The Humorist: humorists can be great subjects of character studies, and Mikhail Idov’s tight drama has a nice example at its center. Furthermore, the film doubles as a critical look at its time and place (which can easily be extended to how authoritarian regimes in general smother artistic expression). Aleksey Agranovich is very good as the protagonist, a complicated, bitter man with obvious and copious amounts of talent; the role calls for quite a range and some very precise line-reading, and Agranovich nails it. Dialogue is quite well-constructed, and at times very funny. The film looks very good (it smartly is almost completely devoid of external shots, leaning instead on a very solid period production design, by Aivars Zukovskis); Alexander Surkala’s solid cinematography is deceptively simple.