“The Sinner Teodora” Takes Viewers Inside a Romanian Women’s Monastery

Last night I watched "Pacatoasa Teodora" (The Sinner Teodora), an elliptical documentary by director Anca Hirte. It follows a young woman named Teodora as she prepares to make her final vows (? this was not a documentary big on explaining situations or helping the viewer) at a women's monastery.This is a haiku-like, compressed film, with lots of overlapping conversations about nothing in particular and lots of very tight close-ups on Teodora's lips or eyes. It's a sidelong glance at monastic … [Read more...]

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From Dick Button, “Push Dick’s Button”–Skating Behind the Iron Curtain

Otto and Maria Jelinek had left Prague with their parents, settling in Canada when the Russians took over Czechoslovakia. They were scheduled to compete as members of the Canadian team in the pair skating event [at the 1962 World Figure Skating Championships, held in Prague]. According to Czechoslovakian law, every male citizen was required to serve in the army, and any male who had fled the country was still considered to be a citizen and subject to army subscription, and in their view this … [Read more...]

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“An Unlikely Nun Every Snake Person Should Meet”: Joel J. Miller

on Mother Maria Skobtsova, and I STILL don't have a tag for Orthodox Christianity, sorry!! ...For a nun, Maria’s story is more than a little unconventional. At Bishop Anthony Bloom’s first encounter with her, Maria sat at a cafe table with a beer. She was often seen shambling around the Paris market in her tattered habit, cigarette perched on her lip, haggling for deals. And she kept company with the lowest of the low.That was her calling. Twice divorced, she knew the meaning of God’s mercy … [Read more...]

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Girls Like Violence: Short Movie Reviews

First up, a couple horror flicks; then a WWII documentary covertly filmed behind Fascist lines in Italy; then a satire/adventure tale from the first Gulf War. Don't say I don't have range.Stonehearst Asylum: A new asylum movie from the guy who brought us Session 9? Sure, I'll eat it! And Stonehearst is a really solid horror flick, twisty and heartfelt and saddening.It's a period piece, set between Christmas 1899 and New Year's 1900, at a remote asylum in... England? Scotland? Hogwarts? … [Read more...]

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St Petersburg Graffiti: Gagarin’s Pascha

Powerful. Via IP. … [Read more...]

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I Review “Russian Modernism: 1907 – 1917″

for AmCon: The first room of the Neue Galerie’s “Russian Modernism: Cross-Currents of German and Russian Art, 1907 – 1917” (on view through August 24), takes us back to a vanished world. This is a world of silk stockings and fiacres, cavalry officers, and the Woman Question: the modern world. It’s a cosmopolitan world, alive to the distortions of human perception, and an international world in which Russian artists looked West and Western artists looked to Africa for inspiration. It will not las … [Read more...]

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Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico: A Fever Dream

One reason I loved the Mountain Goats' new album Beat the Champ so much is that it speaks about a kid projecting his own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of pro wrestling, in a way which deeply resonated with my experience projecting my own emotional turmoil onto the storytelling sport of figure skating. If I made my own sports concept album it would be Toller Cranston Skates for Mexico, and it would be about, mostly, the Lillehammer Olympics, which allowed skaters who had left … [Read more...]

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