'The Last Station' Satisfies History Buffs

With all of its faults, The Last Station will satisfy even those only slightly familiar with the works of Leo Tolstoy and the time in which he lived.

The script, I believe, is an historical rendering of Tolstoy's last years. He was a presence in the era of the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II, and he became a symbol of freedom during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union when his house, a museum at the time, was captured and vandalized by the Nazi armies.

Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) was married to Countess Sofya Tolstoy (Helen Mirren), a much younger woman who suffered from his loss of sexual desire. Tolstoy became a cult figure as a pacifist and opponent of the church. To the consternation of Countess Sofya, the leading figure supporting that cult, Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), got Tolstoy to sign over to the cult the copyrights for his monumental books, including War and Peace, depriving the Countess of enormous riches from the sale of his books. Another character in the film is Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy), who became Tolstoy's secretary and a spy for Chertkov.

The first half of the movie is extremely slow, but the action escalates during the second half of the picture when, in an effort to create a new life for himself and escape the clutches of the Countess, Tolstoy leaves her. He becomes very ill while traveling on a train, and the Russian press gathers at a railroad station as he deteriorates.

There are moments in the world's history that entrance the public, and the public loves to see these moments depicted on the screen, e.g., the days of Rome, the Spanish Civil War, the troubles in Ireland, our own Civil War, the days of the Russian Czar, and the early days of the Soviet Union. This movie carefully depicts an era with great attention to detail and local color, and the performances of the actors are excellent. Those looking for another Dr. Zhivago spectacular will be disappointed. Those interested in Tolstoy's life, however, will be pleased. At 4:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon at the Angelika Film Center, the show was almost sold out.

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Ed Koch was mayor of NYC from 1978 to 1989. He's credited with restoring fiscal stability to the city and creating affordable housing. He's also a film buff. More

Mayor Koch saved New York City from bankruptcy and restored the pride of New Yorkers during his three terms as mayor from 1978-1989. He restored fiscal stability by placing the city on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget. He created a housing program that provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing and created New York City's first merit judicial selection system. Prior to being mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. He was drafted into the Army his last year of college and served with the 104th Infantry Division. He received two battle stars and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. He received his LL.B. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and hosts a call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR). Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television and is the author of ten autobiographical books.

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