Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The Road Movie

7 of 7 viewers "Liked" "The Road Movie" (2018, Russia)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Wandering Panda - "A roller coaster ride of a movie seen and experienced through the eye of a dashboard camera. No script, no actors, no limits. I love this movie. It definitely has a narrative and is very immersive. Definitely a must watch! If you're a new driver beware, this is not how you're supposed to drive. So please keep it safe." - 4 Stars

Huntress - "The Road Movie is more than just a shocking compilation to expose how insane and angry Russians are, but it's easy to throw that label on it and move on, especially with the way Russians are typically portrayed in American cinema and pop culture (Natasha and Boris from Rocky and Bullwinkle immediately come to mind...). But it felt much more dramatic than exploitative to me, and after a second viewing, I realized that there was actually a lot of human compassion and confrontation that most people would generally avoid. And there's a surprising amount of humor too! Yes, some of the events that take place are completely crazy, they are on YouTube after all, but just because other countries aren't airing their dirty laundry on the internet doesn't mean they are any different. This was just an honest glimpse into a culture shrouded in rumor and mystery." - 4.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "A Russian Frankenstein of a film created solely from dashboard cams, The Road Movie is all at once entertaining, terrifying, and beautiful. A perfect example of direct cinema capturing a neutral subject. I would have liked to see a longer cut of the film, with a little more exploration of narrative, but I'm nitpicking, I know." 4.5 Stars

Trash - "While The Road Movie delivers what was promised, Russian dashcam videos, it never reduces itself to the cover-your-eyes shock and awe of movies like Faces of Death. Instead, this artful compilation of YouTube videos transforms into a found footage documentary about human nature and the fear of disaster. Clips show you incredible moments, cars flipping, crashes, attacks, but the scenes linger, giving you the moments before and after. It's both tense as hell and super insightful. And I'm just so enamored with the editing style, keeping long videos in as full episodes, with montages peppered throughout. And I was terrified, an episode would start and I'd tense up, forget to breathe, just waiting for the impact. This one is something special." - 4.5 Stars

Math Mage - "Russian dashcams are a gift to mankind and Dmitrii Kalashnikov has gift-wrapped it for us. A selection of the most interesting vignette's constructed into a subtle narrative." - 4 Stars

Dabbles - "This would be great road rage propaganda. So much stuff as far as content. It's an eye-opening movie with visuals of driving in Russia. All in all, this is a great piece of art that has a lot of gut reactions, and some emotion." - 4 Stars

Clark Little - "An interesting and voyeuristic look into a culture that uses the preferred medium of contemporary entertainment, the viral video. Builds a narrative solely through editing and Kalashnikov's curative approach to directing, adds to the mystery and ambiguity of both the hilarious and the horrifying." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Two years ago, the Alamo Drafthouse opened in San Francisco. My first experience in the newly remodeled New Mission theatre was a memorable one, and not because the film was particularly good (I actually forgot what I watched), but because of the pre-show ritual. Each film at the Alamo opens with around a half-hour of YouTube/YouTube-esque videos relating to the film by theme, mood, moment, or actor/filmmaker. Although these selections were curated and prepared to play in a specific order, the effect wasn't very different from a YouTube playlist (HERE is an example of a list I recreated from a Roxie preshow for Microwave Massacre). Dmitrii Kalashnikov's film concept conjured up these memories but when I actually sat through it, it became clear that what I was watching was something much more special than a shocking YouTube playlist.

Dimitrii had selected the films to play in an order that would carry an emotional narrative (He specifically talks about this on episode #074 of the Overlook Hour Podcast). After a second viewing, this became very clear. It also became clear that he was using audio and visuals much like a documentarian; allowing the moment to play out the way it was captured on the forgotten dashboard cam without adding any stroke of manipulation. The result is impactful (no pun intended), people act without restraint or hesitation, to what might be one of the worst, embarrassing, or beautiful moments of their lives.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on 7/28/2016
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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