Sunday, 20 December 2009

Last Exit

So, I thought I would start my newfound desire to update this page with this great picture. I found this whilst searching for a picture of The xx, the now phenomenally popular South London indie trio who are taking the world by storm. Well done them. However, this was, in fact, the first picture to crop up on my Google Images search. I enjoyed this opportunity for alterior meaning so much I decided to use it as a sort of umbrella symbol for the new direction that I'm attempting to take with this.

I also looked up this band on myspace (, who play a sort of rowdy surf-rock. I'm not even sure if that accurately describes their sound, as it is rather a mixed bag. Indeed, they seem to play it very well. I would probably dance it to in a club if it came on, actually. Although, it needs to be said that I don't actually go to clubs anymore so the chance of that happening is rather slim.

Anyway, on to the good stuff. I'm going to start using this as a film blog. Specifically, a Russian film blog. But I'm sure other stuff will crop up. I will, of course, be talking about the popular characters of post-Soviet Russian cinema. But I will try to mention those who will have, perhaps, slipped your eyes.

In this vein, I'd like to start off with a film I watched recently: Boris Khlebnikov's Roads to Koktebel' (2003). It is a road movie, and rather a Russian one. But, as the Kinokultura review points out, it does not follow the usual formula of a typical Russian road movie. Instead of moving to Moscow, the father and son characters in this film are running away from it. To Crimea, in fact.

The Crimea is, in the Russian popular imagination, still a destination associated with pleasure and relaxation due to its cultural associations stretching back to the 19th Century, when spa-resorts dotted the beautiful Black Sea Coast. This was built upon by the Soviet Union, when it became the 'worker's paradise', one of the most sought-after holiday destinations for Soviet citizens. Not alot has changed in the post-Soviet period. It is still an incredibly popular holiday destination for those wanting sun, sea and sand in a place that is still considered, at heart, Russian. Although once forming the base for the Tatar Khanate of the Medieval period, it was the subject of russification in the immediate post-war period with the deportation of the Crimean Tatars.

The population of Crimea numbers around 2 million, and Russians are very much dominant ethnographically. Indeed, the formation of a distinct post-war Crimean identity is rather an interesting subject in itself. But, it is in fact not the destination that matters so much as the journey there, and the experiences undertaken during that.

The father is played brilliantly by Igor Chernevic, who appears in Help Gone Mad (2009) also by Khlebnikov. The father-son relationship is troubled, however, by the various encounters with seemingly senile recluses and helpful women. I would not want to spoil this film, so I will leave it there. It is definitely worth watching not only for its representation of the post-Soviet Russian environment, but for both the subtle and absurd humour that seems to pervade the film throughout.

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