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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Widely Expected Crime Sequel
Vladimir Litvinov






ne of the most widely expected Russian films, BUMER-2 (-2), is finally out. The release of the sequel to the 2003 boxoffice champion Bumer () was delayed several times, which only made people more anxious to see it. As proved by the box-office success of Day Watch ( ), a sequel to the even bigger hit Night Watch ( ), Russian movie goers are still willing to watch sequels to the most successful domestic movies. Among notably successful sequels to Russian films made in the last few years are also the 2000 Brother-2 (-2), produced by STV, the same company which made Bumer and Bumer-2, and the 2003 Antikiller-2.

In summer 2003, Bumer, directed by 26-year old first-time feature director Pyotr Buslov, made a hardly predicted breakthrough all over Russia. A story of four charismatic criminals on the run from law enforcers after a restaurant shooting, although told with some flaws, found response in various kinds of audiences, from criminals to highbrow film critics; and the films main musical theme created by Sergei Shnurov, a controversial singer and leader of the band Leningrad, became a ring tone in thousands of mobile phones all across the country. One can argue that part of Bumers success was the adaptation of a setup actively used in domestic TV series in the 1990s, to the silver screen. Indeed, criminal TV series, such as Gang (), were extremely popular in Russia in the late 1990s, pushing Mexican and Brazilian series out of the air, and Bumer gave younger people who dont watch TV series, a chance to see a similar plot in a condensed form on a big screen. Few expected a sequel, though, as out of the four main characters, two died, and one got caught by the police in a highly dramatic denouncement. But in Buslovs sequel, Kostyan Kot (played by Vladimir Vdovichenkov) has survived a serious injury and wants to start a new life. However, before that he needs to redeem a promise given to a friend. In doing so, Kostyan goes through various situations and circumstances, asking a question of whether life in Russia has changed so much since the mid- 1990s when the first Bumer was set. Shnurov is again onboard as a composer, and the acting ensemble is strengthened by Soviet films veteran Nikolay Olyalin. Bumer-2 is on show in most of Moscows film theaters as of March 7.

Another domestic film scheduled for release in March, TIN () from director Denis Neymand, also touches upon a criminal subject. This psycho-thrillers central character Marina (played by Alyona Babenko) is an investigative journalist on the search for sensationalist material. Marina falls into a depression after one of the subjects of her investigative reports goes crazy and gets shot by a police sniper right before her eyes. She considers quitting journalism, but her editor talks her into accepting one last assignment a report on an alleged serial killer whom she is supposed to visit in a psychiatric clinic. This plotline doesnt sound very original, but it is still interesting how this kind of setup, many times exploited in Western films, is handled by Russian filmmakers. In addition, Tins makers were able to get an impressive cast onboard, including Mikhail Efremov, Alexei Serebryakov, Sergei Shakurov, Gosha Kutsenko and Renata Litvinova. The film is on show in Moscow as of 16 March.

A much lighter mood is conveyed by Vladimir Mirzoyevs SIGNS OF LOVE ( ), a fairytale comedy set in present-day Moscow. Late at night, three wizards convene on the outskirts of the capital. They need to solve a love triangle, in which Alexei, a prosperous yuppie, his wife Masha, a diffident young woman focused on nothing but her family, and Irina, Alexeis mistress determined to take Mashas place, are involved. The wizards eventually choose to keep Alexei and Mashas family and find someone else for Irina, a decision set to have serious ramifications in the characters lives. Signs of Love is scheduled for release on March 1.

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