About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Counterfeiters

Seen Sunday March 2, 2008 @ the Reading/City Cinemas Angelika Film Center, Aud. #2, 200+ people, 4.5 Slithy Toads

This was a movie that hadn't been on my radar at all until I started to read the overall excellent reviews in the NYC papers when it opened a couple of weeks ago, and then totally got on my radar after winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It's worthy. In Austrian with sub-titles, the film is about a group of Nazi prisoners with special skills who are assigned the task of first counterfeiting the British pound and subsequently the US dollar during the closing year of World War II in order to help the faltering German war effort. We've all seen Holocaust movies before, ranging from the sublimely good (Schindler's List, which this is similar to in some ways) to the entirely superfluous (The Pianist). This one has a fresh story to tell, and it does it very very well. Should the counterfeiters help the Nazis to help themselves? Should they hinder the Nazi efforts? I'd never want to confront questions like these for myself in circumstances like this, and the movie's willingness to deal with these moral ambiguities was to me its biggest selling point. The characters don't always do the easiest thing, or the same thing, or the most heartwarming thing, or the most heartbreaking thing. They make real choices in their individual circumstances, the kinds of choices that you can spend a lot of time talking about. It doesn't pack the emotional wallop that Schindler's List did, but it's willingness to tug at the gray matter instead of the heartstrings gives it a different kind of power.

No comments: