Red Army

Documentary director Gabe Polsky, one of the producers of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, conceptualized Red Army, it would seem, as a sly deconstruction of the Cold War politics between the United States and the former U.S.S.R. from the perspective of Russian hockey players. The film sets up the Communist propaganda machine for toppling by showing how the system gave birth to a generation of top-flight athletes schooled within a militarized environment that exploited these individuals far more than a more capitalist/democratic approach ever would. Yet it is difficult to ignore the reality that such rigidity and restriction also created a breed of players who would revolutionize the sport by injecting the game with a beauty and highly precise communal spirit as well as an allegiance to the old ways that cannot be considered categorically (and/or absolutely) wrong. The Cold War is over, but there are still lessons, vital ones in fact, that could impact the current landscape and the future. (Opens Friday at Esquire Theatre) (PG) Grade: B+

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