Now With More Than 3000 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

WELCOME! Use the search engines on this site (or your own off-site engine of choice) to gain easy access to the complete MAKSQUIBS Archive; over 2500 posts and counting. (New posts added every day or so.)

You can check on all our titles by typing the Title, Director, Actor or 'Keyword' of your choice in the Search Engine of your choice (include the phrase MAKSQUIBS) or just use the BLOGGER Search Box at the top left corner of the page.

Feel free to place comments directly on any of the film posts and to test your film knowledge with the CONTESTS scattered here & there. (Hey! No Googling allowed. They're pretty easy.)

Send E-mails to MAKSQUIBS@yahoo.com . (Let us know if the TRANSLATE WIDGET works!) Or use the Profile Page or Comments link for contact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BRAT / BROTHER (1997)

Aleksei Balabanov hit a nerve (and the local box-office) with this ‘New Russia’ gangster tale about a kid from the ‘stix,’ fresh out of military service, who says goodbye to Mom & small town life before heading to St. Petersburg where his big brother is a mob hitman. We follow this Pilgrim’s Progress as he makes some unlikely friends on the street and gets to know the territory; he hardly needs to ‘learn the business’ since his army training, presumably anti-terrorist, was like Prep School for his new occupation. Less stylized and less OTT then some of his later work, the film makes a great entry point on Balabanov, playing out with some of the raw edge of a classic ‘30s Hollywood gangster pic, more SCARFACE/’32 than SCARFACE/’83 . . . and all the better for it. The action is kept human-scaled and the issues reduced to near abstraction, more concerned with the modern mores that have seen St. Petersburg turn into a new Wild West. Not that Balabanov doesn’t stage some flat out fabulous chases & complicated hits. A combination rub-out/jazz-party staged simultaneously on two floors is a particularly cunning triumph. As the supremely confident new guy in town, Sergey Bodrov has some of the street-smarts and acting economy of a Russian Steve McQueen. But his tragic early death at thirty in ‘02 probably makes him more of a James Dean figure. (That would make Russia just about the last country with a film industry to have one.) Now, Balabanov has also died, just this May at the age of 54.

DOUBLE-BILL: The classic Hollywood gangster pic this most resembles is probably Bill Wellman’s THE PUBLIC ENEMY/’31 with James Cagney’s breakthru perf. But for more Balabanov, there’s the much coarser sequel BRAT 2/’00 or the wild ride of BLIND MAN’S BLUFF/’05.

No comments: