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« on: March 08, 2006, 09:23:59 PM »

Today's NYT

Soldiering On as World War II Winds Down


By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
Published: March 9, 2006
Set in Italy during the final weeks of World War II, "The Fallen" unfolds from the viewpoints of three groups of soldiers: German occupiers running low on numbers, food and patience; Italian reinforcements who resent the Germans' superior attitudes and equipment; and Americans struggling to differentiate among Fascist soldiers, Communist partisans and German spies.

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Ian Dudley
Italian soldiers depicted in "The Fallen," directed by Ari Taub.

 
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Against the backdrop of the lush Italian countryside, the men bicker, write letters home, fight over rations, and — in the case of the Americans — enjoy the hospitality of a local farmer and his amorous wife and daughters. War may be hell, but Italian women are heaven.

Directed by Ari Taub with a naturalistic style and a nonpartisan eye, "The Fallen" finds its humanity in the dailiness of a soldier's life, in the long stretches of nothing, where tensions swell and the killing of a deer can spark a mutiny. The cast, including more than two dozen German and Italian actors, is impressive, perfectly communicating the boredom between battles with equal amounts of dry humor and Sartrean resignation. And despite dismayingly clichéd musical choices — Wagnerian power chords for the Germans, bright and bouncy tubas for the Italians — "The Fallen" does not recognize heroes or villains. Instead, it shows us a couple of days in the lives of men who would rather be somewhere, anywhere, else.

The Fallen

Opens today in Manhattan.

Directed by Ari Taub; written (in German, Italian and English, with English subtitles) by Caio Ribeiro and Nick Day; directors of photography, Mr. Ribeiro, Claudia Amber and Ian Dudley; edited by Mr. Taub and Mr. Day; music by Sergei Dreznin; production designers, Joanna Wright and John Henry Marcell; produced by Curtis Mattikow; released by Anthem Pictures. At the Two Boots Pioneer Theater, 155 East Third Street, at Avenue A, East Village. Running time: 105 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: John McVay (Sergeant Malone), Thomas Pohn (Lieutenant Bruekner), Fabio Sartor (Lieutenant Gianini), Sergio Leone (Salvatore), Ruben Pla (Packard) and Dirk Schmidt (Wolf).


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