Friday, June 24, 2005

The Russians are coming!

Thanks to my neato keen friend Lisa, I went to a screening of "Nochnoi Dozor" (Night Watch) at the Ford Amphitheater as part of the L.A. Film Festival. Basically it's a Russian film about vampires. The forces of good and evil have an unsteady truce; the Night Watch is a sort of patrol that keeps the forces of evil in check, and the Day Watch patrols the forces of good. People from both sides begin to cross the line and the world could pretty much get destroyed as a result. Oops.

As a sci-fi/horror film, it was a little difficult for me to follow. I think part of it is that I'm not used to foreign films. In American movies (which I still have trouble understanding), everything needs a purpose, everything needs an explanation, everything needs to be wrapped up nice and neat. The Ruskies don't have those restrictions, so you're on your own a bit more. But you don't need to understand everything to enjoy it. It's very violent and gory, and I don't expect it to get wide U.S. release (or a remake) without a lot of cutting back of the severed heads and swords-to-the-face shots. It had some genuine jump-in-your-seat moments and some great action shots.

The coolest thing about the film - and this will sound strange - were the subtitles. I think of subtitles as simply "dialog typed on the screen". But in Night Watch, the subtitles were integrated right into the movie. If someone is swimming, the subtitles might turn to blood and float away in the water. During a chase, the text might slide back and forth across the screen. If a character moved his arm, the motion of his hand might wipe the letters on or off the screen. The subtitles weren't just an add-on to the film; they were an integral part of it. Maybe this is now common in foreign language films and I just haven't seen it before, but I thought it was wicked awesome.

Oh, and we got free seat cushions from Target and glow-in-the-dark Night Watch wristbands.

Three cheers for Glasnost.

Night Watch Trailer

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