Connect with us

Gossips

‘Bad Roads’ Review: An Omnibus Drama About Fraught Encounters in Ukraine’s Conflict Zones

Published

on

Bad Roads Oscar

In the bleak omnibus film “Bad Roads,” four tension-filled tales set along the dangerous byways of Ukraine’s Donbass region during wartime illustrate survival strategies practiced by civilians. Although the various episodes don’t quite add up to a strong narrative whole, they do gain extra resonance from current events in this troubled region. Naturalistic in visual style and performance, they also introduce a new talent to watch in debuting writer-director Natalya Vorozhbit, better known as a playwright. The film, adapted from her earlier play, premiered in Critics’ Week of the 2020 Venice Film Festival. The Ukrainian Film Academy named the helmer “Discovery of the Year,” along with other kudos.

The four segments vary in length, with the first two each slightly over the 20-minute mark, the third — and most difficult to watch — clocking in at approximately 43 minutes, and the last, a tight 15 minutes. Each revolves around a fraught encounter that seems as if it could tip into extreme violence at any moment. Fortunately for viewers, only one goes that far.

The narrative glue holding the four episodes together is far looser than in other omnibus films. Each of the locations in the conflict zone is different and so are the characters, yet if one listens carefully to the dialogue, each sequence plants an idea that is expanded upon in the subsequent story.

Advertisement

The first episode takes place on a literal bad road where the first thing we see are ruts of dried mud shimmering among potholes under a hot summer sun. It’s where a slightly drunk school principal (Igor Koltovskyy) encounters an ATO (anti-terrorist operation) checkpoint and can’t find his passport. His exchanges with an earnest soldier (Vladimir Gurin) and his short — and short-tempered — commander (Andrey Lelyukh) come perilously close to igniting the commander’s fuse while also being blackly funny.

The principal’s (maybe mistaken) belief that he saw one of his female students poking her head out of the soldiers’ bunker seems to inspire the far less compelling second sequence, which takes place at a bus stop. As the sky darkens from twilight to black, three teenage girls sit on a bench, smoking, talking and playing with their phones. They’re waiting for their soldier boyfriends. Soon, only one girl (Anna Zhurakovskaya) is left. Instead of her beau, it’s her grandmother (Yuliya Matrosova) that arrives.

What takes place between young women and soldiers? The traumatic third episode centers on a journalist (the brave Maryna Klimova, who is also the star of the Slovak Republic’s Oscar submission “107 Mothers”) taken captive by an opposition soldier (Yuri Kulinich) in an abandoned underground bunker that once housed a spa. As he threatens her with physical and sexual violence, his expletive-filled language is equally sadistic. Her savvy responses show her refusal to be cowed as she constantly attempts to humanize their interaction. Canny staging and dim lighting mask the worst of the brutality.

An anecdote the journalist recounts about a dead chicken provides the basis for the dark, absurdist final tale in which a pretty young woman (Zoya Baranovskaya) in a Peugot accidentally kills a hen that runs onto the road at night. She stops at a nearby farm to inform the owners (Oksana Voronina and Sergei Solovyov), who wouldn’t be out of place in a Ukrainian adaptation of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” What they do with her naive offer of compensation is both chilling and amazing to watch.

Advertisement

Per the press kit, the accomplished cast, totally credible as ordinary people, is comprised mostly of regional theater actors and took 18 months to assemble. Helmer Vorozhbit budgeted plenty of rehearsal time for the players and drew upon her experience of watching various theater directors at work on her plays.

Top-notch tech credits also make the film stand out. First-time feature cinematographer Volodymyr Ivanov proves to be a true artist with light and the CinemaScope format, while Oleksandr Shatkivskyi’s realistic sound design, charged with the distress of barking dogs, delivers more unease than many musical scores.

Advertisement

Gossips

Former HBO Exec Len Amato Joins MasterClass as Chief Content Officer

Published

on

len amato

Len Amato, a 13-year veteran of HBO, joined MasterClass as chief content officer at the company that sells subscriptions to celebrity-led online courses.

In the new role, Amato will head up MasterClass’ content organization and help lead content innovation, strategy and development of class launches. He reports to David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass.

Amato formerly served as president of HBO Films, Miniseries and Cinemax before he departed in late 2020. Most recently, Amato was an executive producer on HBO’s upcoming limited series “The White House Plumbers” through his production company Crash&Salvage, where he will continue to produce independently.

Advertisement

MasterClass provides access to more than 150 online courses led by experts and celebs including James Cameron, Shonda Rhimes, Ken Burns, Jodie Foster, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Nas, Gordon Ramsay, Bob Iger, Metallica, Issa Rae, RuPaul, and Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. An annual membership to MasterClass starts at $180/year.

“Len has been a pioneer in creating premium, original content, and I’m thrilled to welcome him to the team,” Rogier said in a statement. “His passion for storytelling, proven leadership and ability to attract talent will help us expand and innovate, providing even more ways to transform our members’ lives through our content.”

“MasterClass is setting a new standard for premium content with its cinematic value and ability to intimately connect world-class instructors with its members,” Amato said. “I’m excited to continue to democratize learning by bringing these stories to life in new ways and scale the impact of our content.”

Amato joined HBO in 2007 as a senior VP and was promoted to president of HBO Films the following year. Under his leadership, HBO Films earned best television movie Emmys for originals including “Grey Gardens,” “Temple Grandin,” “Game Change, “Behind the Candelabra,” “The Normal Heart” and “Bessie.”

Advertisement

Prior to joining HBO, Amato served as president of Spring Creek Productions. His producer and executive producer credits include “Analyze This” and “Analyze That,” “Possession,” “Deliver Us From Eva,” “Rumor Has It,” “Blood Diamond” and “The Astronaut Farmer.” Amato also was story editor for Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions. He started his film career in New York as a story analyst for various independent producers and studios. Prior to his career in the film industry, Amato was a musician and actor.

Continue Reading

Gossips

Music Industry Moves: FKA Twigs Partners With Atlantic Records

Published

on

Orograph2

Along with her “Caprisongs” mixtape on Friday came the news that FKA Twigs has “partnered with Atlantic Records for this next exciting phase of her art,” according to the announcement. In the U.K., she will continue to release music via the Young label (formerly Young Turks) through Beggars Group.

“FKA twigs is the kind of artist you dream of signing — one with truly original vision, voice, and presence,” said Atlantic chairman-COO Julie Greenwald.  “She’s among the most compelling talents, always pushing her creative envelope to deliver emotionally honest music that’s both intensely personal and universal. We’re thrilled that she’s chosen Atlantic to be her home as she continues on her fantastic musical adventure.”

“The progression of FKA twigs’ music over the past decade has been extraordinary,” said chairman-CEO Craig Kallman. “She’s never content to stay in one place – constantly crossing musical boundaries, embracing fresh sounds, telling new stories, and exploring what’s next. An amazing vocalist, songwriter, lyricist, and producer, she’s barely scratched the surface of her potential, and we’re incredibly excited to see what she’ll be bringing her fans in the years to come.”

Advertisement

+ Artist-services company AWAL has promoted Jennifer Kirell to senior vice president of catalog & retail marketing. Based in New York, she will report directly to Ron Cerrito, president of AWAL North America, and oversee and support artist and label partners. Prior to joining AWAL, Kirell spent 11 years with Sony Music Entertainment at Legacy Recordings, where she led global marketing campaigns and audience development strategies for artists including Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash and others. Cerrito said, “Jennifer is a goal minded, follow-through obsessed, results oriented, serial over achiever with a deep understanding of modern music marketing.  She is also a thoughtful leader and people manager. We are proud Jen is a member of our executive team and look forward to continuing to redefine catalog and retail marketing into the future.”

The 2021 deal that saw Kobalt selling AWAL to Sony for $430 million remains under review by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

+ RCA Records has named Alex John director of publicity. She joins after two years at Red Bull Records, where she worked with Blxst, the Aces and producer WondaGurl. Over the course of her seven years in the business has also worked for Listen Up (where she worked with Martin Solveig, Kevin Saunderson, Jamie Jones and others), FYI Brand Group (Jhené Aiko, Tyga, DJ Khaled) and M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment (Sprite, Coca-Cola, WAV Media).

 

Advertisement

Continue Reading