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Movie Review: Munich

Alternate Title: A Place in the Sun

Story: Steven Spielberg is back and I happily overlook his recent fling with forgettable films such as War of the Worlds, The Terminal and A.I. He is always at his best when he gives the audience something to ponder and this film has that and more.

It is based on the massacre and retaliation by Israel of 11 Jewish athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics by a terrorist group called Black September and loosely based on the book Vengeance by George Jonas. It has a fine pedigree screen writing credit by the award winning Tony Kushner and Eric Roth.

It is old fashioned film making at its best. The Israeli assassins do not have the 21st century luxury of digital magical displays to exact their revenge. The business of killing is messy, violent and often rife with moral dilemmas. I remember the 1972 massacre as if it were yesterday and Spielberg uses some original footage to make the film at times seem like a documentary.

Spielberg bravely situates his film into the continued Israeli - Palestinian dilemma and it is depressing to note that we have not come very far at all in our ability to hate and to kill one another. It is difficult to be objective watching this film and I am not proud to say that enjoyed watching the murders of the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich massacre.

How do we settle these hates, reprisals and endless episodes of violence towards one another? The last scene packs a visual punch that does not harbor much hope for the future.

This is an important and well made film that should be seen by everyone. Do not be afraid to have your holiday cheer spoiled by the heaviness of this film's topic. Go with a friend and you will have much to discuss upon exiting the theater.

Acting: Kudos all around to superb casting. Eric Bana as the leader of the secret Israeli revenge squadron carries the weight of his mission on his person beautifully. Daniel Craig (who by the way will be splendid James Bond) is perfect as the South African member of the team. Ciaran Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz and Hans Zischler round out the mission improbable squad.

Predilection: I am a Zionist and am extremely prejudiced.

Critters: Two dogs and a cat.

Food: These Israeli hit men have a passion for food (but of course) and there is plenty of it. Many veggies, potatoes and a brisket (by the way, I make one fine brisket).

Soundtrack: John Williams was unusually and thankfully subtle.

Opening Titles: Other than the title Munich, all credits roll at the end.

Visual Art: It is filmed in a washed out and at times grainy 70's style. We are treated to a global assassination tour to many of Europe's capitals.

Theater Audience: Packed on a Christmas and Hanukkah eve's day.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: The re-enactment of the massacre at Munich is very squirmy indeed.

Drift Factor: not for a nano second.

Predictability Level: If you are politically aware there was not too much suspense but there were many nerve wracking moments.

Tissue Usage: I was a little weepy at the end.

Oscar Worthy: Yes - but I do not know what category. Perhaps screenplay from another medium.

Soap Box: There is so much to get up on a soapbox in this film but I think I will take a pass and let the film and it's moral questions speak for itself.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Daniel Craig's other films how about renting: Layer Cake, Sylvia, The Mother, Road to Perdition, Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, Elizabeth and the The Power of One.

Length: 20 minutes over the two hour rule (a standard Spielberg length)