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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 12

This week I chose a comedy thriller, a political thriller, a classic screwball comedy, a wartime romance, a storybook romance, a Japanese existential drama, and a loving ode to an Italian childhood.

All of them received Oscar nominations and several of them were big winners. Three of them were up for the Best Foreign Film award.

 

This week’s picks are: Sleuth, My Man Godfrey, Casablanca , The Princess BrideWoman in the Dunes, Z , and Amarcord .

 

 

Review: The Dig

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea where Sutton Hoo was or that it was the site of one of the great archeological finds of the 20th century. But watching The Dig certainly placed it in my lexicon. Cary Mulligan stars in this “based on a true story” period drama. She’s Edith Pretty, a young widow with a young son who lives on an estate near a village called Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England. It’s 1939 and Britain is just being drawn into the war when she hires Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes, Harry Potter, The Grand Budapest Hotel) to excavate some ancient burial mounds on her property. He’s a local man, self-taught, but very knowledgable about archeology. He thinks the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon, but the local museum experts laugh at the idea. They don’t laugh for long.

Quickie Review: Recon

Another World War II film based on true events, Recon is an adaptation of the book “Peace” by Richard Bausch. It’s the story of four soldiers in the waning days of the war who are sent out for reconnaissance in the mountains of central Italy. Early on their Sergeant kills a civilian, and that act colors everything that follows. All of them are tired of war. And they believe they’re on a suicide mission. They’re supposed to find the Nazis and report back on their positions, which could be impossible if they are found out. Along the way they enlist an old Italian man to guide them through the snowy territory, but the question of his sympathies keeps them constantly on edge. And there is an enemy sniper out there. This is no Band of Brothers though. The men don’t seem to have any affinity for one another. They just want to get home alive.

Review: Summerland

Set mostly during World War II, Summerland takes place on the beautiful and remote southern coast of England. Misanthropic writer Alice (Gemma Arterton, Vita & Virginia, Tamara Drewe) lives in a small village where the kids think she’s a witch, and the rest of the villagers leave her a wide berth. She’s fine with that since she’s hard at work writing while pining away for the loss of her one great love. Then one day she opens her door and a young boy named Frank (Lucas Bond) is there – an evacuee from London who expects to live with her. To say she’s reluctant to take him in would be a gross understatement. But of course she does and little by little they grow to care about one other. It’s a pretty familiar story, and it feels a bit like an episode of one of your favorite BBC series. But it’s also a pleasant, heart-warming diversion we can lose ourselves in for a time during this virus obsessed period.

Review: Resistance

When you think of mime, you naturally think of Marcel Marceau. But you probably don’t know how he saved a group of Jewish orphans from the Nazis during World War II. Resistance tells the story of his joining the French resistance and helping to sneak them across the border into the safety of Switzerland. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social NetworkCafe Society) plays Marceau, the son of a Kosher butcher in Strasbourg, France, who’s more interested in becoming the next Charlie Chaplin than being a hero. But his cousin is a commander in a secretive Jewish relief group and convinces him to help them smuggle Jewish children from occupied France to neutral countries. It’s an uplifting story, though not a great film.

Quick Takes: Never Look Away; Transit; Woman at War

With Arty Chick off to parts unknown to direct a documentary, it’s possible her reviews will be fewer and farther between for a while. So I will try and highlight some of the artier films that I happen to see (and like). I’ll also note if they’ve been discussed on my weekly podcast, “The Cinema Clash” with Charlie Juhl, who tends to share Arty Chick’s passion for smaller, indie and foreign films. If we both a like a particular film, there’s a good chance you will too! Topping my list of recent forays into foreign-film land is the Oscar-nominated German film, Never Look Away. It’s part psychological drama, part war drama, part period romance. It takes place over the course of about 30 years, which helps explain the film’s three-hour running time.

Review: The Captain (Der Hauptmann)

The Captain is not for the faint of heart. It’s the true story (or some version of it) of a German deserter in World War II, who finds a suitcase containing a Luftwaffe captain’s uniform and assumes the role, building his own band of brothers from deserters he finds along the way, and committing truly horrifying acts in the name of the Führer in the waning days of the war. Pvt. Willi Herold (Max Hubacher) simply by virtue of a uniform becomes a sadistic leader. Inventing a mission straight from Hitler himself, he quickly loses his fear of being caught and tests the limits of his own brutality. And there are no limits.

Review: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

She was considered the most beautiful woman in the world when she came to Hollywood in the 1930s from her native Austria. She forced Louis B. Mayer to sign her to a high-dollar contract simply by walking through a room. No one could take their eyes off her. And she became a huge star during Hollywood’s Golden Age, but what Hedy Lamarr loved most was inventing. From childhood, she lived to take things apart and figure things out. She had a brilliant mind, but her beauty was all anyone cared about. And as this eye-opening and frustrating documentary shows, her ideas changed the world, even as she got no credit for them. That is, until now.