Happy-go-lucky

Vasily Shukshin’s 1973 film in black-and-white ‘Scopecommonly considered his finest, and also known as That’s How It Isstars Shukshin and his wife (Lydia Fedoseeva-Shukshin) as a couple who travel to a southern spa by train from their Siberian village. Accompanied by a lot of balalaika music on the sound track, this rambling satire about the various interactions between a country bumpkin and various urban types whom he meets on his travelsincluding a snob, an engaging con artist, and a professor in linguisticsseems to lose something in translation. The film certainly has its moments (including a brief and bizarre dream sequence), and one can see why the late Shukshin was able to attract a fanatical cult in his own country; but it appears that much of his popularity rested on his grasp of local folkways and accentsdetails that are lost on non-Russian-speaking spectatorsand without this context, much of the proceedings comes across as fairly lukewarm, both as comedy and as cinema. As a glimpse into Siberian culture, though, the film has its moments of interest, and Shukshin and his wife are both engaging actors. (JR)

Published on 01 Jan 1988 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Karma

Shot by a Vietnamese cast and crew in Vietnam, using equipment left behind by the Americans, this 1986 feature by Ho Quang Minh, based on the well-known short story The Wounded Beast, is a rare look at the Vietnam war from a South Vietnamese viewpoint. The plot hinges on the personal story of a young woman who, believing her husband to have been killed in combat, winds up as a prostitute in Saigon; years later her husband returns and repeatedly rejects her after discovering what she has become. A Vietnamese/Swiss coproduction, the film was largely financed in Switzerland, where the director is a naturalized citizen. (JR)

Published on 01 Jan 1988 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Comic Magazine

Yojiro Takita’s 1986 satire about the snooping excesses of a scandal-hungry reporter has loads of energy, though some spectators may find this sensationalist look at sensationalism guilty of some of the attitudes it ridicules. With Yumi Asou, Yuya Uchida, and Seiko Matsuda. (JR)

Published on 01 Jan 1988 in Featured Texts, by admin

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