“Moscow Never Sleeps” is a new film by Irish director Johnny O’Reilly, who says he spent a dozen years living in Moscow as Putin gradually consolidated power. He thinks the city is fascinating, and it is still rarely visited by Americans because of fear of hostility and maybe arrest.
O’Reilly’s film is in Robert Altman style, presenting intersecting stories of the everyday lives of a few characters. American films like this might include “Short Cuts” (1993), or Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” (1999), although this film is shorter at 100 minutes.
It starts in an operating room where an old sot Valeriey (Yuriy Sotyanov) refuses coronary bypass surgery and insists on going back to his pub crawls despite having only a few weeks to live this way. There is an oligarchy businessman Anton (Aleksey Serebryakov) who seeks the freedom of part-time life in New York, doing his deals from afar where Putin can’t get to him. But most of the rest of the stories involve mundane things. A son puts his mom into assisted living, where she has to deal with loss of privacy and dignity, and wonders why mom didn’t help grandma more. The mom returns home for a visit (unusual in real life). A young woman reenters the lives of rivals and seeks personal revenge. This film has parallel two drink poisoning scenes.
The people are not all that likable, and are not doing particularly well in Russia’s grubby, hierarchal economy based on right-sizing. But the film gives us a wealth of long shots of Moscow, including drone aerials (this was a trick, to get past authorities), with views of long ring expressways. There are long cityscapes of ornate low-rise apartments, giving way to highrises, with islands of skyscrapers in the distance. The effect is that of a city on another planet, an alien world. The events in the story center around Moscow City Day, which is the first Saturday in September. It’s still warm (24 C) but won’t be for long. The film indeed provides a practical way to see Moscow without the risk and expense of going there.
I do recall films like “Gorky Park” (where some of this new film was shot) and “Moscow on the Hudson” from the 80s.
Wikipedia link for Evolution Tower.
1 (my question about the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law)
|Name:||“Moscow Never Sleeps“|
|Director, writer:||Johnny O’Reilly|
|Format:||2.35:1 in Russian, with subtitles|
|When and how viewed:||Landmark E Street, Washington, 2017/7/1, sold out|
(Posted: Sunday, July 2, 2017 at 3 PM EDT)