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Nazi

Denial (2016)

denialDIRECTOR: Mick Jackson

CAST: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott

REVIEW:

Denial is a courtroom drama that relies less on ostentatious Oscar clip wannabe closing speeches and theatrics than meticulous cross-examination, and a true story that doesn’t embellish the material to up the ante.  The result is a stately, dignified film that will bore those without an interest in the subject matter but plenty of appeal for fans of courtroom dramas or for those with an interest in the true story. Continue reading

Anthropoid (2016)

anthroDIRECTOR: Sean Ellis

CAST: Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan, Charlotte Le Bon, Toby Jones

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL “SPOILERS”

Anthropoid is a spare, gritty historical thriller chronicling in unvarnished fashion the true story of the operation (code-named “Anthropoid”) to assassinate high-ranking Nazi Reinhard Heydrich.  To that end, it’s not necessarily the definitive film adaptation of the event (1975’s Operation Daybreak provides a more comprehensive overview), but it’s a tense and unromanticized docudrama illuminating one of the less famous stories from WWII.   Continue reading

Woman In Gold (2015)

DIRECTOR: Simon Curtis

CAST: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Tatiana Maslany, Katie Holmes, Max Irons

REVIEW:

Hollywood likes stories about lawyers crusading for a righteous cause.  On the surface, Woman In Gold is another generic entry, but its sometimes powerful true story, a split narrative chronicling two time periods, an unsurprisingly strong performance from Helen Mirren and, perhaps somewhat more surprisingly, capable support by Ryan Reynolds helps lend it more weight and impact than just a courtroom drama. Continue reading

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

DIRECTOR: Joe Johnston

CAST:

Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, Sebastian Stan

REVIEW:

Captain America is an adequate, serviceable comic book superhero origin movie that doesn’t merit any scorn but also doesn’t generate overwhelming enthusiasm.  Continue reading

Valkyrie (2008)

valkyrie-cast-cruiseDIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

CAST:

Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Kevin McNally, David Schofield, Eddie Izzard, Jamie Parker, Thomas Kretschmann, Christian Berkel, Tom Hollander, David Bamber

REVIEW:

During his twelve-year reign, Adolf Hitler survived over forty known assassination attempts, at least fifteen of which were made by Germans. But the most hated man of the 20th century was also one of the most extraordinarily lucky. Something always managed to go wrong; Hitler would cut speeches or conferences short, avoiding timed bomb blasts, the explosives themselves would fail to detonate, and the forces arrayed against him often proved to be unfortunately uncoordinated and indecisive. The final, most famous, and most nearly successful attempt on Hitler’s life came on July 20, 1944, orchestrated by a group of rebel German military officers and politicians spearheaded by decorated injured war hero Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg. Continue reading

The Good German (2006)

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh

CAST:

George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, Jack Thompson,Ravil Isyanov, Tony Curran, Christian Oliver, Leland Orser

REVIEW:

The Good German is director Steven Soderbergh’s (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) adaptation of Joseph Kanon’s 2001 novel, but Soderbergh chose not to simply do a straightforward filming of Kanon’s book, but used it as his chance to attempt a film experiment of his own- making the movie, set in 1945, as if it had actually been made in the 1940s. Continue reading

Der Untergang/The Downfall (2004)

Downfall_lDIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel

CAST:

Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Juliane Köhler, Ulrich Matthes, Thomas Kretschmann, Christian Berkel, Matthias Habich, Heino Ferch, Michael Mendl, André Hennicke, Ulrich Noethen, Doneven Gunia, Thomas Thieme

REVIEW:

The third major film depiction of the last days of Adolf Hitler (following 1973’s Hitler: The Last Ten Days, starring Alec Guinness, and 1981’s The Bunker, starring Anthony Hopkins) but the first internationally-released German production to feature Hitler as a main character, Downfall is director Oliver Hirschbiegel and screenwriter Bernd Eichinger’s frank confrontation of a man and legacy that has stigmatized and haunted Germany for sixty years.   Continue reading

Conspiracy (2001)

DIRECTOR: Frank Pierson

CAST: Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth, Ian McNeice, Kevin McNally, David Threlfall, Ewan Stewart, Brian Pettifer, Nicholas Woodeson, Jonathan Coy, Brendan Coyle, Ben Daniels, Barnaby Kay, Owen Teale, Peter Sullivan

REVIEW:

This Made-For-TV HBO original movie, based on the sole surviving copy of the transcript of the infamous Wannsee Conference, will likely be found “boring” by those without an interest in the historical subject matter—after all, at least on the surface, it consists of nothing but fifteen men sitting around a table talking—but for those with an interest, Conspiracy is a disturbing docudrama that embodies the phrase “the banality of evil”. Continue reading

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

DIRECTOR: Jean-Jacques Annaud

CAST:

Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, Ron Perlman, Eva Mattes, Gabriel Thomson, Matthias Habich

REVIEW:

The Russian front in WWII hasn’t gotten much attention in a big-budget war film, so French director Jean-Jacques Annaud deserves some credit for giving us a rarely-shown viewpoint. However, the result is a mixed bag. Continue reading

Apt Pupil (1998)

apt pupilDIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

CAST: Brad Renfro, Ian McKellen, Bruce Davison, David Schwimmer, Joshua Jackson, Ann Dowd, Elias Koteas, Michael Byrne, Joe Morton, Jan Triska

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL “SPOILERS”

Apt Pupil is a morbidly engrossing psychological thriller crafted with enough professionalism and ability to sometimes persuade us to overlook its questionable taste, even if the bad aftertaste lingers.  An adaptation of a novella by Stephen King (a previous attempt at filming it was mounted in 1988, starring Ricky Schroder, but fell through), it uses that ever-convenient go-to-guy of villains—Nazis—as a launching pad for a psychological character study.  Those seeking a conventional “thriller” might be disappointed.  Apt Pupil is disturbing, sometimes chilling, but the horror is not of the “boo!” variety.  Apt Pupil is a slow-burn foray into the heart of darkness that resides within two seemingly very different men, and how they feed each other’s worst impulses. Continue reading

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