Alarming News

November 29, 2007

Perhaps this belongs on the poker blog

A new magazine called “Russia!” (hat-tip to “J”) rates the best and worst Russian accents in Hollywood. They write: “Unlike the Muslim, Jewish and other communities, the Russians have been historically docile about being portrayed as drunk, murderous plotters. But that’s not the offensive part. The offensive part is being portrayed as a drunk, murderous plotter with a Czech name and a Transylvanian accent.”

Viggo Mortenson won for best accent in Eastern Promises (the movie was so-so but he really did a phenomenal job, particularly with the Russian dialect): “This year, we’re proud to acknowledge Mr. Mortensen, whose star turn in Eastern Promises is amazingly sensitive, multifaceted, and above all authentic. His character even speaks a specific old-school thief slang, and switches to Ukrainian when comforting a Ukrainian woman.”

John Malkovich has the second worst accent (Nicole Kidman “wins” the worst for some movie I never saw) for his terrible accent in “Rounders”:

Teddy KGB, a tracksuited card shark tormenting Matt Damon (playing his trademark male ingenue with one extra-special talent) in this underground-poker potboiler, is a patently ridiculous concoction. First of all, there’s the matter of that painful handle. “Teddy” – what’s his real name, Fedya? And what kind of Russian gangster would be called “KGB” by his peers? Not buyin’ it. Still, when Malkovich opens his mouth, his usual louche villainy works so well with his Russian accent that you believe in this preposterous character immediately, as if he was your own evil uncle. The magic ebbs somewhat when Malkovich says a couple of words in actual Russian – his pronunciation, surprisingly, falters.

On a sidenote: I want the Russophobe mug.

Posted by Karol at 06:45 PM |
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I think Hollywood actors and writers use Boris and Natasha as their role models when portraying Russians.

Posted by: Jake at November 29, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Did you ever see “Enemies at the Gate” (at least that’s what I think it was called)? It stars Jude Law as a Soviet sniper in the battle of Stalingrad. Anyway, in that movie, the Russians spoke with British accents and the Germans spoke with American accents. That’s gotta be good for something, no?

Posted by: Marco at November 29, 2007 at 9:30 pm

Rounders is one of my all-time favorite movies! Especially every scene when Ed Norton gets beat up.
And since I can’t tell real Russian from Walter Koenig, I didn’t notice any accent problems :)

Posted by: Eric at November 30, 2007 at 2:30 am

Drunken criminals with bad accents. Thats how all Scots have been protrayed in films and TV for years. And for really bad accents you only have to look at Mel Gibbson’s William Wallace, Scotty in Star Trek and Grounds Keeper Willie.Even Scottish made TV can’t get it right. Every Higlander speaks with a Glaswegian accent. Although it would be more accurate to have people living in the Higlands talking in accent of London stock brokers.

Posted by: Graeme at November 30, 2007 at 3:08 am

I particularly liked their comparing Alexis Chesnakov playing a Red Army liaison to David Hyde Pierce playing Shaft.
It all reminds me of how horrible even Indian-Americans’ fake-Indian accents are in movies. Probably because the direction they’re getting is “What is that?! That doesn’t sound anything like Apu!”

Posted by: Nikhil at November 30, 2007 at 11:29 am

“Celebrating the birthday of Ivan the Terrible.”
See, how terrible can the guy be? :)
Anyway, in that movie, the Russians spoke with British accents and the Germans spoke with American accents.
Enemy at the Gates was a bit ridiculous on that score. Nevertheless, it kicked ass! One of my favorite (recent) dramas about WWII.

Posted by: Gerard at November 30, 2007 at 11:41 am

The Star is a very good WW2 film with very convincing Russian accents. Its in Russian

Posted by: Graeme at November 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

John Malkovich also did a bad accent playing Lenny, in 1992’s “Of Mice and Men.”
You’re probably asking yourself why Lenny even had an accent.
And by the way, how come Gregory Peck didn’t really even attempt much of an accent in “To Kill A Mockingbird” ?

Posted by: BadBoyInASuit at November 30, 2007 at 1:02 pm

btw rounders is the best poker movie ever and it’s not even close!!!

Posted by: Steve at March 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm
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