Cult Cinema: The Inner Circle (1991) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 20 minutes ago on Entertainment

Courtesy of Sony PicturesYears back when Andrei Konchalovsky made the 1979 gargantuan epic Russian film Siberiade, at a festival screening the director met up with the theater’s projectionist hoping to catch wind of what the Soviet censors objected to in his film.  As they started talking, the man turned out to be none other than Ivan Sanchin (real name Alexander Ganshin) who was whisked away from his home one night into the Kremlin to become Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s personal private projectionist from 1939 to 1951.   As the night went on and brandy was drunk, the two amassed enough conversation over Sanchin’s days showing Stalin major studio movies from around the world as well as keeping tabs on the Second World War newsreels.  Though eventually (briefly) emigrating to Hollywood, the story stayed with Konchalovsky for years and in 1991 he decided to bring Sanchin’s surreal, frightening and fascinating life experiences to the silver screen with The Inner Circle. Starring Animal House and Amadeus lead Tom Hulce in the role of Sanchin, one of the actor’s most complex and difficult if not occasionally misogynistic characters, we find him working as a projectionist for the KGB.  Abruptly summoned one night, he is quickly introduced to Stalin’s (Aleksandr Zbruyev) Inner Circle in one of the first major motion pictures allowed to be filmed within the Kremlin walls.  An American, Italian and Russian co-production and released in the United States by Columbia Pictures, this English language star studded film co-authored by Konchalovsky and Anatoliy Usov in the time-honored tradition of its director becomes an emotionally engaging portrait of individuals functioning under great duress.  Though otherwise happily married to Anastasia (Lolita Davidovich) in his cramped apartment, Sanchin laps up the sweet new rewards afforded to him by working for Stalin and finds himself torn between witnessing bizarre dynamics playing out within the Kremlinlooking the other way as the head of state security Lavrentiy Beria (Bob Hoskins) ingratiates himself between their marriage.  To make matters worse, a Russian-Jewish couple’s daughter in an apartment next door is left to an orphanage whom Anastasia wants to adopt, generating yet another toxic rift in her increasingly tenuous beleaguered marriage. From Italian producer Claudio Bonivento, like Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Red Tent the film utilizes a largely Italian crew replete with Franco Zeffirelli’s cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri giving the production a stark contrast between the gloomy impoverished apartment life to the formidable yet polished Kremlin walls.  This of course wouldn’t be a Konchalovsky effort without the great Eduard Artemyev lending his electronic musical mastery to the proceedings, evoking the feelings of fear, confusion and in the end a sense of hope felt by Sanchin and his loved ones during a time of great upheaval.  Artemyev needs no introduction and his mere association with any film project, good or bad, goes up a notch in quality.  Here the composer conjures up scary stark synth notes in between some of the calmer western themes heard in Konchalovsky’s last English language film Homer and Eddie,  Performers, largely Russian actors with a few American leads, as always in a Konchalovsky film come through first and foremost loud and clear.  If there’s any director able to take scenes audiences are unfamiliar with and make the situation and those living it instantly relatable, it is most certainly Andrei Konchalovsky.  Few directors are able to get their actors to basically give emotional blood onscreen.  That said, Hulce affecting a Russian accent is splendid in the role of Sanchin who presents a casual expertise over technical equipment few in the arena are able to contest and Konchalovsky and Hulce aren’t afraid to allow Sanchin to be a bastard at times.  Special attention goes to Lolita Davidovich who finds herself fighting an uphill battle to keep her marriage and dignity intact while trying to rescue an innocent child separated from her parents, meanwhile fending off the lecherous Beria with Bob Hoskins channeling his boorish The Long Good Friday gangster vibes.  Given Konchalovsky’s clout in Hollywood and Moscow, He was also able to cast veteran Russian stage actor Aleksandr Zbruyev who makes Stalin a mercurial and reclusive figure we, over the course of the movie, still find out very little about. Released just one day before the dissolution of the Soviet Union which then became the Russian Federation, looking back now in our current headlines involving the ongoing war in Ukraine, The Inner Circle comes across now as timely while still ultimately remaining a nonjudgmental portrait of an ordinary movie man’s brief unwanted brush with a repressive regime.  Functioning as a quasi-romantic historical drama as well as a curious gaze into how the Kremlin processed the movies, the film doesn’t quite have the teeth of Konchalovsky’s Siberiade or ferocity of Runaway Train but nevertheless is a powerful true-to-life human tale of love and survival.  Yes the English speaking Russians can be disorienting and works against the authenticity somewhat, feeling like David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago at times, but in a director like Konchalovsky’s hands, I’ll accept it.  Though some may be disappointed the film doesn’t make any formal declarations about the subject of Ivan Sanchin’s place in The Inner Circle beyond bearing firsthand witness to a lot of depressing, strange and terrifying things, as a film it unfolds like a slice of life, anecdotal and framed like an oddly fond collection of memories bubbling from that little chat writer-director Andrei Konchalovsky had with its protagonist. --Andrew Kotwicki (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? 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minor, major and a video

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Posted By ScribblingGeek 2 hours 1 minute ago on Entertainment - The post Movie Review: Minions: The Rise of Gru appeared first on The Scribbling Geek.
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Getting Strong Now: Creed III Set Photos Feature a Ripped Jonathan Majors

Posted By themoviesleuth 18 hours ago on Entertainment

 It's spent several years in development now, but work has finally begun on the third movie in the Rocky spin-off series. The next Creed film will of course feature Michael B. Jordan back in the title role but will be the first film to apparently not feature Rocky Balboa as Stallone says he's retired from the role for now. This third entry will not only have Jordan back in the role but he's also taking over directorial duties on the major motion picture. This is another step forward for Jordan's career as this will be his first time directing a film. Jordan first gained notoriety on HBO's The Wire and also appeared on All My Children and Friday Night Lights. He finally gained some real spotlight time with his lead role in Chronicle and Fruitvale Station. He first appeared as Adonis Creed in 2015 and then in the sequel, Creed II. It's estimated that Jonathan Majors will take up the role of Creed's latest opponent when he steps back in to the ring. These photos that appeared online today show Jordan back in fit shape along with Majors obviously putting on some muscle. Check out the photos here at The Daily Mail. -CG (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();