John Rabe

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This handsomely mounted, if highly conventional, true-life tale about the 1937 Rape of Nanking doesn’t come close to the searing brutality of other cinematic takes on the subject (notably Chuan Lu’s banned-by-China 2009 opus, City of Life and Death). But John Rabe still packs a forceful punch, as the title character (Tukur) experiences an emotional journey from dutiful German industrialist to Sinophilic pacifist, complete with the requisite music swells and openmouthed expressions of empathetic horror. Think of this once-removed re-creation as a melodramatic shoehorn into unspeakable despair.—Stephen Garrett

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