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Art House Asshole : Winter on Fire

| December 9, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Winter on Fire.

I’m glad I decided to dedicate this month to documentaries. As much as I like documentaries, I rarely go out of my way to actually watch them. But one thing I’ve always said about documentaries is that it is almost unfair to compare them with Narrative Fiction Films. Last year in my Filmsplosion, I had one documentary on my list. And this year there will be at least one documentary in my last. Documentary has a certain power to it. The power of knowing, this is real. Even when you see a “Based on a True Story” film, it still feels like a movie. Documentaries tend to hit me like a ton of bricks. And this one is no exception.

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom is a Netflix produced documentary on a lot of different things surrounding Ukraine, but primarily Euromaidan Protests. At the end of the day, though, this film is basically a “How Ukraine Got This Fucked: The Movie”. It gives a brief history of Ukraine from its independence in the early 90s, to basically just before the Russian Invasion. And the end of the film is basically “Ukraine is fucked and no one cares”.

This film is good for the same reason Last Days of Vietnam is good. It gives you a peak into this world that you aren’t part of, and are also unaware of how bad it is. If you have been participating or supporting or complaining about all the political protest happening around the 2016 US Election, understand those protesters are nothing compared to the protesters in this film. What starts as a simple college protest in this film evolves into was would be described less as a protest and more as a full out war. When you see the brutality of the police and the people, it is honestly horrifying. It shows how the police were told to switch from plastic batons to iron batons when the protests were primarily peaceful. There isn’t much to say about the film besides the fact that it is both horrifying and powerful.

One major downside to the film is that you start to get lost in what is happening in the film. For an American Director, Evgeny Afineevsky whom also directed Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!! (No really), it tackles a lot of Ukrainian history. To the point where it is very easy to think “Oh are we still talking about this president or this president?” or “Are we still learning about the Orange Revolution or is this a separate thing?” The film is painted with a very broad stroke. I’ve seen some people say that the film is only telling one side of the story. I didn’t think this but then again I knew almost no Ukrainian history prior to watching this film. So I was essentially spoon-fed Ukrainian history with this film, and it is very easy to give one side of a story if you are teaching it.

There really isn’t a lot for me to say about this film. If you aren’t following the events, or if you knew about the events but didn’t really understand it, or if you didn’t know Ukraine was a country, then I recommend this film. It gives you a nice one-two punch of quick history, even if you won’t follow some of it. You might walk out with a couple questions, but you will also be much better informed about the basics of the situation in Ukraine. Which is a horribly interesting situation.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.

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