LIFE AND DEATH IN THE FORMER U.S.S.R.Byline: Glenn Whipp Daily News Film Critic
``A Friend of the Deceased'' has a premise that should be familiar to anyone who has seen a trailer for Warren Beatty's new movie, ``Bulworth.'' Both films center on despondent de·spon·dent
Feeling or expressing despondency; dejected.
de·spondent·ly adv. men who hire contract killers to do them in because they're too squeamish squea·mish
a. Easily nauseated or sickened.
2. Easily shocked or disgusted.
3. Excessively fastidious or scrupulous. to do the job themselves. Of course, after taking out the contract, these guys find a new lease on life but - oops (Object-Oriented Programming System) See object-oriented programming.
OOPS - "OOPS: A Knowledge Representation Language", D. Vermeir, Proc 19th Intl Hawaii Conf on System Sciences, IEEE (Jan 1986) pp.156-157. - have no way of reining in the hit man. Too bad these killers never wear pagers.
It's not a new gambit (language) Gambit - A variant of Scheme R3.99 supporting the future construct of Multilisp by Marc Feeley <email@example.com>. Implementation includes optimising compilers for Macintosh (with Toolbox and built-in editor) and Motorola 680x0 Unix systems and HP300, BBN ; in fact, it's been done often enough to make you wonder why the news - or at least, ``The Jerry Springer springer
a North American term commonly used to describe heifers close to term with their first calf. Show'' - isn't full of scenarios like this. Perhaps it's because dead men tell no tales, or maybe it's because the hit men carry out their work too professionally to discuss it, or maybe it's because it's the kind of ridiculous idea that can only work in a movie.
Interestingly enough, it does work, both in the brilliant, edgy political satire Political satire is a subgenre of general satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics, politicians, and public affairs. It has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political of ``Bulworth'' and here in ``A Friend of the Deceased,'' which deals in the personal politics of the former Soviet Union, a group of nations stuck uncomfortably between communism and capitalism. Unlike the more audacious ``Bulworth,'' the politics in ``Deceased'' are revealed entirely through character, personified in the film's fatalistic fa·tal·ism
1. The doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable.
2. Acceptance of the belief that all events are predetermined and inevitable. , amoral a·mor·al
1. Not admitting of moral distinctions or judgments; neither moral nor immoral.
2. Lacking moral sensibility; not caring about right and wrong. Ukrainian citizens.
Anatoli, the movie's protagonist, has certainly seen better days. He's a 35-year-old intellectual who doesn't know how to cope with the changes in the new Russia. He can't find a creative job and doesn't want to shed his identity as an intellectual by doing manual labor. So he sits by the phone, reading the newspaper and smoking cigarettes. Meanwhile, his wife is thriving at an advertising agency and threatening to leave him.
When she follows through with that threat and runs off with a co-worker, he turns to Dima, a black-market pal who had earlier offered to put him in touch with a hit man. But rather than put the hit on his wife's lover, Anatoli decides to kill himself, putting his picture in an envelope and slipping it into the killer's post-office box. Yes, Anatoli reasons, it may be suicide, but at least it will be a beautifully staged death.
Of course, things don't quite work out that way, and after a drunken night with perky perk·y
adj. perk·i·er, perk·i·est
1. Having a buoyant or self-confident air; briskly cheerful.
2. Jaunty; sprightly.
perk prostitute Vika, things start looking up for Anatoli. He feels like he has cheated death. But it's too late to call off the hit - ``you can't stop these things "These Things" is an EP by She Wants Revenge, released in 2005 by Perfect Kiss, a subsidiary of Geffen Records. Music Video
The music video stars Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage. Track Listing
1. "These Things [Radio Edit]" - 3:17
2. once they start,'' Dima tells him - and Anatoli would rather die than admit to his friend that he put out the contract on himself. So he finds a second killer to ward off the first.
``A Friend of the Deceased'' has comic irony to spare, but it works on a deeper level as an illustration of how cultural shifts aren't always as black and white as they seem. Director Vyacheslav Krishtofovich depicts a Russian society that has replaced communism with coldness and solitude. ``There are no friendships, only business acquaintances,'' Dima complains to Anatoli. ``Friendships disappeared with our glorious Soviet past.''
It's not the kind of sentiment you expect to hear anyone saying in post-Soviet Russia, much less in a Ukrainian film. But Krishtofovich makes it ring true and makes you wonder about a nation of people trying to survive in a world that is suddenly open and new and, thus, foreign and frightening. Sure, these people don't want to go back to the old days of censorship and police control. But, as ``A Friend of the Deceased'' shows, that doesn't make it any easier to move forward and make a better day in the present.
The film: ``A Friend of the Deceased'' (R; some nudity and language).
The stars: Alexandre Lazarev, Tatiana Krivitska and Eugen Pachin.
Behind the scenes: Directed by Vyacheslav Krishtofovich. Written by Andrei Kourkov. Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Running time: One hour, 40 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino; Landmark Samuel Goldwyn Cinemas, West Los Angeles
Our rating: Three Stars.