Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sergei Solovyov - Chuzhaya belaya i ryaboy AKA The Stray White and the Speckled (1986)



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In a poor provincial town, the ragamuffin boys are frenziedly drilled for combat, and at nights the local elite, gathered in a pool room, boasts of fictitious biographies, while bands of boys amuse themselves with bloody fights on trashy vacant plots… One of the most vivid staples of the postwar childhood were pigeons. They could be bought, sold or stolen. One day a beautiful white dove appeared over the town. Risking his life, Ivan caught the White. And immediately became the target of the “pigeon” mafia…

Vitali Kanevsky - Zamri, umri, voskresni! AKA Freeze Die Come to Life (1990)



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"Freeze-Die-Come to Life," a first film by Vitaly Kanevski, offers a stark look at growing up in the frozen wastes of the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. A largely autobiographical work, it is the sweetly grim story of a couple of street-smart kids in the mining town of Suchan. A Russian variation on India's "Salaam Bombay," the film both celebrates and buries youthful innocence.

An engaging pair of nonprofessionals, Pavel Nazarov and Dinara Drukarova, are Valerka and Galiya, playmates who manage a semblance of childhood despite their sorry circumstances. And they don't make circumstances any sorrier than in Suchan, with its towering ash heaps and streets oozing raw sewage. Ragged and hungry, Valerka and Galiya sell hot tea, a ruble a cup, to the downcast miners, the one-legged veterans and the nickel-a-night whores.

Dziga Vertov - Entuziazm (Simfoniya Donbassa) AKA Enthusiasm (The Donbass Symphony) (1931)



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One of the first Soviet sound films, it deals with the Five Year Plan of the late 1920s, and represents Vertov’s radical attempt to link economic progress with the introduction of sound in cinema.

Grigori Kozintsev - Korol Lir AKA King Lear (1969)



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From IMDB user comments:

Black and white cinematography of Gritsius, the music of Shostakovich and the enigmatic face of Jarvet, makes all other versions of King Lear smaller in stature. Lord Olivier himself acknowledged the stark brilliance of this film. Oleg Dal's fool lends a fascinating twist to the character. The "Christian Marxism" of Kozintsev can knock-out any serious student of cinema and Shakespeare.

Kozintsev is one of least sung masters of Russian cinema. His cinema is very close to that of Tarkovsky and Sergei Paradjanov. Kozintsev's Lear is not a Lear that mourns his past and his daughters--his Lear is close to the soil, the plants, and all elements of nature. That's what makes Kozintsev's Shakespearean works outstanding.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Yuri Vorontsov; Igor Rachuk - The phenomenon of the Soviet cinema (1980)



Author: Yuri Vorontsov; Igor Rachuk
Publisher: Moskva : Progress Publishers, 1980
Edition/Format: Print book : English

Related Subjects:

Motion pictures -- Soviet Union -- History.
Cinéma -- URSS -- Histoire.
Motion pictures.
Soviet Union.

Mikhail Kalatozov - Jim Shvante (marili svanets) AKA Salt For Svanetia (1930)



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The Georgian-born filmmaker Michail Kalatozov (19031973) is best remembered for directing some of the most innovative and successful Soviet films of the 1950s and 1960s. This DVD presents digitally restored versions of two of his lesser-known, early works, which were highly controversial in their time but now rank among the finest achievements in Soviet silent cinema. Salt for Svanetia is an austere depiction of peasant life in the inhospitable terrain of the Caucasus Mountains. Nail in the Boot, a biting parable of wartime irresponsibility, chillingly prefigures the later Stalinist purge trials. Günter Buchwald's and Stephen Horne's prize-winning scores and the experimental accompaniment by Masha Khotimshi underline the poetic and expressive visual style of these exceptional masterpieces.

Vsevolod Pudovkin - Mat AKA Mother (1926)



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The son of a worthless alcoholic father and a hardworking mother leads
an illegal strike during the failed 1905 uprising. In an attempt to save
her son, the mother inadvertently gives him away to the police, but
gradually turns to communism after experiencing injustice and suffering.

Pudovkin's first feature turns Maxim Gorky's rambling novel into a
tightly constructed narrative. The film's emotional and visual impact
has not diminished with time, nor has Baranovskaya's
performance. - Holt's Foreign Film Guide.

Valentina Brumberg & Zinaida Brumberg - Noch pered Rozhdestvom AKA The Night Before Christmas (1951)



From Wikipedia:

The Night Before Christmas (Russian: Ночь пе́ред Рождество́м, Noch pered Rozhdestvom) is a 1951 Soviet traditionally-animated feature film directed by the Brumberg sisters and produced by the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow. The film is based on Nikolai Gogol's story The Night Before Christmas.

The animation features heavy use of rotoscoping, known as "Éclair" in the Soviet Union, and is an example of the Socialist-Realist period in Russian animation.