Alexandra. With surprising frankness, this Russian film explores the barbarities of war, especially in Chechnya (unnamed). The picture is much heightened by the performance of a former opera star as a grandmother who visits her soldier-grandson at his army base. (Reviewed 4/9/08)
Body of Work. A documentary about an American soldier drastically wounded in Iraq and his life thereafter. But, though compassion is inevitable, the film has more in mind: it ties the life of the soldier to the congressional action that empowered Bush to start he war, thus making it a bitter record of actions and consequences. (4/23/08)
Heartbreak Detector. This French film is mostly about Germans in Paris -- the grown sons of former Nazis who now run a large firm. A French psychologist on the firm’s staff is asked to investigate the German CEO and uncovers much, not cruel facts as much as cruel memories that have shaped character. (3/26/08)
My Brother Is an Only Child. Two brothers growing up in Italy in the 1960s differ strongly in politics, one neo-fascist, the other communist, and their struggles are heightened by their interest in the same girl. The screenplay wobbles a bit, but the performances and the directing fill the film with flavor. (4/23/08)
Stanley Kauffmann is The New Republic's film critic.
By Stanley Kauffmann