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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pomp, Pique, and Pop Art

It's been a busy week -- noisy and eventful, although nothing special has happened. It's a good week to be reviewed in different categories, nicely and superficially. So let's go: Spiritual event of the week: Dalai Lama in Moscow. I covered his holiness' visit to this city in 1992, when I had the privilege of drinking tea with him. This time everything seemed to be much more pompous and crowded, so I didn't bother. Freedom to Tibet, anyway. Political event of the week: The fuss around Crimea. Theoretically, this can turn into serious business, because: a) Russians usually don't like Ukrainians; b) Russians usually like Crimea very much; c) fighting in the Crimea must be fun because of the sea, nice mountains and good climate; d) unlike Moldovans or Tajiks, the Ukrainians are a big nation, so no shameful syndromes (of the United States vs. Grenada type) should be felt. To put it directly: if Russian authorities decide that the country needs a funky pop war -- sort of worth fighting, not too bloody, fully televised -- Crimea is by far the best location. I don't think it will happen, though. Media event of the week: Zhirinovsky and his party of idiots trying to destroy RTR's television journalist Nikolai Svanidze, who reported on bribery in voting as practiced by the Liberal Democrats. I knew Kolya Svanidze during my work at RTR and am absolutely convinced he's a good and honest person. Regarding Zhirinovsky, I'm convinced of the opposite. Even if I learn that Svanidze's accusations were wrong (he might have been duped), I won't change these judgments. Musical event of the week: There were two -- Akvarium's concert at the Satyrikon Theater, which you can read about in this week's Weekend supplement, and ELO II playing at the Rossiya concert hall. Judging by the reviews, they weren't so bad. I've never liked this band and didn't bother to go (and don't regret it). Meanwhile, the musical hype of the week is Liza Minelli, apparently expected to appear at the Rossiya. Film event of the week: The premiere of Valery Todorovsky's long-awaited second movie at the Cinema Center. Todorovsky's brilliant debut film, called "Love," was celebrated at Cannes two years ago, and much was expected. "Podmoskovniye Vechera" (actually, the title of a famous '50s song, known in the West as "Midnight in Moscow") is yet another cinematographic remake of Nikolai Leskov's classic 19th-century, crime-of-passion story, "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk." Set in a modern, but somewhat timeless environment (could be any year between 1955 and 1994), the film tells the story of Katya, an oppressed wife of a miserable husband, who serves as a typist for his tyrant mother, who is a famous novelist. After discovering sex and passion -- by being raped one night by a local stud, a carpenter named Sergei -- she helps her mother-in-law to die and provokes Sergei to kill the husband. After she discovers that her beloved has another, and much younger, sex object, she kills both herself and her rival, driving the late writer's Volga off a bridge. I like young Todorovsky both as a filmmaker and a human being, but have to admit that the film he has made will most likely be a flop. Its script, visuals and atmosphere are too reminiscent of other things. It is too smooth, predictable and patterned exactly after the standard European criminal melodrama. The only extraordinary feature of the movie is fantastic acting by the Lithuanian actress Ingebora Dapkinaite -- but that's not enough to send the thrill through a viewer's body. Fine arts event of the week: The opening of "Artist Instead of Work of Art," a giant contemporary conceptual exhibit at the House of Artists. A joint effort of Russia, France and Austria, the exhibit brings together an impressive collection of radical works since the '60s. At the opening, a certain A. Brenner, himself a "provocative artist," ran around dressed only in see-through female tights, yelling "Why wasn't I accepted at this exhibition?" Most visitors were shocked and disgusted, but wasn't such a performance perfectly suitable for the exhibition's title? Style event of the week: Ray-Ban sunglasses showcase at Manhattan Express. Costume designs (by Alexander Lizunov) were totally forgettable, but the classics of cool shades are never out of style.