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MaxMAX
Starring: Noah Taylor, John Cusack , Leelee Sobieski and Molly Parker
Directed (and written) by: Menno Meyjes

 

Bluntly speaking? This incredible film is, in a perfectly precise word, brilliant! The power of art never meant so much before...Thoughtful and mesmerizing, dark and insightful. You walk out of the theater in an utter state of wonder…what if?

Of course the remarkable film can directly thank Noah Taylor and John Cusack for bringing its words to the screen with such subtle perfection. Your helpless not to be drawn in and bewitched from the very first frame.

Max follows a brief and delicate relationship between Max Rothman, a German Jewish ex-soldier and established art dealer, and his new "discovery" ex-soldier and artist-in-development Adolf Hitler.

Max (John Cusack) owns a trendy foo-foo forward thinking art gallery that should be located in Tribeca modern day. He's a postwar beatnik, a man looking for the future at a clip. Max is that gallery owner that would have seen the greatness of Dali and Picasso and inspire them to create even bolder works of surreal worlds; decades before they became chic.

He is a visionary, and a hodge podge of all the buzzwords we now take in as representing the avante gard in art commonplace. He believes art has the power to change the world...for the better.

Hitler, on the other hand, is a troubled ex-soldier stifled in his abilities to procreate on canvas.

Hitler meets Max and follows him as a lost puppy might. Angry at Max's bold blunt criticisms, yet drawn to draw into himself, as Max suggests, Hitler tries to morph his talents into sellable works that all can appreciate.

Max believes beneath, or by properly channeling the left-over anger from the "Great War," Hitler can share his sadness - with compassion - so others will feel as they felt and avoid war again at all costs…

Meanwhile at the hostel-like home Hitler's assigned to as an unemployed and poverty stricken civilian. Hitler lives among the lost; fellow German's without families who are unemployed embittered ex-military men that came home to nothing. The hierarchies of the "home" invite Adolf to join in their new government strategy rallies.

Oddly, and sadly, this small hovel of a man can grab the attention of the masses with his words. More so his passionate orchestrated delivery of his words; he is a performance artist.

His artful passion, that until now was oblivious in his artwork, blasts out over the crowd. Shudder. He fails as a painter but uses his "art" of diction to mesmerize the masses verbally. His eye for design will combine art and politics into a devastating concoction.

The whole thing still makes me chill with its realistic portrayal of what might have been and how hopelessly things fell into place for the monster.

Granted Max is a peek into the imaginary life of Hitler's formative years after the Great War but it is based on the truths we all know about the man. And, this makes it all the more terrifying and awe-inspiring. There's two ways to look at this film - debatable scenarios; if Hitler were a successful artist would an evil man have walked a different path? Or perhaps Hitler was always evil and nothing would have changed his horrid destiny.

The film is both eerie and remarkable.

Admittedly John Cusack is high on the coveted Emily Blunt's Mansteak Studmuffins and Slurpable Actors List. I mean he's about six foot two of pure man heroin…a Shepherd's pie of a lad; each layer more delicious than the last that reveals yet another hearty devourable bit of manyum. Smitten? You bet ya. But John's also one of our finest living actors.

Noah Taylor looks like he shares DNA with Keith Richards. I mean he's got that patented gawky British rockstar thing down. At first you're like Hitler? Noah -Shine - Taylor? Ah, but you too would be wrong 'em boyo! Trust this wealth of talent wrapped in a body that could sport leopard print pants and get away with it!

Menno Meyjes, who wrote and directed, is a very lucky man to have been smart enough to choose as he chose castin-wise. The entire stew of talents exudes the riveting dialog with a rare transporting affect. You leave the theater aghast and thankful the calendar still has the current date upon it…though if we only could turn back time and lock this vapid madman away in some psych ward were he obviously belonged.

MAX Cusack interview here.

Snack Recommendation: Borscht and wieners.

 

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