As a follow-up, here’s a short list of modern Russian movies that are ultimately watchable, even with subtitles, and offer a better understanding of social and cultural background, popular perceptions, biases, and views on some key historic events, and, more generally, a “shared cultural code” of some of the people you might meet when you visit the country.
Again, most of these should be readily available through the main streaming platforms – if not, there’s always sovietmoviesonline.com.
Brother (Брат), 1997 * - a must see for a first-approximation understanding of what the nineties meant for an average Russian, and what Saint Petersburg looked and felt like after the dissolution of USSR
The movie started off a landslide of noir “Russian gangster” movies, with the most notable ones listed below:
Brother 2 (Брат/2), 2000, a much more commercial sequel;
Bummer/Beemer (Бумер), 2002,
Blind Man’s Bluff (Жмурки)
Interesting to see the evolution from the “tragedy” and bona-fide romanticization of strong gangster characters (Beemer) to a farcical, parody take (Blind Man’s Bluff)
Also in this category:
The Rifleman of the Voroshilov Regiment (Ворошиловский стрелок), 1997, which pre-dates Brother but has some similar themes; Country of the Deaf (Страна глухих, 1998) - also nineties, included for the first screen appearance of Chulpan Khamatova and a beautiful soundtrack by Alexey Aigui; Nenaste (Ненастье), a 2018 mini-series rather accurately and carefully addressing the "vet brotherhood" phenomenon after Soviet war in Afghanistan and revisiting the 90s.
War in Chechnya:
Prisoner of the Mountains (Кавказский пленник, 1996), Checkpoint (Блокпост) 1999, War (Bойна, 2002)
Russian Doom And Gloom (easily the best-represented genre, usually very well done cinematographically, with the general idea that the society is irreparably bad, people are intrinsically evil, and there is no hope or future):
Leviathan (Левиафан, 2014)
(Also in this category Elena (Елена, 2011), A long and happy life (Долгая счастливая жизнь, 2013), The Fool(Дурак, 2014), Loveless (Нелюбовь, 2017).
Not so gloomy (things are bad, but there might – just might – be a glimpse of light in the end of the tunnel):
Mermaid (Русалка), 2007 *
12 (2007) *
Arrhythmia (Аритмия) 2017 *
Doctor Lisa (Доктор Лиза), 2020
Non-conformism and quest for liberty in a watchable lighthearted package:
Stilyagi, or "Hipsters" (Стиляги) 2008 * - about non-conformist youth of the late 50s, a musical
Summer (Лето), 2018 - about non-conformist youth of the 80s.
Edited to replace Youtube links to movie trailers with links to imdb descriptions and discussion boards, which are way more helpful