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      Poor Liza
    When you wish upon a czar

    In "Poor Liza," the Russian director of "Liquid Sky" films a straightforward story from the old country — with absolutely no brain-sucking, heroin-craving space aliens.


    Nothing could be further from "Liquid Sky" — the weird 1982 film about heroin-loving aliens who land in New York to suck the brains of human lovers at the height of passion — than a quaint 200-year-old Russian folk tale, but that's what filmmaker Slava Tsukerman has made as the follow-up to her cult classic after 17 years.

    Directed by: Slava Tsukerman.
    Cast: Ben Gazzara, Lee Grant, Barbora Bobulova and Gabriel Olds.
    Liza (Barbora Bobulova) is a good-willed and beautiful peasant girl who dutifully cares for her frail mother while handling chores in their simple farming community. One day she catches the attention of a dashing nobleman named Erast (Gabriel Olds), who is smitten instantly and begins paying Liza secret love visits every night. The pair keep their affection pure and chaste, and yet, can any good come of this star-crossed romance between the slumming lord and the farmer's daughter? Perhaps not, as dourly clucking narrator Ben Gazzara repeatedly busts into the story to remind us.

    Fans of "Liquid Sky" will not get what they expect if they come looking for an avant-garde mind-bender, but they may recognize aspects of the earlier movie's style. People and places sometimes shimmer with a neon glow, clouds swirl unnaturally in the sky, and characters occasionally blast in as if riding a lightning bolt. But at heart, "Poor Liza" is a modest morality tale with some charm and a typically Russian sense of doom. Poor, poor Liza.

    OCTOBER 1, 1999

    Reader comments on Poor Liza:

  • Liza (1st girlfriend)   from Mr. Klein, Jul 14, 2001

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