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BY Steven D. Greydanus
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) - PICK
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) - PICK
March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) - PICK
New this week on DVD, one of the most important
films of the year — and one of the hardest to watch: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2
Days is too disturbing to give it a blanket recommendation, but its frank,
uncompromising depiction of the collateral damage of an illegal abortion is
worth noting, even if the film isn’t for everyone.
writer-director Cristian Mungiu’s film is set in 1987, in the last years of
Romania’s Ceauescu regime, and focuses on two college students trying to obtain
a back-alley abortion.
film bypasses abortion-related talking points by beginning on the crucial day,
with the decision already made, and displaces the conflict to surrounding
circumstances — namely, the monstrosity of the abortionist.
the end is a moment of truth in which a problem to be gotten rid of is given a
face, and the human dimension of the proceedings is squarely confronted. At
that point, it is felt to be no longer possible to treat the fetus as a piece
of tissue, to be disposed of like so much waste. Or is it? Isn’t that what
would have happened with a legal abortion?
new on DVD this week is Hollywood’s latest nostalgic 1980s neo-sequel, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with aging Harrison Ford back wearing the iconic
fedora. As with similar recent sequels, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull feels more like an homage than a credible
continuation the franchise, and Kingdom of
the Crystal Skull frankly
benefits from the diminished expectations. Set in the Eisenhower era, the film
pits Indy against Russians, instead of Nazis, and offers spaceships in lieu of holy
vessels. But ancient temples and deathtraps, vehicular fight scenes, lost
cities, creepy-crawly vermin and literal cliffhanging remain very much the
order of the day.
new release, perennial Christmas
classic March of the Wooden Soldiers mixes Laurel and Hardy slapstick with a rare
storybook feel that few movies manage, unevenly but generally successfully
capturing the magic of childhood wonder and terror in a way that at its best
recalls The Wizard of Oz. The songs can get tiresome, but Silas Barnaby
achieves genuinely iconic villain status, and the bogeymen and bogeyland are
the stuff of the very best nightmares.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days: Extensive and explicit depiction of the procuring
of an illegal abortion, nudity; a lingering shot of a post-abortion fetus; some
obscene and profane language. Extreme discretion advised. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the
Crystal Skull: Much stylized
action violence, mayhem, and menace; a few gruesome images; minor profanity;
references to out-of-wedlock parentage; vaguely New Age trappings. March of the Wooden Soldiers: Menacing images that could be too frightening for