elcoat

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Reviews

Platoon Leader
(1988)

An accurate, compassionate portrayal of the only real heroes of the Vietnam generation.
... the guys who went over there.

He wouldn't have come directly from West Point, though. He would have had not just Airborne but Ranger training as well.

Interesting depiction of well-laid plans going awry and the consequences of that for the villagers.

The ground war should have been fought in the North instead.

Kongens Nei
(2016)

"Look to Norway" (FDR's speech)
I am a retired American librarian over here in Norway for my younger Norwegian-American children. I am also a World War 2 historian and boardgame designer who had never heard of President Roosevelt's "Look to Norway" speech before I moved over.

In it, FDR showcased Norway as a classic example of an innocent, neutral country attacked and occupied by the Nazis ... and fighting back. Free Norway sailors and ships - especially merchant marine as well as naval - airmen, and commandos and other soldiers were fighting tooth and nail to get their country back.

Just one example: the British-built Norwegian destroyer Stord was the one that got in closest to the cornered German battle cruiser off the North Cape/Nord Kapp in Dec43 to get the most torpedo hits on it and sink it. After VE-Day Stord was then fitting out for the Pacific, when our atom bombs finally ended the horror there.

Norway's neutrality had been compromised by the Altmark Affair, where British Captain Vian took destroyer Cossack into a fjord to free from the German tanker Altmark British merchant seamen captured by German raiders in the North and South Atlantic. Knowing Germany's navy - even u-boats - could be bottled up with an Allied-controlled Norway, Hitler risked his entire navy in a desperate Northern invasion gamble, high-lighted by the first airborne invasion of a country, against which both Norway and Britain were completely unprepared.

The film shows a confused Norwegian Parliament and aging and distraught King Håkon coming to grips with the reality of Norway's situation, strongly and decisively urged by younger Prince Olav. It also shows the German ambassador pushed by Hitler to get the Norwegians to surrender as Denmark - being hopelessly flat - had soon done.

The unexpectedly sharp resistance of the young trainees and their reserve officers on Oscarsborg Festning/Fortress island - now a beautiful national family park with the Krupp guns still there and an excellent museum - is unforgettably realistic and vivid ... one of the greatest film segments I have seen.

Their prevention of the quick taking of capital Oslo and the capture of not just the royal family and Parliament but Norway's considerable gold reserve - I've met the grand niece of the fellow who got that out, called a "bank robber" by the traitor Quisling - gave Norway time to rally.

The depiction of a young Norwegian soldier's experience - another true story - helps the viewer understand the distraught confusion being felt by all Norwegians, who were in for 5 years of hard Nazi occupation.

But it is Prince Olav's wife, Princess Margaret - the mother of today's King Harald - who is especially interesting. She was very intelligent and immediately realized the importance of 3 year old Crown Prince Harald getting to safety to ensure the government's legitimacy and free survival.

She and the children were spirited out of Norway and then with the help of her Swedish royal relatives up to Petsamo Finland to board the American transport American Legion and get to safety in America.

The Roosevelts actually let them stay in the White House for a time - imagine little Harald running up and down its halls :-) - and FDR so impressed by Margaret that he gave that speech.

And this (2020) fall, there is to be a TV series about all this, titled Atlantic Crossing.

In any case, Norway coming to its decision to fight - for war - and coming of international age, is compellingly portrayed in this.

And it is pertinent to note that now-internationally-focused Norway has been elected to be on the UN Security Council for a term starting next year.

GREAT film and an interesting comparison to the Danish 9 April 1940 experience, depicted in a movie with that date for its title.

Into the White
(2012)

Shot down opposing German and British aircrew in a shared survival situation.
I found the ending especially though-provoking and enjoyable but fast-forwarded through some of the film.

The film was at least in part shot in Norway, with all the mountains, the snow, and the white-out. It really got across what the crash survivors were facing to survive. And Grotli, nearest where they crashed, is really up there.

I live in Norway now, somewhat near Oslo, and Norwegians tend to be self-critical. The portrayal of the Norwegians finally appearing in the film isn't especially positive, but their youthfulness and anger - even baby boomer Norwegians are still angry about being surprise-attacked and invaded on 9Apr40 like we were at Pearl Harbor (with FAR less excuse) on 7Dec41 - comes through as understandable.

I cannot imagine this film being well-received in Norway in the 50s or even 60s, though. (I've heard resentment of German( tourist)s for being cheap and littering, and I've suspected that might in part be influenced by the war.)

In any case, it is a good, thought-provoking film, and I can understand others rating it higher - it just wasn't my cup of tea.

And I thought Rupert Grint actually did an excellent, convincing job portraying a British not-officer gunner. He reminds me of Mickey Rooney who unforgettably played a similar role in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.

Utøya 22. juli
(2018)

Something which shouldn't have been allowed to happen and what not to do when it does.
I'm a retired American living over here in Norway for my younger children here. On 22 July 2011 we including my ex were driving back east from the excellent pool in Asker west of Oslo. As we came up out of the tunnels east of the city center, I/we started encountering ambulances heading into town at top speed, sirens screaming.

I told my ex something has happened. She dismissed my concern - denial is common here - and as soon as we got home I turned on the TV and found out about the (ammonium nitrate) bomb downtown (which we hadn't heard in the tunnels) and about an attack on an island.

Some background to 22Jul11:

Norway was taken by surprise on 9Apr40, when the Germans launched the first-ever air invasion of a country followed by seaborne landings, albeit temporarily but decisively held up by the Oscarsborg gun and torpedo battery island fortress (now a beautiful park with the guns and a fine museum) which sank brand-new German heavy cruiser Bluecher - see the excellent film The King's No for that great scene.

To deal with a terror attack like Utøya Island, Norway does have a SWAT team, however its recon helicopter could not carry the whole team, and its pilot was on vacation anyway, it being July when everyone is. Local police who arrived fairly promptly at the shore were instead told to just stand by, although they were hearing shots from the island.

The SWAT team *drove* to belatedly arrive on the shore and then waited for its official boat to arrive, although a few small boats were going back and forth trying to get the kids off the island - until stopped by the police in at least one case - and could have gotten the team (or police) out on the island at least 1 or 2 at a time. When the team's boat did arrive, their and their equipment's weight swamped it, so they had to use other boats anyway, giving the (homegrown, Norwegian) terrorist decisively more time to kill more kids.

(The Labour Party youth camp's leader had departed/escaped on/with the island's ferry, and the captain would not help evacuation until the terrorist was apprehended.)

There was a security guard on the island - the Crown Princess's half-brother - but he was unarmed, that being the Scandinavian law enforcement style at that time. The terrorist quickly killed him but not his very young son who was kneeling by his father's body.

77 - young people and a few adults - many were girls - died, and many more were severely and permanently injured by the dum-dum bullets the terrorist used. When the SWAT team finally arrived, he quickly surrendered, apparently hoping to push his rightwing/anti-immigrant political case from jail like Hitler did after his attempted 1923 beer hall putsch.

Regarding the FILM, it shows young people being thrown into a survival situation they never expected and weren't at all prepared for ... and going into panic and shock. The girl who is the principal character is an older sister more and more distraught over what may have happened to her younger sister. She eventually gives away and then leaves a position of safety under the island's shore cliffs, finds her sister who appears to be dead, hysterically wanders out into view, and is cut down.

Most of the youths' first reflexes were to run to a place of temporary safety and then to call parents - in this girl's case, her younger sister also - and/or police on their cell phones. But they don't really think about and then know what to do.

The film follows her in real time with the "jerky camera" resented by others giving greater realism, and it is agonizingly slow and painful to watch, no police arriving, as others have written. When you watch Tora Tora Tora about Pearl Harbor, you want to jump into the film and grab certain officers by their lapels and yell at them to wake up and act (logically), and this was my reaction to this film.

I was for a time a Scout, having the motto Be Prepared.

An example: I had some experience camping in the wilderness - a 1-man survival adventure on Aristazabal Island off the Canadian Pacific coast ... which I nearly didn't survive, appropriately. In Summer 1972, my new wife's family wanted to go camping on Lake Superior's northern coast. The first day in camp, they wanted to go for a walk through the park forest along the shore.

So I briefed them about what to do if we encountered a bear - men stand together in front, women behind, and everyone back away with pleasant smiles on our faces - and got the usual tedious "it's paranoid Lou again" reaction.

So a fair way down the shore in a forest clearing, we did indeed encounter a young bear, they all panicked, yelled "Bear!," and RAN past me leaving me to face it down alone. (It had this curious "So what's YOUR problem?" expression on its face looking at me, then seemed to shrug, and left.)

So I came out of the forest and down to the shore to give my new family *another* briefing, and this time they listened.

If Utøya had happened in Alaska, about 10 local people armed to the teeth would have been out on that island in 15 minutes, and although a few may have killed each other, they would have made short work of the terrorist.

And something very like Utøya did happen in McCarthy, Alaska in 1983, when an environmental activist (turned terrorist) killed 7 of the 22 residents, even though he himself was immediately wounded and finally surrendered.

The film was very human interest, but seemed (to me, anyway) to be too narrowly focused, although I do understand it was to put us in her mind. And it certainly does that.

There is another film, 22 July, which follows the terrorist's preparations, shows what happened overall, and the courtroom aftermath and implications of rightwing terrorism.

But I do think these films overlook the basic cause of these young-guy rightwing acts of terror: if they instead had normal families and wives and children to love, they might be far less likely to strike out at others like this.

This terrorist's parents had divorced, and he had become somewhat estranged from his father. (Happily, his sister is a married mom - she survived that.)

Unlike excellent wilderness survival films like Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans and (Anthony Hopkins in) The Edge, I do not want to watch this film again, ever.

Habitación en Roma
(2010)

Intimacy, tragedy revealed, and ...?
I watched the first part of the film.

The seduction scenes were very erotic - many of us heterosexual males fantasize about being with ... if not impregnating ... two interactive females - and emphasized the importance of delicate touch as well as more vigorous physicality. We males too often overlook this, especially if in selfish haste.

Beautiful girls - both actresses each in her own way.

But the lesbian girl's story of her mother essentially selling her to a sheik when she was young made it depressing to watch.

25 years ago, a tall, beautiful, openly lesbian university volleyball player finally agreed to go sailing with me. Everything was going well. She had insisted on taking the helm and then nearly capsized us, which transformed her into being trusting and submissive. And then I said exactly the wrong thing.

And like in this film, it turned out she was leaving the next day to go East for graduate school, so I wasn't being given a fair chance to win her affection anyway - I was to be used in her sexual experiment. She soon later wrote me a letter saying she had tried it with a guy for the first time with someone else - her girlfriend's brother - but was unimpressed. With me, she would have been impressed.

She is in her late 40s now and as far as I know *tragically* childless. She should have birthed a girl's volleyball team by now.

For a woman, sexual *reproduction* - *giving* life ... and nourishment - is the ultimate fulfillment, and (just *self*-satisfying) lesbianism can critically delay or completely preclude that happiness.

Dvadtsat vosem panfilovtsev
(2016)

Solid, generally historical film about the Russians' costly defeat of the Nazis.
Many impressions about this film.

The German tanks were perfectly made. The German infantry didn't have faces, with them covered against the cold.

The Germans had and have in the film numerical and equipment superiority, stopped or at least delayed by stubborn defense. Notice the German air supremacy, at least that far out from Moscow.

Heroic as they were, the Panfilovtsi didn't defeat the Germans directly at Volokolamsk, as the film seems to show - that late in the year, the German 2nd wave could have been plausibly cancelled for lack of sunlight/time - but they critically delayed the northern and most dangerous German panzer thrust which was finally defeated northwest of Moscow, reportedly within sight of the distant Kremlin's towers.

The film takes its time developing the human portraits of the soldiers and their various feelings and motives.

The battle scene reminds me of a similar one in the German Stalingrad film, where the surrounded German soldiers are being attacked by in this case *Russian* tanks, albeit having better anti-tank weapons.

(By the way, there is a report on BulgarianMilitary com a few days ago that one of the Russians' new Armaty tanks was destroyed by an anti-tank weapon in Syria.)

We had similar, vital last stands in World War 2, ourselves, which deserve film treatment not yet given. One was 4 of our U.S. Army armored infantry gunners stopping the Nazi SS tanks at Trois Ponts Belgium with their similarly puny 57mm anti-tank gun, before the SS could get to and take the key bridge - except our Army engineers blew it up, happily - to cross it and break through to threaten our main supply port, Antwerp. See the Fields of Honor burial entry for Donald Elmer Hollenbeck, who had just had his 20th birthday.

The ethnic diversity of the 316th Rifle Division, coming from Kazakhstan, is noted and those issues discussed.

I have free/educational print-and-play military history chess games on my webpage, and in my games at that unit level, Panfilov's 316th Rifle Division is there and strong.

The Russians lost 27 million men, women, and children in World War 2, and they fear another attack from the West today.

In historian David Stahel's book Operation Typhoon, he gives the second German offensive in November short shrift, saying the October mud and "kessel"/surrounded pocket battles had critically and decisively delayed the Germans past any chance of taking Moscow, but they got within sight of it nonetheless, and if (among lesser soldiers than those who *were* defending Moscow) there had been panic as Hitler hoped and/or expected, the Russian defense might have collapsed with the loss of the capital and its transportation net.

However, I've wondered if the misery, horror, and suffering of the battle might have influenced David to end his account prematurely. In one instance he describes 2 German officers billeting themselves in the cottage of an older Russian and his wife and their 3 little boys. The father objected to something, and one of the German officers shot him dead out of hand. And then the crying woman and little boys irritated him, so he murdered them too. (See also Omer Bartov's book about the atrocities by the Wehrmacht - not just SS - especially early in the war before many transferred to the SS.)

My father was a U.S. Army Air Force master sergeant in China-Burma-India, and we Baby Boomer kids grew up in the early Cold War, thinking the Russians were our enemies and the Germans our allies against them. Thanks to my historical and wargaming interests, for me, that childhood delusion has been completely reversed.

Some people dispute that there ever were the 28 Panfilovtsi, but that is for the Russians to say. Desperate Red Army last stands like this occurred all over the Russian Front in 1941 and 1942, and there were desperate (although better equipped) defensive actions like this in the deep Red Army defense lines' entrenchments in the initial, German offensive phase of the Battle of Kursk in July 1943.

Everyone should see and understand this film to understand Russians' feelings and anxieties today.

The Saint: The Latin Touch
(1962)
Episode 2, Season 1

Rome? through the cigarette smoke. :-)
Roger Moore was a masterful English actor. His James Bond For Your Eyes Only was playacting, but with a message and warmth. But in this, he attempted to put polish on a Roman brick. :-)

Ironically, my 8 year old daughter decided we would all - me, her 11 yr. old brother and her mother, my EX - go to Rome last summer, and it was quite a trip. The kidnapping scene actually looked like it was staged in the Colosseum, it was so good if it was a set.

We were not accosted by vendors or cameramen, although my first evening there, I was confronted by a rather hateful fellow who looked like one of the thugs in the program, but I wouldn't let him provoke me, and he gave up and left. (I'm not a fan of the Mafia and they know it, but the Holy City is apparently neutral territory, so .... OR he could have been just an Italian angry at Americans over the killing of a young, newly married Italian policeman by 2 American teenagers, last year.)

The program's stereotypes were alternately funny and offensive, even to Anglo-American me. There are honest law enforcement officers in Italy, and if anything they have been more effective keeping the Mafia under control - outside of Calabria, anyway - than we Americans. The Mafia's infiltration of our own political machines and many of our senators and Congressman is obvious, and now we have the Albanian, Russian, Armenian ... mafiyas to contend with as well.

The Italian cab driver was apparently so successful a character, that he returned in a couple more programs, from what I've read. He reminds me of the likeable ill-fated resident agent Luigi in For Your Eyes Only.

I think a program like this today would (have to) be vetted by the Mafia, in the U.S. at least.

Templar's trick of claiming a traitor in the mobster's inner circule was unconvincing without a scene of the mob boss being psychiatrically paranoid enough to believe it.

The blonde governor's daughter - actress Suzan Farmer - appeared to have a figure worthy of Monica Bellucci. Was it a casting requirement? She was briefly Ian McShane's wife - sadly no children, apparently.

I have a long bucket list to complete, but the hour spent watching this was maybe better spent than playing solitaire, here in coronavirus/COVID-19 self-isolation.

Det sjunde inseglet
(1957)

A film everyone should see, especially now.
We all play for time against Death, but this film dramatizes it like no other.

It is both ironic and tragic that Max von Sydow just died, himself. He was very much a Christian - in the existential sense - knight, himself.

I believe I first saw the film at Swedish-Lutheran-American Augustana College, and before and sometimes after our world literature classics class, my best friend there - who was Swedish-American and looks rather like Max von Sydow - and I would play chess while incidentally discussing basic questions of life.

As we see our world collapsing now too because of disease, the knight shines forth as a human being facing life ... and death ... with courage and nobility ... thinking of others.

The Trench
(1999)

The rats are too small and uniforms too clean, but it vividly depicts the mentality of doomed men.
Daniel Craig is very good ... believable ... in this. Very much the sergeant. He is also excellent in Archangel (Russia). The jury is still out about his James Bond, which is entirely different.

There are some good, realistic, and disturbing undercurrents in this psychological portrayal:

  • Craig's sergeant is a career soldier and family man - 2 daughters and 1 son - who is realizing his life is about to be wasted by his Army/corporation.
  • The corporal being a scared but nonetheless vicious bully pushed to his psychological limit by his fear of his impending death.
  • The nude girl in the corporal's nude photos apparently being the postal worker Pvt McFarlane has a crush on ... or fantasy about ... or maybe just similar face ... implying the lower class's girls back home are being corrupted into prostitution while their boyfriends are being wasted.
(Who *is* that beautiful girl?! Is she an actress? Why isn't she in the credits?)
  • The lieutenant's alcoholism.
  • The randomness of death in the trenches and the certainty of death of going up over the top out of them.
  • The irony of the one brother being wounded ... and surviving.
  • The squadie asking the visiting colonel if he is going to accompany them in the attack, the colonel uneasily (albeit not guiltily) admitting (after trying to pump them up telling them how easy it will be) he won't be, and then the squadie being taken around the corner and slapped upside the head by the career sergeant for (having the guts ) to speak up.
  • The lying chain of command telling them first that they will be in the 3rd wave with a better chance of survival and then unforeseen difficulties putting them in the first wave. Or was it dooming retaliation for the squadie's question?


There are indeed jarringly inconsistent unrealities: only 1 little rat, clean uniforms, no gloomy constant Northern European rain/drizzle as someone else has pointed out, No Man's Land looking verdant when it should look like The Craters of the Moon especially after the bombardment, ... but the film's military social and mental message outweighs them

Lots of people are eager for a "major war" these days - Tyler Cowen in the 13 June 2014 New York Times, for example - and their friends and families should see this.

The Alamo
(2004)

Excellent, dramatic historical film slandered by ignorant critics.
This is the most accurate film about the Alamo massacre that I have seen. And it takes the time to bring out the very human personalities of the historical figures involved. The savagery of those times and battles is clear and hard to dismiss. It was good to see the U.S. Army Regulars Andy-by-God-Jackson had sent down, in the film. As the Texican Army retreats, the viewer *feels* the frustration and growing anger of its men, as Houston - fully played by Dennis Quaid - waits ... and waits. If that quote of him about Wellington is true, he had certainly learned from him. (My GGG Grandfather Charles Jack was a 17 year old Scots British Army officer cadet in Belgium in 1815 - later he joined The British Legion in Bolivar's War of Independence in Venezuela.) Patrick Wilson is a perfect Travis, as he would be a perfect Lt. Cdr Layton in the new Midway film. Great intensity. And Jason Patric's Bowie is similarly vivid, unforgettable. But of course Billy Bob Thornton's *David* Crockett is the film's showpiece. Every American - not just Texan - should see this film and learn from it.

Dauntless: The Battle of Midway
(2019)

An excellent complement to the other new Midway film, focusing on the service of and dangers for naval aviators.
This is an excellent complement to the other new Midway film. It focuses on the danger of being a carrier plane flight crew, including the chance of being lost at sea. (In the also-excellent Japanese animation of the Oct42 carrier Battle of Santa Cruz, a Wildcat fighter pilot has to bail out, and you see him parachuting into the vast Pacific with the implication of little or no chance of ever being found so far from base (Espiritu Santo).

I thought the CGI was very good, and note the Pensacola class heavy cruiser and the USS Atlanta antiaircraft cruiser rendered so faithfully.

All the time spent on the men in the water was excruciating but fair, considering what a lot of aircrew went through. Back in Macomb Illinois, I had a friend named Ben T. Scheik who had been a 21 year old PBY pilot and somehow survived the war. He was a heck of a pilot, a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and I could see Ben wearing a Hawaiian shirt flying his plane. :-)

Everyone should watch Hollywood director John Ford's color Battle of Midway documentary film on YouTube, wherein he focuses on the importance of search and rescue after the battle. To people at that time both in and out of the service, our servicemen's safety and wellbeing was uppermost in their minds.

And the scene in this movie of the submarine surfacing raises the question of whether missing aircrew were picked up by the many Japanese subs north of Midway ... and what might have happened to those aircrew.

I'm not sure Miles Browning should be hammered so hard, though. If he hadn't gotten those planes off early and if we hadn't knocked out 3 of the 4 Japanese carriers, the battle would have gone the other way. Look how effective Hiryu's counterattack (on Yorktown) was, and it was just one of the Japanese carriers.

I would like to see verification of his objection to lighting up Enterprise and Hornet for night-time landings and his disregard of aircrew safety after the first crucial day.

GOOD film, well done.

Meet Joe Black
(1998)

Joe Black dropped by to say hello, today.
As usually happens with cardiac moments, I have learned, it was just after I got up, as it had been for my first real heart attack 3 years ago.

(When that happened, I went and lay down on my back in bed and then - on the spur of the moment - on the brink of the abyss - reasoned that raising and laying my left arm up above me on the bed might straighten out the heart artery and let the blood flow again, which it apparently did, with the help of an aspirin. A half hour later a second attack came, I did the same thing, it subsided, and I fell asleep - happily to awaken. I almost forgot to tell my doctor about these, and when I did he became alarmed, tests verified the attacks, and - at no expense in Norway's wonderful national health care - I had an angiogram: a little pipe inserted in the artery. I had stopped my heart medicine for about a month, ergo this recent little episode this morning, apparently. And I have now just gotten back from one of my long but careful heart walks.)

In any case, my first thought this morning - again confronted with the possibility of dying and deserting my children - was this movie, which I had seen some years ago, long before the attacks.

It is very gradual - slow - and gentle and gentlemanly, as Hopkins&Pitt movies are, and its subject is one of the most basic to living creatures.

And it has an appropriately beautiful ending. HIGHLY recommended.

(And yes, I have seen Andre Rieux's excellent performance of Sir Anthony's similarly beautiful composition, And the Waltz Goes On.)

The Crossing
(2000)

Excellent, historically accurate depiction of a key moment in America's struggle for survival
I think the "History through Film" high school class ratings badly distort the film's true quality and should be withdrawn. While it is good that kids are being taught to think critically, too often they come to think that means negatively. And they are growing up with fantasy films like Jurassic Park which dazzle with glitz, but really amount to little.

Jeff Daniels does another excellent job of humanly portraying a key American figure, like he portrayed Joshua Chamberlain in Gettysburg.

The story and bitterness about Hessians bayoneting surrendered Virginians in the back on Manhattan Island was something I hadn't remembered and/or realized, and that was an important educational point to get across. (I have a Hessian officer who stayed over here after the Revolution in my ancestry, by the way. The result of his scandalous liaison with a sheltered Quaker girl was the first name-bearer of my mother's family.)

Michael Mann's/Daniel Day-Lewis's Last of the Mohicans and Gettysburg are the 2 films about American history most people should see ... and in Mohicans' case *have* seen, I have discovered now being over here in Europe ... but The Crossing is close.

I liked the new Midway (2019) film - although it needs some scene/accuracy corrections which CGI can now enable - but The Crossing and Battle of Trenton was historically just as crucial to America and was made on an infinitely smaller budget, which is something young film makers should keep in mind.

Excellent film.

Red Rose of Normandy
(2011)

Film supporters vs. many critics :-)
This was an intriguing film to watch. I was amazed at all the T34/85s for the Russian Front scenes.

For the Western Front scenes, another Sherman or two would have been nice, but small unit actions were often exactly that.

I don't understand why the nurses weren't waving white flags to surrender and save themselves, although things were happening fast and people were dropping everywhere.

As to some guys being overweight, our GIs were not all perfect athletic specimens.

They should have stuck with the P-51s Mustangs and not tried to impersonate P-47 Thunderbolts with AT-6 Texan trainers. A Bridge Too Far made the similar poor choice.

All in all, not a bad film effort at all, although the Waffen-SS should not be shown in a favorable light, considering 2.SS PzDiv's massacre - 600 men, women, and children burned alive ... to death ... in the village church - of Oradour on 10Jun44.

Birkebeinerne
(2016)

Edge of your seat action and suspense.
I'm American living over here in Norway for my younger children. Although a military historian, I had little knowledge of Norway's post-Viking history, and it's fascinating.

This chase movie puts you on the edge of your seat with the highspeed skiing, desperate personal combats, and with a cute little baby's life at risk.

And it showcase's Norway's beauty, even in winter. (I'm not a skier.)

This appears to have been filmed in the actual Nidaros Cathedral, still standing in Trondheim and where Norway's kings are still crowned.

Especially with the trauma of World War 2 and Norway's royal family refusing to submit to German occupation and control, most Norwegians are royalists, so the emotional impact of this film on Norwegian audiences must have been intense.

We Americans helped Princess Martha and the children - including present-day King Harald who was only 3 at the time - escape the Nazis in World War 2, and President Roosevelt even hosted them living in the White House for a few months. He was greatly impressed by the very intelligent Princess Martha, and she inspired his "Look to Norway" - for an example of a small victimized country fighting back - speech.

I strongly recommend this film.

The Last Fling
(1987)

GREAT romantic comedy. :-)
Notice that there is no Goofs section for this film. What would be the point of it? :-)

John Ritter and bella Italian-American signorina Connie Sellecca were perfect for this film. John plays a divorce lawyer looking for The One and tells super-sexy predatory blonde SHANNON TWEED good-bye - that she's just not his type.

A cute scene in the movie is when his mom - worrying that he might be secretly gay - tries to set him up with an also tall and blonde & beautiful but very provincial and linguistically challenged Norwegian girl.

So a day or two later he's wandering around the zoo and encounters this BEAUTIFUL brunette and instantly falls in love with her. She's kind and promises she'll call him - not wanting to break his heart by telling him her wedding is in 8 days!

In the meantime, her boorish fiance - who has a good provider practical income but is picky around their apartment - decides to go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party last fling ... and when she telephones his hotel room, a girl answers.

SO she decides to have HER last fling and gives John a call, suddenly suggesting they go to her relatives' place in Acapulco and giving him a false name.

And then they fall in love, but she's gone the next morning, leaving a video telling him why she must leave and they mustn't see each other ever again.

Needless to say, Our Hero launches on his Quest to find her and save her from a loveless, practical marriage for their true love ... and it only gets funnier, crazier, and then happier with every scene. :-)

Actually, I had a similar experience with an (older) Italian-American girl 50 some years ago, albeit with a different outcome.

I was in Washington DC out-processing from West Point and walked into a government office building looking for a rest room. I passed an open door, and there was this BEAUTIFUL young Italian-looking (and indeed so) brunette leaning over a counter in an unbuttoned lab coat ... which did not conceal her beauty. (Think Monica Bellucci and Sophia Loren ... and Connie Sellecca ... or an equally beautiful blend of them all.)

To her startlement, I walked right in and we had a delightful conversation, and after her shift was over she took me to her apartment and showed me around, but nothing happened. (I was 18 and ... very shy. I think she was 21.) She finally said her roommate was coming, wanted me to leave before she arrived, and promised to meet me for lunch the next day.

And so I got a pass the next day to go downtown again, and we indeed met. She seemed extremely nervous and kept looking over her shoulder. Finally, she said that her family owed a Mafia family a lot of money, she was betrothed to the Mafia family's son, and if they found out then terrible things would happen to her and her family ... and we had to say good-bye. She was REALLY scared..

I said I understood, wished her all the best, and we parted in sweet sorrow.

I hope she is well and had many equally beautiful daughters.

About 35 years later, a Mafia son got another sweet and beautiful girl - although not for marriage - I felt/fell in love with, this time an Anglo girl.

However, The Last Fling has a much happier ending. :-)

Blade Runner 2049
(2017)

Depressing with too many questionable questions.
More than one person has wondered why this has such a high rating. I suspect it is ballot box stuffing by the studio's friends ... or bots ... which I have seen for other recent, poor movies.

Didn't Rachael and Deckard head up to Alaska at the conclusion of the original? What were they doing back in Los Angeles? Why would they have wanted to return??

At the end, how was Joe able to take Deckard to his daughter without Wallace stopping them?

Much cruelty and blood-letting.

I liked Olmos being in the film, so I'm upping it to a 2.

But it is a very depressing film showing a future from - in - Hell.

And I think there will be many more real humans left alive in 2049. 1984 wasn't in 1984, although we seem to be sliding into it now.

Jason Bourne
(2016)

A fill-in for the series, maybe, but ...
I still see The Bourne Supremacy as the best of the series by far, especially with its opening, very musically accompanied scene of Bourne jogging on the beach.

This film made the overall plot too routine: Bourne brought out of retirement by the past, another girlfriend getting killed by the bad guys, etc.

The finale's car chase scene disturbed me. Weren't there people ... families as well as couples ... in all those otherwise unrelated passenger cars destroyed?

And the surviving girl in this one turns out to be both ambitious and evil, personally taking out the previous administrator and blackmailing the DNI into making her CIA director.

A disturbing detail was CIA Dir Dewey threatening to have the one fellow's family murdered, if he told Bourne the truth about his father ... which the fellow did. It recalls the real-life "murder-suicides" of 9/11 whistleblower and former CIA officer Phillip Marshall and his teenage children and even their dog as well as the same of "The Gray State" whistleblowing film producer David Crowley, his pretty young wife, and their 5 year old daughter ... and their dog.

In sum, it portrays and seems to confirm the CIA as being a profoundly evil cut-throat Deep State bureaucratic jungle.

Die Another Day
(2002)

Worth the swordfight scene alone, which beats Flynn and Rathbone in Captain Blood.
Watching a captioned copy of the film, it states how the actors Pierce Brosnan and Toby Stephens were themselves into the intense (and very dangerous) swordfight scenes.

From fencing foils to sabers to BROADSWORDS and not in armor, but in a staid English club, even slashing fine painting prints.

And with broadswords, a miscue could have resulted in an actual decapitation! And the escalation of the anger indeed OUT OF CONTROL rage looked ... genuine ... and like it could have only one ending, until cool if not frigid Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) broke it up.

The previous lesbian insinuation between Miranda and swordswoman and dominetrix Verity - unforgettably played by uncredited Madonna, who should be in the first *IMDb* credits for this film - was a nicely degenerate British wrinkle.

I cannot recall a better swordfight scene in any film, including the battle of the champions in El Cid.

Then there is Halle Berre emerging from the Caribbean in a bikini even beating Ursula Andress's in Dr. No. On the other hand, she plays a cold-blooded killer agent which really isn't Halle.

More scenery of Iceland itself would have been appreciated, although the icebound environment was novel.

The opening North Korean scene was also great, as well as the Asian actors. The various vehicle chases at the end became repetitive, although the idea of drowning in a room was the stuff of nightmares.

It is a film to watch more than once, as I just have ... for the swordfight alone. :-)

Savior
(1998)

War inescapably being hell.
Dennis Quaid still deserves an Oscar for his performance in this film. It wrenches you the viewer along with his character on the screen.

I love military and naval history - of World War 2, principally - but the innocent collateral civilian victims must be remembered, and war must be *confined* to history books (and games, like I design).

And in civil and insurgency wars, it is innocent civilians who suffer the worst.

Everyone has a duty to see this film just like they should see We Were Soldiers. It too will fill you with resolve to stop our species insanity.

I've seen the film once. I'm not sure I can watch it again.

Helen of Troy
(2003)

A very interesting take, but a better film is still needed.
There were some things I liked very much about this film, but it is still not enough. Theseus - Stellen S. - abducting Helen ... then telling her (guiltily?) that her mother had committed suicide because she had been raped - nothing about Zeus posing as a swan to seduce Leda - and then refusing to deflower her ... the inference being that Helen was Theseus' daughter.

To avoid an internecine Greek war over her, Odysseus suggesting they cast their rings to see who would get this cursed woman for a wife, and Menelaus - who loves her and is eventually her forgiving salvation - winning her. (It would have been much better if historically wily Odysseus was shown cheating by planting M's ring in the spittoon.)

Rufus Sewell played Agamemnon perfectly ... desiring both Helen and supreme authority in Greece via a successful war on and sack of Troy. (Were they secret lovers? Was she his agent to go with Paris and give the Greeks casus belli against Troy? Not in this film.) And his face turning to stony horror at what he had done (to himself), sacrificing - murdering - his own joyfully loving daughter - at the behest of a presumably childless prophet - to inspire his aggressor army and open his road to war and supreme power.

The actor who played Paris was also perfect for the role, and Paris's return to the Trojan court ... over the justified fears of Cassandra and then Hector ... was well played.

As others have said, the central character in The Illiad was Achilles, but in this film it is Helen as a willful child at the mercy of her beauty and her desires who is the central character. Sienna Guillory is a a very pretty and sexy woman, but in a very modern way - not at all the classic beauty that actresses Rossana Podesta and Diane Kruger were/are.

And was Helen blonde as she is in the 1956, 2003, and 2004 movies? Or would an 18 year old actress as beautiful as Monica Bellucci be more accurate?

Menelaus putting her on nude display for his fellow kings and nobles serves an exhibitionist/exploitative purpose for the film's audience, but it was inconsistent with him wanting her for himself and not wanting to excite murderous competition, let alone an internal Greek war for her.

I didn't like how Paris' killing of Achilles was handled. I remember in the 1956 film him spectacularly dragging Hector's body around the city walls, until Paris killed him with an arrow into his heel fired from the parapets, which seemed much more epic. (The film's little detail about Paris becoming accurate firing his arrow from a horizontal bow was rather neat, though.)

Agamemnon's rape of Helen consummating the rape of Troy was consistent; however, Clytemenaestra suddenly appearing in Troy to avenge her sister (and daughter) and kill Agamemnon there (rather than back in Greece) was implausible, even if her use of the net to kill him is historically consistent.

In the finale the film redeems itself with Menelaus still in love with Helen and unable to kill her - enduring and accepting love triumphing in the end - and in that scene Sienna Guillory did excell, sympathetically.

Red Sparrow
(2018)

Demonizing the Russians again and turning girls into manhaters
The more I think about this film, the more downright evil it appears to be.

Any young girl who sees this is going to be traumatized by it and just as likely turned into a manhater for the depiction of male manipulation and rape. It's traumatic even for adults and the sexual violence/sadism should have earned it an X.

Previously I wrote: Thinking about the violence, I've dropped this a notch. We have indeed seen that kind of brutal competitiveness in Olympic skating, but no nude beatings, that I can remember.

Jennifer seems built like a running back, with assets. I hope she has daughters.

She actually *looks* Russian, and not just her figure. Considering her character's situation, I thought her stoic acting was quite appropriate ... and very Russian in character.

And someone else has pointed out the advantages of floppy disks over sticks, as far as a shade more data security.

Jeremy Irons makes an excellent intelligence general.

I found the movie very long but suspenseful and it kept my interest. For sure, it's not a James Bond film.

As to which side now is a prison, that is in question. Election 2016 was a real populist American uprising, so apparently we Americans still have our freedom. After everything that has happened in Britain ... Iraq war fraud whistleblower Dr. David Kelly's July 2003 "suicide," the clumsy Salisbury "Russian novichok" caper, and now the revelations about British (government) "intelligence"'s misnomered Integrity Initiative seditiously trying to smear Labour's Jeremy Corbyn to be a Russian tool ... I am very concerned about once great Britain.

I do wonder if Jennifer's experience in Hollywood has been at all similar to a red sparrow. Ashley Judd would probably say hers was.

In summary, the film is long and anti-Russian and hideously violent and hateful.

El Cid
(1961)

A magnificent epic for our times.
The battle between the champions is one of the great scenes in film history - and filmed on-site in Spain!

And once again today, the Christian and Muslim civilizations and cultures are in mortal combat, now here in Europe as well as the stirred up Mideast.

As depicted in this film, in Spain Muslim moderates allied with the Christians against the fundamentalist enemies of social and cultural progress - civilization - and eventually became assimilated, adding their rich intellectual and artistic talents and traditions to Christendom. But that was 1000 years ago, and we cannot waste time and blood on such strife now, which makes this film that much more vital and current.

Charlton Heston was superb for his role, but the film was about his struggle to reclaim both Jimena and Spain, and the analogy is clear and brilliant. Melania Trump reminds me strongly of Sophia Loren, by the way.

The report of Heston and Loren ... disliking ... each other explains that love/hate chemistry on the screen. Spanish women do tend to be ... impassioned.

As good as this and Ben Hur and Planet of the Apes are, the chivalric code - at least in Europe farther north - is even more strongly portrayed by Heston's The War Lord, which everyone should also see.

King of the Khyber Rifles
(1953)

Great film. I lost family members in India back then.
I believe I was with my dad, when we went to a drive-in movie theater to see this. He was in Dacca East India with the USAAF during the war.

The scene midway through the film that still sears my mind's eyes is of the captured British officers and soldiers tied to posts and the Northwest tribesmen riding down the line to hurl lances into their chests, one after the other. As in the case of the shadow of naked Lucy strung up on a scaffold with Comanche arrows in her in The Searchers, I remember the scenes of the executions being much more graphic and at the moment of impact. Censorship is stupid.

On my mother's side, I lost 2 great great great granduncles in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 in the Cawnpore Massacre. British Indian Army Brigadier Alexander Jack - unfortunately not in command at Cawnpore - had engineered the fall of the heretofore unassailable mountaintop Fort Kangra. His younger brother Andrew, the baby of the family, was just ill-timedly visiting from Australia and reportedly died in screaming agony when a mutineer cannonball took off his legs.

And now we're all back ... still back ... in The Graveyard of Empires on the other side of the Khyber Pass. Strategic stupidity like that cannot be fictionalized.

Despite any shortcoming described by other viewers here, this is indeed a classic film well worth watching.

Skjær i sjøen
(1965)

Intriguing fantasizing but could have been much better.
I am a 71 year old retired American librarian who lives over here in Norway for my very young Norwegian-American children. I am divorced and living alone like the principal character - a 51 year old Norwegian novelist - in the film. I now design wargames and have a very little supplemental income from that.

The film is described on its DVD cover as a comedy, apparently in the classical sense. At its start, his postman stops his rounds to have fish soup which the novelist makes well. (LOTS of excellent fish menu items here, of course, with the exception of fish pudding and lutefisk. :-/ :-) ) During the meal he sees visions of himself and his ex-wife in the adjacent living room arguing. He is still suffering from a former also-abusive marriage. He writes her into some of his novels. (Norwegians will read anything and enthuse about it, it seems.)

The novelist father is unexpectedly visited by his 19 or so daughter whom he hasn't seen for 2 years ... and her 2 pretty friends who think her strikingly homely father is attractive. ?? The girls mention that the brunette has just lost her father, and he expresses condolences. His daughter and the other blonde sleep in one room, the brunette - played by Norwegian film star of that time Tone Danielsen who, contrary to IMDb, is *not* the daughter - sleeps separately in another, and he sleeps in his own bedroom.

The girls are fascinated by his solitary life - although he has a circle of card-player friends - and how he raises chickens. His country cottage - very much like ones everywhere here - is idyllically situated on a lake or fjord, as is often the case, and he takes the girls fishing and joins them swimming. (If this was a fjord, that is more hazardous to do now, with great white sharks moving north and being sighted around here.)

We American guys have visions of blonde or at least VERY fair Scandinavian girls exercise-jogging naked through the woods every day - something which would be far too dangerous for them to do now, unhappily. (It is astonishing to see many dark-haired parents with tow-headed children at school events, although with so many foreign-born parents now, that is less so in the major cities.)

The film was made in 1965 in Scandinavia, and there was no reason at all swimming suits had to be worn in those scenes. :-)

And during one of those swimming sessions, he follows the brunette into a small inlet where she takes him by the hand and leads him up to a secluded spot ... but nothing happens.

Coincidentally, there are 3 young Norwegian guys out on a fast sailboat who notice the girls and ask them aboard. The brunette demurs but is encouraged by the novelist. The 3 guys visit the house, and the novelist's daughter - clearly unhappy - goes off into the secluded spot and suddenly amorously attacks the young Don Juan sailboat owner. Her father is suspicious, and the brunette laughs at him ... seductively.

Meanwhile, the novelist's ex-wife coincidentally shows up in the local village staying at the hotel. The couples later meet at the town dance hall, and the novelist dances with the girls ... finally slow-dancing with the brunette. The ex-wife is there, flirts with a couple local men, is getting drunk, and tries to get their daughter to pair up with one of the men, which naturally repulses the daughter. The novelist doesn't go back to the dance hall on a later - the last - night.

The brunette misses the novelist and comes back to the house where they embrace and kiss - he is now ready to consummate matters - but then she up and runs away, back to the dance. She is shown packing later.

He still has high hopes and sits at the table in his bedroom with a candle lighted and falls asleep. After some time - the candle is down - the door handle moves, and the (clothed) brunette starts to venture into his room, only to see him asleep, think better of it, and leave.

This storyline would have social approval: a beautiful and hot young girl - LOTS of those in Norway! - who has just lost her father is attracted to a lonely divorced man her father's age. However, despite the mutual attraction, fate dictates that nothing develops, and so she presumably will find a young man to marry and have a normal marriage and life.

And Norwegians do try very hard to be normal/conventional. (Some decades ago, I have been told, it was easy to get institutionalized if you weren't.) There has arisen in Scandinavia since Viking times something called janteloven - the Laws of Jante - which, from Wiki, is "a code of conduct known in Nordic countries that portrays not conforming, doing things out of the ordinary, or being overtly personally ambitious as unworthy and inappropriate."

As an American guy, I find the storyline to be completely unsatisfactory. First of all, if my daughter came to visit after such a long separation, I'd get out the family photos to share with her and her friends to relive happy memories. I'd also make sure to have some heart to heart walks and talks with her, which in the film the daughter clearly needed.

Then, when they were leaving, I'd make sure she understood she would always be welcome - especially if she now found herself in a family way - and extend that invitation to her friends ... especially the brunette ... as well.

I might mention here that his housekeeper was rather pretty and looked to be in her late 40s, and if she wasn't married or a samboer - living partner with someone - I would think he would have previously explored that possibility ... if he was at all human. (Scandinavians *are* very reserved, until they drink. I don't drink, and I'm not at all reserved. :-) )

And as for a much older man taking advantage of a younger girl, as long as they have had an honest talk about the realities ... numbers ... and she was still determined and serious ... to include children and a family, however long that - he - lasted ... well, I'm a Viking bent on conquest ... and colonization.

(When my younger daughter was born up in Trondheim, the obstetrician looked, very directly, at 63 year old me and evenly said, "Good genes." And all of us descendants of my mother's family are subjects of a longevity study - one of her sisters finally breaking 100 last year.)

It is a very intriguing film, at least - very Scandinavian, which brings me to the revealing moment/exchange in the middle of the film, which I almost forgot:

When she is talking with him and edging to becoming close to him emotionally - to entering his life - she asks him regarding the life he has, "It's enough?" And he answers, "It's enough." ... in the very Scandinavian self-denying sense ... declining her interest.

That would never be *my* answer.

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