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The Trans-Siberian Affair, December 9, 2007

I'm actually not sure how to describe this movie, but I'll give it my best shot. First of all, Viggo Mortensen is outstanding as Nikolai, a driver and enforcer for the Russian Mafia, and full time baby-sitter to Kirill, the wayward son of Mafia boss Semyon. He's one cold, emotionless dude when he has to be, but has a human side that peeps out ever so often from behind that steely, chiseled mug.Vincent Cassel (Kirill) and Armin Mueller-Stahl (Semyon) are also extremely convincing, the former as a violent drunk and the latter as the charming and affable, but very cruel father. Naomi Watts doesn't light up the screen and steal the show as she normally does, but it could be the depressing role of Anna, a midwife who delivers a baby for a fourteen year old girl who doesn't make it off the operating table.Anne Frank may have left a more famous diary, but the diary of the unfortunate young woman is so revealing that some people are prepared to kill to keep the...

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I'm actually not sure how to describe this movie, but I'll give it my best shot. First of all, Viggo Mortensen is outstanding as Nikolai, a driver and enforcer for the Russian Mafia, and full time baby-sitter to Kirill, the wayward son of Mafia boss Semyon. He's one cold, emotionless dude when he has to be, but has a human side that peeps out ever so often from behind that steely, chiseled mug.Vincent Cassel (Kirill) and Armin Mueller-Stahl (Semyon) are also extremely convincing, the former as a violent drunk and the latter as the charming and affable, but very cruel father. Naomi Watts doesn't light up the screen and steal the show as she normally does, but it could be the depressing role of Anna, a midwife who delivers a baby for a fourteen year old girl who doesn't make it off the operating table.Anne Frank may have left a more famous diary, but the diary of the unfortunate young woman is so revealing that some people are prepared to kill to keep the...
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I emphasized the "ADULT-THEMED" idea in my title because one of the best things about seeing a film like EASTERN PROMISES is that it is so adult, so uncompromised. Cronenberg gets to make the movies he wants to, and it doesn't have to be watered down or dumbed-down to make it sell to a broad audience. We get a brutal, sometimes squirm-inducing look at a underworld we haven't seen like this before...and there's no gloss, no pandering to a teen audience, no sappy ending, etc. etc. The ending is SATISFYING...but it isn't easy or "Hollywood."First of all, the script is outstanding. From the creator of another stunning film about London's "seamy underbelly," DIRTY PRETTY THINGS...the plot makes sense, the threads all come together and the characters are simply but sharply delineated. Yet at no time do I feel the themes are being spoon-fed. Also, some of the acts that are perpetrated on Viggo Mortensen's character near the end of the film are acts of amazing betrayal...yet if...
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EASTERN PROMISES as written by Steven Knight and directed by David Cronenberg is one of the grittiest, insightful, and well-acted films of the year. Maintaining his keen eye for the dark side of life and the people who dwell in its shadows, Cronenberg has once again brought us characters so strongly etched on film that they will be remembered for many years.The setting is London where lives the enigmatic Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen in an Oscar caliber performance) who serves as a driver for a cloaked mysterious Russian family, members of the Russian mafia called the Vory V Zakone, a bizarre brotherhood populated with men whose lives of crime are told in tattooed stories on their bodies. The head of the family is the elegant restaurateur Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) whose son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) carries on the crime aspects of the family but shows no role of leadership in his dissipated life style. As the film opens we observe the birth of a little...
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