Dir: Andrei Kravchuk
No Rocketman this week as RL imposes itself onto our fantasies, instead Oleg and I watched 'Admiral', a self described Russian 'blockbuster' which details the last years of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, who was one of the military leaders of the Imperialist White Russians, including his time in battle against the Germans, then later against the Bolsheviks and all the time framed by an evolving romance with the wife of one of his officers.
On the face of it, this film ought to press all the right buttons, and indeed some of the naval combat scenes came close to exciting, but essentially there are two major flaws which I could not ignore. The first was the plot which leaped from scene to scene with little regard to context, and half the time I had difficulty keeping up with what was going on. The Russian revolution and its causes for example were not mentioned, nor even hinted at before sailors were bayonetting their officers to death. The Germans were nothing but pixels rendered at a distance, and worst of all, history went by as if it were a murky landscape glimpsed from the window of a speeding train. I kept having to turn to Oleg, whose paternal family are Russians, to ask if he had a better grasp of events, which he generally did. The film is not entirely historically accurate however, painting a very benign picture of a man whom history portrays as far more nuanced and there is very little mention of Kolchak's involvement with the British
I can live with a sporadic plot and dodgy history if the acting is good, but alas it wasn't. The actors playing the two main characters seemed utterly mismatched, and if there were any chemistry in their great love affair, then I couldn't see it. Konstantin Khabensky, who plays Kolchak makes his way through the entire film with only one facial expression and I wasn't sure if this was intentional (Russian stocism in the face of mounting hardships) or just uninspired acting. Elizaveta Boyarskaya who plays Kolchaks lover, Anna Timiriova did a slightly better job of portraying emotions, but as often as not the speed of the plot meant events were happening faster than the two actors could manage; thus they met at a party and within a few seconds the people around them are showing concern at how close they are. A few seconds later and Kolchak is declaring his impossible love with a deadpan face, cut to next scene, months later and suddenly its the Revolution and Anna Timiriova is openly flaunting her desperate love before her helpless husband.
The Discovery Institute’s Russia Blog writes, “Russian filmmakers have proved once again that they can outpace Hollywood’s production with a tenth of a Hollywood film’s budget".
I think not.
Dir: Shane Acker
I've been looking forward to seeing '9', for quite some time, so maybe my expectations were unrealistic. Watching the film I felt slightly cheated because it seemed rather simplistic. The animation was great, and the ambience too. The characters and creatures were basically well done and the rendering was excellent, but the story was very simple, and the premise was student-film-weak.