Monday, 22 February 2016

Karen Shakhnazarov with New Screen Version of Anna Karenina


The work on the new screen version of the novel Anna Karenina is coming to an end.    

The film director Karen Shakhnazarov has been working on new screen version of the  classical novel by Leo Tolstoy at the Mosfilm Studio for two years.    

The leading roles are performed by Elizaveta Boyarskaya and Maxim Matveyev, who are a married couple in real life. The third one (Vronsky) in the love triangle of the novel is the honored artist of Russia Vitaly Kishchenko, a holder of the Golden Mask prize.    

A distinctive characteristic of  Karen Shakhnazarov's screen version is interweaving the famous novel with the story At Japanese War, describing the events that took place 30 years later. Thus, Anna's son will meet Vronsky in Manchuria.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Stanislav Govorukhin: Weekend - Уик-энд (2013)

Director: Stanislav Govorukhin
Cast: Maksim Matveyev, Yuliya Khlynina, Vyacheslav Chepurchenko

Уик-энд (2013)

Oh, for the return of a cinema of effervescence, and for an update of the nihilistic playfulness of the French New Wave! With its portrait of generally well-heeled, photogenic and impeccably dressed narcissists stumbling through their misadventures like characters in a Feydeau farce, Stanislav Govorukhin’s latest film Weekend seems to fit the bill for a generous serving of screen candy, finished off with a dollop of amoral froth. Certainly, the possibilities of a post-war European cinematographic sensibility in Soviet film were fleetingly explored in the expansive and vertiginous opening scene of Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes are Flying (Letiat zhuravli, 1957),with its lovers skipping along the embankment of a Seine-like river Moskva dappled in sunlight, and to the jaunty rhythms of a score by Mоisei Vainberg that suggested a cross between 1920s’ Soviet Jazz and the film music of Michel Legrand. Govorukhin’s Weekend,filmed in a luxuriant black-and-white reminiscent of the velvety texture of a Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin print, is full of shrewd misdirections, feints and skewed cinematic references that come full circle, ultimately drawing attention to the mechanics of a new Gilded Age. The action takes place in a limpidly sunlit Odessa—that proverbially most Mediterranean of cities from the former Soviet empire. The fact that the cast of characters is largely Russian, in a place located outside the borders of the Russian Federation, only serves to throw into sharper relief the occasional entrance of non-Russian (and, for that matter, non-Ukrainian) individuals into accident-driven unfurling of the film’s action.

Екатерина Гусева

We’ll have more to say later about the strategic foreign presence within the film, both in terms of characters and cinematic influences. First, let’s take factual note of the film’s source material, which is Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l’échafaud,1958),an adaptation of Noël Calef’s novel of the same title. The basic plotlines of Govorukhin’s film coincide with Malle’s and Calef’s story of a businessman, who kills a colleague out of self-interest, and whose escape and eventual entrapment occur as the result of random events. Like the protagonist Julien Tavernier of Malle’s film, in Govorukhin’s Weekend the businessman Igor’ Lebedev tells his secretary not to disturb him in his office and perilously climbs out of his window with murder on his mind. With his alibi in place, he shimmies along the external ledge and re-enters the building through another office. Once inside the building again, he makes his way to the office of the company auditor, who intends to launch an investigation into the embezzlement of corporate funds by both Lebedev and his brother-in-law. Lebedev confronts the accountant, an elderly and avowedly incorruptible man who contemptuously rejects Lebedev’s attempt to bribe him. Lebedev uses the auditor’s own pistol to murder him, makes off with the incriminating documents, and re-enters his own office. Sitting in his car at the end of the day, and after committing what seems to be the perfect murder, he realizes that he left some of the documents in the building. As in Malle’s film, his attempt to retrieve the damning evidence after the building closes results in him being trapped in a deactivated elevator for the rest of the night. In the meantime, Lebedev’s convertible is stolen by a joy-riding hooligan called Maksim, who picks up his girlfriend and uses Lebedev’s ID to book them into a posh hotel on the Black Sea. Maksim’s botched attempt to steal money from a kind Russian-Swedish couple on the beach quickly escalates into shooting them with the gun that Lebedev already used. In the end, Lebedev is arrested and convicted on the basis of tightly circumstantial evidence surrounding the murder of the couple. Brought to his wit’s end by being rapidly abandoned by his wife and her unscrupulous, social-climbing brother Ivan (who is also the Prefect of Police in the city), Lebedev breaks down and takes full responsibility for the two murders he didn’t commit, and the one he did commit.

Read more in KinoKultura

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Lyubov Orlova - Biography


Lyubov Orlova is the most glamorous and popular actress of Soviet cinema.

Lyubov was born in Zvenigorod, just outside of Moscow. The parents of the future movie star, Petr Orlov and Evgeniya Suhotina, were both descendants of an old Russian aristocratic family. They wanted Lyubov to become a professional pianist and at seven enrolled her in a music school. Legend has it that at age ten she had a chance to perform in front of a family friend, the famous Russian opera singer Fyodor Chalyapin in a children’s theater. At the end of her performance Chalyapin took Lyubov into his arms and said: “This girl will be a famous actress!” It would take 25 years, but his prediction was to come true.

At 17 Orlova enrolled in a Moscow conservatory to study grand piano. In three years she moved to the ballet faculty of the Moscow Theatrical Technical Secondary School and in 1926 became a member of the Musical Theater under the direction of Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. Orlova got married young in 1926 to 29-year-old Andrey Berzin, a successful political official. Berzin impressed her parents - he was attractive and had a respectable job - and they rushed their wedding. Orlova was attached to her husband and hoped for a long lasting life together, but their union was short and unhappy; Berzin was arrested in 1930 and sent to jail for a long term. Their unfortunate separation did not break Orlova’s spirit and maybe even vitalized her desire to improve her acting and creative efforts. Being a chorus and ballet actress, she mostly had episodic parts, but even then her musical and drama talent was noticed by many, and each year she was one step closer to becoming a star. She soon fell in love again with an Austrian businessman who was mesmerized by the beautiful and talented actress.

During that time she felt that theater wasn’t enough and decided that she wanted to be in movies. However, her first efforts came to disappointment. This is what she had to say about it herself: “In the film studio I stood in a long queue: a selection of young performers was announced for the latest picture. Barely hiding my shyness, I appeared in front of the director – a person with decisive and omniscient eyes. When his examining and piercing gaze came over me, I felt like I was oblate between the glasses of a microscope.

- What is that you have? - the director asked, pointing at my nose.

I quickly looked in the mirror and saw a small beauty spot, about which I had completely forgotten - it never bothered me.

- Be…beauty spot, - I babbled.

- No good! – The director said blankly.

- But…- I tried to object, but he cut me off:

- I know, I know! You act in theater, and the beauty mark is not in your way. Cinema – is not theater. In cinema everything is in the way. And this you have to understand!

I only understood one thing: I will never be in a movie, and this is why I needed to quickly leave the studio and never show up there again. And I swore to myself never to do this again.” Fortunately Orlova broke her vow. In 1934 director Boris Yurtsev invited her to take a part in his movie and she accepted. Other film roles followed but they did not bring her the same success as her theater career. Her real cinema breakthrough came after the movie ‘Jolly Fellows’ was released, produced by Grigory Aleksandrov. During the filming her romance with Aleksandrov developed and soon after the filming ended they were married.

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