Mirror (1975)

Mirror Movie Review………………………………………………………………

Mirror Movie Review

Mirror is a 1975 Russian film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is one of his most overrated films without a doubt.

As is the case with most art films, Mirror doesn’t really have a plot, a true plot in the most basic meaning of that word. It follows a nonlinear narrative and it is about the memories of a dying poet. That theme itself is powerful and emotional, but how it was presented wasn’t great.

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And I can’t wait to see this dream in which I’ll be a child again

and feel happy again because everything will still be ahead,

everything will be possible…

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Mirror Movie Review………………………………………………………………

I have always had a big problem with movies such as this one. And Mirror falls in the category of “art” films almost by default. It is incredibly boring and lifeless and it is a shore to sit though, at least it was for me and it would be a shore for almost everyone of which I’m sure of. Not only is it immensely slow, but also uneven in tone and it is made in an experimental manner which I don’t usually like.

The film is technically pretty good. Some of the editing is fine and it is very well shot, but there aren’t any real characters here and people just appear in the movie and leave, so forgettable. Some of the imagery is definitely memorable, but most of it is pointless and pretentious as is the entire movie. I liked that it shifted from black-and-white to color to sepia and that is a signature style of the director, but other than that and some fine imagery, most of it is pretty annoying.

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Mirror Movie Review………………………………………………………………

The movie is insufferably boring and slow and it is undoubtedly the most overrated and most pretentious Andrei Tarkovsky picture. I loved his ‘Solaris’ and I mostly enjoyed ‘Stalker’, but this one is never as clever or as truly memorable as those two movies and it is only style over substance.

Mirror has some memorable imagery and it is well shot, but it is so boring and slow that it is a shore to sit through. It is a movie that is so annoying and even pointless that it is undoubtedly Andrei Tarkovsky’s most overrated and pretentious effort.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review

The Cranes Are Flying is a 1957 Russian war romance film directed by Mikhail Kalatozov and starring Tatiana Samoilova. It is a masterpiece of Russian cinema.

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Look! Look! The cranes are flying!

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

It follows a young woman during WW2 and how she struggles when her boyfriend goes to war. This film manages to transcend its admittedly simple and predictable storyline with a perfect execution. Everything here is phenomenal, but what is the most admirable is how anti-war the picture is. I loved its critique of patriotism as well as war in general. The war here is portrayed as damaging to each and every person and that nothing good can come out of it.

That is why it succeeds as a great anti-war film, but also succeeds as a strong romance because this couple is so charming to watch and root for. The tragedy is evident from the beginning, but still deeply impactful. My favorite sequence has to be that ending which was just magnificent to behold. Veronika learns that Boris truly is dead when the soldiers return and the juxtaposition of her devastated face surrounded with joyous people happily reunited with their loved ones was just so powerful, brilliant and heartbreaking. But it then ends on a high and still optimistic note when she gives the flowers to the people around her and gazes upon the sky to see the titular cranes that are the symbol of their everlasting love so greatly established in the movie’s opening scene.

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The character development is very strong. Tatiana is such a phenomenal character and a very strong, admirable female protagonist for the time. Her coping with uncertainties over Boris’ fate was so well realized and I found her to not just be a helpless woman waiting for her man, but a strong woman who meanwhile worked at the hospital and never lost hope.

Boris is also really good, excellent for the little screen time that he got. The two are such a great couple which is important for the movie to work. Fyodor Ivanovich is very likable and of course Mark is despicable and I liked how they dealt with him in this movie. That entire subplot worked against all odds.

The Cranes Are Flying benefits from terrific acting across the board. Aleksey Batalov is really good and Vasili Merkuryev is excellent, but of course the standout is Tatiana Samoilova who didn’t start off as strong, but as the movie progressed, became better and better until delivering in spades during the third act. She is beautiful, charming and she managed to carry the entire movie on her shoulders which is so commendable.

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

Another thing that makes The Cranes Are Flying a classic is its look. The movie is absolutely gorgeous to watch. The cinematography from Sergei Urusevsky is so strong that it manages to become the most memorable aspect of the entire film. The camera movements in the outdoor sequences are phenomenal, both regular and handheld. The imagery is superb and that crane scene is amazing and beautiful, both in the opening and ending.

The film is so polished not just in its cinematography, but also in the direction which is very strong, acting and of course editing. It is masterfully edited with each and every scene lasting for just the right amount of running time. The movie is never abrupt, never dragging and never dull. It is involving from start to finish owing to that superb editing.

The tone is great as it’s wonderfully lightweight and romantic at first and then serious and dark and still ending on a positive, moving note. That ending was heartbreaking, but wonderful and it almost made me cry how powerful it was. The movie isn’t original, but it is so fantastic in almost every way that I thoroughly enjoyed it despite me being somewhat tired of World War II movies. But when you have a movie done this well, you can’t help but appreciate it.

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The Cranes Are Flying Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The film is also realistic, it is well established in its characters and all of its plot points and some scenes are visually very intriguing including that supposed rape scene which is very authentic in its look. The dialogue I loved and I respect the movie for its great sentiment. The score is also quite good and the emotion is so strong that it starts to become overwhelming later on, positively so of course. The movie has that timeless quality to it and is just such an undisputed classic that is so far my favorite Russian film.

With deft editing, excellent direction, amazing cinematography from Sergey Urusevsky and such a strong performance from Tatiana Samoilova, The Cranes Are Flying is an undisputed Russian classic that is so moving, heartbreaking and powerful. It is a film that is perfect in almost every way, it succeeds as such a great anti-war film as well as a beautiful romance and it has such a breathtaking ending scene that almost made me cry. A masterpiece.

My Rating – 5

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Russian Ark (2002)

Russian Ark

Russian Ark Review

Russian Ark is a 2002 Russian historical drama film directed by Alexander Sokurov. It is one of the most famous Russian films and to me it is such an overrated movie.

It is set in the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and, through the narrator and his meetings with the people from different eras, it follows three centuries of Russian history and also art. I was so incredibly disappointed with this film, it is indescribably overrated and just so disappointing mainly because it has such a unique premise and a lot of unfortunately misguided and awfully put to use potential. The stories are almost non-existent as is the entire plot of this movie which has a serious lack of identity. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, it isn’t a documentary, but it most certainly isn’t a drama either. The historical part is also mediocre as it was so confusing with its shifting through different time periods that are also not arranged properly of course. All of that I found really annoying.

But what was the most frustrating in Russian Ark is definitely its cinematography! God, do I hate this kind of camera approach. The choice to have just one, uninterrupted take is a bad one because it is awfully executed, very forced and even seems amateurish from time to time. I really found that the most annoying aspect.

The characters are also so forgettable and the narrator is frankly annoying. The acting is solid, but also nothing too remarkable either. And the direction is solid at times, but weak at other times. It is so misguided and so awfully approached as well.

However, Russian Ark has its strengths. The finale is so beautiful and I adored it as it was so satisfying. Also some of the sequences were memorable and the technical aspects apart from the cinematography are all really good. I loved its imagery and of course its costume design which is excellent. I also really liked its score and the overall look of some scenes, no matter how static and badly photographed they were. It surely looks good and a great effort is put into making the sets look real and it paid off as that is the sole reason to see this movie in my honest opinion.

The dialogue is also solid and it has its moments, but it unfortunately never makes use of its premise and it never explains anything either historically or artistically speaking which is why it is such a poor art and history lesson when it could have easily been a great one. The film was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film which was a weird choice and a snub, but to me is good as it is far from a good, let alone great movie. Such a vast disappointment.

Russian Ark is such a huge disappointment and such an overrated movie. It has a great premise, the finale is moving and the film looks good with great imagery and excellent sets and costume design, but the cinematography is just so awfully executed and really annoying and the film is confusing and fails as both a history and an art lesson, while also never knowing what movie it wants to be.

My Rating – 2.5

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      Interior & Exterior Stills from Russian Ark

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