July 7th, 2008

HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS (1973) **

If you ever wanted to see Obi-Wan Kenobi play the most hated bastard in the history of mankind, then you should check this flick out. 

 

We start out on Hitler’s birthday where he is lavished with gifts in his bunker while Germany is perpetually bombed.  As the Allies close in, Hitler slowly starts growing increasingly crazy and starts lashing out at his ass-kissing subordinates.  Finally as the end draws near, Hitler marries his longtime sweetheart Eva Braun and commits suicide to avoid being captured.    

 

Alec Guinness’s performance is OK I guess, but I never completely believed him as Hitler.  While he channels Hitler adequately enough when he wigs out on his chiefs of staff (he captures Adolf’s fist-pumping histrionics nicely), whenever he’s just hanging around the bunker he just kinda looks like Obi-Wan with a funny moustache and a Swastika on his arm.  It also doesn’t help when most of the movie’s running time is taken up by Hitler looking over a map of Germany and barking out orders. 

 

The biggest problem with the movie is that we never really learn too much about Hitler the man, except for the fact that he doesn’t like smokers.  Since the script is thinner than Der Fuhrer’s moustache, it never fully makes him into a three dimensional character.  We also get lots of actual newsreel footage interspersed with the narrative (real concentration camp footage is shown), but it doesn’t add much to the film.  There is one great memorable scene of gallows humor, but unfortunately you have to wait until the very last frame of the film to enjoy it.  If director Ennio de Concini had let some more of this macabre sensationalism permeate the rest of the film, it could’ve been a winner. 

 

The biggest kick for me though was seeing three actors mostly known for their work in James Bond movies turning up in small roles.  Adolfo (Thunderball) Celi, Gabriele (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) Ferzetti, and Julian (For Your Eyes Only) Glover all co-star, playing sniveling members of the Third Reich.  (Incidentally, Sean Connery’s wife Diane Cliento, also pops up.)

 

Guinness isn’t really given a whole lot of scenery to chew on but when he does, he usually gets to say funny shit like, “I don’t want what happened to Christ to happen to me!”

 

Hitler:  The Last Ten Days is out now on DVD for the first time from the good folks at Legend Films.  For more information on this and future releases from Legend, check out their website at www.legendfilms.net today. 

STRANGERS WITH CANDY (2006) ** ½

 

I never got into the cult Comedy Central TV show this barely released comedy is based off of, but this flick has a couple of genuine laughs and is a sporadically amusing way to kill 85 minutes. 

 

Amy Sedaris stars as Jerri, a forty-something ex-prostitute/ex-junkie who gets out of prison only to find out that her father (Dan Hedaya) is in a coma.  Her family doctor (Ian Holm) recommends for her to reconnect with her childhood in order to awaken her father from his slumber, so Jerri goes back to high school where she tries to fit in with her peers and hopefully win the school science fair.

 

The paper thin plot is just an excuse for Sedaris to act like a slutty tard without a helmet.  Her shenanigans are intermittently funny, but most of the laughs come from Stephen Colbert (who also co-wrote the screenplay) as the closeted science teacher.  It’s also pretty great seeing a big name supporting cast (including Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker) turning up in extended cameos. 

 

Comedies like this one are an acquired taste.  I usually give comedies a star rating based off of how much I laughed.  In that respect, Strangers with Candy’s ** ½ rating is justified.  I mean I laughed enough to keep myself amused but honestly, as I sit here to write this review I can’t remember what gags really made me laugh. 

 

I’m sure fans of the show will probably eat this up.  For the uninitiated, it’s worth at least a rental. 

 

David Letterman of all people, executive produced.