21 September 2008

Tattoos of Ships, Tattoos of Tears

Alexandra [Aleksandra] – dir. Alexandr Sokurov – 2007 – Russia/France

Maybe I’ve watched too many films, but I often can get a whiff of what a director’s steppin’ in early into a film, which is why when a director deviates from these expectations, I overexcite myself. Unfortunately, Alexandra is rather easy to decipher. Throughout the film, I kept thinking, “this film would probably make a good music video for CocoRosie’s ‘Beautiful Boyz.’” Yeah, Alexandra has a paint-drying pace and most of its color is washed away, but there are some illuminating sequences, particularly when Sokurov cuts from grouchy Alexandra’s (Galina Vishnevskaya) wandering around the military base to the faces of the young Russian soldiers. When Alexandra sticks to being an enigmatic portrayal of war pawns, it’s a whole lot more fascinating than Alexandra’s pleases for her grandson to find a wife and leave the army. To many, Alexandra was all about its star, opera singer Vishnevskaya, but for me, her presence did little other than irritate, which maybe was the point. Maybe.

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