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Viewing Single Post From: Which Films Did You See Last Week? 04/03/18-10/03/18
St. Gloede
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After several ridiculously great weeks this one was more ordinary. Still found two new favorites however. This week was primarily focused on Soviet cinema, though primarily Ukraine and Georgia - and now that the 2017 poll is over I'm also trying to catch up on 2016.

Ferdinand (2017, Carlos Saldanha)
Cute and very well made, but very unremarkable and ordinary in its scope. 6/10.

Znoy (1963, Larisa Shepitko)
A wonderful but small portrait of a team of tractor drivers doing their duty at the outskirts of society. The overdramatization of their job seems inline with soviet silent cinema, and feels slightly off, but the focus on the individuals, the importance of their actions and the sense of duty still makes it an intriguing portrait. It manages to catch something truly sensual and human, I just wish it had gone a little further. 7.5/10.

Bilyy ptakh z chornoyu vidznakoyu / The White Bird Marked with Black (1971, Yuri Ilyenko)
Starting with the best experience of the 4, The White Bird Marked with Black made me want to run to rewatch "The Eve". It's surrealistic stylings and spectacularly colorful fable invoked all the greatness and strengths of his previous efforts. It's largest victory was it's attention to set-design, and colour. It seemed each part of the background was expertly designed, and the nature shots were incredible as well. Taking us through the Soviet arrival in Ukraine, Ilyenko creates a plateau of brothers against brothers in a violent and unfair world. It feels like a violent dance, much like a 70s Jancso, but far more expressive. It plays with outbursts and excessive mannerisms, is often off key, but this adds to the atmosphere. Movement is still, at times, his slight downfall, and he doesn't reach the height of contemporaries like Parajanov and Tarkovsky, but it is still a phenomenal experience. 8-8.5/10.

Poloska neskoshennych dikikh tsvetov (1980, Yuri Ilyenko)
This does not actually have an english title, and only has 14 votes on IMDb, which is a shame as it is quite the experience. It does however feel nothing like the previous efforts I had experienced, aside from still feeling slightly off when it comes to blocking. Poloska is a roughly shot and edited film covering an equally rough soul - a young restless child sent to reformery school. The bluntness of the cinematic language here fits incredibly well and adds a lot of feeling. It is almost as if his inner state is explored. Clearly low budget and you feel it, we still get a film with incredible emotion. It's key flaw is it's naive bluntness, which somehow also transforms into a bit of a pushed message, and the ending somply seemed too forced on this note. However, seeing the way the child is chased, his close captures, jumps, and dreams of freedom in such a fashion as expressed here, is almost spellbinding. If only it was a little more refined and altered in places it could truly have been something. 7-7.5/10.

Lesnaya pesnya. Mavka / Mavka - Song of the Forest (1981, Yuri Ilyenko)
I was really exited to see Mavka as it seemed like a return to fantastical, surrealistic form - and it is, however, in a bit of a weakened state. This film also had spellbinding visuals, but they were a bit more rare, with a lot of it feeling far more plain and ordinary. He takes a far more minimalist approach, with minimal dialog and sound as he explores legends of wood nymphs and other magical creatures living in a forest and interacting with humans. The main failing here is the attempts at humor, and some of the costumes simply feeling a bit cheap/silly. In fact I'm sad to say I was a little reminded of Rou's atrocious Baba Yaga. No, not as silly, in fact it is still a good film - but a tougher sell. There is still a lot of creativity, a couple of scenes even feeling proto-Malick in camera movement - but it could have been done so much better. 6/10.

Mechtat i zhit (1974, Yuri Ilyenko)
Another small and forgotten Ilyenko, and here with just 10 votes, so I'm not sure if anyone else has seen it. Like Poloska it does not have en English name, and it is not set in the past, but it is still remarkably striking. Larisa Kadochnikova seems to essentially star as herself, with pictures from several of her previous films, and interestingly Ilyenko himself plays a love interest. The print is poor, but so many visual ideas work, as the film forms a strange meta-commentary on life, acting and fascism. It actually feels a lot like the post new-wave leftist films popping up around the same time in France. Frequently creative, borderline surreal, the portrait is simply lovely. 7.5-8/10.

Saba (1929, Mikheil Chiaureli)
Beautifully directed and shot, but absolutely ridiculously overdramatisized cautionary tale against alcoholism. As it falls short of being a style exercise it ends up in murkier waters. 5/10.

Magdanas lurja / Magdana's Donkey (1956, Tengiz Abuladze & Rezo Chkheidze)

A lovely little film about a poor family's love for the donkey they nurse back the health. It is a little thin and overdramatic, but is still very beautifully done. 7/10.

Obyknovennoe chudo / Ordinary Wonder (1979, Mark Zakharov)
Overuse of music that just doesn't fit, but me off from the very beginning, though it does pick up somewhat it just didn't strike me as well directed, and the tame musical jokes and general plot all fell somewhat flat. 5/10.

Lebedyne ozero. Zona / Swan Lake - The Zone (1990, Yuri Ilyenko)
This is such a beautifully ugly wonder, filled with striking symbols and despicably unsettling scenes, as it carves out a expressively minimalist goodbye to a failing Soviet Union. The fact that it is shot in a real prison, with real prisoners as extras (the same prison Parajanov was in, which it makes clear, and it is based on short stories he wrote while there) Ilyenko manages to create a truly wonderful film that if it can be criticized feels a little off with it's "romance", but then each aspect is off, raw and mostly far from logical or realistic. There is a an ugly poetical (anti-)realism that is achieved - truth through the iconoclastic and absurd - and it is pampered with metaphors, many of which I surely did not get. Absolutely wonderful cinema. 9/10.

Zacharovannaya Desna / The Enchanted Desna (1964, Yuliya Solntseva)
An atmospheric and poetic love letter to Ukraine, which isn't too striking or poignant, but is still a very nice viewing. 6/10.

Inimi cicatrizate / Scarred Hearts (2016, Radu Jude)
Composed of static takes and rounded frames, this minimalist, colourful beauty is quite the experience. Taking real writings by Jewish Romanian writer and poet Max Blecher, the film follows his degenerating disease (subtly set to the backdrop of the raise of fascism in the late 30s). His life is static, confined to his hospital bed, and the static takes are beautifully fitting. At the same time it is not a confined story, it feels large and is filled with passion, hope and flawed and weak humanity. 9/10.

Ty i ya / You and Me (1971, Larisa Shepitko)
A really quirky new wavey film from Sheptiko that feels a lot like lesser films from the Polish or Czech new waves. The playful nature is very fun, but it is just missing something at the core, and is slightly off the mark on the somewhat larger themes it seems to be playing with. 7/10.

Personal Shopper (2016, Olivier Assayas)
I absolutely hated the editing technique, this is one of the very few cases were editing (fading out of shots, often ending scenes/moods far too soon) really brought a film down - but I can not deny the overall greatness. Stewart is wonderful, the mood is spectacular - though occasionally slightly due forcefully elusive, and the ending could be the cause of many long discussions. 8/10.

Keanu (2016, Peter Atencio)
Though sadly really poorly directed, failing to emphasize moods and cues and just feeling off in quote a lot of regards, Key & Peele drive the film incredibly well, and it has a lot of laughs. 5.5/10.

Pastorali (1975, Otar Iosseliani)
Just like Aprili this Iosseliani film was beautifully shot film, but at the same time didn't capture any feelings strong enough to truly draw me in. It is largely plotless, focused on country life and how how a small community reacts to a musician group staying over the summer. The interaction, especially during the rehearsal scenes, are quite beautiful, but it wasn't enough to spellbind me and the film ended up feeling more flat than it should be. 6.5/10.
Edited by St. Gloede, Mar 11 2018, 09:18:34 PM.
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