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 wrote a sprawling character study following multiple members of and in close proximity to two families on the year’s celebratory “City Day.” Think Crash and its emotion-heavy propulsion, the whole steeped in slice of life…

Read More

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 little of Heemeyer’s tale, however, has me believing each dealt with the tragic circumstances befalling common man and the uphill climb necessary to overcome oppression. Whether met with economic, bureaucratic, or personal turmoil, there comes…

Read More

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 around him, but there are also two more characters one could see as stepping stones of evolution still caught in the hold of reality’s grip. Alexander (Stepan Serebryakov)—for example—has just come of the age where…

Read More