Errol Morris’ “Standard Operating Procedure” examines the Abu Ghraib scandal via the now-iconic photographs that kicked it off, pairing actual images and video of the abuse with interviews with the soldiers and reenacted scenes. It is, as you can see from the trailer here, also a strikingly stylish doc, a fact that troubled critics at Berlin, where “S.O.P.” had it’s premiere. Stephanie Zacharek at Salon wrote:
A soldier describes appearing on the scene as one of the Abu Ghraib prisoners is dying. The soldier says a drop of blood fell on his uniform and I’ll be damned if Morris doesn’t show us a beautifully lit, semitranslucent droplet of blood, magnified a bajillion times, falling in slo-mo on a crosshatching of uniform cloth. (When you’re Errol Morris, this is what you keep a great cinematographer in this case, Robert Richardson around for.) What on earth is that heavily art-directed droplet (and the movie includes plenty of other similar visual touches) doing in a documentary about such a horrific crime against humanity?
The film opens April 25th.
There’s a trailer here for “Train” the film, which features Thora Birch and company as college athletes being stalked and violently killed on a train to Odessa, looks a lot like “Hostel 3: Eurail Pass,” but was actually first conceived as a remake of ’80s Jamie Lee Curtis slasher “Terror Train.” No release date yet.
And, for anyone who shares my love of foreign language blockbusters never aimed at American consumption, there’s a trailer here for the upcoming “Aleksandr.” It’s in Russian without subtitles, but you can still enjoy the lush and pricey-looking epic visuals. The film is, best I can tell, another one based on the life of 13th century Russian military hero Alexander Nevsky, whose exploits were the basis of Sergei M. Eisenstein and Dmitri Vasilyev’s 1938 film scored by Prokofiev.
[Photo: “Standard Operating Procedure,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2008]