One Day You'll Understand

The monumentality of the Holocaust can understandably bring out the inner epic maker in a director -- look no further than Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List or Edward Zwick's recent Defiance. But an intimate drama that explores a sliver of the horrific experience can often resonate with additional force. The Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai's One Day You'll Understand -- an adaptation of Jerome Clement's novel -- is deliberately compressed in form and scope; as much a delicate drama of familial identity and subterfuge as it is an observation of wrenching historical fact. Jolted by the 1987 televised trial of the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, a middle-aged French bureaucrat forces himself and his reluctant mother to confront the personal mysteries of the war era: What exactly happened to his grandparents? How did his mother survive the Occupation? What is his actual religion? That Gitai reveals secrets slowly, allowing subtly observed, gradually unfolding family dynamics between siblings, children and parents, husbands and wives to chart the dramatic flow rather than over determined plot devices is to his immense credit. Flashbacks of Nazi brutality make emphatic points, but they act as a necessary counterpoint to the staid domesticity of contemporary French life. The quietly grainy interactions between family members imply the pain that the overt violence expresses. Hippolyte Girardot, as the questing son, and Dominique Blanc, as his wife, impress through the fine-tuned subtlety they bring to their roles, but it's the legendary Jeanne Moreau who centers the film. Calibrating her own restrained performance to the pitch of the ensemble, Moreau brings unstudied electricity to the screen. Like her director, she drives home consequential points through the crafty power of understatement.

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.