Richard Harris stars as a foreign entrepreneur, who ventures to Russia in 1885 with dreams of selling a new, experimental steam-driven timber harvester in the wilds of Siberia. Julia Ormond portrays his assistant, who falls in love with a young Russian officer, played by Russian star Oleg Menshikov, and spends the next 10 years perfecting the harvester and pursuing her love, who has been exiled to Siberia.
A loose remake of 12 Angry Men (1957), set in a Russian school in the war-torn republic of Chechnya. 12 jurors are struggling to decide the fate of a Chechen teenager (Apti Magamaev) who allegedly killed his Russian stepfather. The jurors: a racist taxi-driver, a suspicious doctor, a vacillating TV producer, a Holocaust survivor, a flamboyant musician, a cemetery manager, and others represent the fragmented society of modern day Russia. Amidst the battle between Chechens and Russians outside, a stray bird (a touch of New Age cinema) is flying above the jurors heads, alluding to tolerance. Written by Steve Shelokhonov
Based on the novel of the same name, Trydno byt bogom (AKA Hard to be a God) has been transferred to film at least once before. Frustrated explorers from Earth observe the chaotic and oppressive lives of a society on a distant planet that has yet to progress beyond the middle ages.
Little Shop of Horrors, Russian Style
By Oleg Liakhovich The Moscow News
On the heels of the XXVI Moscow International Film Festival came an event even more pompous and widely publicized – the premiere of a movie meant to spark a revival of Russia’s popular cinema while giving Hollywood a battle royale on its own terms
Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor in original Russian) depicts the on-going struggle between the magical forces of good and evil in present-day Moscow. The movie was eagerly awaited by fans and became an object of an intense advertising campaign in all media. Its US $3mln budget – an incredible sum for a local movie – and plentiful special effects, also a novelty for Russian cinema with its established traditions of inexpensive quality dramas and solid adaptations of literary classics, were to make Night Watch Russia’s equivalent of an American summer blockbuster. The producers actually went as far as officially calling it “the first Russian blockbuster” long before it had the chance to appear on screen. Even Russia’s own Oscar winner and self-styled national sage director Nikita Mikhalkov, while admitting that the film “wasn’t his thing”, said that it was “cool” and called it Russia’s “answer to Quentin Tarantino”. Serious praise indeed – after all, only a dirty mind would suspect Mikhalkov of still being sore at old Quentin for “stealing” his Palme d’Or in Cannes back in 1994.
Lightsaber, Anyone? Continue reading
Synopsis: One Monday morning Katya, Vika and Zhanna learn that there will be a school disco, their first disco, on the coming Saturday night. The girls feverishly start preparing for the event, which rapidly becomes the most important moment ever in their universe, and looks like the ideal way to escape their daily lives…
The new film “Detochki” (Kids) opens at the gate of the Dandelion Children’s Home in an unknown provincial town. Inside, the town’s rich and powerful are bedding (or getting ready to bed) the home’s very young charges when a knife flies into one of their throats. Soon, seven pedophiles have been stabbed to death by a group of kids from a local children’s home.
With that shocking start, “Detochki” grabs the viewer and doesn’t let go, as the murderous children, dressed in black hoodies with knives hidden up their sleeves, face up against the city’s corrupt and heinous citizens and, the viewer knows, Russia’s too.
The film, directed by Dmitry Astrakhan, has sparked huge controversy since it opened Apr. 3, even though it’s only showing at a few cinemas in Moscow. Some critics say it’s dangerous and advocates vigilante justice. Continue reading
The film was shot in Mari language and tells 23 different tales influenced by the Mari folklore. Each of these stories represents the specific approach to sexuality of “the last authentic pagans in Europe”. In view of this, the film could be considered a Mari “Decameron”.
Comprised of 23 vignettes illuminating the pagan-influenced mores of western Russia’s Meadow Mari, the latest film from director Alexey Fedorchenko (Silent Souls) is a beguiling, painterly portrait of a culture driven by a ritualistic appreciation of female beauty and feminine sexuality.
Pagan folklore is alive amongst the Meadow Mari, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group in western Russia. Alexey Fedorchenko’s latest film comprises twenty-three vignettes that centre on the sexual lives of a collection of Mari women, recreating an idiosyncratic world of magical realism in which female fertility, beauty, and, ultimately, happiness is the driving force.