Whether as a drooling sociopath in Con Air or an Oreo-cracking Russian mobster in Rounders, John Malkovich has recently spent so much time perfecting his hammy John Malkovich impersonation that it's easy to forget there's a great actor hiding behind all that enunciation. Volker Schlöndorff's singularly unsettling The Ogre was made in 1996, just before this embarrassing streak, and Malkovich's mesmerizing performance as a naif monster in Nazi Germany ranks among his best work. The absurd twists of fate and deep moral questions raised by his accidental journey through history recall 1991's Europa, Europa, which told the ironic true story of a German Jew who conceals his identity and finds himself drafted into Hitler's army. Malkovich's complicity with the Nazis is no more intentional, but his essential innocence is just as troubling. A French mechanic with a "magical" gift with children and animals, he gets drafted into the Army during the war, and is promptly captured and thrown in a German POW camp. After a few unlikely coincidences, he winds up a faithful servant at Fieldmarshall Hermann Goering's castle, where he's assigned to work with young recruits at an SS-preparatory school. When the headmaster discovers his mysterious allure with the boys, Malkovich is sent out into the dark forest to "recruit" them for the Hitler Youth. The Ogre skillfully evokes the imposing, malevolent air of a Grimm fairy tale as an allegory to explain the sinister magnetism of the Nazi movement. Working with brilliant screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, with whom he collaborated on his most highly regarded film, The Tin Drum, Schlöndorff reveals a man (and a country) missing a moral compass, and thus capable of unfathomable evil. It's hard to believe that such an original and accomplished take on the subject has captured so little attention, but The Ogre is a real find.