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Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney delivers one of his strongest explorations of global politics in considering the strange case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky rocketed to prosperity and prominence in the 1990s, served a decade in prison, and became an unlikely leader of the anti-Putin movement. In tracking Mikhail Khodorkovsky's story, Alex Gibney creates a compelling portrait of post-Soviet Russia, a nation caught between radically divergent political models - and where fortunes can transform overnight. The collapse of the USSR ushered in an era of chaos and opportunity. With laws lagging behind socioeconomic change, Russia fomented a kind of gangster capitalism. Mikhail Khodorkovsky took advantage of the privatization of state assets, created Russia's first commercial bank, and built Yukos, Russia's biggest oil company. His success in business was accompanied by a level of political influence that would ...Written by
Toronto International Film Festival
In case anyone out there was under the impression Russia and its long-serving leader Vladimir Putin were squeaky clean world players, Citizen K should do a fairly solid job of showcasing why the country and its president have long been one of the shadiest operators around.
Directed by Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, Citizen K is not a ground-breaking doco or an exploration of new or jaw-dropping information but its a film that features the usual Gibney polish and editing prowess that has seen him become one of the most respected directors in his field.
Delving into the life and times of one of Russia's most wealthiest businessman turned prison inmate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who against all the odds became an icon of sorts for the steady follower's of the anti-Putin movement, Citizen K crams a lot of content into its two hour run-time as we explore Mikhail's rise up the ranks in the Russian business community and his up and down relationship with those in charge of his country.
Now in exile in the U.K, Khodorkovsky acts as a cold but intelligent central figure to Gibney's expose, offering up raw and honest insights into his backstory and the current predicament he finds himself in but the film works best when its focused on Putin himself, who while remaining mysterious and hard too read, makes for a fascinating subject as Gibney details his stunning journey to power that has now lasted well over 18 years.
One almost wishes Gibney had chosen to allot more time to Putin's side of this story, as for many outside of Russia it's hard to understand the true sentiment around the polarizing leader and how many of Russia's everyday citizens feel about the man that has pulled them along to become the powerhouse they are today, but at what long-lasting detriment for the future years ahead? The future where Russia and Putin will no longer go hand in hand.
You can almost sense Gibney wrestling with himself throughout Citizen K, understanding Khodorkovsky's story alone wasn't enough to build this feature around, the film at times feels torn in regards to what it wants to achieve, even if its at all times a solidly and thoughtfully put together piece.
Final Say -
As always Gibney delivers a well-made documentary with Citizen K but there's nothing here of a long lasting nature, just further evidence around Russia's shady operations and a want to know more about its mysterious central figure.
3 Blueberry Hill renditions out of 5
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