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"Kak ya provyol etim letom" (Russian title contains intentional
misspell-pin and should be read "How I Cheated (somebody) Last Summer",
not just this school-like "How I Spent Last Summer", chosen for foreign
version) is a Russian psychological drama about two meteorologists, the
old, Sergei, and the young, Pavel, who get stuck on an isolated polar
station for a regular season work and have to deal with each other
...and the information, that arrives from the "big earth".
Visually and stylistically film is flawless. Cinematography with it's slow-pacing, static long shots and scenic wild nature shots is adorable. Atmosphere, when time seems ticking slower and cold wind awaits for you from another side of the door, is on the good level too. And as a native-speaker, I can say that dialogue-lines are also pretty decent. Polar station as a place is just a cause for examination of human communication (so-called "chemistry") in isolated space. Subject deals with responsibility, instinct of self-preservation, influence of isolated space to human psychics and importance of experience. I don't want to spoil your first-time-watching, so I won't go into plot any further...
Can't name any similarities. Maybe the closest will be: "Breaking the Waves" meets "Gerry" and "Shutter Island" (no delusions here, similarity is geographical) along with Russian "Dikoe Pole" (2008) and maybe even "Kukushka" (2002). Plus some Michael Haneke's style (like from most recently - though black and white - "Das Weisse Band" with it's distant human behavior examination). In my opinion, "Kak ya provyol etim letom" is one of the best Russian movies of the decade (2000-2010) along with Alexei Balabanov's "Gruz 200", "Morfiy" and above-mentioned Alexander Rogozhkin's "Kukushka". And yes, it is way better than Zvyagintsev's pretentious force-fed Tarkovsky-styled issues "Vozvraschenie" & "Izgnanie".
Don't know how soon those of you who don't speak Russian will be available to watch this with subtitles or voice-over...
So, if you're often bored with 2-hour non-action movies - don't bother watching this. Try something more entertaining. But if you're into slow-paced minimalistic psychological dramas, give it a try. You'll be aesthetically rewarded.
Having watched this movie on a flight I am going to steer clear of
commenting on what appeared to be some amazing cinematography.
With a sparse cast and a sparse setting this films works hard on the subtleties and isolation of the main characters. The monotony, the boredom, the sense of duty and the age old story of the older experienced man and the younger upstart who doesn't appreciate the ways of old.
Grigoriy Dobrygin as Pasha is incredible in delivering the essence and fundamentals of the story. What makes this movie thrilling and scary at the same time is that, in such isolation, everything that could possibly scare you in such a situation is explored or alluded to so you never know what could happen because anything could happen. Within this context an important message is received Without spoiling the movie, one could say that we cannot control how people react to things anymore than we can control nature itself. And sometimes to try and prevent bad things happening can be the worst choice but it is always the human choice.
The script is extremely tight and though the dialogue is somewhat monosyllabic and sparse it all adds to the tension, (and makes it easier if you are not watching it in Russian and dislike subtitles) I cannot imagine how a movie as good as this could ever be made in Hollywood. Where, for example, someones expressions alone could take up 5 minutes of film and still have you on the edge of your seat. Even Hitchcock would have learned a lot from the art of suspense after watching this movie.
This film is a must watch for any film enthusiast.Shows the power of
camera.The near perfect acting by all the cast(even if the number is
just 2) makes this one a memorable experience.
A stunning drama on human emotions,relation and communication shot with breathtaking visuals. The plot is simple and the development happens in almost seamless manner through powerful visual story telling, dialogues and voice acting.You will struggle to find any other film which captures the stunning beauty of Arctic like this film does.
Another thing to note is the awesome use of sound in this film.Whether the radio, or nature or the sound of water or boat,the sound department has done more than what many expects out of it.
Except for sexual relations, almost all human character/emotions/expression can be seen in this film- fear, lies, friendship, boss, freedom, celebration, learning, longing, tension, enmity, guilt, grief, childish, lazy, discipline, compassion, forgiveness and much more. And to imagine all these have been achieved by just 2 characters alone is a majestic achievement in itself.
One of the best films of 2010.Truly original.
It is a small travesty that more films like this from across the pond
don't get a wider audience (I think the only reason this has managed to
get a UK release was the fact that it won Best Film at the BFI London
Film Festival). But this small gem has managed to escape obscurity and
has now been given a cinema release so that everyone can enjoy this
First, may I state the following: this is not a thriller! Please do not start watching this film expecting Russia's interpretation of Hitchcock - you will be sorely disappointed! The film itself has relatively little in terms of plot - a fact that another reviewer has (unfairly) criticised it for. Instead, what we receive as viewers is a quietly poignant, at times almost meditative exploration of isolation and the tensions that arise between the two leading characters in the vast, sparse, beautiful terrain of the Arctic in which they work.
As the film develops, the suspense certainly mounts, and at one point, a tense cat and mouse chase does develop. Indeed, it is not only themselves, but their surroundings which they have to tread carefully around - sinister hints about a deserted house on a cliff top and the danger posed by polar bears play their role. But don't try and second guess the film, because above all, this is a truly understated, moving exploration of human fragility rather than an action flick. The ending made me smile in surprise, and I felt ashamed at how cynically I had felt that I knew where the film was going. You will never see an ending as mature as this coming from Hollywood.
I won't bother with a plot summary - the one provided by IMDb is more than sufficient. What I will say is that both the acting and the cinematography are superb. The two leads both do wonderful jobs in which the performances require far more than the confines of the dialogue - so much of this film takes place in silence, and both men tackle their parts with great success. Then there is the cinematography - it has been a while since I have seen such beautiful images come together to create such an atmosphere of isolation and buried tension. The vast, beautiful landscape, the pale blue skies, the gentle lull of the sea, the calm glassy lakes, the dark, imposing cliffs, and then the intermittent fog... postcards could be made using some of these images. The effect is perfect.
In short, this is definitely worth the watch, and it's one to look out for in 2011!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you're into action movies, Hollywood flicks, comedies (romantic or
otherwise) you can stop here - this is not the film for you. Two hours
of dazzling Arctic scenery with a psychological battle between the only
two inhabitants of a Russian scientific data gathering team. The Older
man has served there for many years - the Younger is learning the ropes
for the first time. Older doesn't appreciate Younger's lack of
dedication, but they get along as well as can be expected. Then while
Older is away fishing, Younger receives a shocking radio message meant
for Older. He makes his first serious mistake by not passing it along.
Because he's afraid ? or crazy ? or just to keep things from getting
strange? We're left to decide for ourselves.
One mistake leads to another and another and the all-too-real consequences drive the rest of the film. I've said too much already.
The real joy from this film comes from the magnificent photography, the mood the director gives us, and a story that continues to surprise us. I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen that these scenes almost demand. It's available from filmmovement.com on DVD. I suggest sitting real close to your widescreen TV to let the mood and the place surround you.
For me, this is the best film I've seen in 2010. It really crawled into my gut as it unfolded. If you appreciate film for the art that it CAN be - but so rarely is - I highly recommend this one. If you're looking for entertaining fluff, try something else.
Two men man an isolated weather station in the Arctic circle. Sergei is
older and experienced with a wife and son at home. Pavel is young and
bored, resentful of Sergei's dominance yet dependent on it. Into this
already tense environment comes the news that Sergei's wife and son
were badly injured in an accident. Pavel receives the message while
Sergei is out fishing. Because of the way things play out, Pavel
doesn't deliver the message right away; as the opportune moment passes
him by, it becomes harder and harder to tell Sergei even while the
direness of his screw up becomes more and more obvious. Eventually,
hostilities boil over and Pavel's paranoia reaches such a crescendo
that he takes off into the wilderness on a self-imposed cat and mouse
chase, convinced that Sergei wants to kill him.
It's almost ludicrous that something that really is at heart pretty banal (failing to deliver a message, even if that message is very serious) could trigger events that reach the conclusion they do (I won't spoil it, but the end to this movie is grim, folks). But the movie is so well made and acted that everything is entirely plausible, and it's easy to see how distrust can so easily grow when given the right conditions.
My understanding is that both actors won German film prizes for their work, and no wonder. Until the final scene, not another human being appears, and it falls to the two of them to hold our attention with nothing more than a stark if beautiful landscape to act against.
Well hold it they do.
This film made me feel good. It was something different to all the
mainstream movies you see these days, with all the overly done CGI
crap. This movie was 'real'.
The film is set on an island in the Artic Ocean. The awe-inspiring scenery just took my breath away. From the bitterly cold looking Artic Ocean, to the enchanting mountains, it just made me feel like I was there. This movie was filmed using a Red SLR camera, and the pictures are just stunning. Some of the scenes look like a photo! This movie is in Russian and there are subtitles. The good thing here is that, although there is some good dialogue in this movie - there isn't much, so you aren't constantly looking down to read the subtitles (for those who don't speak Russian).
In the film there are the two main characters, Pasha and Gulybin. Pasha is the young, fresh looking guy and Gulybin is the hardened, experienced, older man. It felt like a father/son type relationship, although they are not related. Gulybin has been living on the island in the wild, extreme conditions for most of his life. An experienced geophysicist, Gulybin is set in his ways and Pasha, a young guy, is on the island to write an essay called "How I ended this Summer".
This film explores the relationship between Pasha and Gulybin, and the highs and lows that they experience toward each other living in a desolate land. Their relationship is tested and tempers arise giving you a look at the extremes of the human conditions living in such an isolated part of the world.
This movie is well worth a look.
Russian director Alexei Popogrebsky's "How I Ended This Summer" is a
tense, stunning and often frustrating marathon of film. This is an
award winning film having claimed the Golden Bear at The Berlin
International Film Festival and best film at the London Film Festival
Awards, and certainly provides a unique cinematic experience with its
stunning landscapes and minimal use of dialogue and soundtrack.
The film follows the stark lives of two Russian meteorologists, working on an inhospitable and isolated wasteland on the Siberian coast. College student Pavel is on a work placement, attempting to work alongside experienced and intimidating Sergei. The environment itself is the source of much of the cinematic beauty but also deadly hazards: polar bears, radioactivity, sheer cliffs, and wild weather. These hazards, and the abhorrent isolation takes its toll on immature Pavel who becomes unable to communicate with Sergei. The tension reaches breaking point when Pavel loses Sergei's trust and is unable to bring himself to tell him the news that his family has died in a car accident.
Where this film excels is in scene depiction, with every view a stunning image symbolic of Pavel's temperament. Almost every image in this film could be a photograph worthy of framing. The landscape is stark, the soundtrack is almost nonexistent, as is the dialogue, and it forces the viewer to experience Pavel's toxic isolation.
But to be perfectly honest, I have never been more frustrated watching a film than when I endured the two hours of silence that is "How I Ended This Summer". Several times throughout the film you are forced to spend over a minute watching a character walk off into the distance, and all this with no music, no dialogue, not even anything to think about. For a while I even played music in the background just to maintain sanity. To add to this frustration, our main character Pavel is an irritating young man who constantly makes mistakes, is completely devoid of any courage, seems to have no interests and makes every wrong decision he possibly can.
Perhaps it is this very frustration that makes this film award winningly unique. Popogrebski outstandingly succeeds in communicating the feelings of young Pavel, even if it at times this process is excruciatingly painful. "How I Ended This Summer" is a film for film buffs. To anyone else wanting to endure this marathon I would suggest multitasking with some knitting or doing some pushups, otherwise you could expect to be footing the bill for the screen you just threw your drink at.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Landscape is beautiful and desolate sometimes mimicking life.
Pasha/Pavel and Gulybin/Sergey are two researchers working alone for a lengthy period in the Arctic. Each is from a different generation and assumingly socioeconomic background. When terrible news comes across the radio, the younger Pasha is afraid to tell the older more domineering Gulybin. The longer he waits the worse things become.
Overall this is a very good movie with a couple small problems. In one scene it is unclear whether or not Sergey received the message during a solo radio call later and pretended he did not. If this was not the case, then it seems a little odd that no one would mention their condolences at some point to this man. I kept wondering why they would hang fish out to dry for two reasons - won't they freeze leaving the salt unable work, and wouldn't it attract birds or bears??? Maybe about 10-20 minutes too long because it did slow down a bit at the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I would have said this was an excellent movie except for one minor
thing: the human behavior that was at the core of the movie's plot
simply wasn't believable. For *some* unknown reason, the young padawan
chooses not to deliver the message to the Jedi Master that his wife and
son are dead.
Honestly, I don't care how much of a coward you are--if someone's family dies, and you need to deliver the message, you just do it. Anyone would have done it--period.
As much as I wanted to like this movie, nothing in my mind could come to terms with the premise that the young kid in this movie wouldn't have delivered the message. I can't picture anyone behaving in that manner for any reason.
My biggest pet peeve in films in when writers do not create believable human behavior that is consistent within a character. It doesn't matter if the genre is horror, sci-fi, drama, comedy, etc, human behavior is an absolute. People may do crazy things, weird things, psychotic things, but there is always reason and motive. In this movie, there was simply no real motive for the absurd behavior.
This movie frustrated me in the way sitcoms often do, where one character has something compelling to tell another, but trite unbelievable dialogue is conjured to prolong the tension.
In any case, I'm glad most everyone else was able to enjoy this film. I wish I could have.
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