LETO (2018)

A film by  Kirill Serebrennikov

Cast:  Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk 

English title : Summer

Leningrad. A summer in the early 80’s. Upstream of Perestroika, Lou Reed’s and David Bowie’s records are smuggled, and the rock scene emerges. Mike and his beautiful wife Natacha meet the young Viktor Tsoï. Surrounded by a new generation of musicians, they will change the course of rock’n’roll in the Soviet Union.

The story with no surprise takes off from the success story of this group of rock and roll that is going to rock the soviet union in the 80’s. When the film opens the group’s career is already well established, the audience seems to love them but there is something out of place here in the audience where everyone is sitting on a chair and watch carefully by the watchful eye of representatives of the State. No rocking, no dancing, not even taping their feet. And yes it is a black and white film.  These ambitious guys who wants to be rock stars are influenced by the western rock and roll records that gets into the country somehow that includes  David Bowie, T-Rex, the Sex Pistols, the Velvet Underground, the Talking Heads, Ziggy Pop, and more. Leto is based on the early career of Russian rock-n-Roller Viktor Tsoi. The film is full of music with some kind of funky eding from time to time. There is a love triangle, some great tunes to dance, the struggling of the band  etc….It is all there in this perfect film.   Somehow the director was one of the few who was banned from Cannes this year. He is under house arrest accused of corruption. A must see. 




A film by Andrey Zvyagintsev

Cast: Maryana Spivak, Yanina Hope, Aleksey Rozin

Boris and Genia are getting divorced. They argue incessantly and have visits after visits  of their apartment in order to sell it. They are already preparing for their future: Boris lives with a young pregnant woman and Genia frequents a well-off man who seems ready to marry her … Neither of them seems to have any interest in Aliocha, their 12-year-old son. Until it disappears.


Andrey Zvyagintsev is the leading Russian filmmaker, and the most interesting directors at work today. Here it is the family is falling apart and in the middle is the kid that the couple had 12 years ago who is suffering in silence. Suddenly he disappear and the thing is pay attention to their  response when they find out that he didn’t go to school for two days to top it all off his mom was not there for two days to take care of him. The director here focuses mostly on blaming one another even during their dealings with the police and a group of volunteers who search for missing children, Then you will see right off-hand Russia bureaucracy, unthinking consumerism,hedonism. It is not only the kid who is trying to be loved here but  the parents as well with their significant other. The grand mother here is not piece of cake either. You can see why the daughter turned out to be that way too. The ending is outstanding here like I said many times I love the ending on the majority European film. It works really good here. By the way the film has won a bunch of award including best picture at the Cannes film festival 2017.




A film by Kirill Serebrennikov

Cast: Pyotr Skvortsov, Viktoriya Isakova, Aleksandra Revenko

The Student, a dark and slightly hysterical portrait of fundamentalist fever. Veniamin (Petr Skvortsov) is a troubled young man. His mother (Julia Aug) does not know what to do with him as he has started skipping school, complaining that he doesn’t like swimming. She suspects drugs and sneers at his excuse that it is against his religious beliefs, assuming that this is typical teenage remark.

However, Veniamin continues his protest, diving into the pool fully clothed and becoming increasingly disruptive in the classroom. A particular target for  his biology teacher Elena Lvovna (Victoria Isakova), whose lessons on sex education and evolution are predictably poisonous  to the new zealot. And yes there is the Orthodox priest Father Vselod (Nikolai Roshin) is also called in to mediate well that is no surprise to me but what is a surprise to me is what it is going to follow a fellow student who has a leg taller than the other one is being pick on by the other student. Veniamin takes upon him to take him under his wind because he is in need of some faith healing. The story takes a turn here and no I will not go there.The true origins of Venya’s faith are never fully revealed here is one thing that I like people will have different opinion about it. There is sexual confusion and repression here. He is also being bullied because of his religion. He quote the bible and to me everybody can interpret the bible a different way. It is not an easy subject to discuss religion that is . If you see the film with your girlfriend at the end of the film you are going to discuss it with her and each one of you will have a different opinion about the film.



PLEMYA (2014)


A film by Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi

Cast: Hryhoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy

English: The Tribe 

Ukrainian director Miroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s film got a lot of attention at Cannes because the fact that he used deaf actors for the story but there is no subtitles nor anything else for that matter. Just watch the film as is and you will understand.The Tribe,” is told entirely in sign language although it is hardly a silent film Slaboshpytskyi’s uses Tati-esque footsteps to build tension, as are the frequent Steadicam shots, which give the movie a perverse elegance and energy. It follows rise of a new pupil (Grigory Fesenko) through a criminal gang based around a boarding school for deaf students. The film is about the close up world and the deaf gang getting through life of crime. and how the  gangs have their own language and code, inscrutable to outsiders. A conflict develops as the new guy, known as Sergey , develops an obsession with one of the prostitutes (Yana Novikova) the gang sells at a truck stop. First about Yana she is a deaf actress and it is her first role she went to a boarding school and asked a girl if she is sell herself to truck drivers ,she confirmed it because she has no parents and needs to take care of herself in order to feed and clothes herself. There is a brutal scene of an abortion her character has to got through an abortion in a woman’s bathroom that is a bit hard to watch.

Although the movie opens with a sentimental quotation (“Everything terrible is something that needs our love”). Yes there is some serious violence in this film but it demonstrate the message that Slaboshpytskyi wants you to see.





A film by Andrey Zvyagintsev

Cast: Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Aleksey Serebryakov

An extraordinary tale of one’s family’s fight against corruption, the only one who truly knows the truth is God. Kolya (Alexey Serebryakov) who is fighting to keep the house that he lives in with his teenage son Roma (Sergey Pokhadaev) and second wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova). Despite having deep roots and building his home by himself, Kolya is being forced off his land by the local mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov), a dude who drinks too much vodka and abuse his power.  Vadim wants the land for his own  development plans , if I am correct he wants to build a palace. Kolya does not want to part from his land nor home so he  calls upon his lawyer friend Dima (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov)- friends that is a big word you will see why when you see the film- to come in from Moscow to give him a hand. What Dima ends up uncovering about Vadim not only backs the mayor into an uncomfortable corner, but triggers a series of events that will have a great impact on everyone.


There are stunning cinematography in this film I mean really stunning cinematography. Leviathan is a powerful examination of the  bond between church and state within  Russian society. Everybody but Dima ( who does not quiet believe in god) He believes in fact, makes reference that god will work things out. Of course it is not god who work things out in fact that the country is already corrupt shit happens you might say the devil makes thins happen. You will see that the characters in the story. They are fascinating $, they have their own fear, desire, sorrows which they drowned in a bottle of vodka will come back from that one in a bit, and mistake. Going back to the vodka you see as you know I watch a lot of film and foreign film as well so the culture in Russia is that they drink vodka so they drowned their sorrows in vodka, French film is wine, American is beer also Germany so in this film there were a lot of vodka drinking when they are happy and spent time together and when they are sad. Some scenes are brutally honest and emotionally brilliant. The is a complex story and brilliant film by Andry Zvyagintsev. This won for best scenario at cannes film festival. It could be the film of the year. To me so far it is. You must see this one if you get a chance.




A film by Aleksandr Kott.
Cast: Aleksey Kopashov, Andrey Merzlikin, Pavel Derevyanko.
The film shows the heroic defense of the Brest Fortress, which had taken upon the first strike of German fascist invaders on June 22 1941. Story describes the events of the first days of the defense. The film tells about three main resistance zones, headed by the regiment commander, Pyotr Mikhailovich Gavrilov, the commissar Efim Moiseevich Fomin and the head of the 9th frontier outpost, Andrey Mitrofanovich Kizhevatov. Many years later veteran Alexander Akimov again and again recalls the memories of the time, when he, then a 15 year old Sasha Akimov was deeply in love with the beautiful Anya and suddenly found himself in the middle of the bloody events of war.
Brutal film because it is a war movie. Hitler ordered the attack of Krespost at 6:00 am then take the fortress within a day, but it took nine days to defeat. Hitler consider this a failure. He went to see the damage and was shock by the written on the wall I will win this battle or I will die in this battle. The german took a lot a casualties but the russian lost a lot more they were persistent, courageous, and had some serious will power to succeed don’t matter the cost. Some soldier became heroes defending the fortress. I won’t tell more then that. See the movie.


A film by Mikhail Kalatozo

stars: Tatyana Samoylova, Aleksey Batalov , Vasili Merkuryev.

Veronica and Boris are walking in the streets of Moscow and they love each other. Veronica is laughing, cause they are happy together this morning. They see some cranes in the sky. When arriving to Veronica’s house they talk about a rendezvous at the bank of the river. And the 2nd World War begins in Moscow. Boris works in a factory and he hasn’t got time to speak with Veronica. He has to go to the war.

9th Company

Plot from IMDB:
The film is based on a true story of the 9th company during the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Young Soviet Army recruits are sent from a boot camp into the middle of the war in Afghanistan. The action is not like a boot camp at all. It is very bloody and dirty. The 9th company is defending the hill 3234. They are hopelessly calling for help.

Amazing film. Russian version of Black Hawk Down. To my knowledge, this is the first movie to use real Russian equipment. Especially the Mi-28 Hind helicopter. The replicas they made for the Rambo movies and Red Dawn do no justice to how beautiful and nimble these amazingly large helicopters are. If you get the chance, watch it in Russian language with subs. I tried watching it dubbed and it just didn’t work. Russian is such a distinct language. Great movie all around. In fact I just dug it out to watch it again. One of my favorites. Enjoy.

As of this writing 9th Company is available to stream on Netflix