HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
End of Summer
Times of Harvey Milk, The
Buddies
Threshold
Perfectly Normal Family, A
Ravage
Honeymoon Phase, The
One Summer
Bird Island
Variety
Devil to Pay, The
Gypsy
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Becky
Salon Kitty
Misbehaviour
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
   
 
Newest Articles
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
   
 
  Leto Russian Rebels
Year: 2018
Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
Stars: Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk, Anton Adasinsky, Liya Akhedzhakova, Yuliya Aug, Filipp Avdeev, Aleksandr Bashirov, Nikita Efremov, Aleksey Fokin, Elena Koreneva, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Marina Manych, Vasiliy Mikhaylov, Semyon Serzin
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Historical, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Leningrad in the early nineteen-eighties is not the most liberal of places, and that extends to the music scene, where every band and artist must be officially screened by the Soviet authorities to ensure they are not saying anything too subversive, or indeed too Western. Despite this, the musicians love the music coming out of Britain and the United States, and do their best to get copies of it whenever they can, which often means smuggling it under the noses of those authorities. One band frontman is Mike (Roman Bilyk), who is very popular in the city with his own brand of Russian punk, inspired by The Sex Pistols. He also has a younger singer he has taken under his wing...

Leto, meaning summer, was based on the actual music scene of Leningrad at the time depicted, with references to local characters and movers that only those familiar with the era would recognise; naturally, for an audience outside of Russia, they meant very little. Certainly the music we heard was not what most in the West would term punk, as the band's tunes sound somewhere between Status Quo and Oasis, the sort of chugging rock, albeit often on acoustic guitars, that may be timeless, but doesn't speak to pushing back any musical boundaries, no matter that at the point when the Soviets were at best frowning on these younger folks, that's what it was doing.

Yet there was a horrible irony inherent in the film that may not come across while watching, and it was to do with its chief creative talent, co-writer and director Kirill Serebrennikov. He had based this on the memoirs of the real life woman who was partner to the Mike character, Natalya (Irina Starshenbaum), who had wanted to get her reminiscences down on the page now that both the men in her life, Mike and his protégé Viktor (Teo Yoo), had passed away at relatively young ages. For that reason this was as much a tribute to their rebellious spirit as it was a call, if not to arms, then to a healthy scepticism of any totalitarian regime, and therein lay that aforementioned irony.

Serebrennikov did not get to direct the last few days of shooting on Leto for he had been arrested, on what he and his supporters claimed were trumped up charges. His previous film had been an anti-religious fundamentalist effort The Student, and his theatre work, where he devoted most of his career, had been similarly controversial in Russia. Embraced by the liberal young, he was hated by the country's conservatives and placed under house arrest where he managed to continue working, only at a seriously restricted quality of life. Therefore Leto could be regarded as a metaphorical poke in the eye to those who would oppress him and those like him, particularly when it began to gain international traction and his unfortunate story was becoming better known and more controversial outside of Russia.

Not that Leto is massively political, not to the surface glances at least, it was more that it celebrated freedom of thought - more than that, really, freedom of taste - in a society that clamped down on any dissent, or anything regarded as promoting that dissent. There was a lightness of touch to the film that curiously evoked a cross between two cult movies of yesteryear, Britain's Absolute Beginners and Australia's Dogs in Space, neither of which had been enormous hits at all, but were rediscovered down the decades nonetheless. If Leto felt overindulgent, and to Western eyes a bizarre mishmash of inspirations as the music community back then would take whatever records they could get from abroad, its intermittent bursts of musical numbers restaging old Lou Reed, David Bowie, Marc Bolan or Iggy Pop tunes in a way that was exuberant and, as the resident sceptic tells us, never happened, represented something very positive about the power of music. Despite rambling too often, and a tight ninety minutes could have been edited out of its two hours plus, this was an example of Russian cinema that was being suppressed for no good reason, and recommended for that.

Click here to watch at MUBI.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 488 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: