REVIEW: SAINTS AND SOLDIERS: THE VOID

Starring

Adam Gregory (17 Again)
Timothy S. Shoemaker (Invasion of Privacy)
Michael Todd Behrens (Yellowstone)
Ben Urie (Osombie)
David Morgan (Age of Dragons)
K. Danor Gerald (Forever Strong)
Matthew Meese (Studio C)
Becca Ingram (Adam & Eve)
Colby Strong (Power Rangers Beast Morphers)

Saints and Soldiers: The Void (2014)In May 1945, remnants of the German Army continue fight on in the Harz mountains, nicknamed “The Void” by American troops. An American M18 Hellcat tank destroyer, “The Avenging Angel”, fires on a German prison and liberates the Allied prisoners held there, including Lieutenant Goss (Ben Urie). The next day the prisoners are to be transported to the rear by Sergeant Jesse Owens (K. Danor Gerald) {NOTE the real Jesse Owens did not serve in the military in WW2 } and Private Perry (Alex Boye). Owens is not respected by some of the white soldiers because he is an African-American.Adam Gregory as Cpl. Sims in Saints and Soldiers: The VoidCaptain Briton McConkie orders Sergeant John Atwood, commander of the Angel, and Max Whitaker, to take their respective tanks to clear the roads of any Germans to protect Owens’ and Perry’s convoy. The two tanks travel along the roads, with some tension arising between Private Daniel Barlow (Matt Meese) and Rodney Mitchell. Corporal Carey Simms (Adam Gregory) stops the arguments. The convoy comes across a fake body in the road, and then a hidden German Panzer III tank fires, destroying Perry’s truck, killing everyone inside. The Germans open fire at Owens’s truck, and he and Goss manage to escape. Further tank vs. tank encounters ensue, ending when Owens destroys a German tank with an anti-tank missile. Barlow and Mitchell reconcile from their previous arguments, and Simms and Owens befriend one another over the course of the conflict.The story focuses a lot on racial disputes in the US army at that time. You have the African-American sergeant who is the most experienced of the lot, trying to take charge of the situation, while 2 men from the tank crews are bigoted against him. The British captain goes on to mostly fight by himself as he’s trying to avenge the death of his fellow prisoners. All in all, some of the characters are interesting. The delivery of the message it wants to convey is kinda blunt towards the end, but it’s still worth the watch. The movie is more focused on action than previous films in the Saints and Soldiers series.

 

REVIEW: RESISTANCE

CAST

Alexander Dreymon (The Last Kingdom)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones)
Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)
Tom Wlaschiha (Rush)
Kimberley Nixon (Black Death)
Anatole Taubman (Taken)

After all the women in a remote valley on the Welsh border awaken to find their husbands have left to serve in the covert British Resistance, German occupiers arrive in this alternate-reality thriller set in 1944 where D-Day has failed and the United Kingdom has been invaded by Nazi Germany. Facing a harsh winter, the women and soldiers find they must co-operate with one another to survive. Each distrusts the other. The women want to remain loyal to their absent husbands and the soldiers are after all at war and the women are their enemy. Over time the soldiers stop wearing their uniforms. The Germans help with farm chores or may leave a couple of shot rabbits on a porch. The Germans think the war may be over soon and why not spend the winter away from war.Captain Albrecht becomes close to Sarah. To prove he can be trusted, he takes her to a cave where a priceless Medieval world map has been hidden from the Germans. He studied Medieval history and even he does not want the SS or Himmler to get it. Another much more elderly wife named Maggie has become friends with Bernhardt.Spring has arrived and Sarah convinces Albrecht to let Maggie take her prized cob horse to the county fair and Bernhardt accompanies her. The women wanted to know if there was any news of their husbands. A friend of Maggie tells her that the group of men that blew up the railroad bridge had all been hanged by the Nazis. Maggie returns to the valley with a third place win but very changed with the knowledge that the husbands were dead. Young teen George sees Maggie’s fair trip as collaboration with the enemy and shoots her horse in punishment. The loss of her husband and horse is enough to kill Maggie. Soldier Steiner distrusts the valley women and he runs off to town with the Army radio. Albrecht is in love with Sarah and asks her to escape off with him before the Gestapo come. She agrees but actually goes home and writes her date of death in the family bible. She then makes sure to burn the priceless map to keep it from the Germans. She was always loyal to her husband and country. She walks off into the mountains to die and movie ends.I would recommend you to see this film if you like ideas, beauty and no easy answers. The performances are uniformly stunning and the photography, breathtaking. Don’t see it if you expect to be told what to think. This is a film about difficult questions in extreme circumstances and as such demands commitment.

REVIEW: DEFIANCE (2008)

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
George MacKay (How I Live Now)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Allan Corduner (Vera Drake)
Mark Feuerstein (Prison Break)
Tomas Arana (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jacek Koman (Children of Men)
Mia Wasikowska (The Double)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

Jamie Bell and Daniel Craig in Defiance (2008)The film is based on a true story, beginning in August 1941. Nazi Einsatzgruppen (task forces) are sweeping through Eastern Europe, systematically killing Jews. Among the survivors not killed or restricted to ghettoes are the Belarusian Jewish Bielski brothers: Tuvia, Zus, Asael and Aron. Their parents are dead, killed by local police under orders from the occupying Germans. The brothers flee to the Naliboki Forest, vowing to avenge the deaths of their parents.Daniel Craig and Alexa Davalos in Defiance (2008)They encounter other Jewish escapees hiding in the forest, and the brothers take them under their protection and leadership. Over the next year, they shelter a growing number of refugees, raiding local farms for food and supplies and moving their camp whenever they are discovered by the collaborationist police. Tuvia kills the local Auxiliary Police chief responsible for his parents’ deaths and the brothers stage raids on the Germans and their collaborators. Casualties cause Tuvia to reconsider this approach because of the risk to the hiding Jews. Rivalry between the two eldest brothers, Tuvia and Zus, fuels a disagreement between them about their future; as winter approaches, Zus decides to leave the camp and join a local company of Soviet partisans, while his older brother Tuvia remains with the camp as their leader. An arrangement is made between the two groups in which the Soviet partisans agree to protect the Jewish camp in exchange for supplies.Daniel Craig in Defiance (2008)After a winter of sickness, starvation, attempted betrayal and constant hiding, the camp learns that the Germans are about to attack them in force. The Soviets refuse to help and they evacuate the camp as German dive-bombers strike. A delaying force stays behind, led by Asael, to slow down the German ground troops. The defense does not last long; only Asael and a camp member named Sofiya survive to rejoin the rest of the group, who, at the edge of the forest, are confronted with a seemingly impassable marsh. They cross the marsh with only one casualty but are immediately attacked by a German platoon supported by a Panzer III tank. Just as all seems lost, the Germans are assaulted from the rear by a partisan force led by Zus, who has deserted the Soviets to rejoin the group.Jamie Bell and Mia Wasikowska in Defiance (2008)As the survivors escape into the forest, the film ends as text on the screen states that they lived in the forest for another two years, building a hospital, a nursery, a school, growing to a total of 1,200 Jews. Original photographs of the real-life characters are shown, including Tuvia in his uniform and their fates are shared: Asael joined the Soviet Army and was soon killed in action, never getting to see the child he fathered; Tuvia, Zus and Aron survived the war and emigrated to America to form a successful trucking firm in New York City. The epilogue also states that the Bielski brothers never sought recognition for what they did and that the descendants of the people they saved now number in the tens of thousands.
defiance01Defiance is an important story that needs to be heard. Daniel Craig leads a great cast of characters in an emotional journey of community, camaraderie, and hope.

REVIEW: WAR PIGS

 

CAST

Luke Goss (Blade II)
Dolph Lundgren (Arrow)
Chuck Liddell (Cradle 2 The Grave)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Noah Segan (Cabin Fever 2)
Ryan Kelley (Smallville)
K. C. Clyde (Firestarter: Rekindled)
Jake Stormoen (The Outpost)

Disgraced World War 2 Army Captain Jack Wosick is given the opportunity for redemption when asked to lead a rag-tag unit of misfits known as the War Pigs on a secretmission to go behind enemy lines to uncover and capture a Nazi developed Super Weapon the V3, a massive artillery canon that would give the Nazis an insurmountable advantage against the Allies. With the help of Captain Hans Picault, a German Anti-Nazi serving with the French Foreign Legion and Colonel AJ Redding, a battle hardened WW1 veteran, Jack must train, lead and earn the respect of his new squad to become a functioning reconnaissance unit.War Pigs is a fun action adventure movie. It’s Pigs is a fun watch.  Dolph Ludgren and Luke Goss give amazing performances as French Foreign Legionnaire Peter Picault and Captain Jack Wosick. Worth a watch for fans of Dolph.

 

REVIEW: FORTRESS (2012)

Starring

Bug Hall (American Pie: The Book of Love)
Donnie Jeffcoat (Eagle Eye)
Sean McGowan (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Chris Owen (American Pie)
Edward Finlay (2 fast 2 Furious)
Jamie Martz (Jarhead)
Manu Intiraymi (Star Trek: Voyager)
John Laughlin (Under Siege)
Jeremy Ray Valdez (Land of 1,000 Dances)
Drew Van Acker (Titans)

Fortress (2012)The B-17F Lucky Lass, part of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) 99th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (the “Diamondbacks”) from the 12th Air Force is stationed at Navrin, Algeria in 1943. We learn in the opening reveal that air crews are expected to complete 25 combat missions before they can be sent home. However, losses are heavy and the odds are that only 2 in 10 will survive 25 missions. During a raid on Gerbini, Italy, with her Irish-American crew, the Lucky Lass is heavily damaged and the (pilot “Pops” (Jamie Martz), and both waist gunners, Jake (Anthony Ocasio) and Joe (Steve Holm) are killed.Fortress (2012)Five days later, Wally (Donnie Jeffcoat) is now the Lass’ aircraft commander), and replacements arrive. Co-pilot Michael Schmidt (Bug Hall) reports to Wally, and two new waist gunners, Tom (Jeremy Ray Valdez) and Oliver (Tony Elias), introduce themselves to the enlisted crewmen. On their walk-around of the North African base, the replacements are introduced to the alcohol still that flight engineer Burt (Chris Owen) has put together from bomber parts and other scraps. Burt explains that the Army adds ethanol to boost the octane rating of aviation fuel, so they are cooking the fuel to distill out the alcohol. The crew, anxious to get back into the air, push maintenance chief Sgt. Caparelli (Howard Gibson) to clear their aircraft to fly. After some griping, Caparelli tells the men that the Lass has already been cleared earlier that day. The crew throws a party/wake to celebrate their return to flight status and mourn their losses. Only Wally dares to sample the local cuisine, goat meat and cous-cous, while everyone else sticks to their C-rations. Michael is present and appears standoffish. Further alienating him from the crew, he does not join in Wally’s toast to their recently departed crewman because he doesn’t drink. Wally takes the new young pilot outside and gives him some advice to try harder to fit in, including drinking with the men.Fortress (2012)During the next mission which is supposed to be a milk run, an already hungover Wally succumbs to ptomaine poisoning. Michael takes over the controls. The squadron is ordered to fly into the clouds in a roundabout course to avoid flak emplacements on the approach to the target in Messina. Michael simply tries to keep an eye on the plane in front of him and doesn’t use instrument navigation. Unfortunately, when the Lass comes out of the clouds, the rest of the squadron is nowhere to be seen. Not only are they off course, they have flown over territory heavily defended by antiaircraft guns. They abort and manage to make it home without any injury. A despondent Michael tells Wally that he’s going to apply for a transfer to another plane. Wally says that while getting lost is a serious screw up, shit happens. He convinces Michael that the crew will eventually forgive him and suggests he start by admitting his mistake and apologizing to the crew. However, as he approaches the crew’s tent, he overhears them making disparaging comments about him. The complain that they won’t get credit for what was an easy mission, and he realizes now is not the right time to talk to the men. That night, there is a fierce sandstorm forcing everyone on the base to take cover. Burt finishes collecting a batch of alcohol, but in his haste to get away from the storm, he fails to shut down the still, allowing the flammable liquid to drip and pool on the ground.Fortress (2012)To help boost the crews’ confidence in Michael, Wally lets him take the pilot’s chair. Shortly after takeoff, the pilots notice the oil pressure rising rapidly, and the engines begin losing power. Since they can’t stay in formation, the Lass is forced to abort yet another “milk run” (an easy mission) to Messina, Sicily. To make matters worse, the still is destroyed in a fiery explosion. The crew blames Michael at first, considering him a jinx. Later, the squadron limps back, indicating that it had not been an easy mission. At the debriefing, we learn that the squadron’s fighter protection was diverted, and enemy fighters had unexpectedly shown up over the target. Wally assures Michael that by aborting the mission, he had perhaps saved their lives.Fortress (2012)With the Lucky Lass grounded and the squadron decimated, some of the Lass’ crew are mixed into other crews for the next mission. Charlie (Manu Intiraymi), Eddie (Joseph Williamson) and Michael are not assigned. Michael feels guilty at missing yet another mission, but his crewmates point out this is a blessing in disguise because as the only officer on the ground, he can ensure that Caparelli fixes the plane properly. After having worked all night to ready the squadron for today’s mission, Caparelli is loath to order his men to work in the 105 degree in the shade sun. He tells Michael they’ve already checked the plane and didn’t find any mechanical problems, but Michael won’t take it lying down. After reading Caparelli the Riot Act, he persuades Caparelli to inspect the Lass again to discover the “gremlins” that brought down the aircraft. Since excessive oil pressure was the problem, Michael insists that Caparelli take apart the oil pumps despite the new pump having been installed just last week, and a visual inspection not revealing anything. Caparelli reluctantly follows Michael’s orders and discovers that the oil lines have been fouled with sand from the last sandstorm. Meanwhile, to make good on a promise to Al (Tim Hade) for a celebration on his safe return, and with no alcohol left, Charlie is caught stealing liquor from the officer’s club by the chicken-shit quartermaster, Monroe (Matt Biedel), and is facing a summary court-martial. Eddie pleads with Michael to intervene with Col Shay (John Laughlin), the “Old Man”. Michael arrives just as the colonel asks Charlie if he has an exonerating explanation. Michael explains about the Lass’ newly discovered mechanical problems, and claims he ordered Charlie to get alcohol to use as a solvent to clean the oil lines, and accepts blame because he wasn’t explicit enough in his order to Charlie to get it legitimately. The colonel pretends to believe Michael’s ridiculous lie and lets Charlie off. Monroe protests, but the colonel dresses him down and tells Monroe he doesn’t have time to waste on anything that doesn’t effect the operational efficiency of the squadron and dismisses Monroe. Before dismissing Charlie, the colonel asks why he only grabbed Scotch whiskey, to which he replied the Lass is an Irish bomber with discriminating taste. The colonel takes a bottle from the case and chuckles to himself after Michael and Charlie leave. That night, whole crew celebrate Charlie’s vindication, and declare Michael an honorary Irishman, christening him, “O’Schmidt”.Fortress (2012)July 19 arrives and the Lass is cleared to fly the Rome mission. On the final run to the IP, Burt is blinded by shrapnel from anti-aircraft fire, but they continue and manage to release their bombs over the target. However, as they make the turn home, a B-17 flying above them is hit and begins falling in their direction. They take evasive action, but the doomed bomber’s wing clips part of the Lass’ right horizontal stabilizer, causing them to go into an uncontrolled climb until they stall and begins a lateral spin. The plan loses altitude rapidly as Michael and Wally struggle desperate to regain control. At the last second, Michael and Wally manage to pull up, but they are now very low over Rome and taking heavy ground fire. As they reach the edge of the city, a barrage of flak takes out another engine and obliterates Wally. Back in the waist, Tom checks on a wounded Oliver. Oliver says he’s OK. As Tom turns back to his guns, another flak round kills him instantly. Michael asks Archie (Sean McGowan) to come to the cockpit to help him fly, since the navigator was once in flight school. Archie makes his way to the cockpit without saying a word about his wounds. He looks at the pulped flesh that used to be Wally before climbing into the seat. The Lucky Lass gets away from Rome, and makes a run for a British airbase at Malta.Michael asks Al from his position as the ball turret gunner about their situation. He reports that aside from the knocked-out engines and other damage, the B-17 appears to be fine. However, the damaged port landing gear falls away as it’s being lowered, leaving Michael no choice but to order everyone to bail out. Michael, not noticing that Archie is wounded, leaves the cockpit with Archie at the controls. As Michael helps the crew bail out, Archie begins to cough up blood. Archie opens the bomb bay doors and makes his way back to Michael as the last of the crew exits the plane. As he turns around, Michael is horrified to see blood soaked Archie, obviously in excruciating pain. Archie knows he’s not going to make it. As Michael tries to help him get ready to bail out, he sees Archie’s parachute has been destroyed. Michael says that they can land the aircraft on the water or both jump together using his parachute. Archie nods, but he then tells Michael to “take care of the boys” and pushes Michael out. Archie makes his way back into the pilot’s chair to take control of the B-17 and starts climbing, but in its damaged state, it cannot take the stress and disintegrates, taking the navigator with it. Some time later, back at Narvin, a new replacement checks in with Michael, now the flight commander of a new bomber, starting the cycle again.fortress-2012It wasn’t perfect. Some parts were predictable and there were lapses in special effects. But it was good and I definitely enjoyed it. Give it a try and I think you’ll enjoy it too.

REVIEW: THE ROUND-UP (AKA La Rafle)

Starring

Mélanie Laurent (Now You See Me)
Gad Elmaleh (Salut Cosusin)
Jean Reno (Leon)

Mélanie Laurent in La rafle (2010)Jo Weisman, a young Jewish Parisian, and his family are taken by the Germans and Vichy collaborators in the rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv. Anna Traube, a 20-year-old woman, walks out of the velodrome with forged papers; her mother and sister are captured. Annette Monod, a Protestant nurse, volunteers for the velodrome, and assists Jewish doctor David Sheinbaum. From the Vélodrome d’Hiver Jo’s family and Sheinbaum are transferred to the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp. Monod comes along. She does what she can to help the children, who are soon falling sick from the camp diet and conditions.The parents are dispatched by train to supposed “work camps in the East” (in reality the extermination camps), and Sheinbaum too. Monod wants to come along, but Sheinbaum talks her out of it. After some time authorities announce that for humanitarian reasons the children will be reunited with their parents in the east (in reality the adults have already been killed, and they are now going to kill the children). Some children believe they will rejoin their parents. However, Jo and another boy, Pavel, escape under barbed wire, taking money that the family had hidden in the toilets along with their valuables.Jean Reno and Mélanie Laurent in La rafle (2010)While the other children are being taken away, a doctor treats Monod, who is now sick herself. The doctor informs Monod that the Resistance has now learned the true fate of the deported Jews. When Monod hears what happens to them, she races after the children despite her sick condition. But she finds the train had just left. After the war, Monod searches for survivors at the Hôtel Lutetia. She finds Jo, who has survived and is to be adopted by a family, and a younger boy Noé, to whom she had also been close. He had somehow slipped out of the group of children taken away on the train to the extermination camps.Jean Reno and Mélanie Laurent in La rafle (2010)This is an extremely well written, directed and acted film. The subject matter may not be new, but this story is fresh.

REVIEW: FLOWERS OF WAR

Starring

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Ni Ni (Fleet of Time)
Zhang Xinyi (Look for A Star)
Tong Dawei (Badges of Fury)
Atsuro Watabe (Zebraman)
Shigeo Kobayashi (Railroad Man)
Paul Schneider (Elizabethtown)

Christian Bale in Jin ling shi san chai (2011)In 1937, Japan invades China, beginning the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese Imperial Army overruns China’s capital city, Nanking, in December and carries out the systematic and brutal Nanking massacre.Christian Bale and Ni Ni in Jin ling shi san chai (2011)As the invading Japanese overpower the Chinese army, desperate schoolgirls flee to the nominally protective walls of their convent at a Western-run Roman Catholic cathedral. Here, John Miller (Bale), an American mortician on a task to bury the head priest, joins the group of innocent schoolgirls. He finds a boy there, George, an orphan who was raised by the dead priest, and taught English. The boy is the same age as the schoolgirls. Soon a group of flamboyant prostitutes arrive at the cathedral, seeking refuge by hiding in the cellar. Pretending to be a priest, Miller tries to keep everyone safe while trying to repair the convent’s truck to use for an escape.Ni Ni in Jin ling shi san chai (2011)After an incident when rogue Japanese forces assault the cathedral (who are then killed by the dying effort of a lone Chinese Major (Tong)), Japanese Colonel Hasegawa promises to protect the convent by placing guards outside the gate, and requests that the schoolgirls sing a chorale for him. Several days later, he hands Miller an official invitation for the schoolgirls to sing at the Japanese Army’s victory celebration. Fearing for the safety of the virginal schoolgirls, Miller declines. Hasegawa informs him that it is an order and that the girls are going to be picked up the next day. Before they leave, the Japanese soldiers count the schoolgirls and erroneously include one of the prostitutes (who has strayed from the cellar), totalling 13.When the de facto leader of the schoolgirls, Shu Juan (Xinyi), convinces them that they are better off committing suicide by jumping off the cathedral tower, they are saved at the last moment when the de facto leader of the prostitutes, Yu Mo (Ni), convinces her group to protect the schoolgirls by taking their place at the Japanese party. As there are only 12 prostitutes, George, the dead priest’s adoptive son, volunteers as well. Miller initially opposes their self-sacrificing decision, but ultimately assists in disguising them, using his skills as a mortician to adjust their makeup and cut their hair to appear like schoolgirls. The prostitutes also create knives out of broken windows and hide them in their cloaks.The next day, the “13 Flowers of Nanking” are led away by the unsuspecting Japanese soldiers. After they depart, Miller hides the schoolgirls on the truck he repaired and, using a single-person permit provided by the father of a schoolgirl, drives out of Nanking. In the last scene, the truck is seen driving on a deserted highway heading west, away from the advancing Japanese army. The fate of the 13 Flowers remains unknown, apparently martyring themselves for the students’ freedom.Bale is great in the lead, as always, as commanding a presence as any actor working today and his female counterpart, newcomer Ni Ni, is someone to watch out for, she is beautiful and has a star quality that is undeniable. Although it runs well over two hours, I never lost interest and I really cared about what happened to the victims of this sad part of history. The Flowers of War will reach into your heart and soul and stay with you long after the credits roll.

REVIEW: DAYS OF GLORY (AKA Indigènes)

Starring

Jamel Debbouze (360)
Samy Naceri (Taxi 2)
Roschdy Zem (The Cold Light of Day)
Bernard Blancan (Boyhood Loves)
Assaad Bouab (Zadig)
Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)

Jamel Debbouze and Aurélie Eltvedt in Indigènes (2006)In French North Africa in 1943 large numbers of men from France’s overseas possessions have been recruited into the French First Army of the Free French Forces to fight alongside the other Allies against Nazi Germany and liberate France from occupation. The army consists of two main elements: pieds-noirs, that is people of mostly European descent, and indigènes, those of mostly African descent. The “indigènes” in turn consist of three main groups: Algerians, Moroccans (known as goumiers), and troops from Sub-Sahara Africa. Saïd, an impoverished goat herder, joins the 7th RTA (Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens). With him are other Algerians including Messaoud, who wants to marry and settle in France, and the literate Corporal Abdelkader, who seeks equality with settlers for the indigenous people of his country. There are also two Moroccan brothers Yassir and Larbi, Yassir’s aim being booty so that Larbi can afford to marry.Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, and Roschdy Zem in Indigènes (2006)Soon the men, dressed in mostly lend-lease American uniforms meet Sergeant Martinez, a battle-hardened pied-noir, who trains them before leading them on their first engagement against the Germans in Italy. Their mission is to capture a heavily-defended mountain, but it soon becomes clear that their white commanding officer is using them as cannon fodder to identify artillery targets. The colonial troops eventually succeed, at the cost of high casualties. When asked by a French war correspondent about his thoughts on the losses, the white colonel replies, “today was a great victory for the Free French Forces”. The troops of the 7th RTA next embark for Operation Dragoon, to liberate the south of France. While aboard ship, a white cook refuses to give tomatoes to black soldiers. Abdelkader calls for equality, but mutiny is averted when Martinez and the company captain promise that everyone will be treated the same. On arrival at Marseille, the colonial troops are greeted as heroes. Messaoud meets and courts Irène, a French woman, promising when the regiment leaves that he will write and one day return. She says she’ll wait for him and they will marry. However, due to censorship of soldiers’ mail, Irène never learns Messaoud’s fate.Sami Bouajila and Jamel Debbouze in Indigènes (2006)Saïd becomes Martinez’s orderly, for which the other soldiers call him “girlie” and imply he’s gay. Eventually he snaps and holds a knife to Messaoud’s throat. Abdelkader calms the situation, but Saïd makes it clear that in this segregated world the French authorities will not give their colonial soldiers anything. Having seen among Martinez’s possessions a family photograph, while drinking with the sergeant Saïd mentions that the two of them are similar in both having an Arab mother. The NCO attacks him and threatens to kill him if he reveals this secret. The colonial troops discover that, while they are not granted leave, white members of the Free French Forces are allowed trips home. Eventually the men are told they will be going home, but it’s a ruse; instead, they are billeted behind the lines and given a ballet performance. Bored and disillusioned, most leave the tent and hold a meeting outside decrying the injustice. Martinez challenges the group, led by Abdelkader, and a fight starts.Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, and Roschdy Zem in Indigènes (2006)Early next morning, French military police bring Messaoud to a temporary stockade where Abdelkader is also being held. Messaoud says he was arrested for trying to go back to Marseille and find Irène. Abdelkader is brought before the white colonel who tells him that he needs him to go on a special mission: to take ammunition to American troops fighting in the Lorraine Campaign and also be the first French troops to liberate Alsace. The white officer promises that Abdelkader and the other colonial soldiers will get the rewards and recognition that success in this operation will bring. Later, the white company captain tells the corporal that the colonel will keep his word. Most of the men are killed by a booby trap, including Yassir’s brother, as they cross the German lines, and Martinez is severely injured. The survivors mostly want to go back, but Abdelkader rallies them to push on. Eventually the corporal, Saïd, Messaoud, Yassir and the wounded Martinez reach an Alsatian village. Over the next few days the soldiers ingratiate themselves into the area and Saïd befriends a milkmaid. A battle begins when a unit of Germans arrives, and everyone except Abdelkader is killed. Messaoud is badly hurt by a Panzerschreck rocket and then shot by a German rifleman. Saïd attempts to evacuate Martinez, but they are both shot by the Panzerschreck, killing Saïd and further wounding Martinez, who is quickly finished off. Abdelkader and Yassir attempt to flee, but Yassir is shot in the back by a German. However, just as the corporal is cornered, more colonial troops arrive and drive the Germans out of the village.Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, and Roschdy Zem in Indigènes (2006)As columns of Free French forces begin to move through the area, Abdelkader sees the colonel passing in his jeep, but the white commanding officer ignores him and he is pulled away by a staff officer who asks him where his unit is. When Abdelkader says they are all dead, he is simply assigned to another white NCO. As he walks out of the village, he passes a film cameraman filming only white troops standing by the liberated villagers. The movie then moves to the present day. An elderly Abdelkader goes to a war cemetery in Alsace to visit the graves of his comrades: Martinez, Saïd, Yassir and Messaoud. He then returns to his small rundown flat in modern-day France. The film concludes with the caption that from 1959 pensions for servicemen from France’s overseas possessions living in France enjoyed no increases after the date their country of origin became independent.The movie takes the viewer on a trip back to the second world war, showing how parts of the Arabic population fought with the French colonists for their freedom, against Nazi Germany trying to occupy Africa. As the movie evolves, other aspects than the fight for freedom and the brutality of war emerges. The viewer is reminded that the the social identity of the white bourgeoisie class and the stereotypes that follows not emerged with the current world of terrorism. Questions of power, humanity, religion, racism, love and honour follows the viewer through this exciting, emotional and realistic movie. Along with the plot and acting in this piece of work, the critical viewer should be satisfied.

REVIEW: CROSS OF HONOUR (aka INTO THE WHITE)

Starring

Stig Henrik Hoff (The Thing)
David Kross (Boy 7)
Florian Lukas (The Polar Bear)
Lachlan Nieboer (Checkmate)
Rupert grint (Harry Potter)
Kim Haugen (Buddy)

Stig Henrik Hoff in Into the White (2012)On 27 April 1940, a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 bomber (1H+CT) is pursued near Grotli by a Fleet Air Arm Blackburn Skua (L2940) fighter. Three of the four German crew survive the crash: pilot Leutnant Horst Schopis (Florian Lukas), Unteroffizier Josef Schwartz (David Kross) and Feldwebel Wolfgang Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff). They prepare then set off for the coast to rejoin the fighting. A snowstorm develops. They loose their supplies and encounter a hunter’s cabin. Two British airmen from the other downed aircraft, Capt. Charles P. Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) and his air gunner Robert Smith (Rupert Grint), are heard to approach the cabin. They start to deal with each other in the cabin. An attempt in the morning, to set out for help, is abandoned when they start to get separated by the snowstorm.Rupert Grint, Stig Henrik Hoff, Florian Lukas, and Lachlan Nieboer in Into the White (2012)Norwegian soldiers set out as a patrol to look for the downed German airmen. They encounter Smith and Strunk skiing downhill. A Norwegian sniper fatally shoots Strunk and captures Smith. Portside, a Norwegian officer interrogates the Brits perceiving them collaborators. Davenport explains what happened and silences the interrogating officer. Shopis and Schwartz are prisoners of war in Canada; Smith and Davenport return to combat action. Davenport survives the war.Florian Lukas, David Kross, and Lachlan Nieboer in Into the White (2012)I really liked this movie. It doesn’t attempt to be a Hollywood blockbuster or anything like that. Just a good, smart, watchable film.

 

 

REVIEW: 12 STRONG

Starring

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Michael Peña (Ant-Man)
Navid Negahban (Homeland)
Trevante Rhodes (The Predator)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Geoff Stults (The Finder)
Thad Luckinbill (La La Land)
Ben O’Toole (Hacksaw Ridge)
Kenny Sheard (John Wick 2)
Elsa Pataky (Fast & Furious 8)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Taylor Sheridan (Veronica Mars)

Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong (2018)Mitch Nelson, a US Army Captain with Green Berets Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595, is moving into a new home with his wife and daughter on September 11, 2001, after receiving an assignment to staff duty under LTCol. Bowers. As news of the devastating terrorist attacks that day break, Nelson volunteers to lead 595 into Afghanistan. Bowers initially refuses, but veteran soldier CW5 Hal Spencer, previously scheduled to retire, persuades Bowers to give Nelson command of 595 again, as well as volunteering himself for the deployment. After leaving their families, 595 travels to Uzbekistan on October 7, 2001. After being briefed and evaluated by COL Mulholland, Commander of 5th Special Forces Group, Nelson and 595 are picked to fight alongside Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum.ODA 595 is inserted covertly in Afghanistan aboard an MH-47 Chinook flown by 160th SOAR. They land 40 miles south of Mazar-i Sharif, the country’s fourth-largest city and a longtime stronghold of the Taliban, where they meet Dostum. Six of the 12 members, led by Nelson, leave with Dostum to the mountains, while the other six remain in a fortified camp nicknamed “The Alamo” under Spencer’s command. Dostum is attempting to capture the northern Afghanistan city, while battling Taliban leader Mullah Razzan, who rules local communities brutally under strict Sharia law, and has murdered several people, including Dostum’s family.Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong (2018)Although the warlord is initially skeptical of Nelson’s abilities, Nelson gradually earns Dostum’s respect. In one battle, however, Dostum makes a tactical error, costing several casualties. Nelson accuses Dostum of acting carelessly with the lives of his men and of withholding valuable information, while Dostum retorts that he still feels that Nelson, and the U.S., is not willing to pay the potential price of the conflict, and tells Nelson that he needs to use his heart and mind to “be a warrior” instead of a soldier. The two eventually reconcile, and, after splitting off a three-man element under SFC Sam Diller to strike a Taliban supply route, and being joined by Spencer’s half of ODA 595, continue to work together. They win several victories with Dostum’s leadership and manpower and American airpower, making significant progress towards Mazar-i Sharif. Suddenly, however, Spencer informs Nelson that another ODA, 555, has been dispatched to support Atta Muhammad, another Northern Alliance leader, who is Dostum’s political rival. When Nelson is forced to tell Dostum, the furious warlord and his men promptly abandon 595.Following Dostum’s departure, Nelson plans to continue operating against the Taliban with his Americans and the few Afghan fighters remaining with them. Encountering a large force of Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters and armored vehicles, ODA 595, rejoined by Diller and his element, uses air support to eliminate many of the fighters and most of the armor, but are discovered and attacked. Spencer is critically injured by a suicide bomber, and the team is about to be overrun under heavy Taliban and Al-Qaeda pressure when Dostum returns with his forces. Carrying out the US Army’s first cavalry charge of the 21st century, the American and Northern Alliance forces disperse the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and Dostum tracks down and kills Razzan. After Spencer is medevaced, Nelson and Dostum continue to Mazar-i-Sharif but find Atta Muhammad has beaten them there. Against expectations, Dostum and Muhammad meet peacefully and put aside their differences. Impressed by Nelson and the Americans’ efforts, Dostum gives Nelson his prized riding crop and tells him that he will always consider Nelson a brother and fellow fighter but remember that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Spencer ultimately survives, and all 12 soldiers of ODA 595 return home after 23 days of almost continuous fighting in Afghanistan.The film’s penultimate moment shows a photo of the Horse Soldier Statue in New York City, based on the soldiers of ODA 595 and their victory in the early stages of the response to the September 11th attacks, dedicated to all United States Special Forces. The film then ends with a photo of the actual members of ODA 595, in combat fatigues, upon whom 12 Strong was based.Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong (2018)Perhaps not the best war movie ever made and a bit predictable, but a truly well done and well acted insight into the first response to 9/11. Yes we win. Guess what? We won in real life too. It’s about the journey not the well known destination. It’s a ride, on horseback. Enjoy it for what it is. The