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Russia


Nutcracker

Nutcracker Lowest new price: $17.97
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Grigori Kozintsev's King Lear

Grigori Kozintsev's King Lear Lowest new price: $19.97
Lowest used price: $18.24
List price: $28.30
Brand: FACETS VIDEO

One of the truly great Soviet films, and possibly the greatest translation of Shakespeare to the screen, Grigori Kozintsev's epic adaptation, shot in Lithuania, is a visually stunning tour-de-force. Screenplay by Boris Pasternak. Music by Dimitri Shostakovich.

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Little Vera

Little Vera Lowest new price: $18.27
Lowest used price: $7.91
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Natalya Negoda stars as Vera, a sultry and sullen woman, torn between her brooding lover and bitter parents. After meeting Sergei at an underground dance party, Vera's life is turned upside down. Not so much by Sergei, but by the whirrling torrent of conflict her sexual freedom causes. Russian with English Subtitles

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Oblomov

Oblomov Lowest new price: $18.73
Lowest used price: $17.64
List price: $22.99
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254809

Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun) has a reputation as an actor's director, adroitly guiding his players through complex material and obtaining some of the finest performances in Soviet cinema. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Oblomov, his moving and authentic distillation of Ivan Goncharov's great 19th century tragi-comedy novel. Oleg Tabakov brings to the title role a delicate dignity as the gentle aristocrat who would rather sleep than compete in a modern world of expanding industrialization - a character lovable and ludicrous. And Elena Solovei invests with giddy charm her role of the delightful country belle, Olga, with whom Oblomov has a springtime of passion. Set in glittery St. Petersburg during the heyday of the czars, Oblomov is also full of enchanting scenes of lush interiors and ravishing landscapes. The delicate story about friendship, family and daydreams becomes a warmly nostalgic portrait of Russia before the turn of the century. Kino presents Mikhalkov's Oblomov on DVD in this digitally remastered version.

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Prisoner of the Mountains

Prisoner of the Mountains Lowest new price: $7.95
Lowest used price: $5.60
List price: $14.98
Brand: MGM (Video & DVD)

A stunning, emotionally charged indictment of war, this OscarÂ(r) nominee* for Best ForeignLanguage Film is at once 'thoughtful, moving (Roger Ebert), potent, engrossing (Variety),and unexpectedly affecting (The Wall Street Journal)! Two Russian soldiersa fresh recruit named Vanya and a hardened veteran named Sachaare taken hostage by Chechen guerillas after a deadly ambush leaves all of their comrades dead. Their captor, a battle-weary village elder,wants to use them as a bartering tool to get back his own son, held prisoner by the Russian army. But when the trade goes sour and all trust is broken, Vanya and Sacha realize their hours are numbered and attempt to escape before they're forced to join their comrades in death. *1996

There's a beautiful irony in the way that the most specific war tales are often the most universal. Set high in the imposing, isolated Caucasus mountains, where the 20th century meets ancient lifestyles, Sergei Bodrov's drama of the Chechyn war finds two opposing cultures locked in conflict for so long that the reasons seem moot. Young Russian grunt Vanya (Sergei Bodrov Jr., the director's son) and his jaded veteran Sergeant (Burnt by the Sun's Oleg Menshikov) survive an ambush by Chechyn guerrillas and wind up hostages of a village elder, a war-weary widower who has lost almost everything to fighting and wants merely to swap them for his POW son. Bodrov's humanism is directed with empathy and stirred with harsh realism--he takes no sides and offers no fantasies of happy endings, only small miracles of kindness that refuse to be swallowed in the destruction and mistrust. --Sean Axmaker

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Que Viva Mexico

Que Viva Mexico Lowest new price: $18.00
Lowest used price: $17.99
List price: $28.27
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254689

Hollywood's loss was Mexico's gain, as this glorious documentary will attest. Having failed to realize several projects in Hollywood, Russian film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein trekked to Mexico with producer Grigory Alexandrov and cameraman Eduard Tisse, and the famous writer Upton Sinclair as beneficiary. Their budget quickly ran out, and the film was never properly completed, but Alexandrov carefully assembled this version of Que Viva Mexico! in 1979, and the result is one of the most beautiful documentaries ever made. Although it was later criticized for presenting a fantasized view of Mexican culture, this remains a stunning example of Eisenstein's ability to meld people, politics, and ritual into a richly cinematic experience. Celebratory, socially alert, and at times even surreal, the film displays all of Eisenstein's revolutionary techniques while proving that his narrative style could have flourished in Hollywood. Instead, this marvelous film stands as a testament to what might have been.

Hollywood's loss was Mexico's gain, as this glorious documentary will attest. Having failed to realize several projects in Hollywood, Russian film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein trekked to Mexico with producer Grigory Alexandrov and cameraman Eduard Tisse, and the famous writer Upton Sinclair as beneficiary. Their budget quickly ran out, and the film was never properly completed, but Alexandrov carefully assembled this version of Que Viva Mexico! in 1979, and the result is one of the most beautiful documentaries ever made. Although it was later criticized for presenting a fantasized view of Mexican culture, this remains a stunning example of Eisenstein's ability to meld people, politics, and ritual into a richly cinematic experience. Celebratory, socially alert, and at times even surreal, the film displays all of Eisenstein's revolutionary techniques while proving that his narrative style could have flourished in Hollywood. Instead, this marvelous film stands as a testament to what might have been. --Jeff Shannon

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Stalker

Stalker Lowest new price: $19.49
Lowest used price: $7.69
List price: $29.98
Brand: Kino Video
Model: 2254931

One of Andrei Tarkovsky(Solaris, The Sacrifice) most acclaimed films, Stalker is an unforgettable film experience that evokes the spiritual lucidity of Carl Dreyer and the unbridled imagination of Philip K. Dick. Since its release in 1979, Stalker has inspired filmmakers as diverse as David Lynch and Steven Spielberg and ensnared audiences in a labyrinth of striking imagery revealing the familiar in the strange, the poetic in the disturbing and the mythic in the mordant. In the near future, an unseen alien force has taken possession of an area of Russian wilderness that authorities, have dubbed The Zone. The only thing known for sure about the region is that few who enter it ever return. Led by a Stalker one of a small group of outlaws able to safely navigate the Zone, a renegade scientist and a cynical, burnt out writer penetrate the dangers outside in search of the power and transcendence rumored to exist inside. The Stalker longs to un-do a mysterious physical transformation the Zone has performed on his young daughter. The scientist will risk anything to see that reason triumphs over faith. The writer seeks a germ of inspiration that the crumbling and corrupt world beyond the Zone no longer provides. Together, these three men become desperate pilgrims walking a desolate trail leading to one of the most enigmatic and tantalizing endings in the history of cinema. A haunting and honest meditation on the intersections of science, feeling, and faith.Stalker is both profoundly unsettling and deeply moving.

Challenging, provocative, and ultimately rewarding, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker is a mind-bending experience that defies explanation. Like Tarkovsky's earlier and similarly enigmatic science fiction classic Solaris, this long, slow, meditative masterpiece demands patience and total attention; anyone accustomed to faster pacing is likely to abandon the nearly three-hour film before its first hour is over. On the other hand, those who approach Tarkovsky's work in a properly receptive (and wide awake) frame of mind are likely to appreciate the film's seductive depth of theme and hypnotic imagery. Set in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic future (although the time-frame is never specified), the eerie and unsettling story focuses on the title character, Stalker (Aleksandr Kajdanovsky), who leads characters known only as the Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and the Scientist (or Professor, played by Nikolai Grinko) into a mysterious region called The Zone. Tarkovsky films their journey as a long odyssey, or religious pilgrimage, and center of The Zone--said to be under an alien influence--is where each of these men hopes to find a kind of personal transcendence. Despite obvious parallels to The Wizard of Oz, Tarkovsky's film is devoid of special effects or any fantastical elements typically associated with science fiction or fantasy. Instead, Stalker makes astonishing use of sound and bleak-but-beautiful imagery to envelope the viewer into the eerie atmosphere of The Zone and the dank, colorless landscape that surrounds it. And while the film's glacial pacing may be off-putting to some viewers, there's no denying that Stalker has a mesmerizing power of its own, including a thought-provoking and highly debatable ending that propels the film to a higher level of meaning and significance. --Jeff Shannon

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Man With a Movie Camera

Man With a Movie Camera Lowest new price: $18.70
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List price: $29.98
Brand: Kino Video
Model: 2254770

Dziga Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera is considered one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era. Startlingly modern, this film utilizes a groundbreaking style of rapid editing and incorporates innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of amazing power and energy. After his work on The Commissar Vanishes, a multi-media art event of 1999, composer Michael Nyman (The Piano) continued researching the period of extraordinary creativity that followed the Russian Revolution. This artistic inquiry resulted in the celebrated score for Man With a Movie Camera, performed by The Michael Nyman Band on May 17, 2002 at London's Royal Festival Hall. This dawn-to-dusk view of the Soviet Union offers a montage of urban Russian life, showing the people of the city at work and at play, and the machines that endlessly whirl to keep the metropolis alive. It was Vertov's first full-length film, and it employs all the cinematic techniques at the director's disposal - dissolves, split-screens, slow motion and freeze frames - to produce a work that is exhilarating and intellectually brilliant.

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Come & See

Come & See Lowest used price: $11.99
List price: $29.98
Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254789

When young Florya willingly joins a group of Partisans fighting the Nazis in Byelorussia, U.S.S.R., he little suspects that he is plunging through the looking glass. Separated from his comrades during a paratroop attack and struck deaf by German artillery, Florya - in the company of Glascha, a beguiling peasant girl - wanders a battle-scorched Russian purgatory of prehistoric forests and man-made slaughter. Florya's journey takes him and us through a gallery of exquisitely poetic imagery and brutal human atrocity.

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The Italian

The Italian Lowest new price: $38.47
Lowest used price: $3.77
List price: $19.99
Brand: Sony

For most Russian orphans, the chance to be adopted is a dream come true. But six-year-old Vanya Solntsev has other hopes. After discovering his mother is still alive, the abandoned boy teaches himself to read so as to learn her address from his personal files. Before a wealthy Italian couple can claim him for their own, Vanya sets off on a perilous journey to find his only remaining family. Pursued by orphanage staff and the police, the determined runaway must now face the most difficult challenges of his young life in this incredible story inspired by true events.

The Italian, a film that aims to expose the overcrowded, impoverished conditions in Soviet state-run orphanages, is a chilling portrayal of contemporary Russian life. Director Andrei Kravchuk conveys, from inside orphanage walls, the sense of responsibility that employees feel to the children, and how desperate economic straits drive these same dedicated employees to sell their kids for a few Euros. Vanya Solntsev (Kolya Spiridonov), nicknamed "The Italian," is a six year-old abandoned at birth. His jealous peers envy his invitation from an Italian family to move to Italy, but young Vanya is determined to find his real mother, which means forfeiting this rare opportunity for adoption. Kolyan (Denis Moiseenko), the gang leader Vanya "works" for, and Natasha (Polina Vorobieva), a gentle caretaker, try to convince him otherwise through scare tactics and beatings to no avail. With the help of teen prostitute, Irka (Olga Shuvalova), Vanya learns to read and catches a train to the city, living as a runaway hunted by his orphanage supervisors who want to sell him to The Italians. Shock sets in upon imagining a society of child vagrants roaming Russian streets, not to mention women abandoning children as expendables. Given the tragic subject matter, it is tempting to assume that this is a chronic social problem in Russia, but hopefully The Italian merely fictionalizes an extreme example of this sad topic. Convincing performances by Spiridonov and Shuvalova add to the film's documentary feel. If nothing else, The Italian serves as biting social commentary that is culturally enlightening though heartbreaking. --Trinie Dalton

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