Nov 202009


Myra and I are still watching Idiot. One more session to go. But I need something to watch while running on the elliptical machine, so for that I’ve been re-watching Obyknovennoye Chudo. With the music and all the weird scene changes it’s a good one to accompany physical activity.

Speaking of strange twists, this is one I missed before. It’s a scene to make you go, “Huh? Where did that come from?” It takes place at the remote hunting lodge in the mountains. It’s a scene that has nothing to do with anything that has gone before, as far as I can tell. The hunter is comparing his craft to literary or artistic work, complete with the critics he has to endure.


On the other hand, maybe it does have something to do with what has gone before. The volshebnik (writer/magician) who is creating the story that is unfolding wants to do something interesting with his talents. But his creative efforts are for the sake of his wife, not for the sake of innovation or creativity.


As one who has long thought that teaching creativity is a good way to kill creativity, it could be that I agree with Mark Zakharov on the subject. (It’s risky to be absolutely certain about it, given my unfamiliarity with the language. I probably miss a lot of subtle points that would help me understand better.)

Aug 022008

In keeping with my policy of making superficial comments in this blog, I need to ask, why this movie convention of portraying a babe in arms as some stiff-as-a-board object covered up in baby blankets? The above scene is from the wonderful musical film, Obyknovennoye chudo, but I can’t think of a Russian movie that doesn’t portray babies this way. There may have been an attempt in Komissar to depart briefly from this convention. But even there, the mother is holding some lightweight object that certainly doesn’t have the heft of an actual baby, nor does it have the flexibility and fragility of one.

There is a scene in Brilliantovaya Ruka that parodied this convention, so I don’t think it’s only outsiders who notice.

What do they actually wrap up in those blankets? A stick of styrofoam? Balsa wood?

Aside from the babies, it’s too bad that the subtitles go away for a while in this YouTube segment, just at a point where there seems to be an important explanation that would help make such sense of it as can be made. I can understand a few words of what is being said, but not enough to catch the meaning.

Even without that, I am coming to view Obyknovennoye chudo as one of the great movies. There are stories within stories and well-done acting and musical touches that make it good for repeated watching. There is more to learn and appreciate each time.

Jul 232008

No Russian movies tonight. I’m busy getting ready for some Spokesrider bike rides. I did spend some time with the Russian language, though, starting with one of Viktor D. Huliganov’s lessons.

Then, while working on my maps I listened to YouTube music, and then stumbled upon this song, which I recognize from the movie Obyknovennoye chudo. It’ll be handy having it here so I can learn the words.

And I see that Nastya Kamenskih is in on this kind of music, too. I was somewhat surprised to see her on this stage. I learned about her some months ago when doing a YouTube search for Fabrika Zvezd. Most of the music from Fabrika Zvezd doesn’t bear much repeated listening for me, but the “Ne para” that she did with Potap is one that wears well. She has a good voice, and it seems she and Potap enjoyed working together on stage. It was fun to watch the two respond to each other. I’ve also seen several more recent YouTube clips of her singing with the guy that appears with her in the above clip. (I’ve seen his name, but don’t remember it.) The songs those two do together doesn’t seem to work quite as well. Below is the one she did with Potap on Fabrika Zvezd. I don’t know that they ever topped it — at least not on YouTube.

I see I’ve wondered a long way from Ostrov — from Pyotr Mananov to Dmitri Dyushev to Tamara Gverdtsiteli to Nastya Kamenskih.

Hmmm. I still haven’t worked with my vocabulary flash cards tonight. Better go and do my quota for the evening.

May 302008

We’re well over halfway through watching An Usual Wonder on YouTube.

It’s hard to know what to make of it. Just when we think we’re getting the idea of what it is, it does something unexpected. There is music that might be from an old James Bond movie, but what is that with a magician and scenes from the wild west (or east, in the case of a Russian movie)? The magician and his wife are definitely not a Usual Magician and spouse. And it’s not a Usual Bear-turned-into-a-man. The role of king seems made for Evgeni Leonov, but it’s not a Usual King. If you like swordfight scenes, there is one with a charming end to it. It’s a love story, maybe three or more love stories, but it’s hard to say whether they’re silly or profound. And it’s hard to say how all the parts are going to come together in the end.

Most of it seems made more for the stage than the screen. The movie is from 1978, from the Soviet days.

Wikipedia tells us that socialist realism requires the showing of the typical life of people, and there is certainly a lot of that in movies from the Soviet era, but there is also a lot that’s far from it — in unusual combinations.

This is a mixed up explanation, but then the movie a mixed up thing, too. We’re liking it so far.