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Khrustalyov, mashinu!

Khrustalyov, My Car!
Khroustaliov, ma voiture!

Russia / France 1998
produced by
Aleksandr Golutva, Armen Medvedev, Guy Séligmann for Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), Goskino, La Sept Cinéma, Lenfilm, Orimi, Petroagroprombank, Sodaperaga Productions, Vserossiyskaya Gosudarstvennaya Televizionnaya i Radioveshchatelnaya Kompaniya
directed by Aleksey German
starring Yuriy Tsurilo, Nina Ruslanova, Mikhail Dementyev, Aleksandr Bashirov, Natalya Lvova, Dima Davydov, Sergei Dyachkov, Jüri Järvet jr, Ivan Matskevich, Viktor Mikhailov, Paulina Myasnikova, Nijole Narmontaite, Olga Samoshina, Tamara Serkova, Genrietta Yanovskaya
screenplay by Aleksey German, Svetlana Karmalita, based on the story In a Room and a Half by Joseph Brodsky, music by Andrei Petrov

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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1953, the Soviet Union: The promise of a better world under Communist rule has long given way to bitter reality of a people surpressed by the ruling class, most of the simple folks live in poverty, madness and alcoholism run rampant, and antisemitism is pretty much mainstream, even in the highest policical circles - including Soviet strongman Stalin, who makes up the "Doctors' Plot", a fabricated conspiracy theory where Jewish doctors plot to take his life, but basically just a ruse to rid the streets of Jewish intellectuals.

General Klensky (Yuriy Tsurilo) is not much bothered by this, he's a brilliant brain surgeon, and further more a high-ranking military man, so he's of the country's elite, and he lets those he thinks inferior to him feel his superiority, too. But then he gets somehow tangled up in the (alleged) conspiracy, and the authorities come after him, forcing him to go on the run and sink to depth unfathomable for him. Eventually he's taken captive even and gangraped by fellow captives ... before being saved from a life in misery by the same authorities that have condemned him, as Stalin's on his deathbed, and his brain needs to be saved. And if he can do that, his life will be reinstated to full grandeur - thing is, this is not something that he (or anyone else) is capable of doing ...

 

While above synopsis sure sounds like a straightforward story, the actual film is anything but, rather it's an allegoric and often Kafka-esque trip through 1950s Soviet Union, rich with socio-political commentary, downright satire, and even broad comedy, told in rich, tableau-like pictures somewhat reminiscent of Federico Fellini at his best (which also goes for the allegoric storytelling and the broad comedy), making this less of the political thriller it might sound to be on paper but a dreamlike experience - that just happens to be rich in political and historical subtext. But that said, even without much of an idea about the real-life context and especially the "Doctors' Plot", this is a highly enjoyable movie in its own, warped way.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD