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Ostrov a.k.a The Island (Russia)

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Ostrov a.k.a The Island (Russia)

Old 06-17-07, 04:05 AM
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Ostrov a.k.a The Island (Russia)



Just a quick note that the Cannes entry has been quietly made available on a DVD (English friendly).



Variety Review:

Casting former Russian rock star Pyotr Mamonov as a gaunt, scraggly bearded monk who works miracles by the icy White Sea, punchy helmer Pavel Lounguine ("Taxi Blues," "The Wedding") surprises followers with his less-virile but oddly fascinating "The Island." While not as poetic or narratively complex as Kim Ki-duk's "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring," which it superficially calls to mind, this parable about faith and salvation is addressed to the same kind of broad-minded arthouse audience drawn to spiritual themes. Refined visuals and well-paced narrative will clinch fest slots.

A closer parallel, though not at first so obvious, may be to Andrei Zvyagintsev's mysterious "The Return," also set on an island and also brushing otherworldly themes. Though in the current film all the main characters are monks, the pic's soul doesn't dwell on Orthodox religious ritual, but rather in an individual experience of eternity, reached after much pain and teeth-gnashing. Screenplay by young Dmitry Sobolev, a student at Moscow's VGIK film school, has a familiar, almost folksy structure, making for satisfying storytelling but leaving viewers with less to ponder after the story's final, largely foreseeable twist.

A short prologue is set on a dark night in 1942, when a Russian boat piloted by dashing young captain Tikhon (Aleksei Zelenski) is captured by a German patrol. As he bravely waits to be executed, the Nazi commander suddenly passes a gun to his quailing mate Anatoly (Timofei Tribuntzev) and orders him to do the deed, in exchange for his life. Hysterical with fear, Anatoly pulls the trigger.

The action then flashes forward to 1976. In a small seaside monastery, Anatoly (Mamonov) is now a balding old man. Black as the devil and covered with soot, he works tirelessly stoking the monastery's fiery boiler with coal while he lives like a hermit in an outlying cabin. He has spent his life trying to expiate his guilt at killing the captain, but his soul can find no peace. Though his fellow monks avoid the eccentric fellow, he has earned a reputation among the local population for healing and foretelling the future.

Anatoly's miracles always carry a heavy pricetag in his stern demand that the beneficiary -- in one case, a pregnant girl; in another, a mother whose son can't walk -- sacrifice all their worldly goals to God's will. He's no less strict with his comfort-loving superior, Father Filaret (Viktor Sukhorukov) and the proud Father Job (Dmitry Dyuzhev), his antagonist. Both learn their lessons the hard way, in well-scripted scenes that could be inspired by folk tales.

A surprise ending, while affecting, is just too pat to illuminate much moral ground, and it is here that Lounguine shows his distance from the spiritual heavies of Russian cinema like Andrei Tarkovsky and Elem Klimov.

Mamonov, who played the dissolute saxophonist in Lounguine's first, breakthrough film "Taxi Blues" (1990), may have aged less well than Mick Jagger, but he still emanates an intensity that makes it hard to look away from his craggy face. Ranting on about his sinful nature, he centers the film in a serious moral universe, one in which Sukhorukov's chubby, comic Father Superior and Dyuzhev's dandyish Father Job are simple foils. Yuri Kuznetzov as an admiral and Viktoria Isakova as his possessed daughter round out a strong cast in the revelatory final scenes.

Almost a sinful pleasure is Andrey Zhegalov's striking widescreen cinematography. After the wartime sequence, shot in dramatic black and white, the unusual northern landscape yields to the austerity of drained monochromes lit by dazzling skies. Vladimir Martynov's soundtrack incorporates traditional Orthodox music, tipping the scales on the heavy side in a dirge-like finale.

Camera (color/B&W, widescreen), Andrey Zhegalov; editor, Albina Antipenko; music, Vladimir Martynov; production designer, Igor Kotsarev, Alexander Tolkachev; costume designer, Ekaterina Dyminskaya; sound (Dolby digital), Stefan Albine, Vladimir Litrovnik. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 8, 2006. Running time: 114 MIN.




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Old 06-17-07, 07:00 PM
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This has been out on subtitled dvd in Russia since Jan. Its aldo pretty crap, painting drying is more interesting.
Old 06-18-07, 12:37 AM
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The subbed disc has not been out since January!!

There are two releases being sold and the first one did not have English subs provided. I know this for a fact as I have been to two different locations in the Chicago area where Russian films are sold and can personally confirm the availability of a unsubbed disc! As to the film I beg to differ...perhaps because you know little about the Eastern Orthodox Church you are/were having trouble understanding the film's message.

Ostrov is anything but crap!

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Old 06-18-07, 07:25 AM
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Regarding the availability date of an English-subbed DVD, it doesn't really matter one way or the other I suppose, but I respectfully submit that perhaps stalin_roy might be accurate as to its release date. I purchased an English-subbed "Ostrov" from alldvd.ca back in maybe mid-March. And I seem to recall my eyeing it for purchase for at least a little time before that. Also, I seem to recall at least a listing of an English-friendly release back in maybe early to mid-January. Was the listing of English subs accurate way back then, I can't say, but I have a faint memory of requesting a particular e-tailer to stock it and maybe even exchanging e-mails with a buddy about it.

As to the movie, my PC opinion would be to rank it somewhere in the middle of the two polar opinions of stalin_roy and Pro-B. For what it is worth, I readily admit my knowledge of the Eastern Orthodox Church is zero...but I don't feel that invalidates my opinion in any significant way. I remember liking the visuals and performances but do remember it being rather dry after the opening portion, while also finding the closing portion unsatisfying. Basically, my take for the average viewer is that the idea of giving "Ostrov" a viewing is not without merit, but at the same time you wouldn't be missing out by bypassing it. As compared to what I had expected, "Ostrov" was a disappointment for me.
Old 06-18-07, 12:31 PM
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Twitch's dvd review was posted on January 22nd. I ordered the DVD soon after reading that review. So, the DVD was released in January with english subs.

Last edited by Heimlich1; 06-18-07 at 12:34 PM.
Old 06-18-07, 12:41 PM
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'The Island' is this month's Film Movement's (Region 1) DVD.

The Island

it's wont be available to non-subscribers until September.

Saw the film at SFIFF last month, was quite fascinating.

Last edited by Giles; 06-25-07 at 10:31 AM.
Old 06-22-07, 02:32 PM
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a bit off topic, is film movement shipping out in the cardboard cases? what if you want a standard case, do you have to do it yourself or can you somehow get it. when did they start?
Old 06-25-07, 03:33 AM
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Angel,

Sorry I did not see your post. If you order them directly from Amazon they, the DVDs, actually come in see-through white plastic cases, similar to the ones TLA Releasing and Palm Pictures use (actually the latest Criterion releases: Sweet Movie, Organism...came with these).

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Old 06-25-07, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BuddhaWake
a bit off topic, is film movement shipping out in the cardboard cases? what if you want a standard case, do you have to do it yourself or can you somehow get it. when did they start?
they are trying to be a little bit more eco friendly; 'The Island' is the first release in a cardboard case... I can't remember what the deal is, in getting plastic cases instead, look on their website they might have an answer there (sorry).

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