The Aero was totally packed for Saturday night’s (2.22) screening of Elem Kimov‘s Come and See. A strange, surreal, odd-behavior film during the first half, and a devastating antiwar horror film during the last 50 to 60 minutes. Brutal, savage, compassionate art — a landmark effort.

Commendable 4K restoration, 1.37:1, excellent sound — couldn’t have looked better.

L.A. Times critic Justin Chang was there; ditto Peter Rainer and Paul Merryman, producer of Rod Lurie‘s The Outpost, which will soon debut at South by Southwest. I discussed it earlier today with Lurie briefly. I also kicked it around with my son Dylan, who’s watched it two or three times.

Lurie: “The last time I met Roger Ebert he asked me to recommend a film that I’d assumed he’d never seen. I gave him Come and See. A few weeks later he wrote about it in his Great Films series. That ending shot of the lead protagonist, Florya (Aleksei Kravchenko), shooting the framed Hitler photo is what I think inspired that shot of the killing of Hitler in Inglourious Basterds.”

Lurie believes that Come and See “is maybe the best war film I’ve ever seen, certainly once the invasion of Belarus begins.”

Born in October of ’69 and somewhere around nine or ten years old (older?) during filming, Kravchenko is now 50. I’m not exactly certain when principal photography started and ended, but I think it began sometime in ’77.