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Found 13 results

  1. DonRocks

    Dec 7, 1941

    When you hear the date Dec 7, 1941, two words instantly spring to mind: But something else happened on that date also. From the very first scene in the film, "Shoah" ...
  2. If you're offended by any discussion about religion - even when it's being discussed as a tangential issue - then please click out of this post now because this may offend you, and that is not my intent. Minor **SPOILERS** will follow: --- Last week, I finished reading the biography of the amazing Louis Zamperini, "Unbroken," written by Laura Hillenbrand - one of the best and most thoroughly researched biographies I've ever read. No, it's not perfect, and if you click on the title, you'll see we have the beginnings of a meaningful discussion about the book. This thread, and this post, is about the movie. In the "Unbroken" book thread, I mention a recent discussion I had with a member about "In Cold Blood" (just click and read the first paragraph in Post #11). In essence, she was unable to enjoy the movie because she had read the book first. I'm afraid that with "Unbroken," that may be the case with me: I was recently told that there was no mention of Billy Graham in the film. To my eyes, the book is structured as follows: 1) A medium-sized beginning (childhood, upbringing, college, Olympics) 2) A huge middle (the war) 3) A short ending (PTSD, recovery) For there to be no mention of Zamperini's post-war biography is to essentially clip short his life in his mid-20s. Think about this for a moment: If Billy Graham did not exist, there would be no "Unbroken" because there would have been no Louis Zamperini to write about. Zamperini's recovery (I'm purposefully not calling it a redemption) is such a major factor in his biography that its omission is a literary and journalistic sin. What I can say here is very limited because I haven't seen the film, but based on what I heard, I would urge anyone who has seen the film, and who doesn't want to invest the substantial time involved in reading the entire 406-page book, to borrow a copy, and read only the 18-page Epilogue. At this point, the only reason I want to watch the film is so I can voice this opinion more forcefully, and with some credibility and authority; right now, I cannot. --- For those interested in the enormous power that Billy Graham was able to convey, I encourage them to go to his website, and watch one or more of his "televised classics" (the old, black-and-white ones are directly relevant to the full biography of Zamperini, but even for those completely uninterested in Graham, there is still historical importance in the beautiful alto gospel of Ethel Waters at the 8:30 point in this video). I should also disclose that Graham was a major influence on, and source of enormous comfort to, my beloved mother - his occasional televised crusades were part of my childhood, as I watched my mother watch him, completely mesmerized by the unselfish sovereignty of his oration. I am hardly an evangelist, but have no problem in voicing my opinion that Billy Graham is one of the greatest and most important people ever to live, wielding immense power on a global scale, but never once abusing it for his own personal gain - his rightful place in history is side-by-side with Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Mahatma Gandhi, and David Ben-Gurion.
  3. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed during WWII in 1942, was dissolved in 1945, and is the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), formed in 1947. During the war, it was essential for espionage, propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning. Wikipedia, while not being "the last word" on this important department, certainly has enough to get you going. One day, I hope to have a conversation about the Office on this thread, but we'll need to get some interested parties first. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.
  4. So, a friend of mine told me that if I didn't mind "Django Unchained," I wouldn't mind "Inglourious Basterds." I didn't mind it, and actually somewhat enjoyed it. Christoph Waltz, in both movies, is really good - there's a certain "Intellectual 'It Factor'" to his demeanor that makes him highly likable and highly unlikable at the same time, all the while being believable, even when in unbelievable situations. Didn't I just say something similar about Tom Cruise and "Jack Reacher?" As one example of me (or is it "my") not hating "Inglourious Basterds," I'm just not on the same page as this review: Aug 21, 2009 - "Review: 'Inglourious Basterds'" by Peter Rainer on csmonitor.com (Forget that it's the Christian Science Monitor - that is an intelligent publication that, yes, has it's biases, but is worth more than dumbed-down criticism for the masses. That said, I'm surprised that this review got a "non-rotten tomato" on rottentomatoes.com For those of you who didn't recognize the term "OSS" just before Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) shouted "Bingo!" - I began this thread last year, and this is the first time I've heard the OSS mentioned since that day.. Had this fantasy been reality, there probably would have been no bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, as all necessary personnel could have been diverted to the Pacific Theater.
  5. I remember my father taking me to see "Patton" in 1970, and being awestruck by the opening scene - the one where Patton comes and gives a speech in front of that *amazing* American flag - other than that, I remember it being really long! What a difference 47 years makes when it comes to seeing a film about the quirks and eccentricities of a WWII General. I'm not going to issue any spoilers, especially because this is all based on historical facts about the WWII North African Theater, and its three principles: Patton, Montgomery, and Rommel. Some historical facts which you should know about (and will know about, if you watch the film). Note that since the location for this part of the war (and film) was North Africa, you can assume these are in Morocco, Tunisia, etc. You can consider these spoilers if you really want to, but since you should know about the events anyway, I'm not marking them as such (don't feel badly - I didn't either). The Battle of the Kasserine Pass - The first major conflict between allied and axis troops, at the two-mile-wide Kasserine Pass in the Atlas Mountains of Tunisia, during which we got the shit kicked out of us: 6,500 American casualties with over 1,000 dead. It was this battle which the Americans, caught sleeping, decided to bring in General Patton to run the North African campaign, and he became a three-star general (and placed in charge of General Omar Bradley, a two-star general). The Battle of El Guettar - Rommel had planned a massive Panzer attack in southern Tunisia, but Patton was more than ready for them. The Germans were pretty much devastated, and at this point, the two rival leaders had each other's full respect (the amount of respect shown to other competent leaders and soldiers in this film is quite touching, and has nothing to do with politics - they're like boxers in the 15th round, slugging it out. --- Aside: One of my treasures - my absolute treasures - is my father's Master's Degree diploma from Columbia Universty, which is hand-signed by none other than University President Dwight David Eisenhower - he came home from the war, and served in that capacity from 1948-1953, and anyone who got a diploma during that time, received a hand-signature of Eisenhower on their diploma (note that this is *before* he was U.S. President, so people didn't know he was going to be *as* famous as he was). This isn't all that rare, or valuable, but just imagine how much it means to me. How much does it mean? When the last of my parents passed away, this is the *only* thing of theirs that I wanted, out of all their tangible possessions - I'm hoping that, two-hundred years from now, it will be passed down to a distant relative of mine, and they will treasure it nearly as much as I do (it would be comparable to having something hand-signed by Benjamin Franklin today). I'm so proud of my father for serving his country in WWII, even though he was "only" in Occupied Japan after the war as over (he was a chauffeur who drove a limousine for a general, and received an honorable discharge). For the lucky recipient of this diploma, here is our family tree. --- The Allied Invasion of Sicily - Patton, a whack-job who believes in reincarnation, destiny, fate, etc., vies with British Commander Montgomery for getting the glory in taking over Sicily. They're both willing to sacrifice foot-soldiers so *they* can get the headlines and the glory for having taken over the important Italian outpost. The Sicilian campaign reveals both Patton an Montgomery to be egocentric, self-centered generals who put themselves before their troops, and this is the first part of the film that concretely shows just what bad people they are - they don't care about the greater good; they care about having their name in spotlights. These are *exactly* the types of people who need to be the generals in a science-fiction film, invading the aliens (who have superior weapons) and in the process, gain a significant dose of humility by virtue of laser beams, electric heat-rays, etc. God, would it be *awesome* to see Patton taken down a couple of notches by being forced to be humble. I love this line: A reporter who brought some priests to join Patton on his march towards Palermo, said (in front of the priests), "Colonel Davis showed us around your quarters, General Patton, and I was interested to see a bible by your bed. You actually find time to read it?" Patton: "I sure do. Every God-damned day." Oomph, a really bad moment in the movie: Patton's forward-moving line is stalled because of a couple stubborn jackasses (literally, jackasses), and he openly complains about it, and then shoots them. But, there was very clearly a body-double that did the shooting, and they didn't make any type of effort to hide that fact - this is one of the worst scenes in the film, as this is clearly not George C. Scott (yet, the person shooting the jackasses has a three-star general's helmet on). To me, this stands out as being the worst individual moment in the film thus far. There have been several scenes which definitively show that Patton has no tolerance for "cowards" in his army. There is to be no "combat fatigue," no "cases of nerves," etc. He will openly scream in these soldiers faces, scream and call them "God Damned Cowards!" and send them back out to the front lines. A general sympathetic to human needs he most certainly was not. I would be fascinated to hear peoples' viewpoints on this complex man - perhaps someone who we needed in extraordinary times; but these extraordinary times have come about (I mean, *truly* come about) perhaps twice in the last century; the other 95% of the time, these guys are just plain crotchety old bastards - but when you *really* need them, you *really* need them. I'm pretty sure this film tried to stay true to the gist of real-life, so it wasn't embellished except for what was needed for dramatic effect. That said, there was *plenty* of dramatic effect - for example, when Patton was being criticized for not including Russia in a statement about post-WWII world-rule, a newsreel by "Senator Clayborne Foss" was entirely fictional (there was no Senator Clayborne Foss) - the clip used is bogus, so while the main facts of the movie are true, there are plenty of liberties taken. I suppose you could take this as a *** SPOILER ALERT *** The deeper you get into this film, the more you realize that Patton isn't in this war for the good of the world; he's in it for himself. Why should what *he* wants matter, when what an enlisted man wants doesn't matter - at least when it comes to individual needs and also the greater good? I'm 2/3 of the way through the film now, and I'm liking Patton as a person less-and-less, and although he might be the person I'd want leading me in combat (and I mean "in the field of battle"), I don't think I'd want him making strategic decisions, because his first priority always seems like it's for himself. I wonder if the real General Patton was this much of an egoist? This all said, the personal rivalry between Patton and Montgomery was *highly* amusing. Patton said it best: "Hell, I know I'm a prima donna - I admit it. The thing I can't stand about Monty is that he *won't* admit it." Of course, all the humor quickly evaporates when Operation Market Garden costs Patton's troops an unspeakable amount of casualties. I have to say, the ending of this movie resonated more with me than the ending of any movie I've seen in a long, long time.
  6. "The Dam Busters" (1955) is most likely a film you've never before heard of, but if you don't know the story it tells, it is a film almost as compelling as one which accurately recalls the Normandy Invasions, or more contemporary to us, "The Imitation Game." The Dam Busters is very British, and seems as though it makes every attempt to reenact the incredible bombing of three German dams without embellishment - there are, I suppose, some dramatic additions and certainly some suppositions made, but they're kept to a bare minimum, and the film is executed with a stark, minimalist style that - at least for the first half - can even come off as being a bit dry. But the story itself is so important that everyone should know about it, and the only better way to learn about it would be to read a non-fiction book (and that would be *really* dry). The final 45 minutes of this film is action-packed, but not gratuitously - it's just a reenactment of an amazing mission carried out in WWII by the British, and the cinematographic effects of the actual mission are flat-out *great*. This film is an absolute must for anyone falling into one of these categories: 1) People with an interest in WWII 2) Historians 3) Fans of documentaries, even though this isn't a documentary (in fact, I suppose it couldn't really be called "non-fiction," but it's as close as you can come to that, while still being a movie made to entertain audiences (as opposed to pure education)). While I can't blanket-recommend the movie to everyone, because it is indeed dry in the first half, as they're working out the details of the mission, recruiting the troops, selling the plan to the bureaucrats, etc., for those in one of the above-three categories, I can recommend it without reservation. However, there is an unfortunate warning I must issue which will take up a disproportionate amount of this post, and there's no easy way to say it, so I'm just going to say it: There is a shocking (by our time's standards) use of the "N" word - not used in any type of directly derogatory way, but used in a remarkably casual fashion: It's the name of a black lab, a dog that today, we could easily name "Blackie" or "Midnight." And, as a result of this dog's unfortunate name, it's also a "code word" in the mission (which is mentioned only once in the film). It's shocking watching people use this word with no more reaction or emotion than saying "Fido" or "Rover" - it stands out like a sore thumb, but in the film's defense, it just does not appear to be meant as anything insulting - I know of some French sayings that incorporate a similar word that have been around for hundreds of years, and are still used today without any thought or malice by the person speaking them, although a general awareness is certainly coming over French (and almost certainly British) society. If this offends you - and I don't think it should, because it's not meant to - then stay away from The Dam Busters. It's such a minor part of the movie, but I'd be negligent if I didn't mention it - more disturbing to me is the fact that I do not remember one, single person of color in the entire film. I hate this characteristic in old films, but there's no point in boycotting them, because that will achieve nothing - my personal philosophy about 20th-century racism is to acknowledge, to mourn, to atone if you can, and to never go back there again. I must stress: This is but one example of millions, and is no more racist than society was in general, so if you boycott this, it would be consistent to boycott almost everything in the world before a certain era. Oh! I completely forgot about what might be the most interesting thing to today's audiences: Star Wars paid direct homage to this film in the final attack scene of the Death Star, when the Jedi fighters fly into the seam of the Death Star before shooting. This is not supposition on my part; it's a stated fact - my guess is that George Lucas remembered the actual attack - and "The Dam Busters" very well when he made Star Wars. That alone is reason enough to watch the film, and it's not a subtle reference; it's a screamingly obvious tribute.
  7. I saw a lot of films in 2014, including all of the movies nominated for Best Picture, with the exception of "The Imitation Game." I am not sure why I didn't go see this movie in the theater. A recent conversation with a friend about the Enigma Machine led us to this interesting video, which, in turn, brought us to "The Imitation Game." This film made an excellent companion piece to "Das Boot," a German movie about at World War II submarine crew that I loved and had just watched days earlier. "The Imitation Game" tells the story of Alan Turing, a real-life British cryptographer who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II. The screenplay, written by Graham Moore and loosely based on the biography "Alan Turing: the Enigma," by Andrew Hodges, won the Oscar that year for Best Adapted Screenplay. I enjoyed this film. Benedict Cumberbatch (who was nominated for Best Actor for this role) gives an outstanding performance as Turing. There are two intertwined stories: a thriller about a secret group trying to break German code in order to save lives, and Turing's secret life as a homosexual. Both tales are engaging and well told. If you are thinking about watching this film, take a moment beforehand to view the video about the Enigma Machine (above). To appeal to the masses, the movie offers a Hollywood explanation of how the machine works. Watching the video first to gain a better understanding of The Enigma Machine enhanced my enjoyment of this fine film.
  8. Please don't remember John Glenn only for his partisan politics - the man was, is, and always will be a great American Hero - just look at those tags in this thread, and there could have been more. I have total respect for this great American, and I hope everyone else does, too. Senator Glenn left us earlier today at the age of 95 - we lost a giant today: What a great man.
  9. Saw Allegiance last night partially out of obligation as a Japanese American. The musical tells the story of the JA experience during WWII in the concentration camps and the struggle to prove the patriotism and allegiance of various individuals to the ideals of this country. It follows primarily one family which has the father as a no-no (responses of no to willingness to serve in the army, and no to forswear allegiance to Japan, which for many who were barred from US citizenship would have left them without citizenship) and the son becomes a war hero serving in the 442nd. The daughter/sister in the family falls in love with another man who refuses the draft until his family is released from the camps and is sent to prison. For a 2.5 hour performance, it packs a lot in with regard to Japanese American cultural influences and how it shapes the evolution of the various attitudes towards what is patriotic and what ideals different actors were standing up for. If you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend going to this in the next two weeks. The music was surprisingly strong, and I think they built it around the strength of Lea Salonga as the lead singer.
  10. Starting at noon on Friday May 8, The Arsenal of Democracy Capitol Flyer will be held to mark the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. Organizers expected dozens of vintage World War II aircraft to participate in the flyover of the National Mall. Many of the aircraft will be on show at the Udvar-Hazy Center on Saturday May, 9. Route Formations
  11. What in the world was the pitch for this TV series? "Hey dude, we have this hilarious script about a loveable ragtag bunch of captured Allied soldiers in a Nazi internment camp. Whadaya think? It'll be a hoot!" Anyway, say what you will about the unfortunate premise and the uh... peculiarities of Bob Crane, but I didn't know the stories behind the cast. Many of them were not only Jewish, but actually spent time in concentration camps. Hogan's Heroes The story behind Robert Clary is especially interesting.
  12. I received "Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand as a gift from a friend, and I make it a point, whenever possible, to start *and finish* books that my friends give me. (That's why I limit my friends!) I've been warned away from the movie by the same person who bought me the book, and that's good enough for me - I doubt I'll waste my time seeing it. So far I've finished Part I (there are V Parts), and I enjoy it very much. The author, Laura Hillenbrand, has a good feel for biography, telling the story without a lot of embellishment, but putting key suspenseful items in the correct places to make it a real "page-turner" - it's not hard to see why this is a best-seller. Louis Zamperini was a fascinating man, and I'm looking forward to reading his biography - he deserves no less, nor does my friend who gifted the book.
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