Marlen Khutsiyev – Mne dvadtsat let AKA I Am Twenty [+Extras] (1965)

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Synopsis:
I am Twenty is notable for its often dramatic camera movements, handheld camerawork and heavy use of location shooting, often incorporating non-actors (including a group of foreign exchange students from Ghana and the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko) and centering scenes around non-staged events (a May Day parade, a building demolition, a poetry reading). Filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrei Konchalovsky both play small roles in the film. The dialogue often overlaps and there are stylized flourishes that echo the early French New Wave, especially François Truffaut’s black and white films. The screenplay, co-written by Gennadi Shpalikov, originally called for a film running only 90 minutes, but the full version of the film runs for three hours. Continue reading

Marlen Khutsiyev & Feliks Mironer – Vesna na Zarechnoy ulitse AKA Spring on Zarechnaya Street (1956)

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A young school teacher Tanya works at a night school for working people. But it’s uneasy to get used to grown-up men, their constant attempts at flirting, their sometimes too manly jokes and comments. She is especially irritated by Don Juan-like behavior of Sasha Savchenko. She avoids his advances, and Sasha becomes so upset that he drops out of school. After a while, Tanya gets used to this new for her environment, finds in her heart an attraction to Sasha, and there comes Spring, exams time… Continue reading

Marlen Khutsiyev – Mne dvadtsat let (Мне двадцать лет) AKA I am Twenty (1964)

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Communism, youth and adulthood in 1960s Russia

Review:
Half Godard, half serious but worthy drama, with an unexpected bit of propaganda thrown in for good measure, Khutsiev’s 3-hour epic is an
interesting, serious and even fun look at Moscow circa 1964. Some of it is idealized and lying: the clean communal apartments without alcoholics, the bright streets unlittered. Some of it is truthful and
feels true, even if Russians of that generation hadn’t confirmed its truthfulness post-screening. Its all blended together so well, though, that truth and falsehood make a single fascinating film. Continue reading

Marlen Khutsiyev – Iyulskiy dozhd AKA July Rain (1966)

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This is the one-film Soviet New Wave. A unique blend of idealism and realism, heavily influenced by Antonioni, nothing like it was ever again achieved – or attempted – in the Soviet cinema as far as I know. The virtually plotless story of a young unmarried couple’s involvement and eventual break-up is told as a series of finely-observed episodes which together form almost an encyclopedia of the time and the place. Among other things, it is a priceless portrait of a somewhat fantastic city which no longer exists. Continue reading