Всем привет! ^_^

Наконец, Рождество и Новый год позади, и после долгих двух недель переедания мы можем вернуться к нормальной жизни.

Сегодня наше задание будет немного необычным. Мы будем писать отзыв на фильм или сериал. Честно говоря, я очень люблю кино и могу говорить на эту тему бесконечно. А вы? 🙂

Но прежде всего давайте посмотрим, какие слова обычно используют в отзывах:

Я посмотрел/ла – I saw/watched…(a movie, TV-show, etc.)
view (as in viewing the movie)
Сюжет –
special effects
Мне понравилось/не понравилось…
I liked/disliked
Меня впечатлил/ла/ло
I was impressed by….
Меня разочаровал/ла/ло
I was disappointed by…
in my opinion…
Я рекомендую
I recommend

1) А сейчас я хочу рассказать вам о своих впечатлениях после просмотра фильма “Звёздные войны: Пробуждение Силы”.

Я очень люблю “Звёздные войны”, поэтому нового фильма ждала с нетерпением. По-моему, это один из самых крутых фильмов в жанрах “фантастика” и “фэнтези”. Я слышала, что у фильма есть новый режиссер и очень большой бюждет. Мне было интересно посмотреть, что получится. И результат меня не разочаровал. 

Фильм получился динамичным и интересным, с хорошими шутками и правдоподнобной драмой. Спецэффекты впечатляют!

Актеры замечательно сыграли свои роли. Мне особенно понравился нестандартный антагонист. Также было очень приятно увидеть персонажей оригинальной трилогии.

Правда, одна вещь меня разочаровала: сюжет этого фильма слишком уж похож на “Звездные войны: Новая Надежда”. Надеюсь, следующий фильм удивит нас необычным сюжетом.

Я рекомендую этот фильм всем, кто любит подобный жанр, да и просто тем, кто любит хорошо провести время. 

2) А какой фильм вы посмотрели недавно? Напишите небольшой отзыв о нем.

* Более продвинутым ученикам предлагаю посмотреть и написать отзыв на первый эпизод русского комедийного сериала “Как я стал русским”. Вы можете это сделать вот здесь.

Успехов! 🙂


Russian Music

Hi everyone! Today I want to talk to you about Russian music.

Many of my Russian-learning students surprise me by saying they have never actually listened to Russian songs. Of course, Russian music is not the most popular in the world (probably with the exception of Russian classical music, but that’s different), but for me the very first thing that got me interested in the language was music! And English movies, of course, though at first I used to watch them with Russian dub, meh. So when I ask my students “Have you heard any Russian songs?”, the answer is usually “no”. The next thing I do I give them a list of songs that I created just for that purpose. It includes various songs by bands and singers that have been popular in Russia throughout 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

Do my students like them? Sometimes they do, sometimes not so much, but they all agree that Russian music is unique and at times highly entertaining. You could probably try and divide it into standard genres, such as pop, rock, alternative, jazz, folk and so on, but there is also a huge part that can not be defined. It’s when you listen to the start of the song with no words  there and you recognize it as utterly and genuinely Russian. For instance, take the heart-wrenching yet strangely life-asserting prison songs, so-called “chanson” – many old-school Russians (and certainly my uncle) would probably say it represents Russian soul – or, at least, that’s how it was in the legendary 90s. There are also catchy and arrogant rock songs, which used to be the absolute hits at any school party at the start of 2000s. But, of course, Russia is not only about romanticizing criminals and teenage rebellion. It’s about so many other things – both worldly and spiritual. To understand what I mean, you’ll have to listen to a few songs yourself – I’m afraid there is no other way 🙂

If you made up your mind and decided to follow my advice- then prepare your ears and open your mind… I promise you won’t regret it 🙂

Here are some popular tunes to start with:

1) 7Б – These guys are amazing! Many people say their songs have mystical effect on a listener, putting him or her in some sort of a trance with dark and beautiful chords. I absolutely agree with that.

2) БИ-2 – This band has many wonderful songs in different styles. Their songs can be sad and romantic, dangerous, crazy, sexy or a strange mix of all those. The singer’s voice is unique and unforgettable.

3) Звери – This is the band from my teenage times. Their songs are extremely catchy and very emotional! One of the songs called Дожди-пистолеты (which can be roughly translated as rains-guns, meaning that the rains are like the guns, only they shoot cold water :Ь) has a bit of a story to it. The first half of the song is standard: a guy sings about a dysfunctional relationship and how it all makes him feel. Then, in the middle of the song we can hear somebody’s voice talking about his break up with his girlfriend. It sounds so natural it makes it seem random, like a recording error. In fact, it’s not so far from the truth. You see, the lead singer wrote it after his break up with a girlfriend. So he was telling his best friend (who also happens to be a member of the band) all the sad details and his friend was listening. What he didn’t know, is that his best friend was secretly recording his monologue to put it into the song – to make it more sincere, maybe? I don’t know what the singer thought about this and what was his reaction when he heard the result (I assume, he was a bit upset, but maybe I’m wrong), but the song is here and you can listen to it and judge for yourself 🙂

If you don’t know how to use songs to learn a language, check out this guide here.

Russian Movies

If you started learning Russian, then at some point you will definitely find yourself wondering about Russian cinematography. There are many things which can be said on that topic, but one is clear: Russian movies are rather different from their European counterparts, especially English-speaking ones.

For decades now our ambitious movie directors have tried to copy Hollywood style of film-making with what is arrogantly called “our answer to Hollywood”, but the results prove to be unsuccessful.

On the other half of the scales we have movies made strictly for the Russian viewer. In a nutshell: if a person who is not really familiar with Russian culture tries to watch one of these, then he or she is most likely to find themselves utterly confused and at times disappointed.

Luckily, there is another layer. In this case, a movie keeps its authentic charm, while at the same time it speaks to all the audiences around the world. So, basically, no matter what your cultural background is, you will easily understand the message and be able to enjoy the new experience.  I wouldn’t say such movies are rare, but they definitely tend to be overlooked, lost in a glossy crowd of those pretentious Hollywood clones. A shame, really, since it is absolutely worth giving them a try.

The other issue is subtitles. In fact, it can get really frustrating trying to find a subtitled version of a good Russian movie (or especially, a TV-show). I actually had to create subtitles for a full season of Brigada in order to show it to my students.

That’s why, to make it easier for an untutored reader, I decided to create a short IMHO list of must-watch Russian movies and TV-shows with a short description for each and some useful links. Enjoy! 🙂

1. Формула Любви/Formula of Love (1984) – A young aristocrat, Aleksei Fedyashev, is languishing in his family’s country estate, spending his days reading poetry and confessing his love… to a statue. Upon hearing that famous Count Caliostro is touring Russia and has created quite a buzz in high society with his “magic”, he decides to ask the Count to bring the statue to life…

2. Кавказская пленница или Новые Приключения Шурика/ Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (1967) – In this comic but dated story, nerdy Shurik travels to the Caucasus in search of native legends and folklore. But what he finds is a beautiful girl whom, due to intoxication and deceit of the local “gang”, he ends up literally stealing for the local deceitful governor. All the time Shurik thinks that it is all just a one old Caucasian custom. When he, finally, realizes what he did he goes out in search for the girl of his dreams.

3. Обыкновенное чудо/Ordinary miracle (1979) – A wizard invents characters who all come to life and start to arrive at his house: a King, his servants, a princess, a bear trapped in a man’s body – the usual lot. The Plot mainly rotates around the bear, who the wizard had turned into a man. The Bear, who wishes to be a bear once again, can turn into his old self if he were to kiss a princess. It gets complicated when he falls in love with that princess, that arrived at the wizard’s house. For how can they be together, if a single kiss will destroy their love?

4. Солярис/Solaris (1972) – A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.

5. Здравствуйте, я ваша тетя!/Hello, I’m your aunt! (1975) – a musical comedy film, loosely based on the play Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas. Unemployed and homeless Babbs Baberley is being chased by the police who attempt to arrest him for vagrancy. Babbs finds himself in a rich house, where he encounters Charlie and Jackie. Babbs’ unsuccessful attempt to disguise himself as a woman gives Charlie and Jackie an idea. By threatening to surrender Babbs to the (successfully bribed) police, they force their unexpected visitor to dress once again as a woman and pass himself for Donna Rosa d’Alvadorez, Charlie’s millionaire aunt who is expected to arrive with a visit from Brazil.

6. Брат/Brother (1997) – An ex-soldier with a personal honor code enters the family crime business in St. Petersburg, Russia.

7. Бригада/Brigade (TV mini-series 2002) – Brigada is a group of four friends, who grew up together and formed a most powerful gang in Moscow. Initially they made business together, but an unplanned murder transformed them into a gang. Now their lives are at risk and there is no way back.

8. Все умрут, а я останусь /Everybody dies but me (2008) – One Monday morning Katya, Vika and Zhanna learn that there will be a school disco, their first disco, on the coming Saturday night. The girls feverishly start preparing for the event, which rapidly becomes the most important moment ever in their universe, and looks like the ideal way to escape their daily lives…

9. Ночной дозор/Night Watch (2004) – A fantasy-thriller set in present-day Moscow where the respective forces that control daytime and nighttime do battle.

10. Лиля Навсегда/Lilya 4-ever (2002) – Sixteen-year-old Lilja and her only friend, the young boy Volodja, live in Estonia, fantasizing about a better life. One day, Lilja falls in love with Andrej, who is going to Sweden, and invites Lilja to come along and start a new life.