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Night Watch

Night Watch Lowest new price: $2.20
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List price: $9.63
Model: 2219035




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Man With a Movie Camera

Man With a Movie Camera Lowest new price: $18.70
Lowest used price: $18.68
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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Eisenstein: The Sound Years (Ivan the Terrible Parts 1 & 2 / Alexander Nevsky) (The Criterion Collection)

Eisenstein: The Sound Years (Ivan the Terrible Parts 1 & 2 / Alexander Nevsky) (The Criterion Collection) Lowest new price: $794.61
Lowest used price: $199.95
List price: $79.95
Model: 2224978

Sergei Eisenstein, long regarded as a pioneer of film art, changed cinematic strategies halfway through his career. Upon returning from Hollywood and Mexico in the late 1930s, he left behind the densely edited style of celebrated silents like Battleship Potemkin and October, turning instead to historical sources, contradictory audiovisuals, and theatrical sets for his grandiose yet subversive sound-era work. This trio of rousing action epics reveals a deeply unsettling portrait of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and provided battle-scene blueprints for filmmaking giants from Laurence Olivier in Henry V to Akira Kurosawa in Seven Samurai.

A biography of the first czar of Russia was the final movie project of the great Sergei Eisenstein's life. It would be his undoing, as Stalin was not pleased with part II of this epic. But Ivan the Terrible, Part I still stands as a magnificent, rich, and strange achievement. This is a "composed" film to make Hitchcock look slapdash; every frame is arranged with the eye of a painter or choreographer, the mise-en-scène so deliberately artificial that even the actors' bodies become elements of style. (They complained about contorting themselves to fit Eisenstein's designs.) If you don't believe movies can be art, this could be (and has been) dismissed as ludicrous. But Eisenstein's command of light and shadow becomes its own justification, as the fascinating court intrigue plays out in a series of dynamic, eye-filling scenes. This is not a political theorist, but a director drunk on pure cinema.

Part II continues with the struggle for power and the use of secret police, a controversial segment that caused the film to be banned by Stalin in 1946 (the film was not released until 1958). The predominantly black-and-white film features a banquet dance sequence in color. Obviously the two parts must be viewed as a whole to be fully appreciated. Many film historians consider this period in Eisenstein's career less interesting than his silent period because of a sentimental return to archaic forms (characteristic of Soviet society in the '30s and '40s). Perhaps it was just part of his maturity.

Alexander Nevsky (1939), Eisenstein's landmark tale of Russia thwarting the German invasion of the 13th century, was wildly popular and quite intentional, given the prevailing Nazi geopolitical advancement and destruction at the time. It can still be viewed as a masterful use of imagery and music, with the Battle on the Ice sequence as the obvious highlight. Unfortunately, the rest of the film pales in comparison. A great score by Prokofiev was effectively integrated by the Russian filmmaker, but stands on its own merit as well.

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The Mirror

The Mirror Lowest new price: $119.67
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Brand: Kino International
Model: 2254655

Andrei Tarkovsky, the acclaimed master of Soviet cinema, takes a moving and personal turn with this striking meditation on life in Russia during the bleak days of WWII. The Mirror is not just the display of a film director at the peak of his unique powers. As an homage to the innocence of childhood, it tells an enigmatic tale that is both gripping and horrifying. Tarkovsky uses his own coming-of-age experiences, himself "mirrored," to convey the mood and action that dominated a country ravaged by war. Through a fascinating two-tiered time frame, the director blends his own harsh childhood with an adult life that is troubled and broken. Powerful images - a mother faced with political terror, a divorcing couple's quarrel - are underscored by Tarkovsky's masterful manipulation of film stocks and recorded sound. The Mirror becomes a stream of consciousness: nostalgic visions of childhood mixed with slow-motion dream sequences and stark WWII newsreels. Tarkovsky's The Mirror is ultimately as much a window through a filmmaker's gaze as it is a reflection of his personal passions and ideals. Through this essential film, viewers may find the puzzles that provide the key to director's other works, including, The Sacrifice and Solaris.


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Absurdistan Lowest new price: $15.81
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List price: $15.81
Brand: First RUN Features
Model: 5457594

{Official Selection Sundance Film Festival}

Welcome to Absurdistan, a small village in the high desert mountains, just on the outskirts of reality, where magical visions and bizarre events fuse together.

The village is facing a water shortage, but the men are too lazy to fix a rickety pipeline and the women are getting fed up with their good-for-nothing husbands. Led by young Aya, the women make a simple vow: "No water, no sex." The men's only hope is Temelko, whose long promised wedding with Aya is put on hold until he finds a solution for the water problem.


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Day Watch (Unrated)

Day Watch (Unrated) Lowest new price: $2.00
Lowest used price: $0.27
List price: $14.98
Brand: Twentieth Century Fox
Model: MFR024543465065#VG

Like The Matrix, Day Watch combines cutting-edge digital effects and mind-blowing action to create a stunningly original world. This Unrated Edition takes you on an even wilder ride with more intense thrills and incredible effects.

Only one thing stands between peace and Armageddon: the supernatural agents of Day Watch, who fight to control the armies of light and darkness. When the son of a senior Day Watch officer turns to the darkness, forces beyond the imagination are unleashed and the fate of the world hangs in the balance!

The dizzying supernatural Russian epic started in Night Watch continues with Day Watch, in which once again the battle between the forces of Light (the Night Watch) and Dark (the Day Watch) threatens to crack open the world as we know it. The plot centers around Anton (Russian superstar Konstantin Khabensky), an Other (one of many beings with varied supernatural powers) whose son, Yegor, has joined the Day Watch, who are grooming him to be their superpowerful savior. Anton's protoge, Svetlana, also has high-capacity power, and if Yegor and Svetlana come into conflict, the resulting devastation could shatter everything. The key to success seems to lie with the Chalk of Fate, a simple piece of chalk that can rewrite reality. Day Watch is full of plotholes and underdeveloped story points (at one point, to keep him safe, Anton's consciousness is switched into the body of his Night Watch colleague Olga--but mere moments later the Day Watch knows what's happened, before any suspense could be mined from it; as a result, this promising plot twist seems only to exist to allow for some girl-on-girl action), but it's forgivable. As with the first film, Day Watch bubbles over with its wildly imaginative world, its ravishing style, and its fantastic visual effects. If a Hollywood blockbuster had half as much creativity, it would be praised to the skies and be the hit of the year. Don't let the subtitles put you off (particularly since even the subtitles reflect the movie's wit and imagination)--Day Watch is a cinematic feast that any movie fan should devour. --Bret Fetzer


  • 2006 DVD WideScreen
  • Unrated Version
  • Audio in English, Russian, Spanish
  • 146 minutes

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The Cuckoo

The Cuckoo Lowest new price: $39.00
Lowest used price: $24.93
List price: $29.95

September 1944, in a land torn apart by war, a Finnish sniper is labeled a coward by his compatriots; as punishment, he is nailed to a rock and left to his own devices. Not long after, a disgraced Russian Captain, en route to his court martial, is injured in an accident. Both men are about to find out they have one thing in common. Wounded and emotionally tortured, they are taken in by Anni, ayoung, resourceful war widow, who offers shelter to one while nursing the other back to health. None of them understands the others' languages, but it doesn't seem to matter. Isolated, the three unlikely roommates - a Finn, a Russian and a Lapp - overcome both comic and tragic misunderstandings to form a passionate three-way...relationship. Because after a day of hard work on Anni's farm, who needs words?

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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Lowest new price: $5.95
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Brand: Kulter

Live from the Bolshoi Theatre. This 1978 remake is a truly spellbinding version of this Christmas classic. Tchaikovsky's beloved melodies combine with superb dancing to create pure delight. Starring Yekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Victor Levashev.

Famed Bolshoi duo Yekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev star in this production of Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet, The Nutcracker. Maximova dances the role of Maria, the young girl whose mysterious uncle Drosselmeyer (Victor Levashov) gives her a wooden nutcracker (Vasiliev) for Christmas. When he comes to life, she rescues him from marauding mice and is taken to the Kingdom of Sweets for a series of entertaining divertissements from many nationalities.

This production dates from 1987 and the sets and costumes appear to have been in use since well before then. Audio and video quality are rather crude, especially compared to the stunning DVD productions by Patrice Bart and Maurice Bejart. Bart, however, takes liberties with the story line, and Bejart throws it out altogether. Sometimes, all you need is a traditional version of a family holiday favorite, and if you want traditional, it's hard to beat the Bolshoi. --David Horiuchi


  • ISBN: 0-7697-0062-4
  • Color
  • Running Time: 100 minutes
  • Composer/Author: Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Performers: Yekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Victor Levashev, Sergei Radchenko

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Alix Lambert's The Mark of Cain

Alix Lambert's The Mark of Cain Lowest new price: $89.99
Lowest used price: $12.94

The Mark of Cain chronicles the vanishing practice and language of Russian Criminal Tattoos.

The Childhood of Maxim Gorky

The Childhood of Maxim Gorky Lowest new price: $40.00
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This haunting, unforgettable film, based upon Maxim Gorky's 1913 autobiography, My Childhood and shows a twelve-year-old's journey in life against the tumultuous backdrop of 19th century Russia. With tableaux beautifully vivid and forceful, it recounts the touching relationships which develop when Gorky is put into his grandparents' custody. His grandmother, the consummate incarnation of good and truth, is a simple woman who knows how to make people laugh. She presents the genuine beauty of optimism in the direst situations, of honesty in a world of deceit, of unselfishness and total sacrifice around treachery and hatred, of fighting spirit in defense of values and dignity. His multi-faceted grandfather, who can be fiercely brutal and childishly tender, senile one moment and wise the next, etches another indelible memory.
Gorky's poverty-stricken childhood formed his life-long compassion for the underdog, and the film is filled with powerful portraits of lower-class people whose qualities of integrity and dignity shine through their hopeless circumstances.

The memoirs of the great Russian writer Maxim Gorky come to pungent life in part 1 of a prewar Soviet trilogy (it was followed by My Apprenticeship and My Universities). Director Mark Donskoy creates the endless hardships of Gorky's adolescence in small, precise scenes, orienting us in the 19th-century "lower depths" of czarist Russia. Refreshingly, the movie has no "great literature" grandness about it, but an abrupt, episodic grit. Dominating Gorky's Dickensian youth are his grandfather, a mean bantam with a fondness for whipping his underlings, and his grandmother, a kindly storyteller (vividly embodied by the goodhearted Varvara Massalitinova). The extraordinary faces of the actors (even in tiny roles) speak volumes about the Russian spirit; it's hard to forget the gypsy laborer who dreams of being a singer, or the little lame boy who keeps a zoo of insects by his bedside. --Robert Horton

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