Saturday, November 8, 2008

ENVISIONING RUSSIA @ The Heights Theater

For the second year in a row, the Museum of Russian Art presents a unique slate of Russian films screening at the Heights. Last year's series was nothing short of fantastic. Unfortunately, the first film in the series has come and gone, but there are still three more upcoming films that many never pass this way again:

Sunday, November 9, 7pm and 9:15pm
Carnival Night (1956) directed by Eldar Ryazanov
"The film of all films to counter the Western stereotype of Russian culture as uniformly somber and joyless, this uproarious musical will have you singing and saluting the New Year months ahead of schedule. Young workers try to organize a night of merriment on New Year's Eve, but must constantly stay one step ahead of the wet-blanket Party official who wants to ruin all the fun. Noteworthy for its relentless satire of political cliches, Carnival Night's breezy insouciance recalls MGM musicals of the same period, with star Lyudmila Gurchenko as its Soviet Debbie Reynolds. "

Thursday, November 13, 7pm and 9:15pm
The Russian Question (1948) directed by Mikhail Romm
"Made by one of the most respected figures in Soviet cinema, The Russian Question presents Cold War dilemmas from a Russian perspective. As tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. tighten in the years after World War II, a New York newspaper reporter (Garry Smith) is given an ultimatum by his editor: write a negative book about the Soviet Union or else. But Smith is torn; he developed a knowledge of and affection for the U.S.S.R. during his years as a wartime correspondent stationed there. His task a hatchet job would necessarily be full of lies and distortions that he can't countenance. Will he choose his integrity or his career? Although the ideology of Romm's film is very much a staple of the Stalinist era, the director's exploration of the conflicts of interest that arise even in a "free" country like the U.S. is nuanced, intelligent, and still provocative 60 years later."

Thursday, November 20, 7pm and 9:15pm
Walking the Streets of Moscow (1963) directed by Georgi Daneliya
"A Soviet version of the youth films that were becoming popular in the West in the 1960s, Walking the Streets of Moscow follows four young adults as they negotiate universal rites of passage and attempt to find their place in the world. A startlingly fresh-faced Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt By the Sun, 1994) plays Kolya, a construction worker, who guides his Siberian friend Volodya through the big city. Meanwhile, Alena, the object of Kolya's affections, is entranced by Kolya's boyhood pal Sasha. Noted writer Gennadi Shpalikov penned the delightful screenplay, and Vadim Yusov, whose luminous images haunt Andrei Tarkovsky's masterpiece Ivan's Childhood (1963), served as cinematographer. The film as a whole forcefully exhibits the Khrushchev-era notion of 'socialism with a human face'."

For more info and to see everything I have cut and pasted above, check out the Museum of Russian Art website.
Also more info on The Heights website.

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