The fake pro-lifers reveal themselves
Eye of the Needle: vintage trope-ridden thriller

Gorky Park: a superior Cold War thriller

I've seen Gorky Park a couple of times before, but after research on Spain and China, it seemed a good time to revisit it.

It's excellent.  Really a tight, well-crafted film that captures the sense of living under Communist rule.

The late William Hurt is brilliant, playing one of those roles that are well outside what one expects of certain actors.  I think his turn as a Soviet police ("militia") detective is arguably his best.  It's not just the mannerisms, but the way he inhabits the character.  His makeup and facial expressions are - to be blunt - unAmerican.

Which is a very good thing.

One of the difficulties in doing films set in foreign lands is giving a sense of the language differences.  Do you have everyone do an atrocious foreign accent, or just have them speak normally?

Gorky Park has the Russian characters use English accents and only the Americans (who play Americans) talk like, er, Americans. 

What this means is that Hurt plays a Russian but speaks with an English accent.  That sounds silly, but actually most Europeans learn British rather than American English, so it works.  Plus, the rest of the crew around him is British.  Without that, he'd stand out.  It may seem I'm making too much of it, but it is upon such details as these that films have foundered.

The 1980s are interesting because the Soviet Union was a far more pressing threat to us than Russia is today, yet the anti-Russian animus is much worse now than it was back then.

Of course, back then we wanted to know what our enemies were thinking.  We needed that so we could plan appropriately.  Today, a lot of "smart" people simply ignore their enemies, assuming they know them or that they are beneath knowing altogether.  Put simply, Hollywood is a lot more bigoted and stupid than it used to be.

It makes a nice companion to White Nights, which is of course brilliant.


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