Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Russian language does not have a definite article. Instead, as with most languages with the same characteristic, the difference between a generalised version of an object and this specific example of an object is largely gleaned through context. But that context is not available for a standalone noun, and here’s where we come to […]

A review requested by Fedor Illitchev, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. My thanks as well for the historical background he was able to provide for this film, about which virtually no information is readily available in English. During the most censorious periods in the history of Soviet […]

A review requested by André Robichaud, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The apparent subject of Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky’s second feature, Andrei Rublev, is indicated right in the title: it’s a story of the life of the most renowned painter of icons in medieval Russia, Andrei Rublev […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/8 & 10/9World premiere: 19 November, 2010, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam We all know, I should think, that one of the things most important to any authoritarian leader is the strict control of media; and that every dictatorial government of the 20th Century worth its salt had a dedicated state-run movie studio […]

And now the latest in my irregular series: Man, Communist Governments Hate Good Movies. For a very brief span of time following the end of World War II, China enjoyed a cinematic golden age; like so many countries that got heavily dicked-over by the biggest combatants (and it’s arguable, I think, that China’s decade of […]

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the censors in the Soviet Union just plain hated art. It seems, doesn’t it, that just about every great filmmaker to come out of that country had at least one of their films stomped on by the House That Stalin Built, whether that film could be properly called “counter-revolutionary” […]

It’s an embarrassing thing to say about one of the highest-regarded Soviet art films ever produced, but try though I might, as I watched Sergei Parajanov’s Color of Pomegranates, I could never quite shake the ghost of Monty Python’s parodies of inscrutable art films. You know what I’m talking about, if you’ve seen enough Flying […]

What a difference an authoritarian regime makes: to Western cinephiles, Jia Zhang-Ke is quite possibly the most well-regarded of Chinese filmmakers (certainly, he is by far the most important Sixth Generation filmmaker), while in China his works are tolerated as much as they are celebrated. Case in point: his fifth feature, Still Life, despite winning […]