Hotel Terminus | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Running close to five hours with an intermission, Marcel Ophuls's fascinating portrait of the Nazi "Butcher of Lyons," who later went onto work for the U.S. Counterintelligence Corps and pursue a career as a drug and information trafficker in Bolivia, is a worthy successor to Ophuls's earlier The Sorrow and the Pity. While the format is basically talking-heads interviews with acquaintances and victims of Barbie (as well as other specialists), arranged in order to give a lucid chronological account of his career, Ophuls manages to treat his subject with a great deal of intelligence and irony--households with Christmas decor are plentiful among the settings--and only occasionally does he overplay his intermittent bent toward whimsy (e.g., looking under cabbages for a subject who doesn't want to be interviewed). Nearly a hundred people are interviewed in the film, but the film represents only about a 14th of what Ophuls shot, and there is little sense of excess in the running time. This isn't a work of art in the sense that Shoah is, but it is investigative journalism at its best, solid and penetrating. (Starts Saturday, November 12, Fine Arts, Old Orchard)

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