From The Desk Of Of Montreal: “Urga” And “Burnt By The Sun” By Nikita Mikhalkov

of Montreal’s music is hard to define, given it changes more often than frontman Kevin Barnes’ sequined and feathered outfits during a live show. One album might be heavy on the drum machine and synthesizer, while another showcases Barnes’ best high-pitched Prince wail with more traditional strings and percussion. The Atlanta band boasts a prodigious body of work; in a decade and a half, Barnes and Co. have churned out 10 albums, eight collections and 29 singles and EPs, including their most recent effort, thecontrollersphere (Polyvinyl). Barnes and of Montreal’s two art directors—wife Nina Barnes (a.k.a. geminitactics) and brother David Barnes—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Nina: Urga (Close To Eden) and Burnt By The Sun by Nikita Mikhalkov are two movies close to my heart. They have a humanity and a beauty that life in itself only offers in brief moving moments. Urga takes place in Mongolia and describes the sudden friendship between a Russian truck driver and a Mongolian shepherd. The rural setting is not untouched by China’s “one-child policy,” and the wife of the shepherd commands her husband to go to Ulan Bator to buy contraceptives. There’s a scene where the shepherd hunts down his wife on a horse and catches her with a lasso. It’s kind of brutal and beautiful at the same time, and then she slaps him as he tries to make love to her. It’s filled with humor and that Russian drunken sentimentally that I love so much. Also, I think I’m in a direct line from Genghis Khan. It’s just a hunch, but none the less … Burnt By The Sun, on the other hand, is an epic movie centered around a Red Army soldier over the course of one day. The main character, played by Mikhalkov himself, is at his family’s summer cottage when he learns that Soviet tanks are approaching. He thinks nothing of it. A friend from the party comes to visit, a snake in paradise, working for the secret police. I will not reveal the ending, but it’s a historically accurate portrayal of the terror within the state and the betrayal of friendship. Simply breathtaking.

Videos after the jump.

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