RED ARMY ****
Documentaries are flourishing in the cinema world, for if well-made, they are informative, often moving and entertaining. They serve a public service in opening our eyes to realities we didn’t know existed (like Wim Wenders’ brilliant Salt of the Earth), but they can also be exhilarating, like this one about a legendary hockey team out of the Soviet Union.
With noted producers Werner Herzog and Jerry Weintraub backing him, the American director Gabe Polsky has put together the trajectory of the team that was molded by an iron-fisted coach into a winning machine that electrified the sports world during the Cold War years. This is not only about the game, but also about the importance of patriotism, the politics of the time and the pull of commercial success which took some of the team members westward. It’s a riveting expose, especially into the life of one of the top players, Slava Fetisov, who narrates the film and has had a fascinating journey beyond the gruelling game. Whether you are a hockey fan or not, this is a film not to miss.
(Photos – Frenetic)
A nerve-wracking, convoluted tale about artistic ego, this film has had audiences and critics on opposite sides of the divide. I side with the public, for it left me cold and disinterested in any of the characters.
The supposedly intriguing premise is that a has-been actor (Michael Keaton, portraying a bit of his own life) gets a chance to redeem his career with a new play on Broadway. Critics enamored of anything created by Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu turned this into a snow-balling success which went on to sweep the awards season and the Oscars for best film, script and director. Some fine acting and sly cinematography – long, uncut shots in the underbelly of theaters – had the critics howling masterpiece!
Ok, it is a new vision of the emotional tortures of failure and success, and Edward Norten and Emma Stone add oomph and pathos to the proceedings, but it certainly is NOT the best film of the year. Not by a long-shot. It is an experimental, surrealistic view of the acting profession, but its theme has neither universality nor any redeeming value. Being difficult, it is the perfect vehicle for elitist critics to single out such a work that only they can “comprehend”…
My choices would have been the superb Imitation Game, the amazing 12-year saga of Boyhood, or the magnificent and important film on Martin Luther King, Selma, whose British actor David Oyelowo (who personified King to perfection) was not even nominated. Who said life was fair?!
(Photos – Fox-Warner)
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Germany and Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers