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Found 5 results

  1. None other than Dr. William Lessne, a noteworthy film buff, advised me to watch the early Stanley Kubrick film, "Paths of Glory." This film is to Kubrick as "Johnny Got His Gun" is to Dalton Trumbo - following in footsteps of "All Quiet on the Western Front," this is a patently anti-war, WWI film - all three of these are must-sees within this narrow genre, although unlike the other two, "Paths of Glory" focuses more on bureaucratic corruption, rather than the simple horrors of war (this will be made clear within minutes). Kubrick trivia: Only two actors have been in three Kubrick films - Philip Stone, and Joe Turkel, who was in "Paths of Glory," and who also played the ghostly bartender in "The Shining." Film historian Robert Osborne says this was the favorite war film of Sen. John McCain. How many young men and women do you think are prepared to do this for our country right now? A country needs to be worth fighting for ...
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. "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.
  5. The reviews I've read about "Wings" (1927) justifiably rave about the air sequences, many of which were filmed from *above*. I've now seen this film three times, and I just cannot agree with the critics who dismiss the "land plot" as being maudlin - critics are looking at this groundbreaking motion picture through a modern lens. Yes, it's all been done now thousands of times, but I'd love to transport myself back, 87 years ago, and view the thrill of the audiences watching this motion picture marvel. See the restored 2012 version if you can, unless you're an absolute purist who must listen to Bach's keyboard works only on harpsichord. There are two reasons I've seen this three times: one is my OCD which compels me to watch, in sequence, every single Academy Award winning film (even though the awards themselves mean virtually nothing to me now); the other is that it's just a great movie. A true epic that has it all, and despite its nearly two-and-a-half-hour length, isn't the least bit boring despite being silent - I would advise making it a two-day project unless you're known for patience. It's a misprint to say this movie "stars" Gary Cooper, as he appears on screen for less than three minutes, but you can tell that he has quite a screen presence, even from this tiny sample. Despite Clara Bow's fame, she adds very little to this film except for star power (she was the biggest star in Hollywood at the time), and in fact, my favorite character is a relatively minor contra-antagonist: the German flying ace Count von Kellerman, who only appears in two extremely short scenes - less than a minute each - and yet embodies everything about human decency, chivalry, and respect - this, despite him being a portrait of Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron). It was an incredibly bold, sympathetic portrayal of a man many Americans at the time still detested (after all, the war ended less than ten years before, and von Richthofen registered over eighty (!) kills). Watch it and you'll see what I mean (and if anyone wants to make a case for Richard Arlen being the true star of the movie, you'll get absolutely no argument from me).
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