Review Date: January 23, 2001
Director: E. Elias Merhige
Writer: Steven Katz
Producers: Nicolas Cage and Jeff Levine
John Malkovich as F.W. Murnau
Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck
Udo Kier as Albin Grau
Critic or not, I am but a person, and that definitely happens sometimes, especially when you've heard about a movie for such a long time, and anticipate it so. This is the kind of movie that I, or anyone else for that matter, will likely enjoy more on video or DVD. It's slow-paced and doesn't really follow any conventional arc of a story, feeling much more like a documentary based on the possible events of a film production, rather than an actual film created to entertain. In fact, the film is original in that sense, since it rarely possesses any real thrills, suspense, romance, humor or action, but does still manage to keep you interested throughout (well, at least it did me). I definitely don't think this film will work for everyone, and it certainly won't work for anyone looking for a horror type of movie, or a slasher with blood, etc... In fact, this movie barely sheds one drop of any blood. It's really much more about the ambiguous nature of the lead character and the full extent that the director is willing to go in order to get his film made. Does that sound interesting to you? If yes, check the movie out. If you're not really interested in that aspect of the film, and don't particularly care to see one of the most bizarre portrayals of a "man" on screen in the past few years, that would be Willem Dafoe, I'd say skip it altogether.
I liked it and I certainly look forward to catching it again on DVD real soon. And if the Academy doesn't toss Dafoe a nomination for this memorable role, it will all but assure the fact that they're filled with a bunch of dodos (since we all expect them to diss Christian Bale as well).