Memorial Day 2019
Posted on May 27, 2019 at 5:00 am
Amid all the picnics, parades, and sales events, we take time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we too often take for granted.
Posted on May 25, 2019 at 11:09 pm
For Memorial Day, take a look at these documentaries about our military:
War of 1812
The History Channel Presents The War of 1812 The young country proved its commitment to independence with this war against Britain that gave us a President (Andrew Jackson), and our national anthem.
The Civil War Ken Burns’ series for PBS is meticulously researched and compellingly presented.
The Last Voices of WWI – A Generation Lost The veterans of “the war to end all wars” tell their stories.
They Shall Not Grow Old Director Peter Jackson has added color to footage of WWI soldiers that makes them seem no longer a part of the distant past but vibrant and present.
The World at War This classic is considered the definitive history and a landmark of television reporting. It was created long enough after the war ended to have perspective but close enough in time to have access to the participants, with eyewitness accounts by civilians, enlisted men, officers, and politicians as well as historians. The 30th anniversary DVD set issued in 2004 has three hours of new material and additional documentaries.
GI Jews Fifty thousand Jewish American fought in WWII, often struggling with anti-Semitism in the military. They look back on their experiences and how it affected their lives.
In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen The first African-American pilots of the US military faced bigotry at home and in the military, but fought with extraordinary skill and dedication.
Korea, The Forgotten War It was the Cold War era, but a real war was being fought in Korea that embodied the geopolitical conflicts. This documentary covers that story, from Inchon to Pork Chop Hill.
Vietnam War: America’s Conflict Many documentaries cover the politics and the protests, and that is covered here, too, but this series focuses on the stories of the battles and the men who fought them.
Hidden Wars of Desert Storm Interviews with General Norman Schwarzkopf, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former UN Iraq Program Director Denis Halliday, former UNSCOM team-leader Scott Ritter and many others help tell the story of the American response to the invasion of Kuwait.
Restrepo This is the award-winning story of one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military, covering the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The remote 15-man outpost was named after a platoon medic who was killed in action.
The War Tapes Three National Guardsmen (“citizen soldiers”) document their time in Iraq.
Posted on March 21, 2019 at 5:29 pmB-
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Mature High Schooler|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated R for sexual content/nudity, and violence including some disturbing images|
|Profanity:||Some strong language|
|Alcohol/ Drugs:||Drinking and drunkenness|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Military violence with some disturbing images, brief Holocaust images, characters injured and killed, sad deaths|
|Diversity Issues:||Post-war ethnic hostilities, Holocaust references|
|Date Released to Theaters:||March 22, 2019|
|Date Released to DVD:||June 24, 2019|
“The Aftermath” is the sort of soapy wartime melodrama people often think of when they complain that they don’t make movies like they did in the old days, except that it has more sex and, if you look past the steamy romance, a disturbing whiff of both sides-ism. The focus of the film is grief and the honorable work of rebuilding — literally, politically, diplomatically, personally after the tragic necessities of war, including demonization of the other side and the inevitable atrocities of country leaders sending young people to kill each other.
It takes place in Hamburg, Germany, five months after the end of World War II. The British are occupying the all-but-destroyed city. As residents comb through the rubble, still seeking thousands of missing people, and we are reminded that the Allies dropped more bombs in a week on the city than Germany dropped on the UK for the entire war, creating an uncomfortable parity. An elegant mansion is requisitioned by the occupying forces for its military leader, Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) and his wife, Rachel (Keira Knightley).
They allow the former owner of the home, architect Stefan Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) to live in the attic with his teenage daughter, Freda. Lewis is gone most of the time, trying to maintain order while many Germans are still loyal to Hitler and furious with the Allies and the occupation. Some have burned 88 on their arms (for Heil Hitler, because H is the 8th letter of the alphabet). Rachael spends some time with other Brits stationed there, but she is lonely and still grief-stricken over the death of her young son in a German bombing attack on England.
And then, she begins to see Stefan not as an enemy but as a human, a father, a man of culture, a man mourning his own losses, and also a man who looks very appealing as he chops wood wearing a blue sweater. They are drawn to each other because they are lonely and because each represents for the other a complete break with the past, almost a way to obliterate it.
Author Rhidian Brook based the story on the experiences of his grandfather, which he first sold as a screenplay idea, and then made into a novel while he worked on the script. The issues of transitioning from war to peace, with awkward, useless official inquiries to try to make impossible assignments of guilt, basically asking, “Just how much of a Nazi were you?” are intriguingly raised but not very thoughtfully explored. Lewis is an exemplar of decency and yet cannot comfort his wife. He admits that he has seen and done unspeakable things but cannot talk to his wife about that, either.
There is so much potential here for tying together the issues of the broken city and the broken world and the broken marriage, but instead the focus is on the forbidden romance. As enticing as the steamy love story may be (did I mention the log-chopping scene?), its failure to recognize and address the issues it passes through leave the film, like the home at the center of the story, pretty but empty.
Parents should know that this film includes military and rioter/protest peril and violence with characters injured and killed, some grisly and disturbing images, brief Holocaust photos, some strong language, explicit sexual situations, nudity, non-explicit teen sex, and drinking and drunkenness.
Family discussion: What is the right way to treat citizens of a conquered country? How did Stefan, Lewis, Freda, and Rachael handle grief differently?
If you like this, try: “The Exception” and “Operation Finale”
Posted on February 3, 2019 at 4:33 pmB +
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Mature High Schooler|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated R for disturbing violent images, language throughout, and brief sexuality/nudity|
|Profanity:||Very strong and crude language|
|Alcohol/ Drugs:||Drinking and smoking, drugs|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Brutal wartime violence, characters injured and killed|
|Diversity Issues:||A theme of the movie|
|Date Released to Theaters:||November 16, 2018|
|Date Released to DVD:||February 4, 2019|
I reviewed A Private War for rogerebert.com. An excerpt:
The dramatic, personal story of Colvin herself is absorbingly told here, largely because of Pike’s dynamic performance, showing us a woman who was courageous enough to risk her life for a story on a daily basis but remained vulnerable enough to make the stories viscerally compelling. That combination took a terrible toll. She used sex and booze to numb her feelings but they could not stop the nightmares. “You’re not going to get anywhere if you acknowledge fear,” she says, but she admits that after the danger is over, she feels it. It is surreal to see her back in London at an elegant gala event, picking up another journalism award in between trips to war zones where she has to maintain enough distance from the carnage all around her to write about it – and keep from becoming part of it. The contrast in perspective and priorities between Colvin and her editor (an excellent Tom Hollander) makes a deeper point about the uneasy and sometimes conflicted relationship between editors trying to sell papers and reporters trying to get the story read.
To the extent we need to know why she had this compulsion and whether she missed having a home and family, those elements are present without being reductive or simplistic.
Posted on November 11, 2018 at 12:03 am
As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War, later dubbed World War I, it is time to remember the heroes, the sacrifices, the world-changing geopolitics that resulted.
Some of the best movies about or set in WWI.
Sergeant York Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of WWI hero Alvin York, the pacifist from the hills of Tennessee who carried out one of the most extraordinary missions in military history using lessons from his life on a farm. He captured 132 men by himself, still a record for a single soldier. In addition to the exciting story of his heroism in war, this is also the thoughtful story of his spiritual journey. He is a pacifist, opposed to fighting of any kind. By thinking of what he is doing as saving lives, he is able to find the inspiration and resolve for this historic achievement.
Wonder Woman Gal Gadot and Chris Pine star in this DC superhero origin story set during WWI. Yes, it is fiction and fantasy, but the plot line about poison gas is based in reality.
War Horse A horse named Joey goes him back and forth between the British and the German forces and, for a short idyllic time, a respite with a frail but brave little French girl and her affectionate Grandfather. The horse can switch sides in a way that a human cannot, and the movie makes clear the difference between the soldiers who are taken prisoner and shot and the animals who are inherently neutral and thus commoditized. The brutality of war affects the human characters differently as we see in their responses to the animal.
Paths of Glory Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war film is the story of a French general who orders his troops on a suicide mission. General Mireau (George MacReady) is willing to sacrifice his men to enhance his own reputation. Against his better judgment, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) leads the charge. After the defeat, Mireau blames the men and demands that three soldiers be randomly selected to be executed as an example to rest of the troops. This powerful, fact-based absurdity-of-war film was banned outright in France for several years.
Oh What a Lovely War John Lennon stars in this WWI-set musical satire that was a commentary on all wars, especially the Vietnam conflict.
Flyboys Airplanes and movies were brand new technology and there have been more WWI air battles on film than there were in real life. This is the story of Americans who became the first American fighter pilots, volunteering in France before the US entered the war.