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Sunday, June 11, 2017

ALLIED (2016)

With the exception of FLIGHT/’12 (ducked here), Robert Zemeckis has sojourned for nearly two decades in cutting edge CGI TechnoLand & motion-capture performance. Results have been mixed. (As in some worked commercially/all creepy to sit thru.) It makes this try at traditional WWII romantic suspense seem less old-style thriller, more career intervention. Everything feels a little ‘off,’ right from the opening title that sees ‘ALLIED’ subliminally fade to ‘LIE.’ Glam spies Marion Cotillard & Brad Pitt meet for cocktails in Casablanca (‘of all the gin joints in all the towns . . . ‘*) playing faux married couple to run a dangerous Nazi takedown op. Real marriage follows back in London before Pitt gets confronted with the possibility that he’s just wed a German agent! Plots don’t come more old-fashioned than that. Yet with all the meticulous period detail and seamless CGI effects, plotting & attitude (cultural & military) fail to convince or add up. (Pitt’s accent is noted as too Québécois, but 21st century mores get a pass.) Credit for a great action set piece when Pitt sneaks in to occupied France and then has trouble getting out. (Staying out of the brig after this is another matter.) And look fast for some b&w wedding photos that show our handsome stars suddenly looking just right for their parts.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: *Speaking of Casablanca, or rather of CASABLANCA/’42, Steven Knight, whose tone-deaf script is the film’s biggest stumbling block really has no shame, tossing in a brave rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ before a roomful of German officers as a major plot point.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Bertrand Tavernier’s LAISSEZ-PASSER/ SAFE CONDUCT/’02, tells a twin tale of WWII espionage & resistance from within the film industry that’s both thrilling and true.

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