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|The Miracle Maker - The Story of Jesus
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Brand: Lions Gate
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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
|Come & See
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Brand: Kino International
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.
- COME AND SEE IDI I SMOTRI (DVD MOVIE)
|Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan
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Brand: NEW Line Home Video
History knows him as Genghis Khan, but before he became a warlord, he was simply a man named Temudgin. Exiled into slavery as a boy and forced into a life of struggle after his father is killed by a rival clan, the greatest military mastermind of all time survived on the strength of a single dream: to unite his people into the largest empire the world has ever known. Asano Tadanobu portrays Temudgin in director Sergei Bodrov's sweeping, Academy Award nominated epic full of breathtaking landscapes and bloody battles that follows the Mongol warrior as he escapes the shackles of bondage, finds love and rises to become the general who would create history's most powerful empire.
First entry in a proposed trilogy, Mongol vividly captures the beauty and brutality of ancient Mongolia. Beginning in 1172 and ending in 1206, Sergei Bodrov's Oscar-nominated epic presents future conqueror Ghengis Khan as more lover--and fighter--than diplomat. Against his father Esegui's wishes, nine-year-old Temudjin chooses his own bride, whom he marries in the years to come. Hopes for the future, however, turns to thoughts of vengeance when the clan forsakes the boy upon Esegui's death. While Temudjin (now played by Zatoichi’s Tadanobu Asano, a quietly commanding presence) makes his way in a cruel world, turncoat Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov) becomes the new khan. When an opposing clan kidnaps Temudjin’s wife, Börte (Khulan Chuluun), he eventually retrieves her, but betrays blood brother Jamukha (Sun Honglei, Seven Swords) in the process, leading to further enslavement and more Kurasawa-style slicing and dicing. Throughout his travails, Temudjin comes to believe that Mongols must unite to share the same language, culture, and set of values. Sustained by his faith in the god Tengri and the devotion of Börte, Temudjin sets out to wrest control of Mongolia from Jamukha and his women and children-killing hordes. Except for an over-reliance on CGI during the climactic battle sequence, Mongol equals the scope and grandeur of historical predecessors, like Braveheart and Hero. If much of the cast is Chinese and Japanese, Bodrov, who directed Prisoner of the Mountains, conjures up authenticity through detailed costumes, Mongolian dialogue, and remote Central Asian locations. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
- History knows him as Genghis Khan, but before he became a warlord, he was simply a man named Temudgin. Exiled into slavery as a boy and forced into a life of struggle after his father is killed by a rival clan, the greatest military mastermind of all time survived on the strength of a single dream: to unite his people into the largest empire the world has ever known. Asano Tadanobu portrays Temudg
|The Rape of Europa
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The Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe's art treasures during the Third Reich and the Second World War. In a journey through seven countries, the film takes the audience into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But young art professionals as well as ordinary heroes, from truck drivers to department store clerks, fought back with an extraordinary effort to safeguard, rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures.The Rape of Europa begins and ends with the story of artist Gustav Klimt's famed Gold Portrait, stolen from Viennese Jews in 1938 and now the most expensive painting ever sold.Today, more than sixty years later, the legacy of this tragic history continues to play out as families of looted collectors recover major works of art, conservators repair battle damage, and nations fight over the fate of ill-gotten spoils of war. Joan Allen narrates this breathtaking chronicle about the battle over the very survival of centuries of western culture.
|War and Peace
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Tolstoy's epic masterpiece paints a portrait of Russia and her people, caught up in the irresistible tides of history during the Napoleonic Era.
Like Tolstoy's novel, this epic-length War and Peace is rough going, but worth the effort. Winner of the 1969 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film and widely considered the most faithful adaptation of Tolstoy's classic, Sergei Bondarchuk's massive Soviet-Italian coproduction was seven years in the making, at a record-setting cost of $100 million. Bondarchuk himself plays the central role of Pierre Bezukhov, buffeted by fate during Russia's tumultuous Napoleonic Wars, serving as pawn and philosopher through some of the most astonishing set pieces ever filmed. Bondarchuk is a problematic director: interior monologues provide awkward counterpoint to intimate dramas, weaving together the many classes and characters whose lives are permanently affected by war. Infusions of '60s-styled imagery clash with the film's period detail; it's an anomalous experiment that doesn't really work. Undeniably, however, the epic battle scenes remain breathtakingly unique; to experience the sheer scale of this film is to realize that such cinematic extravagance will never be seen again. --Jeff Shannon
- ISBN: 0-7697-1339-4
- Running Time: 403 minutes
- Sound: Dolby 2.0
- Feature Film
|Andrei Rublev (The Criterion Collection)
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Immediately suppressed by the Soviets in 1966, Andrei Tarkovsky's epic masterpiece is a sweeping medieval tale of Russia's greatest icon painter. Too experimental, too frightening, too violent, and too politically complicated to be released officially, Andrei Rublev has existed only in shortened, censored versions until the Criterion Collection created this complete 205-minute director's cut special edition, now available for the first time on DVD.
At last, the complete version of Andrei Tarkovski's 1966 masterpiece about the great 15th century Russian icon painter (a film suppressed by the Soviet Union and unseen until 1971) is available. It's a complex and demanding narrative about the responsibility of the artist to participate in history rather than documenting it from a safe distance. A landmark in Russian cinema, Andrei Rublev is a beautifully lyrical black-and-white film about harmony and soulful expression. As the late filmmaker says in a supplementary interview, each generation must experience life for itself; it cannot simply absorb what has preceded it. In fact, a whole host of supplements accompanies the film in this Criterion Collection release. Stick with it; it's worth the effort. --Bill Desowitz
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When a Chechen youth is put on trial for the murder of his stepfather, it's up to a room full of jurors divided by racism and prejudice to determine the boy's ultimate fate. One by one, each man takes center stage to confront, connect and confess while the accused awaits a verdict. Slowly the tide of opinion turns, as the jurors begin to realize their decision will forever change the course of another person's life. As they deliberate, the accused revisits his heartbreaking journey through war in a series of powerful flashbacks. Director Nikita Mikhalkov's Oscar®-nominated remake of 12 Angry Men is a brilliant look at fear, trust and the triumph of human nature.
This Russian film is provocative on a number of levels, but it proves one thing for certain: Reginald Rose sure had a great idea when he came up with 12 Angry Men. The set-up is rock-solid: Twelve jurors are sequestered into a room to hash out a decision on the murder trial they've just sat through; at the outset, eleven are for conviction, one for acquittal. Then things start heating up. Rose originally wrote the script as a TV production in the Fifties, which then became Sidney Lumet's classic 1957 film. Here, Oscar-winner Nikita Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun) explodes the premise into a large, loquacious Russian version. To give you an idea of the differences, consider that Lumet's film was 96 minutes long but the Russian goes on for over two and a half hours, and now the original's cramped room is replaced by a large, airy high-school gym. The new one also travels outside the room for occasional flashbacks. In other words, 12 is very Russian, with loaded political material (the accused man is Chechen) and complex arguments about the various viewpoints and class levels in Russian society. The most furious of the 12 men is a raging anti-Semite (powerful Sergei Garmash), while the initial voice of reason (a.k.a. the Henry Fonda character) is played by Sergei Makovetsky. Mikhalkov himself plays the foreman of the jury. This is an elbow-throwing, scenery-chewing kind of movie, with nothing writ small. You sense that Mikhalkov wants to put it right in the face of his fellow Russians, and so he does, relentlessly. --Robert Horton
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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.
- MIRROR, THE ZERKALO (DVD MOVIE)
|Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
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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
- Running Time: 100 minutes
- Composer/Author: Peter Tchaikovsky
- Performers: Yekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Victor Levashev, Sergei Radchenko
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