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.
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).