Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

My impression is that Stalker, the fifth and final film Andrei Tarkovsky made in the Soviet Union (customarily, one does not think of Soviet artists being allowed to up and leave the country to make movies in the decadent West, but I like to imagine that Goskino was just grateful to see him go), is […]

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 […]

The most amusing thing about the 1972 adaptation of Solaris – a film about which very little is amusing, to be fair – is that Andrei Tarkovsky made it, basically, as a “one for them” project. His previous feature, Andrei Rublev, had met with enormous hostility upon delivery, and was shelved for five years; his […]

I wonder, if I didn’t already know that Ivan’s Childhood was possibly my least favorite and certainly the least audacious and ambitious of the seven feature films directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, if I’d be less inclined to nitpick it. Taken solely in the context of the Soviet art cinema of the late 1950s and early […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: the Walt Disney Company has acted for years like A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh is theirs and theirs alone, as is […]

Any historical film movement is usually going to get discussed in terms of the biggest name-brand directors responsible for the biggest name-brand films, and so it was with the Soviet Montage movement. Any cinephile worthy of the name will know Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov at least by name, and anyone who likes their work […]

I am no expert in the history of silent Soviet cinema, merely an enthusiastic hobbyist, but I think I’m still comfortable saying that the two most important, well-regarded filmmakers in the USSR in 1927 were Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin. So it makes sense that those two men were tapped by the Central Committee to […]

A review requested by Andrew Yankes, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There is no film quite like the 1979 animated short Tale of Tales. I mean that in the most literal way. Just about every film is like some other film, but not this one – it […]

A review requested by David N, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. In the general fashion of such things, when Aleksandr Sokurov’s Russian Ark erupted into the world at the 2002 Cannes International Film Festival, it was greeted by the majority of English-language critics as though it was […]

“Who’s that then?” “I dunno, must be a king.” “Why?” “He hasn’t got shit all over him.” –Monty Python and the Holy Grail There is much shit in Hard to Be a God. That’s by no means the film’s most salient aspect, but it’s probably the thing that’s hardest to stop noticing, once you start. […]

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 […]

I don’t know where the line is drawn between a story that has metaphorical aspects to it, and metaphor that is happens to take the form of a narrative, but I know that Leviathan is way the hell on the far side of it. To say that it is about corruption and cronyism in the […]