the direction and pacing marvelous, and the performances by the actors very realistic. We believe their emotions. In terms of both budget and creative approach, it probably helped the movie that Karimov took on many roles. Other than directing Inadequate People, he also wrote the screenplay and edited the film, as well as composing and arranging the score. It is therefore fair to describe him as a multi-talented man. ...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Russian director joins French Legion

Russian director Pavel Lungin is set to receive the highest state decoration of France. The title of Officer of the Legion of Honor will be conferred on the director by the French ambassador. French Ambassador to Russia Jean de Gliniasty will present the award at his Moscow residence on March 12. A reception to mark the occasion is also scheduled for next week. Europe, France in particular, has long known Pavel Lungin as he literally represented Russian cinema in the West. His pictures Taxi Blues (1990) and The Wedding (2000) were screened and awarded at France’s most prestigious film festival, Cannes. Lungin’s drama about one of Russia’s most controversial tsars, Ivan the Terrible, was premiered at Cannes, while his earlier production The Island in 2006 closed another famed film marathon – the Venice Film Festival. The list of Russians decorated by France’s highest state award includes ballet legend Maya Plisetskaya, conductors Valery Gergiev and Yury Bashmet, opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya, director Nikita Mikhalkov and others. RT

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mark Donskoy: The Horse That Cried/ At Great Cost - Дорогой ценой (1957)

Director: Mark Donskoy
Writer: Irina Donskaya
Stars: Vera Donskaya, Yuri Dedovich, Ivan Tverdokhleb

This engaging Soviet drama about a doomed love affair works in its gentle approach to the romance between Solomyi (Vera Donskoy) and her boyfriend, but is less effective in its political message about staying within one's own national borders. ...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Filipp Yankovsky:The State Counsellor - Статский советник (2005)

Director: Filipp Yankovsky
Writers: Boris Akunin (novel), Boris Akunin (screenplay)
Stars: Oleg Menshikov, Nikita Mikhalkov,Konstantin Khabenskiy

The State Counseller is a 2005 Russian film, an adaptation of Boris Akunin's novel of the same name featuring detective Erast Fandorin. Directed by Filipp Yankovsky, it was one of the most expensive films ever made in Russia.[1]
A revolutionary organisation is planning to assassinate the Governor of Moscow as the first step to overthrowing the Tsarist state. Detective Erast Fandorin attempts to counter them, but his efforts are hindered by his dealings with Prince Pozharsky. ...

Official site here.

About The State Counsellor in Variety Reviews.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Dmitri Astrakhan: Everything Will Be All Right - Все будет хорошо(1995) (English subtitles)

Director: Dmitri Astrakhan
Writer: Oleg Danilov
Stars: Mikhail Ulyanov, Aleksandr Zbruev,Olga Ponizov

Made at the peak of social exasperation brought on by the growing numbers of the New Russian Poor and the unabated arrogance of the New Russian Rich, Everything Will Be OK embodies Astrakhan’s attempt to render the predominant at the time chernukha film style in over-the-top comedic mode. In addition to the plot with its deliberate narrative excesses, the film revealed in an almost statistical manner the hellish depths of social deprivation of the New Russian poor—alcoholism, violent crime, unemployment, prostitution, lack of perspective for the young and security for the old, horrifying poverty—hidden under the ironic title Everything Will Be OK. For it takes nothing short of a miracle to resolve any of those problems. ...

Everything Will Be O.K., the new film from the gifted director Dmitri Astrakhan mixes effectively elements of Hollywood screwball comedy with uniquely Russian humor and texture. End result is a winning romantic comedy with strong commercial potential in Western markets, some already familiar with Astrakhan's former outings, Get Thee Out and You're My One and Only, which had played the international festival circuit.

Astrakhan takes the basic format of screwball comedy–a romantic triangle, a Cinderella-like heroine, an impending wedding–and then both subverts and inverts the genre's conventions with distinctively Russian ingredients, such as a rural, provincial locale and typical Russian mores.

Kolya (Anatoli Guravlev) and Olga (Olga Ponezova) are stepsiblings who grew up together and loved each other ever since they were children. As expected, upon his return from military service, Kolya proposes and preparation for a wedding is under way. But the penniless couple doesn't win their parents approval–Kolya's mother is particularly discouraging, as all her life she has dreamed for her son to marry a rich girl with good background–and an apartment.

Into the chaotic town arrives Smirnov (Alexander Zbruev), old flame of Kolya's mother who's now a successful businessman, and his son Petya (Mark Garanok), a 20-year-old prodigy and Nobel Prize laureate. As soon as the dashing, educated youngster lays his yes on Olga, it's clear that a fateful night–and all kinds of complications–will ensue on the way to church altar.

It's to the credit of scripter Romanenko and director Astrakhan that, though they employ the basic structure of a fairy tale, there's still genuine suspense. To the last minute, it's unclear who'll be the lucky fellow to wed the charming, if also totally confused and unpredictable Olga. ...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Alexey Uchitel Starts Shooting of New Film about OMON Agents

Russian film director Alexei Uchitel is going to screen the story “Eight” by Zakhar Prilepin. The new film will be a drama with the budget of 3 million dollars. The film scenario was written by Alexander Mindadze. Beginning actors will play the leads. The film premiere is expected in the beginning of 2013. The film tells a story about four friends who return from the army and join OMON. The story starts from the moment when they unexpectedly face some big criminal authority. The situation turns even more complicated when one of the characters falls in love with the criminal’s girlfriend. The story’s author Zakhar Prilepin points out that all the characters have real prototypes, but each of them, as it often happens, is formed of two or three people. ...