Archive for the ‘WW2’ Category

Hacksaw Ridge – **(*)

Posted: March 14, 2017 in 2016, Action, Australia, War, WW2, XX1/2

A member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (some kind of evangelical group) enlists to help out in World War II, but refuses to carry a gun as he refuses to kill anybody. He enlists as a medic as he wants to save lives, but he needs to go through a training in which shooting a riffle is part of the program. It’s a tough training and he nearly doesn’t make it to the battle fields, but when he does, he’s heralded by his bravery. Because it’s possible to help, save and serve in war times without killing.

This Mel Gibson movie starts off slowly, but is quite powerful in the second half, during the actual taking of Hackswaw Ridge on Okinawa Island near Japan. It’s an interesting story regardless if you think it’s extremely silly or incredibly brave to enlist for war and refuse to  use a weapon . It’s based on a true story. But it’s of course a fictionalized version of it. To learn more about the real Desmond Doss, check this history vs hollywood site. But do it after you’ve experienced the movie.

Some critics call it christian propaganda. Just because the main character acts out of faith, prays and carries a bible with him. But Mel Gibson (a notorious catholic) never glorifies the religion conviction. He just shows a man who is very firm in his principles. Which again can be interpreted as silly or brave. But at least it isn’t negative.

The action is hardcore though. Limbs fly around. Some scenes can be considered horror. So it isn’t for the weak at heart. Nor is it for people who think Andrew Garfield is an overrated actor. In fact, the whole cast are just okay performers. There’s not one performance that sticks. But it’s a good war movie. A tad too long maybe.  But worth watching.

Based on an autographical book from the seventies, Un Sac De Billes tells the story of the Jewish family Joffo (and in particular the youngest sons Joseph and Maurice) during the Second World War. The family has a popular barber shop in occupied Paris and even has German officers as clients. But when Jewish people need to start wearing a yellow badge, the family decides to flee to unoccupied southern France. Not as one family, but split up. It’s quite a journey, but they make it to Nice, which is in the unoccupied zone and under surveillance of the more moderate Italians soldiers. Until Mussolini is disposed and the nazis come marching in and the family has to flee again.

This classical tearjerker is made for kids. They are the central characters and all focus is on them. It’s adventurous at times and there are some funny scenes too. But it also has some harsh moments that may not be suitable for kids (there is an execution by firing squad f.i.). The movie theatre was filled with adults though, a lot of seniors even. And almost everyone was sobbing. It’s not as good as Au Revoir Les Enfants, but it’s worth the watch. The period setting is praiseworthy and it’s not all that moralizing and pretty factual. The kids’ performances are good. But it’s in the supporting roles dat you see talented actors like Patrick Bruel or Christian Clavier shine.

Allied – **(*)

Posted: January 15, 2017 in 2016, Romance, Spionage, UK, USA, WW2, XX1/2

Catching this during its final week at the movie theaters, Allied does deliver. The classic WWII romantic thriller is well directed (by Robert Zemeckis) and stars the almost always fascinating Marion Cotillard as a resistance girl/spy. It stars Brad Pitt as a Canadian pilot/secret agent as well. But even though he’s also a main character in the movie, his fascination for Marion Cotillard makes him look like a supporting actor. It makes sense that the yellow press accuse Cotillard for the break-up of Brangelina.

The movie’s atmosphere reminds you of other great war classics like Casablanca (the location of the first half of the movie) and Lawrence Of Arabia (the opening dessert sequence). Much time (and money) was spent on details. The set design is impeccable. It looks really good. As far as the story goes, it’s intriguing until the end. It really does feel like it’s based on a true story. Even though it’s all fiction and several scenes don’t make sense.

Not sure if all the cursing happened back then the way it happens in the movie. And not sure if lesbian couples could be so open about their relationship back in 1942 (that scene adds nothing to the story either). Not sure how a British pilot can fly across the Channel into enemy territory and fly back home the next day like it’s nothing. Come to think of it.

Now, a day later, several things just don’t make sense. However, when leaving the theatre the feeling was good.

The Imitation Game – **

Posted: December 25, 2016 in 2014, biopic, Drama, Historical, LGBT themed, UK, USA, WW2, XX

Empire Of The Sun – *

Posted: January 16, 2016 in 1987, Drama, USA, War, WW2, X

I didn’t ‘get’ the buzz about this movie as a child back in 1987 and I still don’t get it as an adult. This is one hell of a boring movie. The story drags on and on and on. It’s depressing, negative, horrible. There’s nothing poetic or emotional about it. Tearjerker, my eye. In order to produce tears, you need to empathize. And there’s no-one to empathize with.

The only reason why you’d want to watch this 80s classic is because Christian Bale is amazing. His character sucks, but he still mesmerizes. He may be nominated for his silly part in The Big Short this year, but he deserved a nomination much more for this feat.

In a discussion about the abundance of Holocaust themed movies, some (older American women) suggested to watch The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, one of the most touching stories they had ever seen. They had never heard of excellent movies like Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters) and they believed Schindler’s List was too grim.


This one here is terrible cinema. It’s a movie for children (and older American women apparently), but who would want to show this to kids? Schindler’s List was compulsory viewing for teenagers back when it was released in the early nineties. And rightfully so. If someone ever comes up with the idea of making this crappy movie compulsory for kids, they’d shrug their shoulders by the end and have learned nothing. 

In case you do want to watch it (in order to make your own opinion) know that it’s about an 8 year old son of a nazi labor camp commander who is curious about the ‘farm’ he sees in a distance from his window room where everyone seems to wear ‘pyjamas’. He ‘befriends’ a Jewish 8 year old who lives behind the electric wire fence.

The acting is terrible, the characterization is terrible, the story is terrible (well, maybe it works as a book – on which is was based). It’s so simplistic and banal. It trivializes an important horrendous period of time. Just to make it more ‘appealing’ for those who think the reality is too grim.

It’s been a while since a movie rated high on imdb left such a terrible impression.

It took me three times to finish this critically acclaimed and popular tv series about the Easy Company, from the preparation for D-day to the end of the Second World War. I never got past the first five episodes in previous attempts (upon its dvd release in 2002 and when I first took a group of tourists to the Normandy Beaches in 2008). It’s a drag, however historically important it may be.

But since I’m at Omaha Beach almost every week this year and since almost half of the men joining me in that excursion think Band Of Brothers is the best thing they have ever seen on tv, I persevered. And sorry folks, but it’s still a drag.

I’d rather read a book or two about the easy company or listen to audio interviews with its officers, but spare me from watching this series again. The acting is so incredibly bad, the dialogue is embarrassingly ridiculous, there is too much focus on battle and action scenes and almost none on character development, there’s almost no-one to sympathize with and it’s very biased… If I was a family member of one of the war heroes, I’d sue the production team for making them look so superficial.

That said, it IS historically important and will definitely be watched for dozens of years to come. There are ten episodes and each one of them focuses on an important event during the liberation of Europe by the allied forces.

However, it’s all so bland. The stories are perfect to make an audience feel uncomfortable and involved. But that’s not what the producers wanted. They tried too hard to find the right balance between glorifying the heroes and showing their flaws. The main character, Major Winters is an incredibly boring character. He comes out of the war almost unscathed and gets promoted all the time, but somehow you can’t relate to the man at all. He remains a mystery. Maybe it has to do with the actor interpreting him: Damian Lewis, the most boring actor in tv land. This was made before Homeland made him a star, but whether he’s Nicholas Brody or Richard Winters, there’s absolutely no emotion visible on his face. However, it’s not just the acting. There’s hardly any time to sympathize with the heroes as they all die within 30 minutes of their introduction. So when someone new is introduced by episode seven you really stop caring, because he’ll be dead by episode eight. And you still haven’t sympathized with the ones who’ve been around since episode one.

Yeah. I’m probably the only person in the world who didn’t like this tv show and who got annoyed so often by the unconvincing acting, but that’s because the expectations are so damn high. You want this series to be top-notch.