Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Happy Birthday, Andrei Tarkovsky!

April 4, 2010

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The Last-Minute ND/NF 2010 Preview, Part 2: Hunting & Zn. to Norteado

March 24, 2010

Families take the center stage in the second part of our New Directors New Films preview. In the Netherlands, a couple comes undone thanks to a new arrival. In Italy, a concubine dares to wander outside a brood’s closed ranks. In Canada, mother and son make like a WWE production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And you don’t even want to know what they’re doing to each other in Greece. It’s a line-up so gripping that film fans won’t even be able to turn from the screen to tell that elderly couple behind them to shut up. Hit the linked titles for more goodies.

Read the first part of our New Directors/New Films preview.

Hunting & Zn. (Hunting & Sons)

Tako and Sandra oughta be poster children for the Netherlands good life. Successful in both work and in life, the childhood sweethearts are the envy of all their friends. Sandra’s pregnancy should be cause for further celebration. In Sander Burger’s domestic horror, however, the blessed event is the very thing that causes their bourgeois bliss to spectacularly deflate. Don’t stand too close to the canal!

Io sono l’amore (I Am Love)

Luca Guadagnino takes a few frames from Visconti in this fragrant family saga, garnished with plenty of love, Italian style. Tilda Swinton is the beautiful Russian odalisque who marries into a fashion dynasty. Her second-class spousal existence is upended when she falls for a humpy young chef. Problem is Swinton’s surging libido might bring down the rest of the clan with her.

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Trailerama: Kak ya provyol etim letom (How I Ended This Summer)

February 22, 2010

With Roads to Koktebel, writer-director Alexei Popogrebsky established himself as one of Russian #inema’s most promising talents. His se#ond film looks just as intriguing. A young college student repairs for the summer to a remote polar station in the Russian Arctic, manned by a crusty old-timer whose tour of duty is about to come to an end. The isolation is initially exhilerating. Then the pair start to get on each other’s nerves, a situation exacerbated by the boy’s slip-ups. How is this summer going to end? Something tells us it won’t be pretty. The thriller won three Silver Bears (for both lead actors and cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov) at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. With Sergei Puskepalis, Grigory Dobrygin.

Berlin 2010 Preview: Forum, Part 3

February 11, 2010

Yeah, so the Berlin Film Festival has probably started already. This may still be of use to somebody. The Forum section is traditionally populated by newbies and experimental filmmakers. This year, several themes have emerged, among them the importance of labor and the plight of women in the modern economic system. The third part of our Forum preview has a particularly feminist bent, with documentary filmmakers tackling life in both ultra-Orthodox Israel and ultra-crazy North Korea. After it all, though, we end with a zippy Taiwanese comedy about a guy who just wants to visit his Parisian girlfriend. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Click here to read the first part of our Forum preview.
Click here to read the second part of our Forum preview.

Pus (Haze)

A handgun and a photograph lead a young DVD pirate to become involved in a troubled couple’s lives. Director Tayfun Pirselimoglu situates this noir threesome in the industrial outskirts of Istanbul, where the atmosphere is as potent as Eraserhead’s distillation of Philadelphia.

Putty Hill

American filmmaker Matt Porterfield uses the day before a junkie’s funeral to scrutinize the rest of the family. In a faux documentary style, Porterfield creates deft sketches of put-upon skate punks and their impressively inked parents.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Forum, Part 2

February 11, 2010

Forum is the section where Berlineastes seek out the freshest filmmakers doing their bit to push back the form’s parameters. The second part of our Forum preview kicks off with a conventional gangster story, but there’s wilder stuff in store. How about a musical version of a 1928 Communist classic from Japan, for instance? Or maybe a mad romance from Goa? Other highlights include the new film from Laura Poiras and more from the Japan, South Korea and Taiwan vanguard. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Click here to read the first part of our Forum preview.

Indigène d’Eurasie (Eastern Drift)

Career criminal Gena has gone from extorting protection fees to dealing drugs. Now he wants out. His decision means going on the run. In a race across Europe reminiscent of Wim Wenders’s glory years, Gena reflects on his life. Through his frantic character, Lithuanian director and star Sharunas Bartas’s film sketches a criminal history of the continent.

Kanikōsen (The Crab Cannery Ship)

Takiji Kobayashi’s 1929 agitprop novel has come back into fashion thanks to discontent with the Japanese economic system. Director Sabu (Drive) adapts the time-honored story of a ship divided between downtrodden workers and vicious bosses, throwing in some singing and dancing along the way. With Nightmare Detective’s Ryuhei Matsuda.

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Main/Special, Part 3

February 6, 2010

Starting with a Sapphic rock ‘n’ roll band and ending with an elegy for the Bolivian aristocracy, the final part of our Panorama preview contains a broad range of viewpoints. Of note is an Aki Kaurismaki-endorsed story of incest, stories of seclusion from Russia and Israel, a no holds barred biopic about Ian Dury and a charming collection of South Korean actresses. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Read the first part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Panorama preview.
Read the first part of our Berlin Competition preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Competition preview.

The Owls

An aging ex-members of a lesbian rock band get a kick up the behind by the appearance of a 20-year-old newcomer. Twisted passions lead to both rebirth and revenge. The ninth film from Liberian-born lesbian director Cheryl Dunye (My Baby’s Daddy) stars Guinevere Turner, best known for writing the screenplays to American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol.

Paha perhe (Bad Family)

Produced by Aki Kaurismaki, this deadpan comedy features an obsessive single dad (Ville Virtanen) who will do anything to keep his son from hooking up with the love of his life—who happens to be the boy’s sister. The icky topic is perfect fodder for that very special brand of Finnish humor. Directed by Aleksi Salmenperä (A Man’s Work).

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Competition, Part 1

February 3, 2010

The Berlin Film Festival is often overshadowed by Cannes Film Festival as it’s very difficult to dock a yacht in Berlin. It’s endured for 60 years, though, as an early warning system for the best of the year’s international art house fare. The Competition strand features those films vying for the Golden Bear, which in past years has gone to Jose Padilha’s The Elite Squad and Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow. The field’s first half features Japanese war stories, the making of one of the worst films ever made, criminals old and young and the returns of Polanski, Baumbach and Popogrebsky.

Bal (Honey)

Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s fifth film is a father/son story set in the remote mountains. Young Yusuf is ostracized at school for his stammer, but worships his beekeeper dad, who tends to a network of precarious treetop hives. When his father is called away on business, Yusuf follows him into the forest.

Kyatapira (Caterpillar)

Lieutenant Kurokawa returns from the front of the second Sino-Japanese War. He’s had his arms and legs blown off. Shigeko is expected to dutifully attend to her immobile war hero husband. Director Koji Wakamatsu’s previous film, the acclaimed United Red Army, still awaits release in the U.S. Based on the story by Edogawa Rampo, which was censored by the Japanese authorities in 1939.

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Rotterdam 2010 Preview: VPRO Tiger Awards

January 22, 2010

The Rotterdam International Film Festival introduced the VPRO Tiger Awards in 1995. Each year, three prizes are awarded to filmmakers for their first or second film. Winners have included Lou Ye (Suzhong River) and Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy). In contention this year are a host of deadly serious films, tackling family relationships, leave-taking of many stripes and that old stand-by sex … often in the raw and ragged manner of contemporary cinema. The contenders also comprise a tour of emerging cinemas from Costa Rica to Georgia.

Agua fría de mar (Cold water of the Sea)

The pitch: A couple looking to sell their property on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast meet a seven-year-old stray.
Their lives are changed forever? Well, the tot certainly throws emotions and class boundaries into sharp relief in Paz Fabrega’s debut feature.

Alamar (To the Sea)

The pitch: A young man goes on a fishing trip with his father in the Caribbean’s Chinchorro reef.
Lots of booze and marlin to be had? It’s certainly an exercise in male bonding. Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s documentary approach to his story means the egrets get as much attention as the relationships.

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Trailerama: Veselchaki (Jolly Fellows)

October 19, 2009

If somebody told Josef Stalin that in 2009 there would be a Russian movie about dancing transvestites, he would have had them shot in the back of the head and buried in the nearest forest. Well, Papa Joe, we hope you’re boring a hole at the bottom of your grave. Felix Mikhailov’s drama about a quintet of drag queens looks like a combination of Boys in the Band and To Wong Foo. Either way, a stiff vodka or three is advised.

Trailerama: Я (Ya)

September 7, 2009

When your hero voluntarily admits himself into a psychiatric ward, be assured all bets are off. Igor Voloshin’s film jumps between the daily life of the bughouse, the childhood memories of the protagonist, and the strange parable of Rom, a rock-star-like figure who attracts a group of disciples. The trailer indicates that Я’s a showcase for Voloshin’s keen sense of pop-surreal imagery, but he’s got a sense of humor, too. Bonus points for the use of “Venus.”