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Friday, 27 October 2017

Russian Resurrection Film Festival - Barrie Pattison delves into his memory to preview a retrospective highlight GLOSS (Andrei Konchalovsky, 2007)

Andrei Konchalovsky
Russian Resurrection Film Festival 2017 has had a notably soft launch. They are doing a Konchalovsky retro. Now at last I’ll be able to sort him out from his brother Nikita Mikhalkov. Of particular interest is his 2007 GLOSS in Sydney 9:00pm. Oct 31. They are also doing AELITA (Yakov Protazanov, USSR, 1924), on the big screen with Mrs. Dovzhenko in band-aids as the heroine, as their closing night. A welling of enthusiasm is curbed by a forty dollars a head entry charge to cover a balalaika quartet, limp pastry and room temperature booze! It’s things like this that revive Cold War tensions.


Glyanets/Gloss is a significant and ambitious Russian film which attacks the new consumerist society with the same energy as the films made about the Communist or Tsarist eras.

Now we get stuck into twenty first century Russia in the time of gangsters, the oligarchs, mail order brides, "Zionist" journos and the free market. The director of Siberiade and Maria’s Lovers doesn't like this any more than his brother liked Stalin in Burned by the Sun.

Yuliya Vysotskaya, the leading lady from Konchalovsky's Dom Darakov is back, rising to the top of Moscow society. It is a great star turn. She registers as gorgeous and is startlingly transformed - sensation of the provincial sewing machine sweat shop, hick seamstress in Moscow, smart receptionist in the up-market brothel and Grace Kelly clone - more makeovers than the Universal Pictures Trade Mark.

It is a strength of the film that we are not sure whether hers is a success story or not.

Gloss
We first see Vysot-skaya as the formidable thirties-ish Rostov vamp, who wows the locals with an ad. photo of her wearing a set of pantie hose. The boss has her autograph it. She has a plan - saying goodbye to her alcohol crazed, naked father and stark featured mother, who is scornful of the money she leaves her. (“Will it gather wood or milk the goats.”)

Vysotskaya borrows from her debt collector boyfriend and sets out for Moscow, bluffing her way in to see the editor of the glamour magazine, arriving with a basket of fresh crayfish one of which flops on the table (this is a bit much.) The editor who runs it along the lines of Devil Wears Prada, responds by firing the doorman but not before she has inventoried girl’s shortcoming as a model - one leg shorter than the other etc.

The editor has problems of her own struggling to keep pace with the tastes of her daughter’s generation. The daughter talks about trendy “shit sculptures in London.”

Vysotskaya ends up up working as a seamstress in Efim Shifrin/Mark Shifer's high fashion workshop (her button holes are superior) facing crisis because what they are offering is already a back number. In a key passage bald adviser Aleksey Serebryakov comments "Forget about the menace of Western armaments. The armies of Hugo Boss are upon us!”

After she’s fired, he offers to set her up in a housekeeper spot, which she declines. “I’ll do anything to get ahead!” Vysotskaya protests.  “You won’t scrub floors.”  Turns out the job is with the organiser of a model agency, which places girls with rich clients.

Yuliya Vysotskaya, Gloss
Our heroine doesn’t admit that she can’t run the espresso machine and when we pick her up again, she is smartly groomed as the receptionist looking after the housekeeping needs of the ailing boss but falling out with him over washing the grubby toy bunny he keeps. We’re getting into Citizen Kane here.

About this time, millionaire Aleksandr Domogarov, on his yacht (crummy effects) in Rio, decides he wants a bride like Prince Rainier had. The agency team go into overdrive photographing their stock of girls but it’s Serebryakov who notices the lead’s potential and they present her transformed. Our heroine has second thoughts but her potential employer points out “What choice do you have, I’ve already paid a million for you.”

The now married couple attend Russian society events under the end titles.

The criticism of westernisation makes an interesting comparison with Xie Jin's 1982 Chinese Mu Ma Ren/The Herdsman. The Russian film also strives for significance, underlined by the character commenting "It isn't perestroika now. It's globalization." The references may be intended to be outdated. Added to this there is an abundance of high order topless - and bottomless - female flesh on display. Whether the attempts at shock impact are considered naive or aptly judged, Gloss remains one of the most intriguing items of its day.

Along with performance, film making is imposing, even with dodgy attempts at high style - the flash dissolves in the beating. They still have trouble getting a full spectrum out of their colour lab work, though the end credits assure us they are using Eastmancolor. It will be interesting to see what the digital transfer looks like.

Directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy
Script Konchalovsky & Dunya Smirnova

Produced by Konchalovskiy & Evgeny Stepanov
Co-producers Jeremy Burdek, Nadia Khamlichi, Adrian Politowski         
Line producer Olga Ogurtsova    ....   

Original Music by Eduard Artemyev    
    
Cinematography by Masha Solovyova/Soloveva    
Focus puller Igor Bibeyev         
Steadicam operator Roman Gorelov         
Second cinematographer Vladimir Ilyin         
Steadicam operators Ivan Pomorin, Bagir Rafiyev        
Assistant camera Serge Smirnov  

Film Editing by Olga Grinshpun
         
Production & Costume Design by Yekaterina Zaletayeva    

Makeup artists Valeria Nikulina, Sergey Sirin         

Assistant director Natalya Obukhova    

Sound Department Alek Goosse    

Visual Effects Sergey Vygran    

Stunt coordinator Aleksei Silkin         

Consultant Anton Alfer    ....     

Production Center of Andrei Konchalovsky

Russia, 2007, 118 min.

         WITH
Yuliya Vysotskaya                 Galya
         Irina Rozanova                     Marina Yurevna
         Aleksandr Domogarov         Misha Klimenko
         Efim Shifrin                          Mark Shifer
         Aleksey Serebryakov            Stasis
         Gennadiy Smirnov                Petya
         Ilya Isaev                              Zitek
         Olga Meloyanina                  Zhanna
         Olga Arntgolts                      Nastya
         Andrey Noskov                     Gleb
         Aleksandr Ilin                       Chmur
         Artemiy Troitskiy                Mark
         Ela/Yola  Sanko                   Mat Gali
         Yuris Lautsinsh                     Otets Gali
         Tatyana Arntgolts                Oksana

         Oleg Komarov                      Oligarch

French poster, Gloss

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