Friday, 31 January 2014
Nikita Mikhalkov: At Home among Strangers, a Stranger at Home - Свой среди чужих чужой среди своих (1974)
Director: Nikita Mikhalkov
Writers: Nikita Mikhalkov, Eduard Volodarskiy
Stars: Yuri Bogatyryov, Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergey Shakurov
The story takes place in early 1920s, shortly after the end of the Russian Civil War. Five Red Army soldiers are sent to protect a precious shipment of gold that is sent by train. One of the friends is kidnapped and drugged, while the train is attacked and the gold is stolen. Suspected of treason, he becomes "a Stranger at Home".
A debut of the world-famous director Nikita Mikhalkov, this film is an excellent model of a “western”, having a very ingenious plot, and, most importantly, being a hymn to men’s true friendship.
Monday, 13 January 2014
Director: Aleksey Batalov
Writers: Fyodor Dostoevsky (novel), Mikhail Olshevsky
Stars: Nikolay Burlyaev, Lyubov Dobrzhanskaya, Jitka Zelenohorská
This lavish Soviet/Czech co-production is based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous novel, The Gambler, which tells the story of a Russian living in Germany, in a gambling resort. This film is set at the turn of the century, and was filmed in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czechoslovakia. Played by Nikolai Burlyayev, the gambler succumbs completely to his addiction, using up every resource he has (human, spiritual and financial) in his wagering, finally becoming a rootless drifter.
Thursday, 9 January 2014
Director: Vladimir Basov
Writers: Alexander Pushkin (short story "Metel" from volume "Povest Belkina"), Vladimir Basov
Stars: Valentina Titova, Georgiy Martynyuk, Oleg Vidov
A screen version of A.S. Pushkin’s poetic novel under the same name.
This romantic drama set after the War of 1812 is taken from the classic story by Alexander Pushkin. Vladimir (Oleg Vidov) is a young officer who settles in a small town. He falls for Maria (Valentina Titova), the pretty daughter of a widow (Maria Pastukhova) from whom he rents a room. Neither are able to commit to each other until he is called away for active duty during the cold winter. The music was provided by the gifted composer Georgy Sviridov and received heavy airplay on the radio and in concerts.
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Director: Sergei Taramaev, Liubov Lvova
Cast: Aleksei Frandetti, Evgeny Tkachuk, Vladimir Mishukov, Dmitry Mukhamadeev, Andrei Tsymbalov, Aleksandr Alekseevsky, Igor Voinorovsky, Valery Tkachuk, Sergei Dorofeev, Natalya Pavlenkova
Special Jury Prize for Best Acting to Evgeny Tkachuk at Window to Europe Film Festival, 2013
Guild of Film Critics Prize at Window to Europe Film Festival, 2013
Kinoclub Jury Prize at 11th 'Moscow Premiere' Film Festival, 2013
"London Lion" Award at the Russian cinema festival in London,2013
The film "Winter Journey" is a tragic love story between two men: a conservatory student Eric (played by Alexey Frandetti) and the homeless Alexey (played Evgeniy Tkachuk). The motion picture was a director’s debut from the family of Sergei Taramaev and Lubov Lvova.
Lvova and Taramaev's film is an idiosyncratic love story between gay classical singer Erik (Aleksei Frandetti) and a homeless, deeply homophobic and terrifyingly psychotic criminal, Lyokha (Evgeny Tkachuk). Erik is preparing to sing an excerpt from Schubert's Winterreise for an important audition, whilst Lyokha is trying to hide from the law and survive on the inhospitable winter streets of Moscow. The pair's paths cross during an inauspicious bus journey; Erik is quietly listening to music as Lyokha instigates a fight. The following scuffle sees the pair leave with an item of each other's, eventually reuniting them and beginning a complex, animated relationship. They kiss briefly, but it's already a landmark moment.
The audacious approach of both Lvova and Taramaev deserves commendation, but it's their roles as former actors that bestows the film with its strongest asset. The performances of both Frandetti and Tkachuk in the leading roles clearly benefited from directors who understand the art of acting, with Tkachuk (clearly channelling the anarchic spirit of Johnny Rotten) deservedly winning the best actor award at the Window to Europe Film Festival for his raw and uncompromising performance. Further enhanced by the sublime cinematography of Andrei Zvyagintsev regular Michael Krichman, Winter Path combines the snow-capped beauty of Moscow's streets, with the grandeur of its ornate buildings and the seedy underbelly of lurid clubs that lurks below the surface, to fashion an evocative portrait of the class disparity and social alienation in contemporary Russia.