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Jojo Rabbit (2019)
It's definitely not a good time to be a Nazi
Filmmaker(s): Taika Waititi

A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

Multipurpose knives I think I would like to hang out with Taika. At any rate, I believe him to be a genuinely good man in a business fraught with otherwise. I actually like when a personal style is deeply reflected in a film or collection,...
Published April 9, 2024
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Red Cliff (2008)
The future will be decided.
Filmmaker(s): John Woo

In 208 A.D., in the final days of the Han Dynasty, shrewd Prime Minster Cao convinced the fickle Emperor Han the only way to unite all of China was to declare war on the kingdoms of Xu in the west and East Wu in the south. Thus began a military campaign of unprecedented scale. Left with no other hope for survival, the kingdoms of Xu and East Wu formed an unlikely alliance.

Tectonic Extremes I am not a fan of Woo, and the reason becomes more stark when you compare this to Zhang‘s work. Zhang creates a world of grace in which people move, affected by the laws of that world. They can act, based on the...
Published February 9, 2024
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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Seize your glory!
Filmmaker(s): Noam Murro

Greek general Themistocles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. Themistocles faces the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god, Xerxes and Artemesia, the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Slaves in the Hold I live near Pat Robertson‘s elaborate film school, and have often wondered what the world will be like when religious extremists master effective filmmaking. What happens when we move from Roger Ailes to Leni Riefenstahl? Well, here we have something that...
Published February 6, 2024
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The Monuments Men (2014)
It was the greatest art heist in history
Filmmaker(s): George Clooney

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. With the art hidden behind enemy lines, how could these guys hope to succeed?

The Diary I am thankful that Clooney is working. I’ve heard him speak as himself; he is a good man, interested in good things. I forgive him his lack of range as an actor, because the characters he plays are so engaging. And he made...
Published February 5, 2024
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American Sniper (2014)
The most lethal sniper in U.S. history.
Filmmaker(s): Clint Eastwood

U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle takes his sole mission—protect his comrades—to heart and becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history. His pinpoint accuracy not only saves countless lives but also makes him a prime target of insurgents. Despite grave danger and his struggle to be a good husband and father to his family back in the States, Kyle serves four tours of duty in Iraq. However, when he finally returns home, he finds that he cannot leave the war behind.

Focus I watched this like many others, consuming a rather simple story. Superficially, we are to admire this soul, both as an individual and representative of a collective who ‘serve‘ us. As with Forgiven, we have some subtle exit from the story in the direction...
Published February 4, 2024
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The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014)
Filmmaker(s): Tsui Hark

Yang Zirong disguises himself as a bandit to infiltrate and destroy a bandit group. He joins hands with a hostage, and together, they fight against the warlord, Hawk.

The Japanese Win? About a 2D viewing. This is very clearly produced under Party sponsorship to celebrate the soldiers who won the country. The contrast with US WWII films is striking. We require tough heroes, where here there is something more noble. Two remarkable things…...
Published February 4, 2024
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Eye in the Sky (2015)
Welcome to the new front line
Filmmaker(s): Gavin Hood

A UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill.” As American pilot Steve Watts is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute reaching the highest levels of US and British government over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.

Three Distances My notion of noir is the communication in a film story that the audience is the writer of the world, a world designed to satisfy our urges. Innocent victims are manipulated through coincidence and love. Since Welles, we’ve seen a great many variations...
Published February 3, 2024
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Toward the Unknown (1956)
Somewhere at a secluded U.S. Air Force Base lives a picked handful of very special men — the rocket pilots of outer space and the eerie experimental craft that rule the skies beyond the sky...
Filmmaker(s): Mervyn LeRoy

Tortured into a false confession while a POW in Korea, Major Lincoln Bond returns to active service as a test pilot. Determined to clear his name, Bond battles a hard-nosed base commander, prejudiced officers and his own insecurities.

Spam in a Jan Three things noteworthy about this movie, which though big in its day is almost completely forgotten now. It is one of a class of movies where the humans are second class citizens and the prime characters are machines. This class originated...
Published January 24, 2024
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Dark Blue World (2001)
Filmmaker(s): Jan Svěrák

Lt. Franta Slama is a top pilot in the Czech Air Force who is assigned to train a promising young flier, Karel Vojtisek, and they soon become friends. When Nazi Germany invades Czechoslovakia in 1939, they both reject the authority of their new leaders and escape to England where they join other Czech exiles in the RAF. While flying a mission over England, Karel crash lands and happens upon the farmhouse of Susan, a young woman whose husband is in the Navy. Karel soon falls head over heels for Susan but, while they enjoy a brief fling, in time Susan decides she prefers the company of the older and more worldly Franta. As Franta and Karel struggle to maintain their friendship despite their romantic rivalry.

Not Czech A nation cannot be a nation unless it has an identity. These days that identity is at least found in and often generated by movies, especially war movies. Also, if a nation has a mature identity, you will see it in the nature...
Published January 23, 2024
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Napoleon (2023)
He came from nothing. He conquered everything.
Filmmaker(s): Ridley Scott

An epic that details the checkered rise and fall of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his wife, Josephine.

Lettered Narration Interesting characters make interesting films, so we are led to believe. Filmmakers certainly believe it, and here is one of the most interesting historical figures ever. So why not? Especially since you have budget, a master filmmaker and good actors. But usually it...
Published January 9, 2024
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