TROUBLE CITY

KENNETH BRANAGH RIDES VALKYRIE

Movie NewsJeremy SmithComment

http://chud.com/nextraimages/valkyriemarvel.jpgThree Christopher McQuarrie-related stories in one twelve-hour period? Better this than a day's worth of Ron Bass updates.

I take it you're acquainted with Kenneth Branagh. He's the British thespian who was threatening to become the next Laurence Olivier with Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing before Not Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Not Even Close and Hamlet 70mm knocked him down to Zeffirelliville. After the atrocious Love's Labour's Lost, people seemed to collectively lose interest in him as a filmmaker altogether.

As an actor, however, Branagh's still well worth watching. He was superb as a racist Australian official in Phillip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence, downright repugnant as a Reinhard Heydrich in the above-average made-for-HBO picture Conspiracy and the single greatest Iago I've ever seen in Oliver Parker's otherwise useless production of Othello. So while Branagh's directorial efforts have ceased to matter, it's still an event when he turns up onscreen. (Now watch his remake of Sleuth turn out to be a world-beater.)

It's just a shame that he'll be wasting his time with Bryan Singer's Valkyrie, in which he'll play General Friedrich Olbricht, a German resistance leader who mentors Tom Cruise's Claus von Stauffenberg. Branagh was one of several British actors listed over at the IMDb as "in negotiations" along with Tom Wilkenson, Bill Nighy and Stephen Fry. If Singer somehow lands all of these titans (and, perhaps, Ian McKellen), Valkyrie will be elevated to must-see status regardless of its diseased pedigree. Patrick Wilson, who is not British but still rather talented, is also apparently in the running.

Valkyrie is scheduled to begin shooting this July. United Artists will distribute.