Global Discoveries on DVD: Some Blessings and Curses of Cinephiliaby Jonathan Rosenbaum, 2019-01-02, www.cinema-scope.com
Part of the trick of Loznitsa’s nightmarish, black-comic assembly of bureaucratic and brute horrors in contemporary Russia is to keep us guessing how much it’s a realistic depiction . . . and how much of it is grotesque exaggeration and satire, until these ambiguities eventually give way to the heroine’s own literal nightmare as a summation.
"Reality" as Embattled Story: Donbass in Odesa and Their Own Republic at Doclisboaby Carmen Gray, 2018-12-20, www.sensesofcinema.com
In perhaps the most harrowing scene of all, unbearable in its gradual mood shift and escalation, a man is tied to a pole with a sign announcing him to passersby as a pro-Ukrainian mercenary killer. Its intricate weave of interaction is a lesson not only in how mobs function, but how traumatic experiences and attitudes passed down through generations move virally and boil up again with little need of prodding.
The Trialby Lawrence Garcia, 2018-09-06, www.cinema-scope.com
What the industrious Belarus-born director has created is a profoundly (and productively) contradictory object that resists easy topicality: a fastidiously researched, nonfiction account of a fastidiously composed fiction, and hence a canny inversion of the courtroom drama template.
Toronto: Wavelengths Preview — "We Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Contrarians"by Michael Sicinski, 2018-09-05, www.mubi.com
While Loznitsa is to be commended for his dedication to the process and absolute fidelity to the record, the film is a bit back-loaded, since it is only through the final revelations of the trial that much of what we have been listening to comes to be understood.
Donbass - Contemporary World CinemaBy Richard Porton, 2018-08-31, www.cinema-scope.com
Donbass’ near-Buñuelian episodic structure (in interviews, Loznitza cites The Phantom of Liberty as an influence) acquires a cumulative power.
Festivals: Drifting Apartby Kent Jones, 2018-07-03, www.filmcomment.com
Unlike last year’s A Gentle Creature, whose pursuit of the random and the lethargic resulted in a film that felt almost unattended, Donbass is piercing and impressively relentless, and its best scenes possess a believably banal and terrifying momentum.
Cold Wars: The 2018 Cannes Film Festivalby Daniel Fairfax, 2018-06-27, www.sensesofcinema.com
Loznitsa’s procedure becomes heavy-handed and contemptuous. . . . This tendentiousness becomes flagrant in the film’s implausible final scene, which pushes the contrast between his understated form and the dubious nature of his content to unhinged extremes. You don’t have to be a Putin booster to feel that, with Donbass, a great filmmaker has discredited himself.
Russian Cinema Under the Gaze of Putin: Truth in the Face of Despairby Vadim Rizov, 2018-06-20, www.frieze.com
Shot in the ultra-wide 2.66:1 ratio (last seen in, of all things, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, 2015), A Gentle Creature demonstrates Loznitsa’s impeccably rigorous knack for diorama staging and impeccable choreography, keeping his aesthetic verve in the face of atrocity.
Donbass Cannes 2018 Reviewby Giovanni Marchini Camia, 2018-05-19, www.thefilmstage.com
In strict terms of craft, Donbass is an impressive achievement, but its heavy-handedness nevertheless feels inordinate. Since Loznitsa doesn’t provide almost any historical and political context, it’s unlikely that anyone without prior knowledge of the war in Donbass will come out with much actual insight into what’s going on there.
Cannes 2018. Correspondences #3: Weed in Colombia, War in Ukraineby Daniel Kasman, 2018-05-11, www.mubi.com
A film at once electric and morose, Donbassserves as a guide to the malignant darkness shrouding over the eastern part of the Ukraine: fiction filmmaking with combative intent and a powerful sense of necessity.
Cannes 2018 Dispatch #2: Donbass, Petraby Blake Williams , 2018-05-11, www.filmmakermagazine.com
The experience is veritably nightmarish—an unforgiving wallow in images of humanity at its worst—and if I have any hesitation in declaring this, after a single viewing, to be a great, even monumental achievement, it’s generated by my uneasiness regarding Loznitsa’s decision to obfuscate many of his episodes’ political specificity.
Donbass first look: both too much and too little about the war in Ukraineby James Lattimer , 2018-05-10, www.bfi.org.uk
Yet the fascination exerted by these interstitial moments is largely a reflection of the misjudged nature of many of the episodes, which often either fail to make an impression or outstay their welcome, or even do both at the same time. The wearyingly shouty, over-extended wedding scene, for example, says at once too much and too little about the system that now governs the Donbass.
"Donbass": Cannes Reviewby Jonathan Romney, 2018-05-09, www.screendaily.com
Even by the standards of his caustic debut fiction feature My Joy (2010) or last year’s descent-into-hell drama A Gentle Creature, Donbass comes across as savage stuff. A sprawling black comedy with a vast ensemble cast, it evokes a chaotic state of social breakdown in the Donbass region of Ukraine, often with virtuoso brilliance, but it’s sometimes over-stretched vignettes can easily tax the overwhelmed viewer.
"Donbass": Film Review | Cannes 2018by Leslie Felperin, 2018-05-09, www.hollywoodreporter.com
Tackling a bloody struggle that these days barely registers in the media beyond the region itself, despite the fact that the shady Ukrainian connections to President Donald Trump and his cronies keep bobbing up in the news, the film feels timely and borne of deep-held despair at the senseless strife tearing the country apart.
“But It’s Not Real”: Rape As Metaphor In Sergei Loznitsa’s ‘A Gentle Creature’by Katie Goh, 2018-04-29, www.anothergaze.com
A Gentle Creature is a hell of infinitely repeated rapes for its protagonist, an unnamed woman played by Vasilina Makovsteva in present day Russia. Taking its name and inspiration from a Dostoyevsky novella, A Gentle Creature is as tediously grim as you’d expect.
The Fifth Edition of "Art of the Real" Offers Form-Bending History Lessonsby Ela Bittencourt, 2018-04-26, www.villagevoice.com
No selection this year is more steeped in history than Sergei Loznitsa’s Victory Day (2018). His blunt approach made his earlier Austerlitz (2016) stilted and scornful, but Loznitsa is less categorical in the new film.
A Tale of Two Festivals: International Film Festival of India and Experimentaby Parichay Patra, 2018-03-01, www.sensesofcinema.com
Loznitsa’s consistent movements between the apparent documentation of the “real” in non-fiction and the semblance of the real in the façade of a fictional universe bewilders everyone familiar with his canon, as he seems incorruptible, unperturbed by the onslaught of the festival circuit.
AFM/AFI FEST 2017: Magic Women, Haptic Menby Bérénice Reynaud, 2018-03-01, www.sensesofcinema.com
Vasilina Makovtseva is as quietly beautiful as Dominique Sanda and she exudes a similar, magic radiance even at the moment of her defeat. Through the fable of a woman looking for her incarcerated husband, Loznitza returns to his topic of choice: an evocation, bordering on the improbable and the surreal, of a long-time malaise in the countries of the former Soviet Union.