Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Roads to Koktebel|
Actors: Gleb Puskepalis, Igor Csernyevics, Evgenii Sytyi, Vera Sandrykina, Vladimir Kucherenko
Director: Aleksei Popogrebsky;Boris Khlebnikov
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
After his wife's death and the loss of his job, an aerodynamics engineer sets off from Moscow with his 11 year old son for his sister's house in Koktebel by the Black Sea. With no money or means of transport, they drift th... more »
Pleasant Russian road movie
Andres C. Salama | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 12/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A pleasant enough road movie, about a divorced man (or widowed, I don't remember) going with his young son from Moscow to the Crimea. He's an aeronautical engineer who has been fired and has hit the bad times (maybe with the recovery of Russia's economy under Putin, the argument is slightly out of date). We see them traveling through the countryside in a dilapidated train, and through the bad roads of Western Russia and Eastern Ukraine. Nothing much happens, but before reaching the Black Sea they stop at small towns, where they offer to repair the roof to a house where a mean old man lives, meet a pretty young doctor, etc. Some reviews I read wrote about the pair traveling through the desolate steppes of the former Soviet Union, yet this is some of the most fertile and densely populated part of that country. The pace is slow, though not terribly so, compared with traditional Russian cinema. And the characters seem real people, even if the plot is slightly farfetched. Reccommended."
Youthful dreams and desperate realities . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Russian road movie finds a father and 11-year-old son traveling hundreds of miles on foot from Moscow to a village on the Black Sea. The pace is slow and hypnotic; the situation is unpromising. They are out of money and the season is turning gradually toward winter. The storyline itself is elliptical and relies little if it at all on exposition. We simply watch as the two trudge onward, under leaden skies and across rain-swept distances, depending on the kindness of strangers. The boy, worldly wise beyond his years and distrusting his father, dreams of flight and wind sailing. He has a mysterious sort of second sight that permits him to see himself and his surroundings from high above. Meanwhile, earthbound, the camera follows the two of them across endless sodden, forlorn landscapes.
The people they meet along the way are often little better off than they are, living in a kind of defeated ennui, making do, getting by, lonely, and often sustained by alcohol. One man offers them shelter and a roofing job on a house that seems to be abandoned and falling down. When a more generous householder makes the boy even more impatient to reach their destination, the father's unwillingness to press on precipitates a final crisis. Finally, the movie is a long, melancholy but lyrically told story, with fine performances, about life journeys and the contrast between youthful dreams and desperate realities."
A Film for the Patient
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 03/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Roads to Koktebel" is a film for the patient. It unfolds meticulously and slowly. After the opening titles, we focus on a drainage ditch underneath a road. We see a car go by. It rains. A dog comes and barks. Finally, our two main characters emerge and slowly pack up their meager belongings. About two minutes pass on the opening shot from the same camera angle. The scene shifts. We see the boy on a train. A long shot reveals the father asleep and the son staring out at the countryside passing. This takes about a minute and a half. This is a film that creates a compelling cinematic experience in a style the polar opposite of our stateside cinema.
Boris Khlebnikov has subsequently directed "Free Floating" in which Evgenii Sytyi who plays the railway inspector in "Koktebel" also has a part. His partner in direction and writing is Aleksei Popogrebsky who has since done a film with the English title "Simple Things." They are not in a hurry, which allows the subtleties of the experience to show. The Russian dialogue is sparse for those wary of subtitles.
Gleb Puskepalis plays the son. He does an excellent job. In a tightly controlled performance, the boy shows us his dependence on his father, his need for independence, his growing into manhood as he bravely takes off without his father, and his childhood self as he breaks down and cries. Aleksandr Ilyin who has been in over 30 films since 1960 plays a truck driver who transports the son to Koktebel and the Black Sea.
Igor Csernyevics who has done 10 films including "Junk" and "Guys from Mars" (English titles) also does a good job as the father. We see emotional levels peeled away. At first he is the down and out dad out of work and forced to travel to his sister's apartment in Crimea. The he stops at the home of Mikhail played by Vladimir Kucherenko to earn some money by repairing a roof. We discover the father's alcohol problem. Events take him to a nurse Kseniya (or Xenia in translation) played by Agrippina Steklova. We see the father's growing attachment to her as she nurses him back to health. The son discovers his father's relationship as he sees his dad's boxer shorts draped on a chair in Xenia's bedroom one night as he heads to go to the bathroom. Csernyevics obviously loves his son, but has manly needs that the death of his wife created. The final wordless frames bring the relationship full circle.
Being a viewer from the USA, I have to admit that while watching this DVD, it seemed tedious to me. I did come to appreciate the subtle performances as the relationship between father and son developed. The DVD has an animated short called The Box Man that won awards. This is an interesting film for those prepared to slow down and take a break. The countryside is beautiful. Enjoy!
R. House | Topeka, KS | 02/12/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I very much enjoy movies produced outside the USA and was very let down by this Russian movie. I found it very hard to complete the vieweing of it, even at 1.5 speed! Many scenes are extremely SLOW in pace with unnecessary video repetition of things. Acting was OK but not especially good and the story was not interesting. If you want to see an excellent Russian movie, please watch "The Return". There is a world of difference between the two movies in all aspects of "movie making". I feel that it is what making a motion picture is all about. Don't bother with Roads to Koktebel."