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Excellent, historic thriller
"Valkyrie" takes on an important event in the history of Nazi Germany: the failed assassination attempt of German officers of the Wehrmacht against Hitler in 1944. Most Germans like myself are quite familiar with the story of the "Stauffenberg-Attentat" since it was not only the topic of many German docudramas (e.g. one made by well-known director Pabst in 1955) but is also widely discussed in history class in school.
I was pleasantly surprised about the "American" interpretation in Valkyrie and think that Singer and Cruise came up with an excellent film. Although the outcome is known and the movie develops rather slowly in the beginning, it manages to create a highly suspenseful and darkish-intense atmosphere that keeps you captivated until the end. Complains regarding the American/English accents and the German actors not speaking with German accents, or criticizing that Stauffenberg was "in reality" more charming and not as stiff as Cruise' interpretation, are niggling and banal at best. The movie does not focus on the private, psychological side of Stauffenberg but on his leading role in the assassination plot planned and executed amidst the "heart of darkness", which -we can be sure- was more than nerve-wracking and left certainly little space for charm and jokes. BTW: I was glad to see Nina von Stauffenberg portrayed as the knowing and smart wife that she actually was. The performance of all actors is superb, and Cruise certainly deserves special praise since his commitment to the role is tangible and remarkably intense.
Une vieille maîtresse (2007)
Boring - boring
We just came back from Paris and wanted to get an impression of Paris' society in the 18 hundreds when we decided to watch this movie. Actually, we were quite excited since we did not know the director nor any of her former movies. We waited for the story to unfold and draw us into the atmosphere - but the story, the actors, the script were so predictable and stilted. Even the 'erotic' scenes were anything but erotic. At some points the people in the movie theater started to laugh and we got terribly bored. I always saw the actors acting which destroys the whole magic of a movie. I don't think that this movie has anything to do with the great tradition of French movie making. Close shots, love for details, the good looks of the leading male actor, and beautiful costumes don't make a good movie.
Mad Men (2007)
When I saw one of the early episodes of Mad Men (rather by accident) I was completely blown away. The meticulously drafted script, the sensitive portrayal of the characters, which allows you to sense many layers of a personality, the make up, the fashion, the decor etc. everything was so carefully designed and crafted. Most interestingly was the perspective on the 1960 era: the different mind-set of the people, the values, the men-women-interaction. It makes you feel like a social anthropologist studying another culture, which it was to some extent. I got pulled into the maelstrom of "Mad Man" -so was my husband. Every episode was a pleasure to watch. Looking forward to the next season.