France has Amelie (2001). Korea is hyped about My Sassy Girl (2001). Now here comes Russia’s new entry into the benignly-crazy-yet-beautiful-comedy-romance genre, Rusalka (Mermaid). Masterfully crafted by director Anna Melikyan, Rusalka is clearly the work of an auteur as it effortlessly defies all attempts at conventional categorization, and instead establishes its own unique style embedded in its own cinematic world, completely original and fresh. The film’s charmingly melancholic atmosphere, lifelike storyline and thought-provoking visual elements combine seamlessly to tell a modern-day fable about life, love and fate.
Musical comedy is hardly a genre most people would associate with modern Russian cinema. Traditionally known and respected for such somber and inquisitive works as Nikita Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun (1994), Andrei Zvyagintsev’s The Return (2001), and Aleksei Balabanov’s Cargo 200 (2007), post-Soviet Russian directors had generally focused on negative aspects of the Russian experience until the early 2000s, when waves of cash flowing from the country’s oil and gas-fueled economic boom finally reached the film industry, resulting in the production of commercially-oriented blockbusters such as Night Watch (2004) and The 9th Company (2005).
Strangeness abounds in the otherworldly vampire love story Let the Right One In from Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. However, while the film has been justly praised for its foreboding atmosphere, actual substance that would have made the whole trip worthwhile is clearly on the low side. The dull surroundings of bleak 1970s Sweden and boring snail-paced story echo Takahisa Zeze’s pitiful pop-star commercial Moon Child (2003) rather than the works of true auteurs, such as Ingmar Bergman, Quentin Tarantino or Clint Eastwood. The annoying child actors, with their pale faces, do little to add to the film through their forced dialogues.
It would seem sensible and timely to offer a brief overview of online resources that cater to the interests of foreign and independent cinema enthusiasts. Let us begin by taking a closer look at these:
Twitch – an excellent, lively blog offering the latest news and reviews of international and independent films, with a general focus on controversial productions and the bizarre.
Plume Noire – an online independent film & music commentary magazine based in Los Angeles and Paris. Great find for international cinema connoisseurs and casual film buffs alike.
IMDB – The Internet Movie Database – perhaps the most popular film site with US moviegoers – allows users to rate movies they’ve seen and share opinions via reviews and message boards.
KoreanFilm.org – this non-profit site run by freelance writer and consultant Darcy Paquet provides tremendous insight into the cinema of South Korea. Dynamically updated, it remains academic in spirit and is a great resource for anyone interested in the subject.
Midnight Eye – the definitive resource for anyone interested in modern Japanese film.
KinoPoisk – Essentially the Russian version of IMDB. Great tool if you speak the language.
AlloCine – An excellent site focusing on French and European cinema. In French.
Eiga.com – Japan’s premier movie portal. In Japanese.
Naturally, there are many more sites out there dealing with similar subject matter, but these are just a few that come to mind. We’ll be sure to add more to this post in the future, so please feel free to suggest your favorites down below!
Today the world watched in awe as the famous dream of Martin Luther King Jr. officially came true. And that dream was ultimately about liberty and equality of opportunity for all people. After many challenges and 45 years in the making, we are now closer than ever to fulfilling these ideals, the pillars of modern democracy.
It is also today that this site goes live, likewise to promote a dream. ESCAPE from HOLLYWOOD’s vision is to exercise our right to free speech by encouraging open discussion of the art, foreign, and independent cinema niches among readers worldwide. This site will aspire to become a “go-to” resource for those moviegoers whose films are not “coming soon to a theater near you” and are generally not carried by the likes of Blockbuster and Barnes & Noble.