Combustible Celluloid
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With: Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgard, Moritz Bleibtreu, Birgit Minichmayr, Oleg Tabakov, Ulrich Tukur, Hanns Zischler, August Zirner, Robin Renucci, R. Lee Ermey
Written by: Ronald Harwood, based on his play
Directed by: István Szabó
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 109
Date: 03/18/2013

Taking Sides (2003)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Question Barks

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When a producer wants to win an award they invariably trot out dull, reliable directors like Hungarian-born Istvan Szabo (Mephisto, Sunshine). Under his gaze, Taking Sides combines all the right elements -- a script by Oscar-winning The Pianist scribe Ronald Harwood, based on his play, classical music, and Nazis -- but still fails in the mix. Harvey Keitel stars as an American major stationed in Germany just after WWII and charged with routing out the remaining Nazis. His latest target is legendary conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler (Stellan Skarsgard). Taking Sides has a few good ideas, but Szabo covers them up in a blitz of soapbox scenery chewing. Moreover, Lajos Koltai conjures up many stunning wide shots of crumbling post-war Germany, but Szabo and editor Sylvie Landra clumsily chop into them like drunken party guests attacking the pate. The always-charismatic Moritz Bleibtreu also stars in a throwaway role as Keitel's idealistic assistant.

DVD Details: New Yorker's new DVD comes with a theatrical trailer and cast and crew interviews.

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