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Archive for the ‘ACTING STYLE: RUSSIAN CLASSICAL COMIC REALISM’ Category

12

09 Aug

12 – Directed by Nikita Mikhailkov. Courtroom Drama. A bored Russian jury is sequestered to find a culprit guilty who is obviously guilty. Color

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Reginald Rose wrote the 1957 TV and screenplay, and the renowned director Nikita Mikhailkov has rewritten it cogently for modern Russia; he also acts the foreman’s part. It is brilliantly performed in the great Russian comic manner of each actor assuming a defining quirk. In that style, you don’t get better acting than this; although it appears to have nothing to do with Method acting, it is, in fact, Stanislavsky system incarnate; you can find it or have already seen it in Michael Chekhov’s performance in Hitchcock’s Spellbound. Instead of a jury room, the story is spread out in an old polluted school gymnasium, and there we have the difficulty which the film poses of confining its points to local Russian matters, just as the acting also does. The war in Chechnya is laced in, as is a series of backstories which sound like they were improvised by the actors themselves, for they do not always serve the purpose they are intended for, which is as emotionally logical turning points in the verdict of each jury member. So it is hard to translate the Russianness of it into universal terms. However the film remains just as exciting as the original, because excitement is built into it. We know the young man will get off, because that is the only direction for the story to go when it opens. And the various directions the story now takes as it reaches that conclusion are thrilling and daring and dangerous. The question isn’t the conclusion; the question is the tension generated in achieving it. The film was nominated for an Oscar, and did not win. One of the greatest films ever made, Burnt By The Sun, also by this director, did win the best foreign film Oscar, however, and that film is the best place to begin to explore this director’s rich and varied work. But this one will not disappoint your pleasure either. It possesses what American films now seem to lack, great imagination in the creating of dialogue to create characters, great imagination in the actor’s execution of roles, and great breadth of imagination in the direction of actors in the telling of a story.

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Oblomov

09 Aug

Oblomov – Directed by Nikita Mikhailkov. Tragi-Comedy. A young eligible Russian aristocrat just won’t get out of bed. 142 minutes Color. 1979.

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It contains the most heart-rending love scene ever put on film. Oh yes, it does. It’s a film version of the famed Russian novel about a fat Hamlet who won’t take action, or even take the action of contemplating taking action. Oblomov is a character I began by finding infuriating and ended up finding endearing. Mikhailkov is the director of Burnt By The Sun and other masterpieces of typically Russian stories and characters. Unlike Tarkovsky whose work has universal subjects, Mikhailkov brings you Russians of all stripes and conditions. Odd, funny quirky and with great particularity of Russian place and manner and costume and detail. Oh, well, I rattle on. This piece is beautifully acted; its scenes are perfectly poised in terms of camera and point of view. And my heart broke, and I loved it. Oscar nominated, of course. Sometimes hard to endure because the comedy and the tragedy is that we are all Oblomov.

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Slave Of Love

09 Aug

Slave Of Love – Written and Directed by Nikita Mikhailkov. High Farce. A silent film company in the 20s goes on location with a nitwit star and learns something from her. Color 1976.

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Singing in Rain set in the Russian Revolution. A marvelous piece, acted and directed to perfection. It is not a propaganda, but quite the contrary, I wonder how they got it produced at all, it is so daring. It’s a sound picture in color set during the making of a schlock silent picture with an airhead superstar actress. If you are interested in acting styles, here is a perfect example of Russian character work for comedy, wrought to extremes of amusement for us — the sort of acting Chekov wrote for: the man who always has a crick in his neck, the actor who always giggles when he exits, the tubby who secretly tries pull-ups between desserts. You’ll see. The amazing finale is treated like an action sequence from a silent film, and it works like gangbusters. Real life is not so far from a picture show after all. Enjoy it.

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