Jakob the Liar
We need another Holocaust film like we need another Holocaust. In fact, give me the choice between standing in a gas chamber with a few friends and possibly watching this film again, and let's be honest... I'm sitting in the theater, but I'm seriously considering that perhaps I've made the wrong choice.
Like "Life is Beautiful," this is another of those "laugh while they're shooting and it won't seem so bad when they hit you" movies. Robin Williams, in what critics around the country who have only seen one movie this year are calling "an Oscar-caliber performance," plays Jakob, a Polish Jew in an occupied Polish town during World War II, who pretends to have a radio that tells him the Nazis are about to be defeated.
Through humor and the ironies of life, Jakob and his Jewish pals prove that no matter how bad the circumstances, life can be really cool if you just ignore all the bad shit. Director Peter Kassovitz, who lived through some of these same experiences, establishes that trying to pour out your soul about deeply personal issues usually results in melodrama so thick you can pave sidewalks with it.
To keep things dramatic, Jakob has his very own little Anne Frank to hide in his apartment, or, as she's known in Hollywood-speak: "The cute moppet on the precipice of disaster who will keep all the chicks from leaving the theater." There are other subplots involving Liev Schrieber, Alan Arkin, and Armin Mueller-Stahl, but going into them is pointless. There's only one place for this film to go, and that's the point when the Nazis find out about Jakob's imaginary radio. This is all so bad that "Good Morning, Poland" -- if you can imagine such a disaster -- would have actually been a preferable substitute.
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