Aleksandr Sokurov – Krug vtoroy AKA The Second Circle (1990)

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Review from Strictly Film School

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A solitary figure trudges through the inclement weather of a vast, remote Siberian wilderness. An unyielding gust of wind brings the young man (Pyotr Aleksandrov) to his knees as he attempts to avert the caustic, sustained force of the snowstorm, momentarily obscuring him from view, erased from the harsh and desolate landscape. The stark, monochromatic image of the film then cuts to an ironically appropriate impersonal and nondescript official title sequence, as the premature sound of a knock on a door seemingly intrudes on the necessity to present information on the film’s certification. It is a subtle reminder of life’s evolving process: the intrusive nature and unexpected inevitability of death. The film reopens to a jarring, oddly lit image of the gaunt young man standing by the foot of his father’s bed in a cramped and squalid apartment. The dispatched medical technicians dispassionately confirm his father’s death from natural causes, but explain that they cannot issue a death certificate, pragmatically remarking “You should have placed him in a hospital. Everything would have been easier then.” Left alone in the apartment, the son compassionately observes his father’s inanimate countenance before preparing his father’s body for burial: selecting his best suit, bathing him in the snow in the absence of running water in the apartment, transporting his father’s body to the outpatient clinic for a death certificate examination. Continue reading

Anatoly Petrov – Rozhdenie Erota AKA The birth of Eros (1989)

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Animation by Anatoly Petrov, The first of 4 Greek mythological stories with an erotic character about Aphrodite and Eros he made between 1989 and 1996.
The style is quite experimental on the first two, as he strived for a 3 dimensional effect using just handcrafted cel-animation means.

For animating it means he drew 2 layers for each animation sequence, which doubles the amount of animation drawings.and he drew them all by himself, showing his extraordinary skills and speed as animator.
There are many switches in style in the animation, sometimes using sketch material,at other times fully worked out animation, and from black and white to colour, etc. It gives the animation a quit experimental character. A sort of deconstructed style
The nudity and erotique character of the 4 animations is unique for soviet animation. With every animation of the serie the erotism gets more explicit. The 4 are the only Russian erotic animation art known to me Continue reading

Aleksandr Sokurov – Peterburgskiy dnevnik: Mozart. Rekviem (2004)

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– Sokurov directed and filmed Mozart’s Requiem for the Rossica Choir in the wonderful hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Preceded by his student film, inspired by La Traviata.

The first night of a performance of Mozart’s Requiem staged by Alexander Sokurov, with the Rossica choir from St. Petersburg, led by Valentina Kopylova-Pantchenko, took place in the small hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at the end of the winter of 2003. The choir holds a special place in this presentation of the Requiem – it is the main actor and plays the main role. The director was looking to give a new resonance to classical music in both an aesthetic as well as a musical context. On stage, the action takes place in a clear, simple, dynamic and beautiful way, within the space of a magnificent hall. The performance was a surprising revelation even for music-lovers. Continue reading

Aleksandr Vartanov – Sobiratel pul (2012)

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An intense drama of an adolescent adrift in an uncaring world, Bullet Collector is the powerful debut of Russian director Alexander Vartanov. A unique and visually striking work, the film examines the traumas of a wide-eyed 14-year-old boy, struggling to cope with a terrible home life dominated by an angry mother and a stepfather who can’t stand the sight of him. His school routine is plagued by brutal attacks from bullies, and his life becomes even more nightmarish after he is sent to a hellish reform school. Losing himself in an elaborate fantasy world where he is loved by a beautiful girlfriend and able to defeat his oppressors, the boy finds the reality of his situation continually shocking him back to a very different life. But is he actually just a timid teen destined for abuse, or will he gain the strength to fight off his attackers? Continue reading

Kirill Serebrennikov – Izmena AKA Betrayal (2012)

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A man and a woman, two casual acquaintances, learn that their respective spouses are having an affair with each other. This discovery drives them to do things they didn’t dare to do before. What will prevail—the feeling of jealousy or passion? What to choose—revenge or forgiveness? The protagonists are looking for something to build a new life upon, but it is not easy: their every action is influenced by the fact of infidelity, and this infidelity has its own logic. Continue reading

Renata Litvinova – Poslednyaya skazka Rity AKA Rita’s Last Fairy Tale (2011)

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The film speaks about universal themes of love, hate and search for love. The portrait of three women represents these three states. Tanya Neubivko has never been in love but optimistically is searing for it. Her unfortunate and even dangerous encounters with strangers on dates almost got her killed. Rita is happily engaged and planning a wedding after a routine medical check-up. Nadya is a very unhappy doctor who hates her husband and finds relief in alcohol. The story takes place in a surreal hospital with the leaking roof and hollow walls and constantly smoking doctors, where Rita is destined to die. Continue reading