Russia, 1936: revolutionary hero Colonel Kotov is spending an idyllic summer in his dacha with his young wife and six-year-old daughter Nadia and other assorted family and friends. Things change dramatically with the unheralded arrival of Cousin Dmitri from Moscow, who charms the women and little Nadia with his games and pianistic bravura. But Kotov isn’t fooled: this is the time of Stalin’s repression, with telephone calls in the middle of the night spelling doom – and he knows that Dmitri isn’t paying a social call. –IMDb
Nikita Mikhalkov, perhaps the most internationally famous living Russian filmmaker and actor is the son of soviet poets Sergei Vladimirovich Mikhalkov and Natalya Petrovna Konchalovskaya and brother of well-known Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky. He started with acting at the children’s studio of the Moscow Art Theatre and later at the Schukin School of the Vakhtangov Theatre. Still as a student he appeared in Georgi Danelyia’s film I Walk Down Moscow (1964) and few years later in his brother – Andrei Konchalovsky’s – film Home of the Gentry (1969). While on the best way to become a star of the Soviet stage and cinema, he decided to study directing at VGIK (State film school in Moscow) in the class of Mikhail Romm and Andrei Tarkovsky. From VGIK he graduated in 1970 with the short film A Quiet Day at the End of the War. The fame and recognition came along with his first feature At Home Among Strangers (1974), a Red Western set just after the 1920s civil war in Russia.
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A sometimes listless and over-ambitious but finally devastating portrait of Stalin's horrifying "meat grinder" of a political system, where not even heroes were safe. The abiding image of the film is of the broken and imprisoned man at last being driven away past a gigantic grinning image of Stalin, as if going beyond the welcoming facade and into the concealed reality of the cannibalistic machine.
Very warm and lovely portrait of a Russian family full of individuality and affection on one summer day in the 1930s, with the absurdity of Stalin's authority just poking its nose in occasionally. But then a little worry starts with the arrival of a mysterious visitor, and a heightening of tensions, as the day declines - still warm, still sunny, but then it's gentle no more. Painfully nostalgic, and near perfect.
"Sprinting with two left feet in a last-minute, neck-and-neck race against Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project for the title of Most Embarrassing