Spring Offerings –
a Melodrama, a Thriller and Khottabych
April’s most widely expected premiere is I’m Not In Pain Ìíå íå áîëüíî, a new film by Russia’s arguably most interesting - and equally unpredictable and controversial – film director Alexei Balabanov. With his new movie the director steps onto a new genre terrain, that of melodrama, signifying another unpredictable turn of his creative career. Last year’s Blind Man’s Bluff Æìóðêè, a gangster comedy set in an over-criminalized Russian province in the 1990s, was Balabanov’s first experience in comedy, and although it received mixed reviews, the audiences laughed heavily. His two previous pictures, dramas Brat-2 Áðàò-2 and War Âîéíà, stirred a lot of controversy in the film community and in society in general because of alleged advocating of violence, anti-Western rhetoric and a stand on the Chechen war that was not exactly shared by most of Russia’s intelligentsia. Meanwhile, the first half of the 2000s was not a happy time for the director, with two projects being shut down, one, River Reka due to a tragic car accident on the set in which the lead actress died, and the other, Amerikanets Àìåðèêàíåö, because of a hard drinking binge of the main actor, Michael Bean. However, the fact that a second film by Balabanov is being released within less than a year is a sign that the director is back on track.
1, 2 I’m Not In Pain
3 Hunt For Piranha
I’m Not In Pain begins with the arrival of three young interior designers at the porch of a wealthy mansion in a bid to offer their services to the owner, Natella (Renata Litvinova), a young and attractive woman, though bored with her life. The guys get the job, which becomes a bridge to success and prosperity. Meanwhile, one of them, Misha (Alexander Yatsenko), falls in love with Natella, and she seems to fall in love with him. However, as it turns out, she is hiding something important from him that is set to have a dramatic impact on their future.
In addition to Litvinova, whose talent has developed immensely over the last few years, reaching far beyond the image of a pretentious and weird woman she was originally famous for, and Yatsenko, I’m Not In Pain features a whole team of Russian film stars, such as Dmitry Dyuzhev, Sergei Makovetsky and Nikita Mikhalkov, to name just a few. The film is scheduled for release on April 13.
Another Russian movie that is likely to draw audiences to the theaters in April is Hunt For Piranha Îõîòà íà ïèðàíüþ made from the novel by well-known criminal writer Alexander Bushkov and also featuring a number of stars, including Vladimir Mashkov, Svetlana Antonova, Yevgeny Mironov and Sergei Garmash. At the beginning of this action thriller directed by Andrey Kavun, two officers of the secret service union Piranha, Kirill (Mashkov) and Olga (Antonova), head for Russia’s Northern part, with their mission of destroying an underwater storage of secret weapons. Soon they find themselves in a world where the laws of the civilized world do not work, and they find out that the weapons have fallen into the hands of psychopathic criminal gang leader Prokhor (Mironov) who calls himself a new ‘lord of Taiga.’ There are echoes of Apocalypse Now here.
Hunt for Piranha will be released on April 6.
Despite some elements of a criminal plot, the mood of Khottabych Õîòòàáû÷ by director Pyotr Tochilin is much lighter than that of Hunt for Piranha. This is a light-hearted, family-type fairytale comedy based on Sergei Oblomov’s novel Old Khottabych’s Jug Êóâøèí Ñòàðèêà Õîòòàáû÷à, which was published a few years ago as a loose remake of a 50s children’s classical novel by Lazar Lagin adapted to modern realities.
The main character Gena (Marius Yampolskis), a computer hacker, finds himself in trouble, chased by the mob and secret services at the same time. What saves him is a mysterious arrival of genie Khottabych (Vladimir Tolokonnikov), who can implement any of Gena’s wishes but is himself being chased by the evil character Shaitanych (Mark Geikhman). Khottabych is scheduled for release on April 27.