REVIEW: The Road Movie [2018]

“Did we record?” I’d like to know the regulations for automobile tires in Russia because Dmitrii Kalashnikov‘s dash-cam compilation documentary The Road Movie has too many violent fishtails and gravity-enforced overturns to not have its audience infer the country as being riddled with bald tires. Some incidents occur in snowy conditions, but others don’t. Speed […]

REVIEW: Moscow Never Sleeps [2015]

“You can’t just pretend I never existed” Writer/director Johnny O’Reilly found himself in Russia during college and decided to stay despite Hollywood opportunities after releasing his debut narrative feature The Weather Station. He sought to film a personal story set in his adoptive home Moscow, one that would touch upon its myriad complexities. So he […]

REVIEW: Трудно быть богом [Hard to Be a God] [2014]

“Don’t drink. I only sniff now.” There’s a plot inside Aleksey German‘s final film Трудно быть богом [Hard to Be a God]—an audacious sci-fi epic slinging mud and feces in our faces while everyone onscreen sniffs them like drugs until we’re involuntarily following suit. No really, there is. Well, maybe a lingering vestige of what […]

REVIEW: Левиафан [Leviafan] [Leviathan] [2014]

“These animals are not the whole town” It doesn’t get much bleaker or more cynical than Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Левиафан [Leviathan]. He and cowriter Oleg Negin were inspired by many stories—”killdozer” rampage orchestrator Marvin Heemeyer, the Bible’s Job and King Ahab, and Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Michael Kohlhaas—all of which I know nothing about. Reading a […]

TIFF14 REVIEW: Liompa [2014]

“We’ve gained the control and lost the music” Adapted from the 1928 short story by Yuri Olesha, Elizabeth Lazebnik‘s Liompa gives us a glimpse at the differing stages of life. We may only hear from the dying Ponomarev (Aleksey Serebryakov) as he refuses to cope with the fact he’s lost all control over the world […]

REVIEW: Белый тигр [White Tiger] [2012]

“Even I’m not old enough to know what happened” It’s a unique treat any time a film depicting World War II doesn’t center on the Holocaust or American forces storming the beaches of Normandy. Honestly, these are the two subjects we in the United States learn during our public school education because we frankly don’t […]

REVIEW: Le Concert [The Concert] [2009]

“This is the real communism” By no means as madcap as I had been under the impression it would be, Radu Mihaileanu’s Le concert [The Concert] is most definitely the uplifting comedy it’s American poster proclaims. The laughs it elicits are often earned by scenes hiding truths, their revelations the joke, and absurd nonsense during […]

REVIEW: Край [Kray] [The Edge] [2010]

“I’ve never seen you smile. It suits you.” World War II is over and Siberia still holds its Russian prisoners with nowhere to go. They have stayed in a prison camp without guards, living the best way they can in a logging community that survives on its single train. Ignat (Vladimir Mashkov) is a war […]

REVIEW: Зеркало [The Mirror] [1975]

“Like a madman brandishing a razor” After watching a screening of Antichrist, actor Willem Dafoe talked about the film and director Lars von Trier’s motivations. During the course of this brief Q&A, some light was shed on the inclusion of a dedication to Andrei Tarkovsky, the legendary Russian filmmaker. The film itself was a very […]

REVIEW: Летят журавли [The Cranes are Flying] [1957]

“I am always waiting” Director Mikhail Kalatozov’s film Летят журавли [The Cranes are Flying] is a glorious piece of cinema. From the screenplay by Viktor Rozov, based on his own play, Kalatozov shows us a vision of the heroism of war and the suffering by those left at home. Granted, the film was made in […]

REVIEW: Ночной дозор [Night Watch] [2004]

“You have to choose for yourself” Here is the reason for which I got an All-Region DVD player. Ночной дозор [Night Watch] was released in Russia in 2004. It became so popular there that it was inevitable that the other two parts of the literary trilogy would be made into film. Fox saw this as […]