Friday, August 22, 2008

DVD Roundup

Given the current climate of films at our local cineplex, I've been checking out a few more DVDs. And luckily, I really haven't been disappointed at all. Two very, very different, but equally enjoyable movies have arrived in the mail recent. The first is The Counterfeiters (Die Falscher) which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for 2007. The tagline for the movie on IMDb is, "It takes a clever man to make money, it takes a genius to stay alive", but that barely describes the depths of this movie. Salomen "Sally" Sorowitsch is imprisoned by the SS prior to WWII for counterfeiting IDs, passports, and even the American dollar. He works in the prison camps for a while, and then is sent to a concentration camp once the Holocaust is underway. However, the officer of the SS (now a leader in the concentration camp schemes) searches for him (it's always amazed me the records the Nazis kept of their horror) and brings him to join Project Bernhard. It's in the middle of a concentration camp, but the inmates have soft beds, showers, lots of food, and even a ping-pong table for weekends. In return, they have to counterfeit the British pound and eventually the American dollar. In the largest counterfeiting scheme in history, the Nazis intend to fuel the war effort by flooding the currency market with perfectly forged currency. As our hero Sally was the best there is, he's brought in to be sure perfection is achieved. He's a bit of a smarmy, little, soft-spoken weaselly guy that only looks to survive. He does everything he's told. However, the other key player in Project Bernhard is Burger, an expert in the technology needed to make the dollar, but who refuses to collaborate with the Nazis. Imprisoned for printing anti-Nazi propaganda, Burger continues to sabotage the efforts to produce the dollar. He constantly makes the argument that it's better to die than to help them, while Sally represents the surviving at any cost argument. The acting throughout is superb, with every character winning your affection and dislike repeatedly. This is a terrific movie that focuses on a single element of the Holocaust and the different methods, arguments, and morals that go into fighting for what is right. I loved the whole film. 5 of 5 stars/lambs.

The other movie I saw on DVD, coincidentally, takes place just prior to WWII also, though in London. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a movie made from a book written by a woman ahead of her time. Frances McDormand plays Miss Pettigrew, a destitute former governess searching for work. She stumbles upon Delysia LaFosse (Amy Adams) in need of a social secretary, and manages to work her magic to get Delysia the lead in a new play. She moves among the elite of London society for the day, attending a lingerie show and a party at the club where Delysia performs her final night. During this day, our straight-laced Miss Pettigrew meets the 3 men who claim to love Delysia - Phillip, the producer of the play, Nick, the owner of the club and her caretaker, and Michael, the penniless piano player who wants to take Delysia to New York to start fresh. The movie attempts to be a '40s style farce with mistaken identity, misunderstandings and love triumphant. It does a very good job of achieving them all. It's a cute romp about living in a man's world and still trying to find love and be yourself. Very cute 4 of 5 stars.

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