Russian film is not known for its snappy dialogue and witty banter. It seems to be more about the visual aspects of storytelling. Though I'm more likely to recall dialogue than specific images from a movie, there are a few films that have really stuck with me visually. One of those is Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark, which is a single, 90-minute continuous shot that is less about plot than it is about cinematography and choreography. I admit that I struggled to follow what passes for an elaborate metaphor set in the Winter Palace of St. Petersburg. But I still register shots of gilded hallways, elaborate ballroom scenes and green courtyards long after it's reasonable for my brain to hold onto such information. Now Sokurov brings his powerful style to Aleksandra, another visual rumination that focuses on a woman who visits her grandson inside a Russian military outpost near Chechnya. The featured film at the Magnolia at the Modern screening Friday through Sunday spends a great deal of time examining the human face and barren landscapes as it makes us ponder who our enemies are, and what it is that we fight for. Though I haven't yet seen it, reviews point to several scenes that will take up residence in your headspace long after you've returned from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Visit themodern.org/magnolia for information on tickets and specific showtimes.
Sept. 12-14, 2008