Taxi Blues

What's fascinating about this Soviet film at the outset—a character study focusing on a lonely cab driver (Piotr Zaitchenko) and an alcoholic, bohemian jazz saxophonist (Piotr Mamonov) who becomes his roommate—is that it shows us a whole seedy cross section of Moscow life that we haven't seen before. A first feature by Pavel Lounguine that won him the best director's prize at Cannes, the film clearly knows something about both its characters and its milieu. But on reflection it seems that this film's popularity—at least in relation to other glasnost films—rests in large part on its success in aping the American cinema (Lounguine acknowledges the direct influence of such films as The Last Detail, Scarecrow, and Taxi Driver), so that its appeal isn't so much in what it teaches us about Russians as in the implication that they're really just like us (1990).

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