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


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)


Communism, youth and adulthood in 1960s Russia

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)


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