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Fatwah / November 3, 2008

Valkyrie (12/26)
Tom Cruise plays a WWII German officer based on the historical figure named Something Von Something who plotted to assassinate Hitler. Cruise wears an eye-patch and jodpurs and looks like such a complete ass I’m not sure they’ll ever have the nerve to release this thing. They keep threatening to, then pushing the date back. No wonder the Germans wanted Cruise out. It wasn’t the Scientology issue at all, I’ll bet, it was just the sight of him in that uniform. Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least there was a cool uniform to go with it, and Cruise even manages to make that look ridiculous.

Revolutionary Road (12/26)
This is one of those movies any sane person would run a mile in tight shoes to avoid, which means it’ll get Oscar nominations. Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio reunite after their nauseating triumph in Titanic for this feel-bad drama about a couple of idealistic kids who get married in the ‘50s thinking they’ll have some great adventurous bohemian life and then they, uh, don’t. They have kids instead, and a house in the affluent suburbs, and lots to drink. The preview alone spends about four hours charting their disastrous relationship, so imagine how long the movie will be. Four and a half hours, at least. It’s from Sam Mendes, the director who gave us the portraits of suffocating marriages in American Beauty, which makes you wonder how Mendes’ marriage to Kate Winslet is going.

Defiance (12/31)
Three hot Jewish brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Shreiber, Jamie Bell) set up a community hideout in to the woods and prepare to make a stand against the Nazis. Ed Zwick directs this the way he seems to direct everything, ponderously, with lots of funereal, desaturated color and big bug-eyed stares between actors to convey how serious the situation is. Very solemn and high-minded, no doubt, but the point is there must be three hot Jewish women there among the group, and it’s only a matter of time, out in the woods and all, before they get down to it. Probably a long wait, though.

And that brings us to the New Year. Here’s to better luck in 2009, both cinematically and presidentially.

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