Monday, November 30, 2009

EVERYBODY'S FINE? DeNiro and cast are at least OK in Kirk Jones' holiday remake

It's been 18 years since TrustMovies has seen the origi-
nal Everybody's Fine, co-writer/dir-
ector Giuseppi Tornatore's follow
-up to his wildly successful Cinema Paradiso. I remem-
ber enjoying the film and being moved and amused by it, yet it seemed notic-
eably less "special" than the filmmaker's earlier success. Ah: the curse of the sophomore effort,

many of us decided at the time. I suspect now that the film holds up better than some of us may remember because its American remake, coming nearly two decades later and despite a rather clunky scenario that spells things out when it should simply let them unfold -- the new EVERYBODY'S FINE -- directed by Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine, and the under-rated, little-seen Nanny McPhee) has many good moments along the way, and, yes, some others that should make you grimace.

In the original, no less than Marcello Mastroianni played the lead; here it's Robert De Niro (above). What a surprise-- and a pleasure-- it is to see this guy being nice and relatively normal. No heavy drama (Raging Bull), no over-the-top (and not all that funny) comedy (Meet the Parents), just a regular working stiff who, widowed and with his four kids spread around the country, each of whom has reneged on the promise of the holiday reunion, decides to make an impromptu visit to them instead.

Jones has adapted his screenplay from the original (credited to Massimo De Rita, Tonino Guerra and Signore Tornatore) and he appears to have stuck pretty closely to it, while setting his lead char-
acter's adventures in the USA rather than Italy. What this Everyman discovers -- about his kids and himself -- as he visits first one child then another is what leads the film to its happy/sad, feel-good
-with-reservations conclusion.

Early on the De Niro character imagines his children's present lives while still seeing them in his own mind as young kids. This "trick" is repeated often enough to become tiresome and yet there are mo-
ments along the way when it packs a punch. What it means to be a "success" in the eyes of your parents and how this effects your adult life is always a theme worth exploring, as are the inevitable disappointments inherent in the lives of adults of whatever age.

While it's difficult to get too excited over Everybody's Fine, it is just as hard not to recommend it: for Mr. DeNiro's good work and that of the the crisp-unto-breakability Kate Beckinsale (shown two photos up), the goofy/loveable Drew Barrymore (above) and the slightly seedy Sam Rockwell (below), all of whom are as good as the script permits. The tear or two you shed by movie's end might as easily be for the better film this could have been as for the modicum of humor, good will and genuine emotion it's been able to generate.

Everybody's Fine, distributed by Miramax, opens wide across the country on Friday, December 4.

LOOT opens at IFC and a World War II treasure trove of jewels proves elusive

Two young soldiers in Germany during WWII discover a cache of jewels and and samurai swords then hide them prior to leaving for home back in the USA. Sixty years later the hunt is on to find these treasures, even though the soldiers are aged and decrepit and can't quite remember where in hell they are. If the scenario of LOOT sounds enticing, the finished documentary made from it turns out -- something on the order of the treasures themselves -- to be paste.

Director/editor/co-producer Darius Marder (above, right, who also handles part of the cinematography) has a fascinating story to tell, and does so for the most part in fits and starts. He must first bring us the stories (or a good part of them) not just of the two soldiers involved but also of a family man named Lance Larson (at left, below and top), into whose hands comes this odd tale, and his troubled son -- and then make sense of it all. Shot on three continents (one of which isn't terribly important to the tale) over nearly three years, the movie fills us in fleetingly on the problems between Lance and his son, and of the soldiers (one of whom us now blind, while the other has turned into a kind of crazy pack rat who hordes not just objects but secrets: see photo at bottom).

Nothing quite co-
heres here, yet all of it holds inter-
est. In a post-
viewing discussion of the film with a friend who accom-
panied me to the screening, it turned out we had divergent opinions on two impor-
tant points. While my friend was right about one of these and I the other, the amount of confusion generated by our misunderstanding of the film was unsettling. Who is it who dies at film's end? Is Lance's father ever visible here? How did director Marder become involved in the project? How did he connect with Lance? It's not that these questions are as important as the ones raised by the search for war-crime loot, but the fact that they keep surfacing while watching the movie does not bode well.
As much as we get to know about the two old soldiers and about Lance and his son, what we're left with at the finale seems paltry. As much time as we spend with the characters on view, we really don't get to know them much at all. While they and their story provide enough information to slightly engross and/or concern us, basically we're kept at such a remove from the whole twisty, multi-character tale that everything -- looting, lies, death and even murder -- takes on equal importance and finally proves so lightweight that the whole movie simply blows away with the wind. The scene in the field in Germany toward the end is undeniably moving -- but more for the big picture of reconciliation it provides than for the specific characters we are watching.

Loot, which opens at NYC's IFC Center on Friday, December 4, does not appear to be available from IFC On-Demand. Perhaps the HBO logo I noticed at the film's beginning means that it will eventually be (or has been) shown on one of that company's cable channels.

(All photos are courtesy of the film itself, except that
of Mr. Marder, which is cribbed from his Facebook page.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gustav Deutsch's FILM IST. a girl & a gun: Composed found-footage makes AFA debut

TrustMovies wants to take this moment to admit to his readers that he is not the brightest bulb on the block (if you've read me for any length of time, this will come as no surprise), especially where experimental cinema is concerned. While he is aware of his limita-
tions (some of them, at least), he nonetheless feels a need to test himself occasionally by viewing experimental work in place of a mainstream, indie or foreign-language film. We all need a challenge.

This month's hurdle comes via Anthology Film Archives, in collaboration with the Aust-
rian Cultural Forum NY, which is presen-
ting a week-
long run of the composition of found footage by Gustav Deutsch titled FILM IST. a girl & a gun -- the latest (2oo9) work of this "composer" (shown above). The roughly 90-minute parade of silent-film images from the last century, many of them color-tinted, is full of war and sex (a bit of it hardcore), men and women, science and technology. There is constant music, often as florid as the images. And titles cards, too, from time to time. Beginning with a shot that nicely combines girl and gun -- it looks like Annie Oakley or someone of her ilk -- the film then offers up red and yellow-tinted images of chaos, moving on to boobs and bubbly lava, volcanoes and tongue kisses, before coming to rest in paradise (which resembles a lot more smoke) & then water -- and soldiers listening to flowers blooming. That's just for openers.

You've got to approach experimental film with an open mind or what's the point. Given the human condition, however, one tends to bring to one's viewing the usual baggage: the search for narrative, connection and what we already "know." You tell yourself to "let go and let it all wash over you," but still, your brain is ever at work, trying to connect. In the section called "I Long and seek after" a girl has a date with a see-through man, imbibing a bit and eating some cake (or not). Wow: fun! Plus there's probably no hangover, no calories, and she won't even get pregnant! Now these are thoughts that I suspect the filmmaker did not plan on my having, but there you are. Or maybe he'd be charmed by them, or even had them himself. Who knew?! Who knows?

Soon enough, I believe, there will be no way around realizing that you are viewing a kind of History of the World, though one with a very narrow vision -- it's all sex and war (and the war between the sexes) -- that is not without its charms and even bears comparison to the Mel Brooks version. Girls and guns are oft connected here but not always in the same manner. Jealousy rears its head, and a duel brings us back, in a roundabout way, to the opening shot. And those images just keep on connecting. One of my favorites is a safe in which... the male libido is stored? Nice!

Thanatos, too, get its licks in, as the movie mixes corpse-dissection and autopsies with sex and dancing, masked (above) and otherwise, with the choice of music sometimes alarming -- and meant to be. A little bestiality is tossed in for good measure, along with a wilting plant, torture by tickling and a raft of images from WWI. Connect as you will. Finally, though, we see that to conquer sexually is to court destruction. We knew that: Look at most marriages. But a timely reminder is always appreciated. As is the thought that to conquer another, even an entire country, is but to sublimate your erect, more likely limp penis into sword or missile.

Film ist. a girl & a gun is fun, no getting around that, even if it is a bit repetitive and glum. Just remember: It's good to be challenged -- and you can be -- starting Wednesday, December 2, through Tuesday, December 8, nightly at 7 and 9pm. Check out the AFA December schedule here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

BEFORE TOMORROW opens at Film Forum, concluding The Fast Runner Trilogy


Probably the most popular Inuit movie in history (I realize there is not a lot of competition) The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat), released in 2001, became an interna-
tional hit. The 2006 follow-up, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, shown almost exclusively at festivals around the globe, did not fare as well. Now comes the final segment of what is known as The Fast Runner Trilogy:

BEFORE TOMORROW (Le jour avant le lendemain)
made in 2008. Compared to the original Fast Runner (TrustMovies has not seen the middle chapter which was never released in the US), you might call this one The Slow Mover -- so quiet, concise and unhurried is almost everything about the trilogy's final film.

Of the three movies, Before Tomorrow is the only one with female filmmakers in control, so I don' think we should be surprised at the resulting difference. The concerns here -- survival among them -- are not so different, but the film techniques -- pace Kathryn Bigelow -- definitely are. But how could they, why should they, not be? Why should we not expect women to be concerned with things differently -- and with different things -- than are men? In this story of a grandmother and her grandson who, with another old women joining them at the last minute, head off in warm weather to dry and store the tribe's meat for winter use, survival has less to do with running fast than with keeping your fire forever lit.

Death hovers over the film from its beginning (the gorgeous credit sequence melds smoke wisps and faces into a beautiful black-and-white vision of what seem like ancestral spirits), and remains present and persistent until the end. Why do things happen, questions the grandson? The grandmother explains as best she can. The pacing here is very slow, and you must acclimate yourself to it. Help is provided by the spacious vistas with their bright colors captured with crisp, high-relief cinematography (there's certainly little pollution in these locations to muddy up sharpness), as well as by a few of the fraught incidents that occur along the way. One of these vistas looks for all the world like something intergalactic.

Interestingly, much of the camera-work is done in close-up. With all the vast expanse on view, the directors (Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu, shown left and right respectively in the photo second from top) keep their camera tight in on the faces (as in the shot above of Ms Ivalu, who also essays the leading role of the grandma). This works more often than not, failing only in a scene such as the wolf attack, when most of the close-ups call attention to a small budget rather than enhancing the action at hand.

Often, the movie seems simplicity itself and correctly so. The musical score, provided by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, is splendid, particu-
larly their final buoyant but quite moving song. Especially telling is the film's use of fire as the symbol for life. We see it from the be-
ginning and hear a parable/story that signifies its meaning. Fire is ever-present throughout, tamped down though it is at night. This tamping ritual is shown at length several times so that, when we view it at the finale, it carries more meaning & weight than do all the souped-up special effects you'll see in something like 2012.

Obviously the big screen is the place to see a film such as Before Tomorrow, so a thank you is due NYC's Film Forum for providing the venue, beginning Wednesday, December 2. If you live outside New York, however, and wonder how you might catch this unusual movie, there's hope. To coincide with the theatrical debut of Before Tomorrow, the first two films in The Fast Runner Trilogy will launch worldwide with pay-what-you-can Video on Demand downloads at . And then, in early 2010, Before Tomorrow itself will be available for download at this same web location.

All photo are courtesy of Igloolik Isuma Productions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

InFrenchWithEnglishSubtitles: French fest at FIAF offers nine new mainstream films!

That's right, readers -- and this fest looks hot indeed! Why? Because it offers New York-
ers who love French film the opportunity to see a bunch of new and deci-
dedly more mainstream movies than usual. Aside from the very occasional thea-
trical release of a relatively new French film (cur-
rently it's the Anne Fontaine/Audrey Tatou Coco Before Chanel) or something fun from IFC On-Demand (check out French Gigolo!), for most Americans, even us "sophisticated" New Yorkers, the pickings are lean. Although we usually have to wait until March of each new year to revel in the FSLC's Rendez-vous with French Cinema series (this year saw 19 -- count 'em! -- movies), we did get a preview of things to come via a five-film French series at BAM earlier this month.

Now, out of the blue, comes something new and quite different: A film fest offering nine recent movies that are current and not, shall we say, overly intellectual. In one case, even family friendly. What are the French themselves watching and enjoying these days?
We're about to find out.

Over the past month one of the biggest hits on French cin-
ema screens was Le Petit Nicolas (above), based on a now classic French children's book. That one, part of this fest, proved so immediately popular that its sole screening sold out and another had to be added. The opening night film Tomorrow at Dawn (Demain dès l’aube, above) by Denis Dercourt (The Page Turner) tackles a current French societal phenomenon about people who, for a weekend, go and live another life. The film is set in contemporary France but its main character is drawn to follow his brother into another century, at the time of the Napoleonic wars. (Does this not sound a bit like certain folks in our country who spend their weekends re-fighting The Civil War.)

TrustMovies is breaking his usual policy of covering only what he has actually seen because of the immediacy of this fest (one week from today), its short time span (one-time showings of nine films in only 2-1/2 days) and the fact that no press screenings or DVD screeners are available.

Consequently, he plans to attend as many of the films as possible and report on them soon after. Here's the link to the entire festival, which is very cleverly titled In French With English Subtitles and which begins its weekend run next Friday, December 4, through Sunday, December 6 at FIAF's (the French Institute Alliance Française) Florence Gould Hall, located in the center of Manhattan on 59th Street between Park and Madison (55 East 59th Street).
To learn how all this came about, TrustMovies had a lengthy inter-
view with the two women in charge of the new festival, which they hope will become an annual event: Catherine Laleuf, festival director (shown above), and Alexandra Creteur, press officer. Since InFrenchWith
was the brain-
child of Laleuf, we asked her most of the questions -- to which she very graciously responded:

TrustMovies: How did this festival happen? What inspired it?

Catherine Laleuf: My first connection came through Alexandre Chemla , President of Altour. I used to work with him on another fest, one in a more suburban location. He kept asking me to come and do a festival of this type in Manhattan. I always said, “Well, I’ll think about it.” So this year, I decided not to do that fest in the suburbs anymore, and so he said, “Good, come with me and do the fest in Manhattan.”

I am also a friend of Patrick Gimenez, who distributes French films in the US and also produces films. He does a French film fest in Florida, where he lives, in two locations: Miami and Boca Raton. So I spoke to Patrick also and asked what he thought a new French ought to provide. Now, there is already a wonderful French festival in Manhattan -- the Rendez-vous with French Cinema, put on by the FSLC. So we thought, “Well, why don’t we try to do another festival at a different time of year, one that does not compete.”

I already had a group of people I work with, and I asked them about it, and they all said, “Yes, let try it.” So we decided to do it. This is our first year. I also wanted to do something for a good cause, and as I am already a member of entraide francaise, which is an organiza-
tion that helps French citizens and also people whose relatives are French. These people may be in a difficult situation – the loss of a job, sickness, death etc. So this group will now benefit from our festival.

Where did you get your title? It's very functional -- and funny.

At the time I was just not sleeping well at night – you know how it works when you are thinking about billions of things. What to name this festival was at the top of the list. The most frequent question we are asked by most people is, “Is this movie in French? And we answer, “Yes but there are English subtitles!” So we used this as our name. But you know what? People still ask: “Will there be English subtitles?”

Why this particular set of nine films?

Just today someone asked me if I could quickly describe these, and if they had a common theme so that they could choose among them. Actually, all have a common theme except one: Le Petit Nicolas. The films are all about some time in your life, when you must leave yourself, or change who you really are. Some are about changing your identity in order to escape something. Others are about inventing yourself and having another life in order to protect yourself or escape. When we selected these, this idea had nothing to do with our selection. But that is how things turned out. This kind of thing must be the flavor of the month in France

The Friday, opening night, film -- Demain dès l’aube -- deals with playing a role different from your own life. This is societal phenomenon studied by the director Denis Dercourt, who met with these people who, for a weekend, go and live another life. His film is set in contemporary France but main character is drawn to follow his brother into another century, the time of the Napoleonic wars. The movie was selected at Cannes for Un Certain Regard. Vincent Perez, the star, as well as the director, M. Dercourt, will be on hand for a Q&A following the film, led by Jerry Carlson of CUNY-TV.

On Saturday we're showing Adieu Gary: a drama that won Cannes' Critics Week award. The leading role is played by Jean-
Pierre Bacri. It’s about the sad-
ness of being in a town with factory workers who have no aims or goals, so one character invents himself as the son of the late American actor Gary Cooper.

Incognito is a comedy about a young artist who a has roommate who disappears. When the artist finds some music of his that is very good, he sells it as his own. The actor who plays the thief is a famous popular singer in France.

In Romaine par moins 30, a young woman (Sandrine Kiberlain) who always wants to please people and never shows who she is goes to Canada with her fiancé. While there, she blows a fuse and decides to live. The comedy mixes the French with the French Canadians. Pascale Elbé, one of the actors, will do Q&A, and he is also presenting closing night.

Tellement proches is a comedy as well, but with a dramatic angle that asks the question: When you marry, do you also marry your wife’s family? Vincent Elbaz with be present for Q&A, which John Farr will moderate.

The festival ends Sunday with four films: Une
semaine sur deux (Alternate Weeks), which is a typical French rom-com about a divorce, but this time seen from the point of view of the young children.

Then we have Le Petit Nicolas, at two showings, which is currently the biggest hit in France. Based on a very famous cartoon book by Sempé from the story by Goscinny This is a classic that all little boys love, with everything happening back in the 50s. It deals with a gang of young friends, in the center is Nicolas. The style of film is very of-the-minute, just like the book. This was a huge popular hit. Sandrine Kiberlaine also stars in this one.

Le Dernier pour la route (One for the Road) is based on a book that was huge success in France: the true story of someone who realizes that his alcohol addiction is so bad that it’s destroying him. This drama stars François Cluzet, who won a Best Actor César for Tell No One.

Quelque Chose a te dire is about a family secret that you think will never come out – but does, and it's a comedy offering some drama, too, along with satire and philosophy. It’s very French. The mother is played by Charlotte Rampling, in an amazing role, with Patrick Chesnais and Pascale Elbé -- the latter of whom will do a Q&A with Jerry Carlson.

What’s the goal of the fest?

We want to bring even more French films to America. We believe that the French cinema is the most prolific movie industry in Europe. Each year we have over 200 movies released – which is a lot. But very few of these are seen abroad, especially in US. The ideal thing for us is to bring more popular films over here. We don’t want to bring in movies that are too intellectual. These are more of what you might call the flavor of the month in France.

Who is paying for the festival? You, its spon-
sors, FIAF…?

We go and see our possible sponsors, and though we are very frustrated, we believe in what we do, so our sponsors follow us in the adventure. Our major sponsors are Altour, American Airlines, LVMH, American Express and Michael Page International. We also have a big party after the screening and Q&A, which is hosted by Maitres Cuisiniers de France.

We are also partly sponsored by the FIAF -- and each screening will be taking place in the Florence Gould Hall of the FIAF at 55 E 59th Street.

Finally, we are under the high patronage of the CNC the Centre National de la Cinematographie.

How do get ticket for the festival?

Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster: just type in the name of our festival. Or click on the link at our festival’s own site. You can also purchase tickets in person at the FIAF box office. The original showing of Le Petit Nicolas is already sold out, and a new screening has been added on Sunday morning, Dec. 5, at 10am. Other films may follow suit fast, so if you want to be sure of getting tickets, order ASAP!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: See a movie but keep your turkeys for the table

Since so many of us are talking turkey, I was going to use today's post to point out some of the year's biggest birds, movie-wise. But I feel I've already said enough about Anti Christ.

So, before I retire to the kitchen (or rather, head for Manhattan to pick up from Whole Foods what used to be prepared -- well, more or less -- in our home), I'll use my brief time left to offer you links to a few of TrustMovies' reviews "elsewhere."

Because there have been a number of excellent DVDs released lately (and one of the below not so lately), here are a few I'd recommend, each with a link to one of my recent posts at GreenCine, where I cover a new DVD weekly at GC's Guru site.

Among my favorites -- and a big surprise -- is one that's been hanging out on my Netflix and Greencine queues for what seems like ages. I couldn't even remember what had induced me to queue the movie in the first place. Now, having seen PROTEUS (a still from which is shown above), I am so glad I did. You can learn more here about this documentary that manages, in but one hour, to combine science and art to beautiful, intelligent effect.

If you can't seem to get enough movies about immigrants to America, you might want to take in PARAISO TRAVEL, a kind of Sin Nombre-lite that's enjoyable and lively, if not quite memorable. A more complete review is here.

Are you aware of the amazing "design" that's all around you? Watch OBJECTIFIED, and you will be. This smart and expansive documentary will be a must see for anyone who loved Helvetica, and if you haven't watched that one, either (about a typeface, yet!), then you've got two fine Gary Hustwit films to look forward to. The complete Objectified review is here.
That's it, folks. Got to go pick up the dinner. Happy turkey-ing to all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Celebrate Chekhov at the Walter Reade -- with a seven-film, seven-day festival

A world-class dramatist and short story writer, Anton Chekhov , right, pre-dated the movies, but his work, original and lasting, has beckoned filmmakers from around the globe, particularly the Russians, of which Chekhov was one. On the premise, I suppose, that Russians should know -- and maybe do -- their countryman best, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has organized a week-
long festival, beginning this Friday, November 27, of seven films based on the master's work titled Celebrating Chekhov: The Drama of Everyday Life. The films were made in 1960, in the 70s, and during our current decade.

While my own picks of "Best Chekhov-inspired works" would include Louis Malle's film of the Mamet/Gregory adaptation Vanya on 42nd Street (based on Uncle Vanya) and Claude Miller's La Petite Lili (based on The Seagull), the FSLC has certainly brought together a commanding array of films (click here for the complete program), including Chekhov's Motives, a diptych based on a pair of his works; the so-so Lady With a Dog; Uncle Vanya; The Seagull; The Shooting Party; An Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano and -- most anticipated perhaps -- the new film by Karen Shakhnazarov and Alexandr Gornovsky: an updated version of the short story Ward No. 6. (The film, stills from which are shown below, is Russia's official entry into our Academy's Best Foreign Language Film sweepstakes this year).

Mr. Shakhnazarov (shown at left), head of Russia's Mosfilm studio and a smart and engaging guy, not to mention a very good filmmaker -- Courier, Jazzmen, A Rider Named Death, Vanished Empire -- will be in attendance at several of the Q&As for Ward No. 6 (check here for particulars). Writing for GreenCine almost two years ago, I did an interview with this writer/director in which he talks about Mosfilm, the Russia film industry, and some of his own work. It'll be nice to have him back in the USA, even if, for my taste, Ward No. 6 falls a bit flat.

While I have heard splendid things about the Uncle Vanya, directed by, of all people, Andrei Konchalovsky (Runaway Train, Tango & Cash), the only films I've seen in this fest are Lady With a Dog, which -- via acting that seemed to me stylized-unto-phony, even for the century-past period which it is supposed to mimic -- bored me nearly to distraction (I prefer the short story), and Ward No. 6, the Chekhov original of which I have not read. While I found the latter film interesting now and again, and certainly well-acted, I might have preferred to see it done in period, rather than updated to our current times.

However, placing the story in modern-day Russia does give the movie a contemporary kick and helps fill it with that peculiar kind of depression that I only find in films set in almost any of the satellites of the former USSR. That this film is also set in a mental institution just adds to its grayer-than-gray ambiance. It begins with talking-head interviews of various asylum patients: These are bizarre, sad and even sometimes rather funny. Then we cut to the past: 1606 and a history lesson about the building in which the institution is housed. Its many incarnations includes a TB hospital and now a lunatic asylum in which is incarcerated the former head doctor of the hospital (above, left, behind bars).

We meet him and the other patients, as well some of his non-institutionalized friends and the current young (and a little too sure of himself) chief-of-staff (above), and we watch and listen as they all engage in some interesting philosophical/medical/social discussions. Through it all, however, they're tired, depressed, expecting the worst. And why not: This is Russia -- with its ever-present peasants reacting to yet another regime change of economic and social system. Toward the end we get a trip to Moscow, complete with some jazzy music. Still, the feeling by the finale is not so much that the lunatics have taken over the asylum as that there is no one anywhere, inside or out, who might qualify as a leader -- or offer any help. The very abrupt ending had me wondering if an extra reel or two had been left on the projection room floor, but no: The movie is intended to last only 83 minutes.

The performances, no surprise, are very good, top to bottom. Press notes tell us that the film was actually written 20 years ago, with the lead to have been played by the late actor Marcello Mastroi-
anni. It's easy to see him in this role, but as it turns out, Russian actor Vladimir Ilyin (above) does a memorable job. I'll remember his anger, confusion and kindness as he attempts to "figure things out" with the help/hindrance of his friend/enemy and now co-patient, beautifully limbed by Alexey Vertkov (shown below).

What a festival such as this might well do is tantalize viewers enough to get them back to the original source. Chekhov did not live nearly long enough to enjoy the new art form of the motion picture, but how surprised and perhaps pleased he might be with what later artists have done with his work.

Photo, top, is courtesy of the FSLC;
those of Chekhov and Mr. Shakhnarazov are
courtesy of Wikipedia; the remaining are from Ward No. 6.