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Almost Holy 

Wednesday, May 25 2016
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One of the three movies released this week that primarily take place in that most troubled Year of Our Lord 2013, Steve Hoover's documentary Almost Holy is a chilling look at just how not-good things got (and remained) in Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed. In the early 2000s, the tough-as-nails Ukrainian minister Gennadiy Mokhnenko — nicknamed "Crocodile" due to his name recalling a popular Russian children's character — established a rehabilitation center for his country's scores of drug-addicted children, which also functioned as an escape from their abusive homes. It's a necessity in a nation in which ambulances were little more than delivery trucks, and pharmacies sold drugs directly to kids, and it all descended further into hell when the unpleasantness with Vladimir Putin began in 2013. Footage from the 1969 stop-motion animated film Gena the Crocodile are interspersed throughout, commenting on Gennadiy's efforts, and it's what you'd expect a Brezhnev-era Russian kids' movie to look like. Almost Holy doesn't shy away from the human darkness Gennadiy witnesses, and some of the footage of drug-damaged children is truly disturbing. In addition to constantly working out, a recurring image is of Gennadiy washing his face, as though just a little of Great Neptune's Ocean might help to wash away the horror he's seen. Sadly, there's no indication that it worked.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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