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Kino Korner June 26, 2003
Hulk Shoulda Stomped The Festival
By Mark Ames Browse author Email


Every day more shit happens in Russia than in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere combined. So what does a talented Russian filmmaker like Alexei Uchitel do? The same thing that nearly every other Russian filmmaker does: make a highly-stylized Eurofag movie which centers on a love triangle. A love triangle! Why, blow me down! Ya mean like the love triangle in Kukushka, or every goddamn European movie since they decided that film was Art?

Well, no, not exactly. In THE STROLL's case, we're offered a love triangle-plus: a love trapezoid involving three men and one Russian wench. Now that's what I call clever!

The fact that it's well-filmed and well-acted only makes it even more enraging. All the talent and energy invested into The Stroll made with one design: to try to prove to Westerners that Russians aren't barbarians. They're fighting a battle that Russian literature already resolved with Gogol: Russians are barbarians, and that's why they're more interestnig than their dead European neighbors. Groveling to them would be like groveling to old golfers. What's the payoff? Add to this the shameless sucking-up-to-the-state by staging the film all over central St. Petersburg on the anniversary, and what you've got is one heck of a Putin-era piece of neo-Soviet shite.

The movie features at its center a KaMaZ-thick lead actress with buoy-shaped tits who is supposed to be "beautiful," I suppose because she's as fat as your average Western chick. She gets picked up on on the street by one of those insufferably vesyoly parnie -- you know the type, sunglasses on the head, slightly fashionable, never shuts up, full of energy and cheap witticisms. She's even worse: capricious, pseudo-profound like a bad Dostoevsky heroine with a Tseppelin club card, your typically lazy, spoiled sterva who hates mornings and hates the metro. They're joined by the third segment of the love trapezoid, whose role is that he's strong-willed and sees through all her bullshit. Meanwhile, I'm asking myself, "Don't these assholes have jobs? I work for a living, and there they are, running around town with this blond diesel truck who clearly isn't going to put out!" The only character who was tolerable was her twice-her-age sponsor/husband, some Jew who, thankfully, really didn't give a shit about her dumb melodramas and caprices. God that was a relief, after spending two hours with those insufferable "post-Communist" Russian assholes. If this is what freedom is doing to the Russian soul, then I gotta say, this movie made a National-Bolshevik of me.

The Stroll was the premiere movie in the Moscow Film Festival Competition and judging by the audience's approving reaction, it's got a strong chance of winning. It was the first and only movie in the film festival that I saw, despite the hell I went through getting accredited. Believe me, when it comes to getting accredited to C-list star-studded events, you should see the way journalists tear at each other for those goddamn press passes. I'm ashamed of myself for having participated. The rest of the films looked even worse, except maybe a Brit film in which Tim Roth plays Cromwell.

May I never go to another film festival again.


Koko talking gorillaKoko talking gorillaKoko talking gorilla

Three Koko the talking gorillas. Uchitel thinks he's made a film that will present Russians as just like all civilized Europeans. Russian film isn't a total waste -- The Thief was fantastic, and the two Brat movies were decent in their own right. But they'd do better to stop trying to be like dead Europeans and more like death porn Russians. If their writers can do it, why can't the film makers?


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