+ "Fateless": As Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir points out, "There have been so many cinematic presentations of the Holocaust that,
with the event itself receding beyond the reach of living memory, it’s
in danger of becoming historical porn, an exotic atrocity we consume
over and over again for increasingly dubious reasons." Nevertheless, nothing but praise as yet for Hungarian cinematographer-turned-director Lajos Koltai‘s film, which rallies us once more to return to those celluloid-friendly days of genocide. O’Hehir, who also makes a halfhearted attempt to find similarities between "Fateless" and the other film he covers this week, "Hostel," flips for the film’s beauty and it’s ability to portray the extreme ordinariness of the increasingly horrifying events that occur, as does A. O. Scott, who observes that "This is a way of normalizing and domesticating something that surpasses comprehension." And J. Hoberman, covering nearly the same points, seems a little stunned by how good the film is: "This isn’t a movie that I’d have thought possible; it’s an auspicious opening for the new year."
+ "Hostel": We always hoped that director Eli Roth would, like Marilyn Manson, turn out to be a startlingly and pleasantly articulate goth, but we’re going to have to concede that he’s way not. Attempting to lay out his film’s grand themes Andrew O’Hehir over the phone:
"I think I have the exact level of violence I need," Roth responds. "If people are going to have sex and meet horrible deaths, I want to see that. I mean, if I started off in minute one with nonstop gore and violence, that would be way too much. But audiences are kind of numb. They’re bored of the same stuff. I want people to leave the theater saying, ‘That was really, really violent and fucked-up. That really disturbed me.’"
Also, he’s tan. Well, whatever. O’Hehir elegantly sums up the film as technically skillful but a little much for him, graphic torture-wise, and he doesn’t buy into Roth’s claims of an apparent political subtext. Nathan Lee at the New York Times finds the film too calculate in it’s need to shock, and sighs that "At the end of the day, if you’ve seen one psychopath go to work in a basement abattoir, you’ve seen them all."