BOOKS AND ARTS MARCH 15, 2008
Alexandra. In this Russian film an elderly woman visits her soldier-grandson in an army base (unnamed but surely Chechnya) and becomes heartsick with the very idea of war. The theme is hardly novel, but it is freshened by the performance of the former opera star Galina Vishnevskaya in the title role. (From the upcoming 4.9.08 issue.)
Heartbeat Detector. The Paris office of a German firm has a staff psychologist who discovers Nazi activities in the families of the company’s executives. The film wanders a bit, but its characterizations are perceptive, and the performance by Michael Lonsdale as the CEO is extraordinary. (3.26.08)
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. In Romania under the dictatorship, abortion was forbidden. This engrossing film depicts the struggle of a young woman to help a pregnant friend of hers to get one. Made with quiet intensity and affectingly acted. (1.30.08)
The Unforeseen. A documentary about a struggle that began in the 1970s between an Austin, Texas, real estate developer and some people of the city--in the residents’ effort to protect some natural beauty. Robert Redford, co-producer, is interviewed. Laura Dunn’s directing implicitly underscores the idea of beauty. (From the upcoming 4/9/08 issue.)
Stanley Kauffmann is The New Republic's film critic.
By Stanley Kauffmann