Cultural Gutter: Over the Moon, Comrade

On the Cultural Gutter, Over the Moon, Comrade is my look at the Soviet science fiction adventure Cosmic Voyage and the film that inspired it, Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Moon.

The Chairman, The Poet, and The Dancer

West 52nd Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. is today one of those anonymous New York City blocks that seems, at first glance, to offer very little other than the entrances to the Neil Simon and August Wilson theaters that dominate the street.

Legend of Suram Fortress

One of the great joys of watching movies from countries and cultures with which I have maybe, at best, a passing familiarity is discovering their language of film — both in their mainstream as well as their fringes. There is a thrill in discovering how differently one country, one region, one filmmaker can interpret how…

Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka

The Devil used to have a lot more to do on Christmas Eve than he does these days, having been supplanted more or less in the Christmas time evil business by retail store owners and Black Friday stampedes. There was a time, however, when Ol’ Scratch regarded the night before Christmas as prime soul-stealing time,…

Mad Science and Martian Maidens

Russian author Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy wrote the stories that served as the source material for two of the Soviet Union’s best-known science fiction adventures: the futurist fantasy Aelita, Queen of Mars and the Fantomas-inspired pulp thriller The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin. Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy was Russia’s less internationally known Tolstoy. While the one was writing…

Viy

My odyssey through the strange world of Russian fantasy films began in earnest many years ago, when I moved to a prominently Russian and Ukrainian neighborhood and started prowling around the DVD stores of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Up until then, I’d caught glimpses of this strange and wonderful looking avenue of cinema in the form…

Apocalypse Code

Studies of Russian cinema tend to be studies of Soviet cinema — classics from the glory days (such as they were) of the communist powerhouse. Russia has moved on, though, both cinematically and culturally (though Vladimir Putin would love if that wan’t the case), and modern Russian cinema is a very different beast than the…

Wolfhound

Anyone who is familiar with the tropes of the sword and sorcery genre will be on firm ground, but the fact that Wolfhound lacks originality doesn’t mean it lacks for entertainment value.

To the Stars By Hard Ways

In 2002, I had the possibly once in a lifetime chance to spend an entire summer driving across the United States. My traveling partner and I were able to indulge every whim, sometimes diverting wildly from our vaguely set course in order to visit some out of the way attraction or satisfy some curiosity or…

Hard to be a God

This German-French-Soviet film is very much like an episode of Star Trek — with all the well-meaning ham-handedness that implies — only with more grime, blood, and full frontal male nudity.

Black Lightning

The 2009 Russian film Black Lightning uses the same plot as Sam Raimi’s movie, but asks the one important question Spider-Man left dangling; ‘what about the car? What about the car??’