The prescreening joke about "Eternity and a Day" was whether this is the film's title or its running time. The joke has resonance for moviegoers who know Theo Angelopoulos's fondness for extremely long takes and leisurely, meditative storytelling; as it happens, the Greek filmmaker's new drama is more stately and static than its material requires, but its extraordinary degree of pictorial appeal offers partial compensation. Bruno Ganz plays an ill and aging poet who spends a difficult day remembering his dead wife, befriending a little Albanian boy who wants to stay in Greece as an illegal immigrant, and ruminating on literary matters including the challenge of expressing oneself in a country (or an existence) where one chronically feels like a stranger in a strange land. The movie is less imposing than "Ulysses' Gaze," which earned a second-rank Cannes prize (prompting a grumpy acceptance speech from the auteur) three years ago, and I found it less entrancing than such recent Angelopoulos works as "Landscape in the Mist" and "The Suspended Step of the Stork." Still, it has a great deal of somber beauty to recommend it.
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