Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Demise of the Valkyries

Valkyrie. D: Brian Singer. Tom Cruise, the typical host of British actors playing German officers. Tom Cruise as the flower of German aristocracy? Eddie Izzard as a jittery plotter? No one can deny that it's a curiosity. 

In 1944, a group of disaffected German officers attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler (portrayed here as cranky middle-aged duffer badly in need of a nap). They failed, due to a combination of poor planning and execution, bad luck, and loss of nerve. Valkyrie follows the unraveling of the plot in a perfunctory manner devoid of suspense, raising the question of why bother? Tom Wilkinson, who wears a weirdly askew toupee throughout, looks embarrassed to be a part of the whole endeavor (the movie, not the plot); an unrecognizable Bill Nighy must have been glad to be unrecognizable. Luckily for Kenneth Branagh, the High Command whisks him off to the Russian front shortly after the film begins. But Terence Stamp is the luckiest of all: He gets to shoot himself.

There is a story here. The plotters comprised the remnants of the German aristocracy, a dying breed whose doom was foretold by the French Revolution and sealed by World War II. For the most part, their actions -- whether motivated by a sense of honor, patriotism, or self-interest --were the death throes of a band of ultraconservatives hoping to restore their idea of a glorious era, a time that had passed no matter what the outcome of the war. The movie could have explored this dynamic, but didn't. But then, what do you expect out of a mainstream Hollywood movie, the most imaginative idea of which is to cast British actors as German officers? Why can't I ever come up with great ideas like that?...

From 1939 to 1986, exactly three men played left field for the Boston Red Sox. Monday, a deserving Jim Rice joined Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski in the baseball Hall of Fame. Here, Captain Carl recalls turning over left field duties to Rice...

Citizen K. is guest blogger today at Time Goes By...

I would go ballistic if I found out that there was even the possibility that my kids would be taught about Creationism or Intelligent Design in a science class, especially in the guise of promoting critical thinking. I realize that I'm preaching to the choir here, but for the record, these Trojan horse quackeries have no -- as in zero, zip, zed, zilch, nada -- scientific validity whatsoever...

A group of travel writers learn about the ways Mardi Gras is celebrated outside of New Orleans: "'They were amazed,' said St. Landry Tourism Director Celeste Gomez. 'They knew about New Orleans' krewes but had never heard about this. They couldn't get over the depth of our traditions...'"

Don't miss the recipe for pinto beans and potatoes on Robert Frost's Banjo...

Coach Mora holds his first press conference...

See the St. Louis Cathedral by twilight here...


Red Apple Elegy critiques a suburban parking lot design here: "Lesson #1 - Try to make the walkers as comfortable as the drivers."

5 comments:

Ima Wizer said...

I LOVE Eddy Izzard! But, in drag.......can't imagine him in this role.

Renegade Eye said...

I was distracted by the accents in Valkyrie.

I like your comment about the lack of suspense. Like Titanic we know the ending beforehand. We didn't know how close the project was to winning.

Tom Cruise was miscast in my opinion. I don't hate his performances like many, but wow was he in over his head.

See Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road & The Reader. Gran Torino is a good time.

K. said...

Ima: I didn't even recognize Eddie Izzard in a Wehrmact uniform!

Ren: Those are all on our list. (OK, The Wrestler is on my list, but hasn't made it to T.'s.) People out here are raving about Slumdog.

John Hayes said...

Your review of "Valkyrie" doesn't make me rue the fact the nearest cinema is a 120 mile round trip....

Jim Rice-- absolutely belongs in the hall of fame. He played in a different era, & was as feared a hitter during that more pitching-friendly time than any of today's renowned sluggers. His decline was precipitous, tho-- when he lost his skills, he lost them quickly, & that may have hurt him in terms of a legacy.

& thanks for your kind boost of the recipe post-- always appreciated.

K. said...

Back in the early 80's, I saw Rice hit a double off the Green Monster in Fenway Park deep in the left-center alley. I swear that it took all of two seconds to get from his bat to the wall. I've seeb Manny Ramirez and Mark McGwire hit some real bombs, and I once saw Sammy Sosa pound one that measured out to 464 feet, but none of those hone run shots made an impression on me like Rice's double. I don't care what the statmeisters say about his OBP; for 10 years, the thought of Jim Rice made a lot of pitchers and managers reach for the Kaopectate. When a player's peers are uniformly say he belongs in the HOF, that's good enough for me.