6 items from 2014
On the Waterfront: Zvyagintsev’s Sprawling Opus of a Modern, Devouring Regime
Back with his fourth feature, Leviathan, Russian auteur Andrey Zvyagintsev succeeds in cinematic sublimity with this multilayered and operatic exploration of the crushing corruption of an unchecked regime. While each of his films have taken home prestigious awards (The Return won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2003, The Banishment snagged Best Actor at Cannes in 2007 while 2011’s Elena roped the Special Jury Prize for Un Certain Regard), this latest feature should solidify his unparalleled ascension as the most important auteur to rise out of Russia since Andrey Tarkovsky. Time may prove his to be the more potent title, a damning examination of the turpitude bred by an archaic and untoward establishment.
Living in the home that he’s built with his own hands on the waterfront of the Barents Sea, Kolya (Alexei Serebryakov), has recently been notified »
- Nicholas Bell
Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev has shown a penchant for studying desperate characters trapped in worlds much larger than anything under their control. From the two boys at the mercy of their demanding father in "The Return," to the elderly working class woman in "Elena" driven to crime for the sake of her son's finances, Zvyagintsev has assailed Russian society from the inside out. But none of his preceding features reaches the heights of dark, probing inquiry on display in his beautifully layered epic "Leviathan," a tragedy of biblical proportions in which fear and disillusionment are more central than the plot itself, and only the heartless people in power can find gratification. In a rather surprising tonal shift from Zvyagintsev's earlier efforts, "Leviathan" is also a stingingly effective pitch-black comedy. While several of the main figures in this sprawling ensemble piece face the prospects of their lives falling apart around them, »
- Eric Kohn
In “Leviathan,” which director Andrey Zvyagintsev has described as a loose retelling of the Book of Job, an ordinary man must wrestle with his faith not in God but in the Russian state — an epic struggle against a monster with many faces possessed of the capacity to bend the law to suit its own appetites. Resistance is futile, as they say, and yet this stunning satire’s embattled patriarch valiantly perseveres for the sake of his family, even as it crumbles around him. Debuting in competition at Cannes, this engrossing, arthouse-bound opus spans a meaty 142 minutes and unfolds with the heft of a 1,000-page novel.
Lest you think Zvyagintsev’s latest a work of science fiction, the leviathan in question is strictly metaphorical — a concept borrowed from Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 treatise of the same name. That may come as a disappointment to those who’ve likened the 50-year-old slow-cinema auteur to a latter-day Andrei Tarkovsky, »
- Peter Debruge
Welcome to the final entry in Cannes Check, In Contention's annual preview of the films in Competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow. Taking on different selections every day, we've examined what they're about, who's involved and what their chances are of snagging an award from Jane Campion's jury. We close thing out, neatly enough, with what will also be the last Competition film to be unveiled on the Croisette: Andrei Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan." The director: Andrei Zvyagintsev (Russian, 50 years old). Among the most highly regarded Russian filmmakers of his generation, Zvyagintsev's filmography is short but muscular, and routinely compared to work of his late compatriot (and admitted inspiration) Andrei Tarkovsky. Born to working-class parents in Siberia, he began his career as an actor, graduating from drama school in his home town of Novosibirsk before moving to Moscow to further train at the Russian Academy of Theater Arts. »
- Guy Lodge
An interesting list was posted on Reddit, listing the movies over the last eleven years that have earned at least a 95% on RottenTomatoes and have at least an average user rating of 8 or higher on IMDb. The list, understandably, doesn't take into account animated films and it includes some expected titles as well as a few I've still yet to see. Of those I haven't seen, they include Majid Majidi's The Song of Sparrows, Ki-duk Kim's Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring and Andrey Zvyagintsev's The Return. It's interesting to see the only repeat director is Richard Linklater with Before Sunset and Before Midnight, but anyone that knows my affinity for those two films also knows I'm not arguing they are two of the greatest movies of the last eleven years. I also find it interesting the only blockbusters included are Star Trek, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 »
- Brad Brevet
Andrey Zvyagintsev’s The Return and Elena were mysterious, slow-burning films. His 2014 entry, Leviafan, described by IMDb as “human insecurity in a ‘new country’” should mark a definite return to the Cannes Film Festival.
6. Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia was one of the best films of 2011, and Winter Sleep promises to be another philosophical brooder, full of dramatic wide shots.
5. Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
There aren’t many details for the new film by Cannes constants the Dardenne brothers, but a collaboration with Marion Cotillard is reason enough for excitement.
4. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson)
Few filmmakers are as unique, wryly funny, and assured as Roy Andersson. His Songs from the Second Floor is one of the best films of the 2000s, and the follow-up, »
- Neal Dhand
6 items from 2014
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