Germany, Werner Herzog
I missed this film when it passed through Chicago last fall (blink–it’s gone!), so when an advanced screener arrived at the office, I snapped it up. Tim Roth portrays Hanussen, a hypnotist/showman in Berlin of the early 1930’s who sees a lift in the box office when he hires Zishe, a Jewish strongman as part of the act. Set in Berlin in the early 1930’s, just prior to Hitler’s rise to power, the strongman serves as a catalyst for Nazi rhetoric and Jewish pride.
Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre: The Wrath of God–director Werner Herzog has committed some awesome images and stories to film, but this is not one of them. The script was terrible and the acting worse. Suffice it to say that i wasn’t one bit surprised to learn that Zishe was played by non-actor Jouko Ahola, a Finnish sports figure and winner of the strongest man in the world contest. Okay, so those boulders he was throwing around might not have been styrofoam; his acting had the warmth and resonance of a rock. Two hours of watching his flat delivery was painful. Next to him, Tim Roth’s mesmer steals every scene with scene-chewing aplomb. I’d say Herzog has found his next Klaus Kinski.
I could tell what the director was going for, but the film exuded so little passion and genuine emotion it failed to deliver. [zero out of 5]