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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.

You know what would be great? To take Hitler down? And stop the gassing and the conquest and the thing and the guy? Would be an audacious hotshot with the guts to get in there and do it. A guy so good he could do it with one eye tied behind his back. A guy so good he counts his blown-off right-hand as an asset because he can "Heil Hitler" ironically and you can never really call him on it. And I know just the actor to play him.

Stauffenberg hatching his plan.
Stauffenberg selling his plan to Nazis who are starting to question this Third Reich thing, circa 1944.
Stauffenberg psyching himself up for the dangerous mission.
Stauffenberg expressing self-doubt. (deleted scene)
Stauffenberg expressing absolute confidence in the mission and himself.
Stauffenberg upon being told that his paperwork must be signed by the Führer.
Stauffenberg insisting that he blew Hitler up but only after the paperwork was signed.
Stauffenberg, God bless him, expressing outrage that Op Valk was not engaged as planned, wasting the three precious hours that he'd previously gained through ingenuity.
Stauffenberg taking even more charge than he'd taken previously. Must he do everything single-handedly? Time to school these chumps; the only problem is that he lacks a pupil.
Stauffenberg running the German government with an eye toward Berlin.
'Do you think he has a sense of humor?' 'I think his optometrist has a sense of humor.'
Stauffenberg inquiring after the safety of his wife, Frau Stauffenberg.
Stauffenberg coming to the conclusion that Hitler was not blown up and wondering if the mistake was due to faulty depth perception on the part of one of his peers.
Stauffenberg about to be executed but only after naming a name to clarify that the failure was not his but that of Shiva the God of the Wrong Person's Death.
Stauffenberg as remembered by the footnotes of history, steely.

Valkyrie is based on a true story, which I know because the screen says so at the beginning of the film in German. And I know that it says so at the beginning of the film in German because the letters morph into English before they go away. Then we hear the hotshot writing his diary in German, which eventually morphs (audibly) into the English words of Tom Cruise who seems almost frustrated by the cumbersome translation process, as if the hotshot can't be bothered to continue in German when something more serious is at stake. Also: we hear what he writes. Linguistic efficiencies could and will be made.

And the movie's off. A sequence in the middle of the film involves putting a bomb at the Führer's feet, and I quite liked the suspense, even though throughout that stretch I was thinking, "I wish Eddie Izzard were taking down the Führer instead of nervously making a phone call in the background." That's what's nice about this movie. It gives you time to think about what you're seeing. Like: Is Tom Wilkinson speaking only his dependent clauses with a British accent? Is that Peter Cushing back there? And, say, who do you think would win in a peaked-cap face-off between Grand Moff Tarkin, General Zod, and let's say Hitler? That kind of thing.

Then more morphing, this time in the face of the sometimes eye-patched, sometimes digitally walleyed Tom Cruise. It's his steely performance, his 1,000 faces that carry the film, each one revealing a facet of Hotshot Claus von Stauffenberg, each of them determined, each of them steely. If it weren't for that Germano-English text up front, I'd think this guy could probably pull it off. Ice the Führer, engage Operation Valkyrie to gain control of Berlin, gain control of Germany, gain control of Europe, and finally install Field Marshall Goose just in time to put the egg back on the mantel before the Allies arrive to say, "Yo, what the?"

Alas, he had no strafing partner, this hotshot. The rest is footnoted history and symphonic strings.

His wife lived and raised their kids without incident. Did I mention his wife? No matter.

36 Responses to “Valkyrie: The 1,000 Faces of Tom Cruise”

  1. Erin D. says:

    Hah, this rules.

  2. Colin Fraser says:

    How very clever.......I am now dumber for having read this.

  3. M. Leary says:

    Can you do this with Napolean Dynamite?

  4. Rich says:

    The one where he expresses self-doubt....that's the one that seals the Oscar. Absolutely brilliant! (I normally shy away from such loud punctuation cause people use it so fakely...but in this case it's well-deserved)

  5. Robert DAVIS says:

    By the way, I actually meant that bit about liking the suspense of the bomb-placement scene. It's clearly the film's centerpiece and high point, and separated from the rest of the costume shenanigans it makes a nice little action short, one that has me on the edge of my seat more than anything in Quantum of Solace. But it doesn't sustain the film as a whole.

  6. Ville says:

    Hey... F**k you.. Tom Cruise is one of the greatest actors of our generation, but if you don't appreaciate it.. well it's your problem.. :(

    Everyone likes johnny depp.. but what has he done? Can you compare born on the forth of july and pirates of caribbean?

    yeah, think about it..

  7. Tom says:

    The haters are out in full uniform I see. Nothing Tom will ever do will be good enough for the haters. So don't mind them they don't know what they do. Pass them by like scum on a pond surface.

  8. Anna says:

    "Everyone likes johnny depp.. but what has he done? Can you compare born on the forth of july and pirates of caribbean?"

    can you compare top gun to sleepy hollow, dead man, from hell, what´s eating gilbert grape, chocolat, edward scissorhands, donnie brasco, fear and loathing in las vegas, ed wood ...
    yeah, before your time, maybe.

  9. matt says:

    comparing tom cruise to johnny depp? - that dude has balls of steel!

    Honestly, POTC is simple entertainment, there´s nothing where Tom Cruise comes close to "obras maestras" such as:
    Edward Scissorhands
    Benny & Joon
    Gilbert Grape
    Dead Man
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Really, Tom Cruise simply isn´t in the same league as Johnny Depp (nor will he ever be)

  10. Daniel says:

    In Germany we are waiting for Tom Cruise to act as General Custer, saving the American Indians from the evil european catholics and malicious aliens, setting the storyline to a sequel titled "Chinese Indians". In this story he has to defend the earth and the moon, resp. the US of A, from chinese savages, learning that saving Indians was wrong, because they do believe in Mao instead of that american god.

  11. Mirrage says:

    I am sorry, but that is just cheap. You took 16 times exact the same picture and try to say Cruis can't act. I mean, I believe you, but you could do it better.

  12. Mirrage says:

    @Ville
    You have no cloue what Johny Depp did, do you? And yes, Tom Cruis was good, a little. But no more!

  13. just me says:

    Acting in great films doesn't mean you're a great actor.

    yeah, think about it...

  14. Jules says:

    Not quite.

    The wife was arrested by the secret police and put into custody for the remainder of the war. The children were split up, renamed and sent to different orphanages.

    You may hate Cruise and you may not give a damn about either Germany or its history, but you should at least try to get the facts you use straight.

  15. christian says:

    haha, comparing cruise and depp... there is NO greater actor in our generation as depp. im not talking about pirates, im talking about his burton-films, taling about platoon, edward scissorhands, ed wood, gilbert grape, donnie brasco, the ninth gate, chocolat, blow, and of course fear and loathing in las vegas.
    of course, cruise had some very good movies, but in this century??? nope.
    ok, collateral was interesting and minority report was good popcorn cinema but:
    mi-2 was a rape of the very good first part.
    vanilla sky was a weak hollywood remake of a genius european film.
    last samurai was an attempt to jump an the kill-bill-train, ok but not great.
    war of the worlds, another weak, expensive and boring remake.
    mi-3... please, dont do mi-4... PLEASE.

    cruises good movies as color of money, rain main, 4.july, firm, few good men, mission impossible aso... are all 10-20 years old. 2 much scientology in the last decade has poisened his mind, i guess.

  16. dequai says:

    what is the world coming to anyway?
    tom cruise is an overpaid pop cult phenomenon and anybody who is intersested in good independents will know that there are loads of hi class actors hiding in calm, undisturbed by the dirty fingers of the craving masses.
    it's a shame such a story has to be ruined by what truly seems to be a poor performance.

  17. Robert DAVIS says:

    "You may hate Cruise and you may not give a damn about either Germany or its history, but you should at least try to get the facts you use straight."

    Jules, thanks for the biographical details; in my defense, let me clarify this is a parody of the the film and the way it slights his wife and kids, not a factual representation of German history.

  18. Rudiger says:

    i am not entirely convinced that any of tom's 1000 faces resembles an aristocratic, german army officer... then again, i guess it pays his bills.

  19. jorgusch says:

    Thanks for the fantastic parody! However, reading the last lines I was kind of irritated:

    "Jules, thanks for the biographical details; in my defense, let me clarify this is a parody of the the film and the way it slights his wife and kids, not a factual representation of German history."

    Well, as a German I associate anything touching the War with German history. Usually, making fun about is "simply" forbidden. In this case, one guy did something write and his wife does not matter...I cannot see the movie as it is not released in Germany. However, only because Cruise and guys f***ed up it does not mean that there is a need to relate the 'footnoted history' about his wife-because of this two paragraphs it looks like a "fact".
    Anyways, a slight flaw in a great piece.

    At this point to mention. In Germany, you got a link in the biggest weekly papers, which is also one of the best papers:
    http://www.zeit.de/online/2008/51/cruise-stauffenberg-kritik?page=all
    It says, your picture series is 'super funny' - agreed.

    Congrats!

    I was irritated by this point as well.

  20. jorgusch says:

    Arr, last line to be deleted...sorry.

  21. Robert DAVIS says:

    jorgusch, it's probably not clear if you haven't seen the film, but it too ends with on-screen text that explains what happened to his wife, who is a token character in the film. It's a minor point that struck me as perfunctory and worth a jab, that's all.

    We noticed the link from zeit.de — very cool.

  22. Klaatu says:

    Hilarious! Please do the same photo multiplication review with "The Day The Earth Stood Still"....because Keanu Reeves outcruises Tom Cruise by far!

  23. Hanna says:

    nice! I admire your creativity! but I guess it wasn't all too hard to come up with the idea, since cruise's acting seems to be lacking...
    and btw: I found a link to your site on this internet-newspaper, which - as the Zeit - describes your piece as "superfunny". Well, the Zeit already took away my rating.
    http://www.zoomer.de/news/topthema/operation-walkuere/operation-walkuere/artikel/tom-cruise-ruiniert-seinen-ruf-als-schauspieler-endgueltig

  24. Petra says:

    @ Klaatu: to "outcruise" Tom Cruise - great! this is a nice new word that I will gladly add to my English vocabulary
    @ Robert: you shouldn't be afraid that all Germans are too constrained to understand irony
    @ Jules and Jorgusch: Leute, legt doch nicht alles auf die Goldwaage! Kann man noch nicht mal einen Film wegen des umstrittenen Schauspielers ironisch zerpflücken, ohne dass der moralische Zeigefinger wegen des Schlusssatzes in die Höhe schnellt? Die ganze (wunderbare) Filmkritik ist von diesem süffisanten Ton getragen - da passt es auch für den Abspann dieser Kritik. Es ist dieses "Und am Ende lebten sie alle glücklich und zufrieden" wie in den Märchen aufgegriffen, so ganz ohne Drama, eben als ob nix weiter gewesen wär. Als wär's so unbedeutend wie der ganze Film. Ich fand's in diesem Zusammenhang sehr passend ...

  25. Daniel says:

    Well, since the last secrets of the death of Antoine de Saint-Exupery are unveiled, we should look forward to Tom cruise acting as WW-I-hero. I bet 50€, that is 70$ (10:00 a.m. CET).

    Perhaps anyone could tell me, what it means, that Tom Cruise is playing a German, who tries to fight the Nazi regime from the inside. Is that important to the US public? Is there any political message in it - maybe "Yes, we can" or "Change is possible" ?? To me it seems, that all Blockbuster movies are "designed" to transport political messages. btw: What happended to the storylines of Heroes?

    @Petra: Fanden Sie Der Untergang, Dresden, Mogadischu und Baader-Meinhof-Komplex usw. auch so lustig? Das Kino ist kein Ort, um diese Abschnitte der deutschen Geschichte zu thematisieren. Weder mit Moritz B. noch mit Tom C., noch mit Schlagmichtot X.

  26. Heik says:

    @daniel: any medium is the right medium to broach the issue of history and make sure it is not forgotten!
    Or do I really have to imply that all historic movies completely (fake or reality-based) are not necessary in your opinion?
    Then is there any necessary movie?

  27. Daniel says:

    @Heik
    1. Dont you think, that there is a difference between "making sure something is not forgotten" and "learning from history? In the first case, a knot in a tissue would do (I hope, I translated the phrase correctly). In the second case a broad public discussion and education in schools is appropriate. Any "true-story-movie" cannot be more than a teaser for reading a good histroy book. Reading also saves you from getting distracted by visual and acustic effects, and from popcorn on your trousers as well. Don´t you think, that simply displaying the fact or problem X is always inferior to explainig it?

    2. This is rhetoric nonsense. From the discussion on a specific issue you turn to the abstract case and leave the sphere of relevant arguments. While we are capable of ultimately enlightening the expendability and pointlessness of this movie, we wont be able to find a satisfying answer on the question wether any cultural activity is necessary or not. Are the both of us necessary, and anything we do?

    3. That is why you dont have to imply anything, because your individual perception of what you call "my opinion" is erroneous and meant to limit the depth of the discussion by reducing it to an undecidable proposition.

  28. Jeff says:

    @Hanna,
    the text cited is a copy of an article of the Tagesspiegel, published in Berlin.

    @Robert Davies,
    your website has been cited in the Tagesspiegel as being something they would do but can't because of stupid reasons. They encourarge everyone to check your site - just like I did. BTW, excellent comment.

    Regarding the correctness of the movie: The suicide of Mr. Beck is shown as being a clean shot but he stuggled for hours, slowly bleeding to death. Since Jules was so keen on being historical correct, we should add this to the list of nonsense in this movie.

    @Daniel,

    Der Untergang was the worst motion picture ever. I should have never been done. The way Hitler was presented just bore everyone I asked about the movie in hist / her opinion that everything was Hitler fault. Older people are now convinced that there were Nazis and there were Germans, i.e. Germans never were Nazis. Younger people learned that there was a maniac but didn't learn that there were all these hordes of HJ, SA and that many Germans followed the Fuehrer.

  29. No Pseudonym says:

    This is hilarious! XD

    As for comparing Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Equally hilarious. When has Johnny Depp ever played two characters who were similar? Can't think of any. And Tom Cruise? Too many to count.

    I don't think Johnny is the best actor out there, though I believe him to be very good, but he is certainly FAR more versatile and daring in his choices and has demonstrated far greater acting ability than Tom Cruise.

  30. John Allen says:

    Let's not reduce the responsbility of Adolf Hitler by referring to him as a "maniac" though he certainly had those tendencies — he knew what he was doing. He constantly justified his "racial policies" to his inner circle and was actually more focused on eliminating European Jewry than winning the war. He was conscious of it.

    Also, the fact that most of the Wehrmacht knew what was going on and followed him doesn't change the fact that he was the catalyst. Hiter very methodically fed on the most base and vicious impulses of the German people till he could do what he did.

  31. John Allen says:

    I'd recommend the German film "Stauffenberg" with Sebastian Koch. I have no doubt "Operation Valkyrie" is going to be awful though I'll give it a go.

  32. Jason Everich says:

    It's a shame how seemingly every film critic these days can't review a film without throwing in some witty and clever analysis with some witty and clever references. Field Marshall Goose, Oh I get it, from Top Gun right. You're so funny.

    You're the guy who sits at a cafe in Greenwich Village with some friends and boasts self-righteously about good cinema. But you're more likely another lame Gen-Xer who turns film critique into another shot at the humorist of the week title. Just review the film. I'll look out for your other stuff when your one man show hits the road.

    I am going to read Michael Phillips at The Chicago Tribune.

    Jason Everich
    Bronx, New York City

  33. foxterrier says:

    What is it with our history that a person like Tom Cruise wants to be Stauffenberg? Honestly, how many Americans would even notice if Cruise changes the story a bit? Movies about war, crime and history are important, yes, because there are so few who would lay their hands on books. It's just that I would appreciate an American film about let's say Guantanamo and not about Stauffenberg. More movies like "Full Metal Jacket" perhaps which aren't so patriotic that they trigger my gag reflex. In my opinion this movie is just another sign of hybris.
    Oh, yes, and I really loved your review. Almost as funny as this comment which said that Johnny Depp never did anything big.
    For the record there is a German film about Hitler which tries irony. It is called "Mein Führer" and really good. If you are concerned now, it is written and directed by a Jew and as far as I now, the main character is played by Jew also. Don't you worry, everything totally pc.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Well, let's see your movie or something you've done. Oh, that's right... you're a moron!

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