WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
After his where's-my-paycheck? turn in The Green Hornet, I was mildly concerned that, following his Oscar-winning Inglourious Basterds portrayal, Christoph Waltz might be resigned to a career of forever playing Euro-trashy über-villains in Hollywood action dreck. With director Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants, though - a Depression-era romance based on Sara Gruen's beloved novel - my fears have proved unfounded. As the egomaniacal, possibly sociopathic owner and ringleader of a second-tier traveling circus, enraged by the blossoming affections between his star-performer wife (Reese Witherspoon) and the troupe's young veterinarian (Robert Pattinson), Waltz is every bit as mesmerizing - charming, unpredictable, terrifying - as he was in Quentin Tarantino's World War II opus. Yet fantastic though he is, Waltz's talents here aren't a shock. The bigger surprise is that the movie itself is so bloody marvelous.