Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., Feb. 17
So far, Michael Haneke has specialized in focusing his clinician’s eye on tests of morality that arise during life’s deeply unsettling transgressive moments. A film about losing one’s spouse to Alzheimer's seemed to be a logical progression. Selecting French acting legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva to star as the 80-something couple makes it all the more bittersweet; Haneke also bids adieu to what Francois Truffaut once called, "A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema." Don’t expect a sentimental send-off: when it comes to caring for Riva, the ferociously cognizant Trintignant does it his way, and that includes keeping his wife’s pride intact by prohibiting their daughter (Isabelle Huppert) from seeing mom in a state of decay. The castmembers aren’t the only ones to add color to the proceedings. Kudos to the director and cinematographer Darius Khondji for not adhering to form by casting sorrowful shades of gray as far as the eye can see. Haneke is as cold and unsympathetic as they get, a personality trait that in this case helps to make the subject matter go down easier. It’s a tough film, but sometimes one has to work a little for their art. Rise to the occasion. 2012.