Russia

Aleksei Balabanov – Gruz 200 aka Cargo 200 (2007)

Synopsis:
A young woman is taken hostage by a police officer and subsequently abused by the lawman gone mad.

Review:
The term Cargo 200 refers to the bodies of USSR soldiers brought home from Afghanistan in the 1980s, but in Aleksei Balabanov’s film of the same name every character seems destined to become Cargo 200, either actually ending up dead or at least ending up in a dead-end quagmire of pointless violence and immoral behaviour. Unflinching would be a gentle word to describe this portrayal of a doomed humanity, but the exact point of the film beyond its doomsday message is never really clear. Unlike other recent excursions into nihilism as expressed through heartless sex and pointless violence (Mortier’s Ex Drummer comes to mind as a recent example), Balabanov’s film never goes beyond stating the obvious. Read More »

Aleksei Balabanov – Kochegar aka A Stoker (2010)

The stoker is a veteran from the Afghanistan war, retired major and hero of the USSR who spends his life in a heating chamber writing a book and trowing coal on the fire. From time to time an old friend , veteran as well , pays him visits to throw in the fire something more than coal.The bales seem to be human bodies but the stoker doesn’t care because his friend tells him they were bad people.
The stoker’s beautiful daughter which lives with him only visits her father to ask him for money. The only interested in his work are two little girls that ask him the most surprising questions. Read More »

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Dorogie tovarishchi AKA Dear Comrades! (2020)

When the communist government raises food prices in 1962, the rebellious workers from the small industrial town of Novocherkassk go on strike. The massacre which then ensues is seen through the eyes of a devout party activist. Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky – Nostalghia AKA Nostalgia (1983)

Quote:
The opening scene is a single shot showing a family and their dog descending a hill, a large tree in the foreground, the distant countryside vanishing into the rolling fog. The camera pushes in imperceptibly, but continuously from the beginning. On the soundtrack, possibly diegetic, a sole woman sings. Meanwhile, the film credits scroll up over the scene. The family and dog, upon reaching the area in front of a hut, stop moving. Verdi’s Messa da Requiem fades in, overlapping for a brief moment with the woman singing. Once the foreground tree fully disappears, the scene freezes; the credits continue until the title appears, and the scene fades to black. The Requiem continues an audible transition to the second scene. Read More »

Andrey Zvyagintsev – Elena (2011)

Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late in life and each one has children from previous marriages. Elena’s son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and he is constantly asking Elena for money. Vladimir’s daughter is a careless young woman who has a distant relationship with her father. A heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. A brief but somehow tender reunion with his daughter leads him to make an important decision: she will be the only heiress of his wealth. Back home he announces it to Elena. Her hopes to financially help her son suddenly vanish. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life. Read More »

Philipp Yuryev – Kitoboy AKA The Whaler Boy (2020)

The main character of the film is a Chukchi teenager who fell in love with an American girl from erotic video chat and decided to swim across the Bering Strait to meet her.

“The Whale Boy” is a Russian feature film directed by Philip Yuriev, released in 2020. Filmed in the village of Lorino, Chukotka region with the participation of real residents of the village. The two main roles were played by non-professional actors. Read More »

Sergei Dvortsevoy – Ayka (2018)

A poor woman without a job struggles to raise her child.

Ayka is a 2018 drama film directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. At Cannes, Samal Yeslyamova won the award for Best Actress. It was selected as the Kazakhstani entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, making the December shortlist. Read More »