Welcome to the ICM Forum.
Check out our Magazine

If you notice any issues please post in the Q&A thread. Email issue should be fixed. If you encounter this issue, contact PeacefulAnarchy
Podcast: Talking Images (Episode 60 released October 1st: IMDb vs Letterboxd)
iCinema Magazine: WE ARE LIVE! (We just need more content)
BECOME A JUROR - SIGN UP IN OCTOBER: ICMForum Film Festival 2022 will be held Mon Nov 14 - Dec 12
Polls: Music Videos (Results), 2010 (Results), Senegal (Sep 30th), 500<400 (Oct 3rd), Japan (Oct 31st)
Challenges: Horror, Indian Subcontinent, Each Year
About: Welcome All New Members, Terms of Use, Q&A

Russia/USSR Challenge (Official, August 2022)

blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

Russia/USSR Challenge (Official, August 2022)

#1

Post by blocho »

Russia/USSR Challenge

Image
The Cold Summer of 1953

Image
White Sun of the Desert

Goal:
Watch movies from Russia and the USSR. Discuss them.

Rules:
- Soviet-era films from the various Republics are eligible.
- Post-Soviet films from former Republics are ineligible.
- Whether any particular movie meets the eligibility rules listed above is up to the discretion of participants.
- Challenge runs from August 1, 2022, to August 31, 2022.
- A feature film (at least 40 minutes) counts as one point.
- 80 minutes of short films or miniseries/TV episodes counts as one point.
- Films must be watched one at a time, at single speed (not sped up), and in their entirety.
- Not a rule but a request: When you post what you have watched, please include your reaction or at least a rating so that other people can learn about movies they might not know about.

Stats & Formatting:
- Title (Year) is the preferred format.
- Don't edit posts to include new movies you've watched. Always make new posts.

Previous Editions:
2011 - Led by Nopros with 40 points.
2012 - Led by 3eyes with 33 points.
2013 - Led by Armoreska with 65 points.
2014 - Led by 3eyes and Armoreska with 15 points.
2015 - Led by sushantv10 with 41 points.
2018 - Led by jeroeno with 60 points.
2019 - Led by jeroeno with 63 points.
2020 - Led by blueboybob with 113 points.

Official iCM lists:
Russian Guild of Film Critics's Best Russian Films
Empire Russia's 100 Best Russian Films: Readers' Choice

Participants
RankParticipant# of Points
1St. Gloede54
2jdidaco42
3DudeLanez34
4blocho8
5maxwelldeux3
5OldAle13
7ororama2
8Mario Gaborovic1
8RolandKirkSunglasses1
8sol1
Last edited by blocho on September 2nd, 2022, 2:27 am, edited 13 times in total.
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#2

Post by St. Gloede »

Thanks for hosting, blocho!

I have gone through the films I have available, and have set up a quick watchlist of 15 films from the USSR I'm hoping to get to, as well as a set of interesting films to continue with once I hit 15. In terms of goals, probably just 20-25, but let's see.
User avatar
OldAle1
Donator
Posts: 7803
Joined: February 9th, 2017, 7:00 am
Location: Dairyland, USA
Contact:

#3

Post by OldAle1 »

Quick question on Bondarchuk's War and Peace, which I might watch - is it to be scored as one film or separately? It's currently listed on IMDb both as a single work and in it's four constituent parts which makes for some lovely confusion. Anyway, just want to know, don't really care either way. No idea how much I'll participate in this one otherwise.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#4

Post by blocho »

OldAle1 wrote: July 31st, 2022, 10:31 pm Quick question on Bondarchuk's War and Peace, which I might watch - is it to be scored as one film or separately? It's currently listed on IMDb both as a single work and in it's four constituent parts which makes for some lovely confusion. Anyway, just want to know, don't really care either way. No idea how much I'll participate in this one otherwise.
Boy, that's a tough one. I read that it was released in four separate sections, which suggests four movies to me. It kind of reminds me of Soderbergh's Che or Tarantino's Kill Bill. Both of those seemed composed of two separate movies to me. But I haven't seen War and Peace. Perhaps someone who's actually seen it can weigh in.
User avatar
gunnar
Posts: 1035
Joined: June 6th, 2021, 3:38 am
Location: Michigan
Contact:

#5

Post by gunnar »

blocho wrote: August 1st, 2022, 12:32 am
OldAle1 wrote: July 31st, 2022, 10:31 pm Quick question on Bondarchuk's War and Peace, which I might watch - is it to be scored as one film or separately? It's currently listed on IMDb both as a single work and in it's four constituent parts which makes for some lovely confusion. Anyway, just want to know, don't really care either way. No idea how much I'll participate in this one otherwise.
Boy, that's a tough one. I read that it was released in four separate sections, which suggests four movies to me. It kind of reminds me of Soderbergh's Che or Tarantino's Kill Bill. Both of those seemed composed of two separate movies to me. But I haven't seen War and Peace. Perhaps someone who's actually seen it can weigh in.
I watched it back in February and think of it as a single film since that's how I watched it and it adapts a single (long) novel, though it was released in the Soviet Union so that people had to purchase four separate admissions to see it. It was treated as a single film for its submission to the Academy Awards and also, I think, for the Golden Globes and elsewhere. I think either decision would be valid and since each part is feature length in its own right, treating it as four separate films certainly makes sense.
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#6

Post by St. Gloede »

1. Sport, Sport, Sport (1970, Elem Klimov)

Image

Such a refreshing and unexpected delight. Klimov mixed the bizarre fictional retellings of sports history from a masseuse claiming to have been the driving force behind a long list of athletes, with an equally fun and alive essay and reflection on sports and sports fans. Ever-evolving, playful and rarely still this is certainly an underrated gem. 8/10


2. Akhalgazrda kompozitoris mogzauroba / A Young Composer's Journey (1985, Giorgi Shengelaia)

Image

I had such high hopes for this one, as I loved Pirosmani and it had a great start filled with strong cinematography and uneasy, offbeat atmosphere, with some softly bleak comedic touches. Unfortunately, it works better as a drama than a comedy, and when the crazy-eyed sidekick enters the picture the film gets terribly one-note - despite being quite brave about the mayhem in the immediate post-revolutionary era. 5/10.


3. Prigodi poltinnika / Adventures of Half a Rubel (1929, Aksel Lundin)

Image

A charming and broad childhood comedy, that despite being a bit too heavy-handed with its greedy rich people vs. suffering working class packed a lot of fun, some top rate Soviet montage and a nice amount of adventure - including trying their hands on Griffith's splitting ice in a river. 6/10
User avatar
Mario Gaborović
Posts: 4055
Joined: April 11th, 2014, 6:00 am
Location: Pančevo
Contact:

#7

Post by Mario Gaborović »

01. Plokhoy khoroshiy chelovek (1973)
User avatar
Armoreska
Posts: 14725
Joined: November 1st, 2012, 6:00 am
Location: capital of ukraine
Contact:

#8

Post by Armoreska »

Ooh I'll have to boycott this one :lol:
Spoiler
jk, there's barely any remaining movies from there I would still watch
he or A. or Armo or any

Image
currently working towards a vegan/free world + thru such film lists: GODARD, r/antinatalism recommends,..
the rest
ANARCHISTS, ANIMAL RIGHTS, Assisted suicide, Existential films, SOCIALIST CINEMA (an amalgamation of lists), Feminist lists, various GSSRM lists (aka LGBTQ+), 2010s bests, Visual Effects nominees, kid-related stuff, great animes (mini-serie or feature), very 80s movies, mah huge sci-fi list, ENVIRO, remarkable Silent Films and Pre-Code (exploring 1925 atm) and every shorts and docu list I'm aware of and
/forum.icmforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1434
and "Gordon" Liu Chia-Hui/Liu Chia-Liang and Yuen Woo-ping and "Sammo" Hung Kam-bo
imaginary awards | youtube channels | complaint lounge | explain how big a fan of slavery you are here, ..viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1535 and here: ..viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4484
User avatar
RolandKirkSunglasses
Posts: 597
Joined: January 15th, 2021, 12:54 pm
Contact:

#9

Post by RolandKirkSunglasses »

OldAle1 wrote: July 31st, 2022, 10:31 pm Quick question on Bondarchuk's War and Peace, which I might watch - is it to be scored as one film or separately? It's currently listed on IMDb both as a single work and in it's four constituent parts which makes for some lovely confusion. Anyway, just want to know, don't really care either way. No idea how much I'll participate in this one otherwise.
Personally I'd consider it as one film in the same vein as "Fantomas" and "Les Vampires", multiple parts with enough continuity to be considered one whole film even if each part was released separately.

Having said that, I can see "The Human Condition Trilogy" classified as one whole film or 3 separate films without major objections on either account.
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#10

Post by St. Gloede »

4. V boy idut odni 'stariki' / Only Old Men Are Going to Battle (1974, Leonid Bykov)

Image

Maybe something is lost in translation here, but I don't see the great appeal - the film is perfectly well made and decent, but as a slow-moving film about a group of fighter pilots that die in battle one by one failed to have a gripping impact on me. It is mainly set on the ground with light comedic touches, but few characters really popped in this ensemble. The concept itself could have been haunting, and it is still solid, but it lacks the atmosphere (or involving characters) to deliver for me. 5/10


5. Neulovimye mstiteli / The Elusive Revengers (1967, Edmond Keosayan)

Image

A fun, action-packed Soviet western (if you can call it that) about 4 teenagers fighting the whites during the civil war. It could tone down the random musical interludes (it is not a musical, but several scenes where we get full performances), and as expected it joins on a more patriotic/propagandistic note, but a fun ride. 6/10.


6. Sobache serdtse / Heart of a Dog (1988, Vladimir Bortko)

Image

Shot in a grimey sepia like tone, this peculiar comedy is set in the early post-revolutionary era, and focuses on a more subdued, intellectual and snobbish Frankeinesque doctor conducting experiments - one of which is placing a human brain inside a dog. It is a film in two parts (with opening and ending credits), and Part 1 is the superior one, giving us about half an hour with the dog as our lead, with comedic thoughts and observations of human life. The film loses a decent bit of its charm post-transplant, where the dog slowly turns into a human (in this world brains are the reason for our autonomy, and don't seem to necessarily affect thoughts/memory/self - an odd touch). The film is still amusing, especially in its lampooning takes on Soviet faithful, setting up a commission in the building with churchlike songs and endless amounts of zeal. The doctor and later the human version of the dog are perfectly decent protagonists, but the film is never fully laugh-out loud or providing food for thought, etc. It plays more like a concept film with comedic touches, with the dog being quite brutish. Possibly an allergy on the Soviet Union itself, painting the proletariat as dogs(?). Many interesting things to read into it and discuss, but good rather than great IMO. 7/10.


7. Respublika ShKID / The Republic SHKID (1966, Gennadi Poloka)

Image

I loved the dark and dirty cinematography in the beginning, creating a picture of a poverty stricken and war-torn USSR, with the streets seemingly in utter disarray - and a lot of the group dynamics throughout this film is visually excellent - certainly one piece of Soviet film theory that is always exciting to see when done well. The film itself is an episodic take on the classic teacher/school hoping to reform anruly children, and if I was to be cruel I could have called it the better made Russian original to Hababam sinifi. :D The interesting Dynamic thrown into the mix here is that the principal gives the students self-government and lets them organize themselves - resulting in the "republic" known as SHKID. We see everything from petty squabbles, issues with democracy, a kid attempting to build himself up like a capitalist, and more. It is often cute, sometimes dark and increasingly funny. The messaging is also interesting as you can wonder if there are some subliminal messaging going on against the USSR or not. It is also a little clunky and cutesy, as is to be expected, and why oh why do these Soviet films from the 60s think they need singing? 6/10
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#11

Post by blocho »

1. Desyat Negrityat (1987)
Another adaptation of the the famed Agatha Christie novel, and apparently the first one that’s almost entirely faithful to the original text. The first ten minutes here are great, misty and mysterious as the soon-to-be victims travel to the island. All of the outdoor scenes benefit from the natural surroundings, shot on the Crimean coast, where steep cliffs accentuate the tension of the story. Unfortunately, the indoor scenes don’t have the same punch. The problem here is that if one already knows the narrative, enjoyment and dramatic intrigue can really only come from the acting and stylistic touches. And both are inconsistent.

2. Urga (1991)
A Russian truck driver in China falls asleep at the wheel and drives into a river. He is compelled to spend the night on the steppes as the guest of a Mongolian shepherd and his family. Despite not speaking the same language, the two develop a friendship that deepens as they travel to the city. Not a whole lot happens in this movie, but maybe it doesn’t have to. It’s pleasant enough as it is.

Also, Sylvester Stallone plays a surprisingly important role in the story. I didn’t see that coming.
User avatar
DudeLanez
Posts: 927
Joined: August 25th, 2020, 12:22 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

#12

Post by DudeLanez »

1. Zvenigora (1927, Dovzhenko) 6/10
jdidaco
Posts: 2001
Joined: February 3rd, 2017, 7:00 am
Contact:

#13

Post by jdidaco »

Thank you for hosting, blocho!!!

(Screenshots from 'Foma Gordeev' & this extraordinary collaboration between one of the greatest of Russian film writers, Gennady Shpalikov, and Belarusian filmmaker, Viktor Turov, 'Ya rodom iz detstva'),

Image

1. Foma Gordeev (Gordeyev Family, Mark Donskoy, 1959) 9/10
2. Ya rodom iz detstva (I Come from My Childhood, Viktor Turov, 1966) 10/10 (l)
3. Stantsionnyy smotritel (The Stationmaster, Sergey Solovyov, 1972) 9/10
4. Moskva, lyubov moya (Moscow, My Love, Aleksandr Mitta & Kenji Yoshida, 1974) 7.510
5. Skaz pro to, kak tsar Pyotr arapa zhenil (How Czar Peter the Great Married Off His Moor, Aleksandr Mitta, 1976) 8.5/10
6. Melodii beloy nochi (Melodies of a White Night, Sergey Solovyov & Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1977) 9.5/10
7. Suprugi Orlovy (The Orlovs, Mark Donskoy, 1978) 9/10
8. Podmoskovnye vechera (Katya Ismailova, Valeriy Todorovskiy, 1994) 8/10
9. Yurev den (Yuri's Day, Kirill Serebrennikov, 2008) 7.5/10
10. Petrovy v grippe (Petrov's Flu, Kirill Serebrennikov, 2021) 8/10

Image
User avatar
DudeLanez
Posts: 927
Joined: August 25th, 2020, 12:22 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

#14

Post by DudeLanez »

2. Poem of the Sea (1958, Solntseva) 4/10
3. Happy Days (1991, Balabanov) 6,5/10
Spoiler
1. Zvenigora (1927, Dovzhenko) 6/10
2. Poem of the Sea (1958, Solntseva) 4/10
3. Happy Days (1991, Balabanov) 6,5/10
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#15

Post by blocho »

3. The Red Tent (1969)
Mikhail Kalatazov's final film, unfortunately, doesn't reach the high standards of some of his previous masterpieces. It's a survival story, based on the actual crash of a dirigible involved in Arctic exploration in 1928. It's not bad by any means, but a lot more could have been done with a narrative like this.
User avatar
OldAle1
Donator
Posts: 7803
Joined: February 9th, 2017, 7:00 am
Location: Dairyland, USA
Contact:

#16

Post by OldAle1 »

1. Satana likuyushchiy / Satan Triumphant (Yakov Protazanov, 1917)

Image

It's our old friend the Devil, up to his usual tricks, in this story of a strict conservative pastor who lives with his humpbacked painter brother and the brother's wife in a small town, in relative harmony until...SATAN! shows up on a dark and stormy night and seeks shelter. Of course he doesn't say he's the fallen angel or anything, but we the audience will probably figure it out before anybody in the film does, and the pastor doesn't take too long. Satan worms his way into the pastor's soul, asking him why his deformed brother should have the wife, and he the obviously superior man remain celibate? Soon the evil work takes hold, with tragic results...

This was I guess originally a 2-part film, with each part probably screened separately - there are separate credits at the halfway point or so for Part II - but each part seems to be missing it's ending; if I had to guess I'd say the film ran about 2 hours total, but what we have today is 87 minutes, with each part given a very quick (kind of hilarious, actually) wrap-up in the last minute in the titles. I don't know that a complete restoration with all the missing footage would help any - while this isn't terrible or anything, it's quite easily the weakest of the five films I've seen from the director, predictable and full of the worst over-the-top acting that stereotypes a lot of silent film to the uninitiated; watching this I'd understand why people sometimes can't respond to silents. Star Ivan Mozzukhin (playing both the pastor, and his son in the second part) had a stellar career both in his native country and in France, where he fled after the Revolution, and he's got a certain magnetism to him, as does Aleksandr Chabrov as the Satan figure, and I tend to like stories of devils and their games with man, so this wasn't a total loss, but the filmmaking isn't all that interesting and on the whole it was pretty flat.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#17

Post by St. Gloede »

8. Krasnaya palatka / The Red Tent (1969, Mikhail Kalatozov)

Image

Interesting that both Blocho and I decided to seek out Kalatozov final film, and I have to say that despite coming in with low expectations, this film - or more specifically the 150-minute directors cut (I've since read that the shorter international version is meant to be superior and enjoys a Morricone score, anything could have helped really) - is just a sloggy mess of a film. The staging of the fantasy trial in Nobile's head is honestly the highlight, weak writing aside. The overblown Claudia Cardinale role (forced in by the producers) gives little, Sean Connery is irrelevant bar the imaginary ending - and while it does have some nice moments, it feels too self-serious for the material, with the script and characters rarely managing to pop. Kalatozov's weakest film for sure, and frankly, feels more like an inexperienced director trying his hand at a big budget for the first song rather than the swan song of a great master. 4/10


9. Skuki radi / Out of Boredom (1968, Artur Vojtetsky)

Image

Out of Boredom is probably one of the greatest visual demonstrations of a multi-stage class system. The consistent motif of the proprietors of a train station consistently dressing up in their finest suits and dresses, wife placed on a chair, child in-tow - rain or shine or snow - placed there with proud smiles to simply nod at the trains that don't ever seem to deliver a single passenger has a comedic edge in itself - but when you look at their dreaming faces as the 3rd, 2nd and finally first-class rolls by, with triumphant music, the grotesque comedy becomes more or more complete. We get close-ups of their faces, and close-ups of the rich living their enthralled, magical lives on display. Meanwhile, a lower-ranked man, stands in scruffier clothes to their side, ready to greet people of lesser stature - and he sees bars and poverty. However, the motif of class, and of its titular boredom goes further - with our trio at the top spending their days with bemused lazy dinners with quaint conversations, while their servant toils and the farmers/lower-class men go about their business in their poor sheds. Each character gets their moments, and by surprise, the servant slowly starts to become our lead as she enters a toxic relationship with one of the farmers - a secret her masters are soon to discover - and play with - out of boredom. Truly deserving of a thorough restoration, the visuals are wonderful, Out of Boredom may seem a little slim in parts due to its 78 minute runtime, but it packs a harrowing climax with the bleakest comedic touches possible. 8/10.
User avatar
OldAle1
Donator
Posts: 7803
Joined: February 9th, 2017, 7:00 am
Location: Dairyland, USA
Contact:

#18

Post by OldAle1 »

Mmm I think you guys have convinced me to skip The Red Tent for this challenge. Thanks! Looks kind of like something to see in a proper cinema restoration - if at all. In any case I can wait.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#19

Post by blocho »

St. Gloede wrote: August 8th, 2022, 10:49 pm (I've since read that the shorter international version is meant to be superior and enjoys a Morricone score, anything could have helped really) -
I thought I was listening to the Morricone score in the longer version I watched. And I was curious why the score was so unremarkable. Now that I've actually listened to the Morricone score, I know it definitely would have improved the movie.
User avatar
maxwelldeux
Donator
Posts: 9676
Joined: June 7th, 2016, 6:00 am
Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Contact:

#20

Post by maxwelldeux »

Before I post anything... quick eligibility question: Soy Cuba (1964)

Gun to my head, I'd probably call it Cuba, but it's got a Russian director, was Soviet financed, and very much seemed like a Soviet "propaganda" film to espouse the virtues of communism. With credits in Russian, oddly. Seems like a co-production to me. Good to include it here?
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#21

Post by blocho »

maxwelldeux wrote: August 9th, 2022, 1:48 am Before I post anything... quick eligibility question: Soy Cuba (1964)

Gun to my head, I'd probably call it Cuba, but it's got a Russian director, was Soviet financed, and very much seemed like a Soviet "propaganda" film to espouse the virtues of communism. With credits in Russian, oddly. Seems like a co-production to me. Good to include it here?
I forgot to put my usual rule in the first post that eligibility is up to the discretion of participants. I'll add that.

In my opinion, Soy Cuba is eligible. But again, it's your call.
User avatar
cinewest
Posts: 2922
Joined: February 15th, 2017, 7:00 am
Contact:

#22

Post by cinewest »

St. Gloede wrote: August 4th, 2022, 9:33 am

6. Sobache serdtse / Heart of a Dog (1988, Vladimir Bortko)

Image

Shot in a grimey sepia like tone, this peculiar comedy is set in the early post-revolutionary era, and focuses on a more subdued, intellectual and snobbish Frankeinesque doctor conducting experiments - one of which is placing a human brain inside a dog. It is a film in two parts (with opening and ending credits), and Part 1 is the superior one, giving us about half an hour with the dog as our lead, with comedic thoughts and observations of human life. The film loses a decent bit of its charm post-transplant, where the dog slowly turns into a human (in this world brains are the reason for our autonomy, and don't seem to necessarily affect thoughts/memory/self - an odd touch). The film is still amusing, especially in its lampooning takes on Soviet faithful, setting up a commission in the building with churchlike songs and endless amounts of zeal. The doctor and later the human version of the dog are perfectly decent protagonists, but the film is never fully laugh-out loud or providing food for thought, etc. It plays more like a concept film with comedic touches, with the dog being quite brutish. Possibly an allergy on the Soviet Union itself, painting the proletariat as dogs(?). Many interesting things to read into it and discuss, but good rather than great IMO. 7/10.



I liked this one more than you, I guess. Smart satire based on Bulgakov's novel. Thought it well done, too, but not something that really gets that inventive (I agree with your criticisms), cinematically. I'd Give it a high 7 (7.5), and I'm usually a harder grader than you. Literature tends to be better as literature, plays as plays (with rare exceptions), but good Russian cinema is hard to beat.
User avatar
cinewest
Posts: 2922
Joined: February 15th, 2017, 7:00 am
Contact:

#23

Post by cinewest »

Here are 5 useful sites for tracking down Russian cinema:
https://lidenz.com/five-great-websites- ... tv-online/
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#24

Post by blocho »

Has anyone seen Siberiade? I've found a link for a 205-minute version, but I'm seeing mention online of a 275-minute version. Does anyone know how long it should be or the difference between the two versions?
User avatar
cinewest
Posts: 2922
Joined: February 15th, 2017, 7:00 am
Contact:

#25

Post by cinewest »

I think I must have seen the 205 minute version when it was released in the 80's, and also again on dvd some time in the 2000's. would love to find the original longer version that probably ties together certain parts better, but oh, well. Can recommend several others films by the same director, which should be available on one of the sites I posted above.
User avatar
maxwelldeux
Donator
Posts: 9676
Joined: June 7th, 2016, 6:00 am
Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Contact:

#26

Post by maxwelldeux »

1. Storm Over Asia (1928)
Haven't seen Genghis Khan treated like this before, so this was interesting. Appreciated the historical aspects to the film more than anything else.

2. Soy Cuba (1964)
I found this more interesting as a historical piece and an art piece than as a narrative film. Definitely coming from the Soviet propaganda wing, it was interesting seeing this film, knowing just a bit about the VERY contemporary Bay of Pigs invasion. (Thanks, blocho, for weighing in on this one.)
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#27

Post by St. Gloede »

A duo of silent Ukranian propaganda films from 1930, neither of which are particularly good, but both have some exceptional qualities/moments and could likely be dissected and discussed for hours. In some ways, they feel like sister films, both focused on workers and peasants needing each other and working together for the glory of the Soviet Union.

10. Vybukhli dni / Blown Up Days (1930, Aleksandr Solovyov)

Image

This 5-year plan propaganda film has a lot of extremely impressive and fun touches is that it may just be one of the world's first "mockumentaries". I use that term a little loosely, but the central premise is actually a filmmaker following our Soviet hyper-serious leader (no intentional comedy) around in the Ukranian countryside, interviewing people, and in the final section "creating the future" - and the film itself ending with the filmmaker and leader watching the film together. The ending alone elevates a lot of the clunky over-the-top propaganda, and foreshadows my all-time favourite documentary endings: Chronicles of a Summer.

There is a lot of comedy here, from people interviewed being revealed to be less than the faithful communists that they appear to be, to repeated side-characters fumbling with new equipment, or just being eccentric (the old man yelling out "maintenance" brought out some laughs for sure) - but a lot of the propaganda touches and displays of dedication in the staunch, humourless and statuesque way is as usual grating. On the flipside, just as many pieces of Soviet montage, the look at progress, work and results are inspiring, and there is a lot of awe. There is also a lot of fast cutting and a mix of docu-like material and a slim fictional plot of overcoming Kulaks. As a whole it shows a believable, utopian look at how life could just 3 years ahead, and while clunky and despite the comedy framing, often humourless in its propaganda, the film leaves an overall pleasant aftertaste. 5/10.


11. Zhizn v rukakh / Life in Your Hands (1930, David Maryan)

Image

The world of Life in Your Hands presents a way of life that 90 years later can still feel like it is out of a sci-fi movie, with its near utopian communal building block, filled with luxurious and downright odd touches, including a large dining room with 3-course meals delivers by conveyor belt. I wonder if people actually lived like this, but it is extremely pleasing on the senses. It is however also an over-the-top case of down-your-throat propaganda, where the often beautiful images are undercut by forced smiles, and things that just read terribly - at least today - including downright bullying people with alcohol addiction, heroically telling off people for having a break in the toilet (get back to work!), slogans seemingly encouraging murder and other nasty mask-off slips that not all is right.

The film intercuts the tale of the factory, which has some fantastic shots of work, creation and compilations, and a more slim side-plot of farmers - with the expected stings against Kulaks. However, the centre of the story is an alcoholic man and his party faithful wife, and how he slowly loses control and rejects help. There are some healthy touches here, such as very forced encouragements of going to rehab and people getting better - and the rehab centre is shown quite beautifully - but the propaganda here is really forced and gets increasingly ridiculous. Of course, the alcoholic discovers class consciousness as he realizes his drinking buddies used to have white-collar workers - which disgusts him - and of course, these other drunkards are just spiteful of losing their positions, leading to one heck of a silly ending with one of them trying to sabotage a Soviet train by climbing onto them and trying to unscrew it with his teeth - with the obvious consequences and righteousness of our lead. Oh well. 4/10
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#28

Post by St. Gloede »

4 films by Georgiy Daneliya

Image

Georgiy Daneliya is undoubtedly one of the most important comedy directors of the Soviet Union, directing some of their very biggest hits, from Mimino (which I absolutely hated) to Kin-Dza-Dza (which is pretty damn hilarious). These are 4 of his earliest films, a period from which I had only seen Walking The Streets Of Moscow and pleasantly, especially the first two feel far more aligned with this film than his 70s comedies. Intriguingly, there is also a slow and clear decline film by film.

12. Seryozha / Splendid Days (1960)

Splendid Days was Daneliya's debut, and while it can feel a little overcomposed and stilted, this is also part of its charm - and I'm quite a sucker for being immersed in the world of children. It is surprisingly melancholic, showing children living in less than ideal situations, and handling childhood with a very knowing touch. This is also fitting as the film focuses in on the bond between the young child and his stepfather founded more on mutual respect. The emotions are overwrought, but this is all the same a thoroughly engaging and effective film. 6.5/10


13. Tridtsat tri / 33 (1965)

The peculiar tale of a man discovered to have 33 rather than 32 teeth, paraded around the Soviet Union and becoming an instant celebrity - with increasingly crazy and out-there turns. Cute, silly and with some stabs at bureaucracy and Soviet culture makes this more intriguing than expected, and it is a fairly fun romp. 6/10


14. Ne goryuy! / Don't Grieve (1969)

This is a film I simply didn't get or connect to, and I may return to it at some point as it is well shot and overly messy and directionless - focusing on a doctor returning to his backward village and a seemingly endless segment of situations. I did not connect to the humour and it fell quite flat for me, but there is enough talent involved to make it intriguing. 5/10.

15. Sovsem propashchiy / Hopelessly Lost (1974)

A decent adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which can be a bit fumbling and awkward, but still packs in a decent amount of charm. 5/10
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#29

Post by St. Gloede »

Two poetic and beautifully shot films from Latvia, captivating in challenges to traditional and Soviet society. Both are relatively short and breezy, both clocking in at around 75 minutes and having a rather romantic air, often filling in their slimmer storylines with playfulness or poetic editing.

16. Elpojiet dzili / Four White Shirts (1967, Rolands Kalnins)

Image

A fairly bold look at how a party official acting as morality police actively tries to censor a relatively harmless young-ish amateur band - which of course resulted in the film being shelved for decades. The music is remarkably catchy and we get to hear many of the songs repeated at live performances, practices and hangouts. The overall message is one of letting the youth be youth, with some fun breezy songs with subtext - and the shelving makes it clear it hit a nerve, even if the central conflict can come across as soft and not so threatening. The antagonist is comparable to Lithgow in Footloose, and, of course, slowly realises she may be in the wrong. It is well shot, charming, brave and a film it is certainly worth seeking out, with the music and edge elevating it further. 7/10.


17. Abols upe / Apple in the River (1974, Aivars Freimanis)

Image

Apple in the River merges humanist and near-athnographic depiction of the residents of a small Island in Riga, all of which are about to relocate due to a highway/bridge, and a tale of young love. We see beautiful shots of the island and youth, and even spend some time with the older residents, with romantic and cute narration, but some heavier undertones. The storyline itself is very light, though intriguing in its minimalism, casual transition of time and how it ends - however, the highlights here are the moments of contemplation, and lyrical editing showing the time and place, be it beautiful nature or a busy cafe, this little film is spellbinding from begin to end. 7/10.
User avatar
RolandKirkSunglasses
Posts: 597
Joined: January 15th, 2021, 12:54 pm
Contact:

#30

Post by RolandKirkSunglasses »

1. Gamlet (1964)
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#31

Post by blocho »

4. At Home Among Strangers, a Stranger Among His Own (1974)
This is a rambunctious Soviet Ostern, fully of bandits and train robberies. It certainly looks good (see below), but after 30 minutes, I gave up on making any sense out of it. The characters are never developed, and the movie switches frequently between color and B&W. To indicate different time periods, maybe? I’m not sure. The whole thing is puzzling.

Image

Image
User avatar
sol
Donator
Posts: 15074
Joined: February 3rd, 2017, 7:00 am
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Contact:

#32

Post by sol »

Hadn't really planned on participating this month, but I had been meaning to see this one for ages ever since I found it that it was streaming on the Criterion Channel, and I've probably got a couple of other films up my sleeve that might fit into this month's challenge. I mean, I would be a shame to miss this challenge given how well I have done in the challenge in previous years.

1. Welcome, or No Trespassing (1964)

Image

A very well made Soviet comedy from the director of Come and See. There is sneaking in scene that is just as scary as the most horrific parts of Come and See, filmed at night from imaginative high and low camera angles as various statues taunt the boy. The movie is cinematically well done throughout though, from nurse screams being replaced sirens to a funeral procession to shot look like a giant '?' (see above), to the camera actually running with the kids.
|iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | Gold Derby
Image
Long live the new flesh!
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#33

Post by St. Gloede »

Nice one Sol. Frankly, I'd probably call Welcome, or No Trespassing Klimov's second best film, such an usual Soviet comedy with, just like you say, a lot of really immersive and unique filmmaking. If you haven't, check out his other 60s comedies Adventures of a Dentist as well. Not quite as visual, but another great comedy showing his range.
User avatar
sol
Donator
Posts: 15074
Joined: February 3rd, 2017, 7:00 am
Location: Perth, WA, Australia
Contact:

#34

Post by sol »

That one is on my radar too (likewise, it is currently streaming on Criterion). I am very partial to 60s and 70s Soviet comedies and have pretty much exhausted all the Gaidai films that I can get my hands on, so I am interested in it for sure. I guess it will just depend on whether I end up focusing more on iCMFF films or challenge movies this month.
|iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | Gold Derby
Image
Long live the new flesh!
jdidaco
Posts: 2001
Joined: February 3rd, 2017, 7:00 am
Contact:

#35

Post by jdidaco »

(This batch is basically a reminder that Inna Churikova is still with us, she the most amazing of actresses; it's her eyes in 'Proshu slova' (these were borrowed from milusvery's tumblr post)),

Image

11. Polustanok (Whistle Stop, Boris Barnet, 1963) 8/10
12. Nebo nashego detstva (The Skies of Our Childhood, Tolomush Okeev, 1966) 9/10
13. Krasnoe yabloko (The Red Apple, Tolomush Okeev, 1975) 8/10
14. Proshu slova (I Wish to Speak, Gleb Panfilov, 1976) 10/10

Image

15. Surma hinda küsi surnutelt (Ask the Dead About the Price of Death, Kaljo Kiisk, 1977) 8.5/10
16. Tema (The Theme, Gleb Panfilov, 1979) 8.5/10
17. Nipernaadi (The Adventurer, Kaljo Kiisk, 1983) 8.5/10
18. Sluchaynyy vals (Accidental Waltz, Svetlana Proskurina, 1990) 8/10
19. Angely revolyutsii (Angels of Revolution, Aleksey Fedorchenko, 2014) 8/10
20. Poslednyaya milaya Bolgariya (The Last Darling Bulgaria, Aleksey Fedorchenko, 2021) 7.5/10

Image
Spoiler
1. Foma Gordeev (Gordeyev Family, Mark Donskoy, 1959) 9/10
2. Ya rodom iz detstva (I Come from My Childhood, Viktor Turov, 1966) 10/10
3. Stantsionnyy smotritel (The Stationmaster, Sergey Solovyov, 1972) 9/10
4. Moskva, lyubov moya (Moscow, My Love, Aleksandr Mitta & Kenji Yoshida, 1974) 7.510
5. Skaz pro to, kak tsar Pyotr arapa zhenil (How Czar Peter the Great Married Off His Moor, Aleksandr Mitta, 1976) 8.5/10
6. Melodii beloy nochi (Melodies of a White Night, Sergey Solovyov & Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1977) 9.5/10
7. Suprugi Orlovy (The Orlovs, Mark Donskoy, 1978) 9/10
8. Podmoskovnye vechera (Katya Ismailova, Valeriy Todorovskiy, 1994) 8/10
9. Yurev den (Yuri's Day, Kirill Serebrennikov, 2008) 7.5/10
10. Petrovy v grippe (Petrov's Flu, Kirill Serebrennikov, 2021) 8/10
ororama
Posts: 3052
Joined: June 19th, 2011, 6:00 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Contact:

#36

Post by ororama »

1. Welcome, or No Trespassing (1964) * 73 min.
Very funny.

*First time viewing
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#37

Post by blocho »

5. Autumn Marathon (1979)
A dramedy about a sad-sack literary translator in St. Petersburg who goes back and forth between an unhappy, suspicious wife and a mistress who’s tired of waiting for him to leave his wife. He’s too spineless to resolve this situation, and drifts through an endless stream of lies and evasions. If there’s humor here, most of it is lost in translation. What’s left is quite boring.
User avatar
St. Gloede
Moderator
Posts: 14332
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:00 am
Contact:

#38

Post by St. Gloede »

18. Krotkaya / The Meek One (1960, Aleksandr Borisov)

A well-made adaptation of Dostoevsky's A Gentle Creature, that just feels a little too flat and uninvolving. 5/10


19. Kukla s millionami / The Doll with Millions (1928, Sergey Komarov)

An all-out farsical comedy about two greedy utter class cousins near bankruptcy after their millionaire aunt cut them out of her will in favour of her Russian niece. It is nice to see the Russians bring in the top-hat silliness, and while there are strong Soviet propaganda elements later on, it plays like a German or French romp filled with hijinx, errors and silliness. 6/10


20. The best discovery so far:


Oblako-ray / Cloud Heaven (1990, Nikolay Dostal)

Image

Cloud Heaven tells the tale of a small town in Siberia, where nothing seems to happen and no one really has anything to talk about - or at least that is the case of Kolya. Desperate for conversation and connection, he is struggling with having absolutely nothing to say. The best he can muster is questions about the weather, tragically asking people over and over again if they think the weatherman is right and that it is going to rain. The people around him see him as nothing but a nuisance, even his best friends. Life is standing still, especially on a Sunday, with everyone trapped in their own empty existences.

The joy, unease and power of Cloud Heaven come from the absurd and instant switch of perception, when Kolya, needing something to say, stumbles into the lie that he is leaving for the far east that very night. In a matter of seconds, he is not just the most interesting and beloved man in town, everyone seems to wake up from their daze with an unnerving zealous exuberance. Their lives seem to get meaning from the fact that one amongst them is leaving, all living through him, unable to get enough of him. They put on their finest clothes, party, celebrate, and push to ensure that nothing deters Kolya from his adventure.

This is a bizarre off-beat comedy with a borderline surreal atmosphere - think Kafka without the bureaucracy - as Kolya's entire world is turned upside down, and he is forced to resign, give away his possessions and possibly even his apartment. He tries to break the illusion or find some way to stay, but his "friends", and suddenly he has a lot of "friends", just won't let him "give up". While rarely laugh-out-loud funny, you will likely be smirking throughout at the ludicrous existential display, but there is always a true sense of utter unease, and even tragedy, as the clash between lie, delusion and reality creeps ever closer and Kolya may just be forced to leave without a goal, destination or anyone to turn to.

8.5/10
User avatar
DudeLanez
Posts: 927
Joined: August 25th, 2020, 12:22 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

#39

Post by DudeLanez »

4. Kino Eye (1924, Vertov) 6/10
5. Hamlet (1964, Kozintsev) 8,5/10
6. The Diamond Arm (1969, Gayday) 4/10
7. The Theme (1979, Panfilov) 7,5/10

Image
Hamlet (1964)
Spoiler
1. Zvenigora (1927, Dovzhenko) 6/10
2. Poem of the Sea (1958, Solntseva) 4/10
3. Happy Days (1991, Balabanov) 6,5/10
4. Kino Eye (1924, Vertov) 6/10
5. Hamlet (1964, Kozintsev) 8,5/10
6. The Diamond Arm (1969, Gayday) 4/10
7. The Theme (1979, Panfilov) 7,5/10 :ICM:
blocho
Donator
Posts: 6529
Joined: July 20th, 2014, 6:00 am
Contact:

#40

Post by blocho »

Summary: Halfway

Welcome to a statistical summary of the challenge at the halfway point.

Headline Stats
We have 10 participants thus far, with a cumulative total of 59 points. That works out to a mean score of 5.9 points and a median of 1.5 points. The top three in points are jdidaco (20), St. Gloede (20), and DudeLanez (7). In terms of total points, this is shaping up to be the least popular version of this challenge since 2014.

Years
(The following data does not include shorts or episodes.)
The most popular years are 1964 and 1974. The median year is 1970. Here's a breakdown by decade:
1910s - 1 movie
1920s - 5 movies
1930s - 2 movies
1940s - 0 movies
1950s - 2 movies
1960s - 19 movies
1970s - 17 movies
1980s - 4 movies
1990s - 5 movies
2000s - 1 movie
2010s - 1 movie
2020s - 2 movies
Post Reply