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Part Kafka, part Agatha Christie and part Monty Python, director Karen Shakhnazarov’s surreal satire of Communism follows an Everyman engineer named Varakin (Leonid Filatov) who arrives in a remote city where nothing quite makes sense, but everyone acts as if it does. He’s quickly drawn into the investigation of the suicide (or possibly murder?) of a local restaurant chef, Nikolaev – who may (or may not) be Varakin’s missing father. The more complex and absurdist the mystery becomes, the more poignant and plaintive Varakin’s predicament – “I have to get back to Moscow,” he pleads to no avail. Along the way we’re treated to a bizarre and wonderful sideshow of non sequiturs out of a Wes Anderson film, including an underground museum filled with a thousand years of real and imagined Russian history (“Here’s the pistol with which Urusov shot the False Dimitry II.”) Frozen in time, frozen far beneath the surface, the waxwork figures are strangely beautiful and forlorn, like Shakhnazarov’s marvelous and enigmatic satire of Soviet bureaucracy. With music by the great Eduard Artemyev (SOLARIS, STALKER).
directed by: Karen Shakhnazarov starring: Leonid Filatov, Oleg Basilashvili, Vladimir Menshov, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, Evgeniy Evstigneev 1988 / 103 min / 1.37:1 / Russian DTS-HD MA 2.0
Region A Blu-ray
New 2K restoration from the original 35mm picture and sound elements by Mosfilm
New video interview with director/co-writer Karen Shakhnazarov, moderated by Dennis Bartok of Deaf Crocodile Films
New commentary track by film journalist Samm Deighan (Diabolique magazine, Daughters of Darkness podcast)
New booklet essay by filmmaker, writer, punk musician and genre expert Chris D (The Flesh Eaters; author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film)