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Efenstor

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30 reviews in total 
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A magical story behind the poorly directed film, 29 November 2008
5/10

Everyone who's deeply interested in folklore, as I dare to say I am, knows the story of the Fairies of Cottingley, it's one nearly-epic story of the two girls who inadvertently made a half of the world actually believe in magical creatures (I don't count children, for they did, they do and they will believe, and that's wondrous), and the best part of the epic is that they had never straightforwardly confessed that they've forged it just not to ruin people's glimpse of faith in magical.

If that's what this movie should have been telling about then it certainly does not the job. Despite the wonderful and believable acting of Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl, the incoherent screenplay and direction ruin everything and only a shadow of the childhood magic remains in the dark corner pushed away by the social-drama clichés (they even managed to insert there a villain and the goddammit comic relief!). And the top-notch CGI doesn't help out. There's more magic even in ghost-story movies, such as 'Lady in White' or 'The Changeling'. Worth watching, but only once. I deeply hope that some day someone will make a movie worthy of this story's spiritual background, so you'd understand why some perfectly sane people believe in fairies, even without the photographs.

One of my favorite books is the collection of narrative tales, recorded in the middle of the 20th century among the Siberian villagers, mostly in the Chita region, by V.P. Zinovyev, and the thing I really love and adore in those stories is that those people actually believe all the folklore things they're speaking about! It's grievous that there are less and less such people live in this world, of that kind who believe because of the purity of the heart, not because of fear or passion. Some call those people dark and unenlightened, some laugh at them, but the thing they actually have is the faith, whilst everyone else have only a ghost of it. That who knows cannot believe.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Corporations want your brain!, 20 October 2008
7/10

The film is often compared to Darren Aronofsky's "Pi" and it's actually similarly intelligent and visually creative, yet "Pi" is more consistent and logical. So what we have great about "1.0"? First and foremost is its message, which is very relevant for the consumer society of today; the very discovery of that message while watching the movie is a rather exciting thing, yet it's a common thing for intelligent movies; but that's not the point, the point is that "1.0" warns you about living to consume products, the corporations will never care much about you, they only want money, more and sooner. That's why they would never care much even about debugging the programs they put into their consumers. Of course, this movie is a sci-fi because I think it's virtually impossible to create a virus for the human brain, even with some kind of microscopic electronic "mites". But doesn't, say, propaganda sounds like someone's trying to put a mind virus into your brain, to make it possess your will and so to control it? Or weren't communism and fascism a real kind of mind plague striking billions of people? May be then even there are demons who possess people and make them do things they wouldn't like to, and they are actually mind viruses, thoughts that have an ability to transmit themselves using verbal channels? We should learn to watch attempts to control our will and to resist them, or we won't be human anymore just like those poor people in this amazing movie. 7 out of 10, because the pace of the story is yet too sluggish and the visuals are overly grotesque which I don't really like, here "Pi" did better.

Carrie (1976)
One of the best attempts to un-kitsch King, 15 September 2008
7/10

I'll be short: the movie is very well directed, acting is great, photography is notable, plot is mediocre (as always with King) and the very idea is as old as schools exist. I always wondered: can King write a multilayer and profound book at all? Movies made after his books often overshadow his books because of direction, acting, etc. but it's always obvious that the plot, King's creation, is always weak and has nothing to think about after the movie's ended. You can remember spectacular scenes created by a cinematographer, wonderful acting but never can remember anything wonderful about characters' minds. The only exception from this rule is "The Shawshank Redemption", but still even there is not much originality, even there you cannot find any inside work in the characters' souls. Have they souls at all? As to Carrie, it's again a typical kitsch about a peer-terrorized girl raised by a religion-obsessed mother. The characters are so cartoonish that sometimes even incredible acting cannot bring them to life (especially it concerns Carrie's mother). There is nothing much to discuss. Would I recommend this movie? Yes I would. Watch and decide yourself whether you'll watch it ever again or not. As to me I don't know, because the filmmakers did their best and their work looks really great. 2 out of 10 for the King's work and 5 out of 10 go to the filmmakers.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Surely one of the gems of the spooky genre, 14 September 2008
10/10

Now I know the third best ghost-story movie in the world: it's "The Changeling". The other two masterpieces are "Hasta el viento tiene miedo" and "Lady in White", each of which has its own strong side: "Hasta el viento..." is realistic and mysterious, "Lady in White" is beautiful and touching, "The Changeling" is atmospheric and solid. As others said, it has a really, really nice cinematography (especially I liked the use of wide angle lenses), lighting is also top-notch (no Holliwoodish "darkness" with tons of light from the behind!), acting is incredible, in a word, as I said: very solid and very very atmospheric. As to the plot it's also very intriguing and convincing, not like today's "screamy-bloody" Hollywood trash. And chilling, yes, it's chilling as only a few of other movies are. The first sight of the ghost face is amazingly scary. Absolutely worth watching even if you think ghost stories are stupid.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
One of the rare folklore-centric movies, 18 August 2008
9/10

For years I searched in vain for another movie in the world that has the same approach and spirit as "Derevnya Utka". I thought that at least Scandinavians should have made such a movie but obviously no one else did it. Probably the only movie which goes somewhat close to "Derevnya Utka" is Finnish "Rölli ja metsänhenki".

So what's that unique about "Derevnya Utka"? First and most important: it is a magical story set in a village. It's not like those that "folklorish" western horror, fantasy or fairy-tale movies about leprechauns and dwarfs, the reality of "Derevnya Utka" is a reality of village people, where existence in a close contact with the nature makes many incredible fancies taken for granted. Actually it's a childish point of view, naive, but nevertheless it makes human lives brighter and gives those special supernatural feelings which are lost to matter-centric city-dwellers. "Derevnya Utka" tells us a story of Olya, an adolescent girl spending her summer holidays in the village Utka with her grandma. One day of her rather lonely life she meets a shishok (a Russian analogue of brownie) who lives in the walls of a huge barn. Slightly hostile at first, the shishok eventually becomes her best friend. Taking into account the folklore reality of the village world, it's no wonder that Olya's grandmother soon also becomes acquainted with the shishok who turns out to be a kind of an old spirit of her hearth and home. Of course, there's more behind the story and sometimes it provokes much deeper feelings than one may suppose from such a family-oriented movie, and that's another wonderful side of this unique film, though to feel those things you possibly need to be a bit shishok yourself.

In 2008 "Derevnya Utka" has been released by RUSCICO on a DVD with English subtitles.

Giorgino (1994)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Be Like Children, 17 August 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think it's incredibly hard to write any kind of full-scale review to Giorgino, merely because it's one of those viewer-dependent, complex, poetical and philosophical films that are impossible to be watched enjoying their visuals and their story while cracking their artistic core at the same time, yet there are several things which are quite certain and beyond any doubt about the movie for any man of art (which, I hope, I am).

The first: it's a certain masterpiece, even of that kind of art that is able to stand the test of time; the second: it's one of those rare "dark" movies in which the darkness is poetic, even romantic, attractive and much more sad than depressing, just like many of the Pieter Brueghel the Elder or Caspar David Friedrich's paintings. As to the core of the movie, its artistic aspect, someone called it Kafkian though I don't agree with that hasty attitude because actually it's far beyond Kafka's misanthropic logic and much more like Edgar Poe's parables: dark and scary but through that touching the most gentle strings of our souls. Actually, on the poetic side (which is much more important here than the narrative), Giorgino is a tale about eternal peace and love which can be achieved solely through saving oneself's inner child or, to be more precise, the childhood of one's soul. It is no secret, that such childish people are usually branded as crazy or at least misfits by our society, ignoring the obvious fact that they all have a virtue all the other grown-ups have lost: the virtue of true love, the kind of love that is called a God's love by Christian scholars.

Indeed, Giorgino may be called a very Christian movie, with "Be like children" (Mt 18:3) as it's real hidden tag-line, though the film never deals with any kind of moral and concentrates solely on the Christian philosophical aspects. Though I think Boutonnat was too harsh portraying "grown-ups" as some sort of demons, incarnated as wolves, trying to kill childhood in the rare survived hearts, but it's his point of view and he has a right to think so. While watching Giorgino don't try to look for hidden symbols and meanings (though there are some), better try to understand and learn from at least some of the fables Boutonnat had hidden in the twists of the movie plot.

I have to admit that the movie greatly impressed me with excellent photography, especially I was happy to see the rational use of color filters, incredibly smooth and apposite editing, wonderful acting of all the actors and, of course, the atmospheric beauty of winter mountains which reminded me of the Brueghel's "Hunters in the Snow". Also, interestingly enough, one scene, where Death itself shown in the form an old woman with sunken black-ringed eyes, instantly reminded me of Pesta (Plague) by Theodor Kittelsen, the Norwegian painter who made a series of drawings to the story of how the black plague swept out the population of a small town in a mountain valley. Is it a simple coincidence?

0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Dark philosophy about souls and demons, 5 August 2008
5/10

Jacob's Ladder instantly reminded me Tarkovsky's "Stalker", especially with its soundtrack. Director's devotion to urban desolation is also very similar, though, on the contrary to "Stalker", here it's used as an infernal environment for hellish torments of one's departing soul instead of the Stalker's final chaos which turns everything to vanity and brings the ultimate peace. Jacob's Ladder could possibly be a much deeper and more philosophical work of art if, instead of delivering only authors' thoughts on what happens when we're dying while full of unreleased memories, desires and other "demons", it delivered something of a Boschian message, warning us of what happens to us when we live mindless lives lacking of beliefs. In fact, while watching the first third of the movie I strongly suspected such a point, thought "wow", but then was disappointed. Nevertheless, the movie is incredibly solidly made and direction, music and cinematography are really top notch. There are many interesting concept points besides demons: the guardian angel as a kind doctor, Purgatory in the form of a hospital or unfree souls as mental patients. I cannot say that Jacob's Ladder has some kind of unreleased potential, as it often happens with similar movies, no, it's made very well and does its job, even giving you points to think about, but its potential is too depressive and disgusting to make me rate it high. May be it's my own prejudice but I cannot rate high movies with similar messages inside, despite how profoundly they made.

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Why independent movies are so weird?, 1 August 2008
9/10

What makes a good mystery? First of all, weirdness. I've seen a lot of ghost-movies but only a few come close to the beautiful weirdness of this independent movie. Over 4000 people gave their pennies to make this movie come true and it was really worth it. Just like Taboada's "Hasta el viento tiene miedo", LaLoggia's "Lady in White" is an absolutely astonishing movie in every part of it, starting from the visual style to the plot. Of course, like in every movie made on low budget it has pretty bad special effects, sometimes so bad that you want the movie to be remade, but in fact, this is the kind of movie that's totally impossible to be remade without ruining its incomprehensible glamor. Once finished watching, someone would think that it's the plot that makes this movie so unique, but for a movie-lover it's not too hard to remember at least a couple of other flicks with similar plots but miles weaker than "Lady in White", so it's obvious that everything: acting, direction, music, design, photography; so well fit together so they create a potion of pure imagination incredibly interknit with an almost touchable reality. It's the best movie that can be called a screen version of a Christmas story told by the fire by your grand. More than worth watching.

Unfortunately this movie has not been released on DVD in Russia (just as "Hasta el viento..." and many other amazing fantasy movies), so I can share my admiration with only a few people.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Many flaws but still a classic, 30 July 2008
5/10

I live in Siberia, so naturally a horror flick about a trans-Siberian express full of white-eyed zombies stirred up my interest. And what we have here: a great cast with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas and Alberto de Mendoza, rusty special effects, atmospheric environment of the snowy Siberia, improperly chosen music, a dashing mob of cossack zombies and a life form from the outer space; in other words as much good as bad. The style of the movie and its atmosphere are rather even and strong may be even to make you want to watch it more than once but its special effects and the "scientific" base are ludicrous beyond dispute. Anyway, it's really worth seeing, fun and memories are guaranteed. Interestingly enough, the first part of the movie evolves around a frozen mummy of a prehistoric man which later causes all the curse-like mess -- I instantly remembered the rumors of the curse of Otzi, the real frozen prehistoric man discovered in 1991 in the mountains just like in this flick!

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Of the Three People without Hearts, 16 July 2008
5/10

An intelligent movie telling us there are no such things as God, good and sanity, and about three people-shells without hearts and souls thinking they're doing bad things instead of the right because they have "lost their way" one day when they were children, blaming no one and thinking of nothing. The plot is incoherent, yet complete and satisfying but the very core of this movie, its point of view, is so twisted that I wonder has the author of the book the movie was made after any belief in human beings at all; it seems that humanity for him is a huge crowd of scoundrels, losers and jesters colliding like billiard balls. The slogan of this movie is surely "I've killed a man and the hell with it". Pure misanthropy. 5/10, for excellent acting and solid direction.


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