tue 24/10/2017

Soviet Union

The Death of Stalin review - dictatorship as high farce

Like Steptoe and Son with ideological denouncements, Stalin’s Politburo have known each other too long. They’re not only trapped but terrified, a situation whose dark comedy is brought to a head by Uncle Joe’s sudden, soon fatal stroke in 1953. The...

Read more...

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tate Modern review – funny, moving and revelatory

The Kabakovs' exhibition made me thank my lucky stars I was not born in the Soviet Union. A recurring theme of their work is the desire to escape – from the hunger and poverty caused by incompetence and poor planning, and the doublethink required to...

Read more...

Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution, BBC Two review - words stronger than pictures 100 years on

It’s getting to that time of the century. A hundred years ago to the month, if not quite the day, the Winter Palace was stormed, and the Russian Revolution came to pass. To commemorate the communists’ accession, Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution...

Read more...

John le Carré: A Legacy of Spies review - the master in twilight mood

Over his long career – 23 novels, memoirs, his painfully believable narratives adapted into extraordinary films (10 for the big screen) and for television – John le Carré has created a world that has gripped readers and viewers alike. He has...

Read more...

DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Revolution - New Art for a New World film starts well: the opening shot (main picture) is of young women painting white letters onto a red banner. “We all knew what to paint,” says the voice-over. “Bread, Work, Vote, but the message was ‘...

Read more...

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Rasmussen, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky

 Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Op.110 and Op.111, with music by András Szöllösy and Gyula Csapó Gábor Csalog (piano) (BMC)Two Beethoven sonatas coupled with shorter pieces by a pair of contemporary Hungarian composers makes for an engaging mixture....

Read more...

DVD: The Spring River Flows East

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-year timespan – events unroll from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945 – with reference to the...

Read more...

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, Royal Academy

This must be the most depressing exhibition I have ever seen. Dedicated to the leaders of the Russian Revolution, the first room features official portraits by Isaak Brodsky of Lenin and Stalin plus drawings and models of Lenin’s vast mausoleum in...

Read more...

Ivan’s Childhood

The 30th anniversary of the death of Andrei Tarkovsky – the great Russian director died just before the end of 1986, on December 29, in Paris – will surely guarantee that his remarkable body of work receives new attention, and this month distributor...

Read more...

DVD: Tangerines

Georgian director Zaza Urushadze’s Tangerines made the shortlist of five for last year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar category (it didn't win). It was nominated from Georgia, but could equally well have represented Estonia: this incrementally powerful...

Read more...

DVD: Red Army

The story of the Soviet Union’s ice hockey team's pivotal role in relations with North America is fascinating. Its players were not just sportsmen. They were also in the army and integral to their home country's portrayal of itself on the world...

Read more...

Bridge of Spies

Nostalgia for the good old days of mutually assured destruction? You’d have got long odds on such a thing on 9 November 1989, the day the Berlin Wall was breached. A quarter of a century on, the Americans and the Russians are entangled in a whole...

Read more...
Subscribe to Soviet Union