Downfall. Two-and-a-half-hour countdown to the end of the Third Reich. Bruno Ganz, digging into his meatiest role in years, looks and sounds fine as the Führer; and filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegel's strict adherence to documented history, and to the precise design and décor of the infamous bunker, give the film some educational value, although the drab-to-dismal cinematography equates to a professorial drone. Entertainment value, meantime, rises no higher than sadistic pleasure at seeing Hitler have a bad fifty-sixth birthday and bad rest of his life: "No one understands me...."
D.E.B.S. A low-tech, low-budget, low-profile Charlie's Angels, with an uncloseted lesbian agenda. The top student at an all-girl spy school is writing her thesis on the elusive criminal mastermind, Lucy Diamond, when she gets to meet her subject face to face: "You're so not what I expected." The feeling is reciprocated: "Being bad doesn't feel good anymore." Sara Foster kissing Jordana Brewster is not, however, Cameron Diaz kissing Demi Moore, and is not apt to turn any heads. Writer-director Angela Robinson, who has moved on to the forthcoming Disney automotive fantasy, Herbie: Fully Loaded, appeals not so much to your sense of humor as to your political sympathies. A shaky leg for a spy spoof to stand on.
* * *
I didn't do any better than Machuca at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, though Marcelo Piñeyro's Kamchatka was a work of comparable quality, a tactful treatment of the Argentinian stigma of los desaparecidos, a fleeting pastoral interlude of a family in hiding (the events filtered, like the gathering political storm in Machuca, through the eyes of a child), before the parent gets "disappeared" outside the framework of the story. No overt violence, but plenty of pain. How did you do?