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March 14, 2012


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Been to every Zulawski film shown so far. Only had seen POSSESSION before. THAT MOST IMPORTANT THING: LOVE especially blew me away, along with THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT and LA NOTE BLEUE. Monday and Tuesday's showings SZAMANKA and LA FEMME PUBLIQUE I found enjoyable but not close to as great as the previous four. Looking forward to the rest though.

That Fuzzy Bastard

That's a great description of KHRUSTALOV, which is indeed a crazy-ass nightmare of a thing. I'm pretty familiar with the history on display, but even knowing the basics of the Doctor's Plot, it's still pretty hard to follow, not least because Guermann breaks up what characterization there is with dopplegangers and arbitrary plot twists. It's like a Fellini movie with the glamour replaced by rape scenes, but its filthy confusion is made truly gorgeous by the godlike omnipotence of the camera moves and the gleaming black-and-white cinematography. Possibly great, but definitely a bad time. I'd also put in a good word for MY FRIEND IVAN LAPSHIN, which has slightly more narrative than KHRUSTALOV, but only slightly, maybe just enough to be even more confusing, and a similar immersiveness.


I saw ON THE SILVER GLOBE recently. The first hour or so is pretty astonishing--Zulawski beat Ruggero Deodato to the "harrowing found footage" thing by a couple years, and did it better. It really does play like a transmission from another planet. The remaining hour and thirty ain't no slouch in the wacky estranging chaos department, but it's less involving, and that's only exacerbated by the gaps. Far from an easy sit even by AZ's standards, but a truly vital document.

SZAMANKA's another one that wore me out, but it's got his wildest ending, at least of the 7 I've seen.


For those of us living far from the cities, postings like this (and some YouTube samples) are all we get until Guerman leaks into the NetFlix cues, as "4", CARGO 200 and MY JOY have done recently. Thanks for putting in the time writing about anti-commercial film requires.

Peter Labuza

Enjoyed "Trial on the Road" tonight. The last half in particular was gripping. I'd throw this recommendation to Glenn and anyone else but another great Eastern European war film is "Cold Days" by Andras Kovacs (brother of Lazlo), which is about a group of soldiers on trial for a massacre. The film is styled ala "Rashomon" though, where we see it all through individual flashbacks. Great stuff; also uses the white snow well.

Joel Bocko

Another great Russian war film: The Ascent.

Recently relocated to L.A. and I'm finding it surprising how many films/retros play simultaneously (or close to it) on both coasts. Terence Davies recently made back to back appearances with his films in NY & L.A. and the Zulawski films played, I think, a week ago. (Side note - this weekend Malcolm McDowell is appearing alongside If!, O Lucky Man, and I think Clockwork Orange; not sure if there's an NYC correspondence to this, but if not I'm glad to be on the West Coast right now...)

Joel Bocko

P.S. Now if only they'd bring that Stalker panel our way...


Larisa Shepitko's "The Ascent" is also a great Russian WWII movie that beautifully captures the feeling of cold, snowy Russian Winter. Can't believe it isn't better known but thanks to Criterion it is at least available.

I've seen 3 of Guerman's films (none recently). Of them I liked "Fall of Otar" the best - that was a case where not entirely understanding what was going on didn't matter much to me because it really bought an extremely under-depicted world (middle ages Central Asia) to life very effectively.

I've seen "Khrustalyov" and "My Friend Ivan L" and have to say, the confusion didn't work for me at all in those cases. I felt at the time like the films were made for Russians who grew up with or were at least deeply familiar with those eras with absolutely no 'concessions' made by the filmmaker to explain things to 'outsiders'. While on one hand I found this admirable, it left ME with no way in - and ultimately I found both films to be pretty exasperating experiences.

But now you're saying you were confused too but that was the point. Interesting. I now wonder if native Russians with knowledge of those times would have been just as confused as I was.


Joel Bocko:

I missed the fact that you made note of "The Ascent" too when I posted my comment - so a belated hat tip.


ON THE SILVER GLOBE was so awesome. And the print was amazing. Holy shit.


I missed it, but TCM actually showed Shepitko's WINGS the other night.

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