With a release meant to coincide with Tommy Lee Jones’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in LINCOLN/’12, EMPEROR sunk without a trace when Christoph Waltz’ed off with the prize for DJANGO UNCHAINED.* Just as well since Jones turns in a deeply misconceived perf of General Douglas MacArthur as sly pussy cat, bargaining with what remains of Japan’s Imperial Army & Government over war crimes amid the ruins of a devastated 1945 Tokyo. At least its an entertaining turn, more than can be said for the film’s main focus, Matthew Fox’s Investigating General, the hand-picked factotum charged with parsing Emperor Hirohito’s culpability. It’s a rush job, only ten days, but that doesn’t stop Fox from giving equal time into finding out what happened to the little Japanese girl he left behind. Why he doesn’t just drive to her home, an idyllic spot he visited before the war, is left unexplained. Fox doesn’t help much, with his ‘go-to’ acting gesture of burying his face in his hands so we can’t read any expression, he might be one of those nameless actors they keep just out-of-focus in a History Channel documentary recreation segment. Just what megger Peter Webber seems to be aiming for.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Alan Arkin should have won for ARGO, but that’s Oscar® for you.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Douglas MacArthur hasn’t fared too well in pics. Gregory Peck’s bland MACARTHUR/’77 was a limp PATTON/’70 wannabe and Laurence Olivier in INCHON/’81 is a legendary fiasco. MacArthur came off much better in a brief silhouette appearance in John Ford’s magnificent, shamefully neglected, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE/’45.