Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tainted Borscht

“Eastern Promises,” an award-candidate film already out on DVD, is a superb, concise, suspenseful, interesting film, but it’s not for the squeamish due to a few scenes of gruesome murder and violence. See “Insight” below for four reasons why ‘Eastern Promises’ is a very, very interesting to watch.

The 5 Parameters of Criticism

1. Four Words That Encapsule: ‘Suspenseful Russian Mob Encounter’

2. Haiku (5/7/5):
‘Tattoos, vodka, blood
Russian crime on London time;
Baby born of fear

3. Oblique Comment(s): a) Viggo Mortensen is naked in a public baths scene, but it’s scary rather than erotic due to a brutal fight to the death with two knife-wielding murderous Chechen’s in which much flesh is cut or pierced. b) I like two previous Cronenberg films, ‘A History of Violence’ and ‘Existenz’ – I must investigate his unique, imaginative and sometimes morbid oeuvre

4. Insight: This film has many things going for it: a) Viggo Mortenson’s intense, reserved soldier of the Russian mafia who alternately shows decent impulses, brutality, and cynicism, but never lets his guard down. Likely Best Actor nominee; b) Director David Cronenberg’s breathless pacing and storytelling twists; c) a glimpse into the fascinating subculture of London’s emigreé Russian mafia community, with families, traditions, brutality and intrigue worthy of ‘The Godfather’ or ‘The Sopranos.’ When characters speak in Russian with subtitles, it’s bitingly authentic, and, I can tell you as a student of Russian, pitch-perfect; finally d) Naomi Watts as the London nurse who gets mixed up with this world while trying to find the relatives of a baby whose mother, apparently a Russian slave-prostitute, died in childbirth. Watts’ character is half-Russian by blood but totally assimilated, so as she investigates she’s also confronting her own dark roots, as are we, as we hear snippets of the dead woman’s diary.

5. Link: Metacritic reviews summary. Average of 82 from 35 major reviewers - this is critical love. I'd give it 85-90. Highly recommended for the non-squeamish

And here’s a film clip/trailer:

Cartoons du Jour:

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