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An Inspiring Movie!
If you ever feel downhearted or depressed, consider watching this uplifting film (no pun intended)! Based upon an actual event, it demonstrates the ability of people to contend against seemingly impossible odds. This movie, originally produced for TV, offers talented performances by William Devane, Scott Hylands, Winston Rekert, Shelly Hack, Mariette Hartley, and many others. It benefits from a superbly crafted script and talented direction and filmography. Unlike many air disaster epics, this movie reports about an event which- amazingly- actually occurred in Canada's airways several decades ago. (Anyone who suffers from a phobia about air travel may find the content difficult to watch.) However, the film does pay tribute to the capabilities of talented pilots and airline attendants. Captain Bob Pearson makes a cameo appearance in this film portraying an airline test simulator examiner. This inspiring film reinforces the importance of studying aviation in comprehensive terms. It offer riveting entertainment value, too. Not for the faint of heart!
The Good Cop (2018)
A Netflix Series That Deserved Renewal
The excellent comedic drama created by Andy Breckman ran as a Netflix series and sadly faced cancellation after the first season. Netflix made a mistake not renewing the series in my opinion (it is one of the most well written and well acted productions on television). Stars Josh Groban and Tony Danza and all their co-stars really developed interesting characters, and the plots involved creative twists. Unfortunately, the series ended after only 10 episodes, so viewers may wonder about the outcome of a long term mystery contained within the series. The plots did not depend upon the mindless violence which pervades so much of network and streamed television. The series carried strong similarities with Mr. Breckman's Monk series, particularly in terms of the strong character development and the incisive scrpting. This show likely appeals to a broad demographic range (including many audience members who can recall television before comic books). Viewers lost the chance to follow this series when Netflix cancelled it after only about a month and a half without offering much of an opportunity for the show to develop a large Netflix audience. The first 10 episodes holds excellent binge watching potential. Catch re-runs on Netflix while you can!
A Very Gritty Antiwar War Movie
This superbly written film impressed me as perhaps the grittiest, hardest-to-watch war movie I've seen. It does embrace a lot of clichés surrounding the Greatest Generation, yet the writing makes the actions of the characters plausible. Well acted, well written and well directed, it offers riveting viewing.
In order to prevail during the war, the officer in charge of a tank (played by Brad Pitt) and his men force themselves to view the world in very stark terms. The tank commander does not hesitate to commit violence to achieve his military objectives, even to the point of abandoning law sometimes. He compels a younger soldier joining his team to adopt this view, even though as the plot unfolds it appears the tank commander does subscribe to essentially the same value system as the younger man. The film suggests the ability to maintain an idealistic (and ethical) society perhaps ultimately rests upon the willingness to enforce the rules of a just society, something the Nazis has completely abandoned. The Allied forces found themselves meeting violence with violence. For instance, after capturing a German town the American tank commander asked a terrified municipal official to point out the German officer responsible for hanging children so his men could exact swift retribution.
I thought the acting and special effects contributed to the overall effectiveness of the plot. "Fury" displayed the cruelty of WWII against the backdrop of human foibles and strengths. It highlights both the senselessness of violence and its recurring role in arbitrating geopolitical affairs. One line from this movie particularly seemed to encapsulate its message: "Ideals are peaceful, history is violent." The closing scene vividly depicts the wastefulness and cruelty of warfare, while also acknowledging the critical role of individual acts of self-sacrifice and mercy in promoting survival.
The Mummy (2017)
This film really disappointed. The trailers capture some vivid images, but the movie itself dwells in a realm of dark, dispiriting gloom and violence. Anti-Christian references and stereotypes of bad American behavior toward Middle Eastern cultures abound. With mainly unlikable, shallow characters and a series of frankly puzzling actions (such as reviving a mummy to replace the mummy's blood(?) with mercury for dissection purposes) it presents an icky universe in which evil runs rampant and overpowers good until perhaps the very end. Violent scenes occur so often viewers becomes bored with all the commotion. The mummy and her demonic followers strongly resemble zombies and it seems no coincidence many of the most disgusting scenes occur in a cathedral vault. Depicting Christian places of worship as deteriorating, obsolete creepy places is becoming a persistent theme in some major films apparently. However, there were simply too many unkind, nasty characters in this film to inspire me to want to wade through the symbolism. Some of the special effects appeared very well done. Yet the contrast between the plot and the scenes of massive destruction (disintegrating buildings, imploding urban landscapes and enveloping desert sand storms) appeared jarring. I regretted spending any money to watch this big budget film.
A Delightful Movie
This incredible film starring the late Mary Tyler Moore and the late George Peppard deserves a lot more attention than it received at the time of its initial release. It is difficult to locate today and that is a shame. Funny and profound, it offers wonderful entertainment for all ages. The story seems timeless in many ways. Although the plot might not please Madison Avenue, it perhaps reflects truths about a consumer economy. Yet its uplifting spiritual message and completely charming plot make it truly memorable. It seems to me this really overlooked gem of a movie sets a high standard. Very well acted and directed, beautifully written and filmed with visual power, it deserves a 10 in my opinion. Watch this film to spend an enthralling period of time. It is really, really, really excellent!
The Finest Hours (2016)
Excellent Action Movie
If you want to watch an outstanding action movie suitable for all ages, this one deserves your attention. Based on actual events, it vividly demonstrates the courage of some people in life threatening situations and their ability to innovate during challenges. The well-written script and fine acting, plus excellent special effects, maintain interest in this character-based action adventure. Although very young children might have difficulty following the plot, the story would be suitable for all ages. It appears some of the film was shot on location. The film offers a rich visual background. It demonstrates the power of Nature in an impressive way. The story might raise the consciousness of Millennial audiences about the limitations of technology during some former historical periods. Some scenes in the film would not occur in the present era based on enhanced technology. The brief film offers a lot of excitement.
Roman Empire (2016)
An Entertaining Historical Docudrama
"Roman Empire:Reign of Blood" depicts the story of the reign of the Emperor Commodus, widely considered one of the worst Roman emperors. This television series of six episodes really represents a credit to Netflix in my opinion. The cast gave very impressive performances. Although the series contains too much violence and sex to be appropriate for very young viewers, the well-written episodes really depict ancient Roman society very vividly in a bold way. The strong characterizations help reinforce the history. Although possibly the production treated the character of Commodus more kindly than some histories later described him, the series did a good job detailing his descent into paranoia. It also highlighted the strong points of Marcus Aurelius and the perils of making the role of emperor an inherited office. On the whole, this series offers an interesting way to study Roman history. Netflix deserves high praise for having the courage to present a well done docudrama about an historical subject.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
A Really Fun Movie!
One of the best movies for fun generally wholesome entertainment, Galaxy Quest (1999)doesn't take itself too seriously, yet it delivers a finely crafted script, excellent performances and a subtly substantive plot. Anyone whose ever attended a comic book or sci-fi convention will probably love this movie, too! It really is a hidden gem in the world of science fiction movies.
Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, an actor who several years previously starred in a popular science fiction TV show. Now he regularly meets up with other cast members at fan conventions. The former crew of a science fiction vessel puts up with one another because they need the gigs. However, things take a surprising turn one day and the plot lines grow suddenly real in an out-of-this-world way.
The transformations that every character in the television show undergo during an unexpected quest to become bigger than life motivates the events in the plot. Robin Sachs performs especially effectively as Sarris, a super villain, creating a strong, menacing presence despite a costume and makeup that must have made conveying a multi-faceted characterization challenging. The contrast between the cruelty of Sarris and the innocence of a guileless alien race under attack by Sarris' soldiers helps inspire the human characters to expand above and beyond their previous scripts. In that sense, the movie sets out a startling paradigm of evil versus good and suggest that in a profound way, an internal quest for greatness can transform the universe at a molecular level.
The film also introduces a lot of creative additional alien beings, some of them based on puppetry. It really shines as a fun adventure sci-fi, and includes considerable humor in the process.
A Hollywood Version of the South
I watched both the older Roots and this newer version and am not sure exactly how I feel about the remake yet. The acting seemed generally very good in both versions, although the new Roots contains some disturbing graphic scenes of brutality and cruelty (whipping, branding, mutilation, dueling, cock fighting, torture-hanging, rapes, bludgeoning). There was violence shown in the first Roots also, but not at all to this extent. It really doesn't seem like a good thing to show young children in that respect.
The new version of Roots also depicts a lot of racism, which was significant to the plot, of course, but the current version wallows in it. It didn't leave me with any sense of inclusion, just divisiveness. The new version may be a more accurate depiction of some aspects of life in the South in the sense that dueling was not really discussed much in the earlier Roots version. The new version evidently seeks to emphasize class distinctions that developed between rich planters and less affluent farmers in the Jacksonian Era more than the previous version. It really did not depict Protestant Scots-Irish settlers in a very good light at all. Native Americans got badly stereotyped also.
The script, not the acting, left the sense of some characters appearing one-dimensional, sort of walking expressions of racism or modern post- "burn-my-bra" era feminist politics. The sub-plot of a planter's wife and her supposedly deaf-mute driver collaborating as Northern spies sent by the Pinkertons to derail Confederate war efforts really seemed contrived for instance. The woman's husband was absurdly one- dimensional, even by Hollywood's really lax standards for portraying stereotyped White Southern bigots.
I guess I preferred the original version of Roots because it focused on a family's inspiring struggle for equality and recognition in a more three-dimensional way across the span of several generations, and did not shy away from addressing racism in the modern era.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Not Very Tolerant
The premise that a science fiction character can be described by other characters in a movie as a figure misinterpreted by the people of previous eras as "Yahweh" or "RA" and that this super-powered being designated four comic-strip movie character followers to conduct evil deeds causing them to be mistaken for the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse doesn't show much concern for Judeo-Christian sentiments. Or for the accuracy of either the Old or New Testament current worldview (or ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, probably, for that matter). Does somebody hope to consign the Old Testament to the dustbin of history?
Practicing Jews and Christians will likely find the movie's description of its own premise highly offensive. Radical thought guru, the late labor organizer Saul Alinsky advised students of societal change who wanted to disrupt belief systems to poke fun at your targets. Comic book characters are really funny from the perspective of little children. So we don't always notice when they compare our Deity to the sun god of the long gone Ancient Egyptians.
A late comedienne once joked: "How dare you pee on my roses and then have the nerve to tell me you just watered my lawn?" I think she understood Alinsky's views. Big budget films should not lend themselves to becoming Alinsky-style tools for desensitizing children to Old Testament ideas in my opinion, so I rated this film as a 3 (it probably should have been lower, but admittedly the special effects work).
If you think its okay to belittle Judeo-Christian belief systems in this way, and to accustom your household to discussing Yahweh in obsolete terms, by all means take the grand-kids to see this big budget Hollywood production this summer. The next time they spend an hour or two in temple or church listening to religious texts, they can say "Yahweh? Hey, I heard about that dude! He was on the X-Men!"
The Ladykillers (2004)
The Ladykillers (2004): An Incredible Must-See Film
The 2004 remake of The Ladykillers deserves far more attention than it received from some mainstream media critics. This charming film benefits from excellent writing, beautiful cinematography and first rate acting and directing. The use of themes in the film to contrast good and evil makes this remake worthy fare for church groups, community groups and family viewing (although some characters use coarse language that might offend some viewers, the use of the expletives fits the plot and furthers one of the themes of the film).
One of this re-make movie's virtues, absent in the original, revolves around the character of the kind hearted Marva Munson, a devout elderly lady with a will of iron, a hot temper and a heart of gold. She epitomizes the strength that surrounds innocence and purity of spirit. The talented Irma P. Hall portrays this character vibrantly. She deserves acclaim for her memorable performance in the film.
Tom Hanks as the conniving, pedantic scholar Professor G. H. Dorr also deserves acclaim for his work in this re-make. Unbelievable circumstances in the plot gain credibility through his impressive characterization of a talented man overpowered by the forces of greed.
Marlon Wayans as Gawain MacSam also delivers a stunning, sensitive performance. His talent emerges as the events of the film unfold. Although his character displays some negative qualities, the audience develops affection for him. Portraying a complex character so effectively demonstrates great talent. Performances by others, including J.K. Simmons as Garth Pancake, Tzi Ma as The General and Ryan Hurst as Lump Hudson all deserve very high praise.
The film makes excellent use of its locale, with captivating imagery that furthers the symbolism in the script. If this film did not garner Oscar nominations, it really deserved that credit. Watch this gem of a movie if you want to see an entertaining, humorous adventure with substance.
A Must-See Documentary
The thoughtful and disturbing documentary Motherland Afghanistan (2007) provides important revelations about the treatment of womens' health issues in Afghanistan and the vital need for more intensive support for the medical care of women and babies in that nation. At the time of the filming, Afghanistan suffered from the second highest infant mortality figures in the world. An estimated 100,000 Afghan women endured fistulas, ruptures internally which sometimes involve a loss of bladder control and which may lead to dire consequences during childbirth and married life.
Sedika Mojadidi, the talented director of the film, is a young woman whose family played an important role in Afghanistan for many generations. Her father, an OBGYN specialist, had been blacklisted for political reasons before the Soviet invasion and finally had relocated to the USA. He returned frequently to Afghanistan to assist charitable Islamic agencies working there. The film follows his work in several parts of Afghanistan. Sedika Mojadidi's mother, trained in family medicine, also assisted her husband.
The film poignantly details shocking problems with the health care system for pregnant women and newborn infants in Afghanistan during the first decade of this century. A lack of trained specialists and facilities for the care of premature infants posed a severe problem, as did the limited availability of surgery for women with fistulas. Unfortunately, fistulas and other reproductive health issues threaten the lives of many women and newborn babies in Afghanistan following long years of warfare.
The film shows the pain of a young mother at the death of her two day old baby, born two months too soon in a remote area. It also shows inspiring moments, such as when a young woman's complicated medical surgery, proceeded perfectly and offered her a better quality of life. This documentary addresses very serious issues and in my opinion it really merits wide viewer attention.
Walk Like a Dragon (1960)
An Important Film
Walk Like a Dragon (1960) was a courageous and important film. Released in an era when segregated facilities, transportation, schools and residential neighborhoods still existed in many part of the South in the United States, and at a time when the public debate about racial equality and African-American Civil Rights occupied the attention of an increasing number of Americans, it broke many unspoken Hollywood conventions of its day.
Although the script now in some places seems painfully stereotyped, it provided substantive roles in a period when box office racism in Hollywood often limited the scope and range of the parts available for minority stars to play. Walk Like a Dragon (1960) benefits both from a well crafted script by Daniel Mainwaring and James Clavell, and from an extremely talented roster of players. The cast included the late Nobu McCarthy portraying "Kim Sung", the heroine of the story, Jack Lord as her would-be rescuer ("Lincoln Bartlett"), and James Shigeta as "Cheng Lu", a recent immigrant smitten by her charms. Josephine Hutchinson, Mel Torme, Benson Fong and Lilyan Chauvin also appear in pivotal supporting roles.
The film uncompromisingly depicts the cruel exploitation and racism often encountered by Chinese immigrants in the United States, a young nation which promulgated ideals of civil rights but often found upholding that standard impossible in practice. But the writers do so within the context of also addressing many of the less attractive medieval aspects of Chinese society during the 1800s, including slavery, racism, rural poverty, the oppression and humiliation of poor people by an entrenched wealthy ruling class and, especially, the inferior status accorded to women in traditional Chinese society.
Set in the aftermath of the Civil War in the West, the story centers around the dilemma facing Kim Sung,a young slave who had been transported from China to the United States to be sold as a brothel worker. In the West, she attracts the romantic interest of two men, a Civil War veteran with strong anti-slavery views and a young worker from China disappointed by the lack of opportunity, and the lack of respect, he encounters in the USA.
Sheltered by Ma Bartlett, Lincoln Bartlett's strong-willed and influential mother, a devout Christian, Kim Sung suddenly finds herself in a position to make independent choices for the first time in her life. But she discovers that the society at large around them does not really value her new found civil rights. She is equal in the eyes of the law but not in reality. How she resolves this conflict speaks volumes about individualism and community in multicultural societies.
This film does have some violence and adult themes, but it is probably suitable for older youngsters because the content is not graphic, especially by today's standards.
11 settembre 1683 (2012)
An Excellent Historical Drama
The Day of the Siege (2012)recites efforts by the Ottoman Empire to invade what is now Austria in an effort to eventually capture Rome and place a mosque in the Vatican. The film was produced by an alliance of Polish and Italian companies; it offers a historically mainly accurate account (with dramatic elaboration in terms of individual subplots and characterization) of events.
The film does not rise to the expectations of some modern viewers in terms of special effects perhaps, yet it more than makes up for low budget technical flaws in a stunning visual panoply of the opposing forces in the battle and in the excellent script. It is not a film that I would recommend showing children because, as an account of a sometimes brutal military campaign, it does contain a lot of graphic violence.
The plot centers around St. Marco d'Aviano, a humble monk from the outskirts of Venice, who largely focused the attention of some impacted European rulers on the threat to the Papacy posed by the expansionist ambitions of the Turkish ruler. His warnings that the way of life and the traditions promulgated by the Catholic Church would be endangered were not taken seriously by most members of the Austrian ruling family until a large invading army was literally within sight of Vienna.
Marco d'Aviano had a reputation in Europe at the time as a great healer; he was later canonized based partly on accounts that he had performed miraculous cures.
Through the monk's personal influence, the military leaders defending Vienna reluctantly allowed the Polish King Jan Sobieski to spearhead the defense of Vienna against the vastly larger, well trained Ottoman army. Brilliantly depicted by F. Murray Abraham, Marco d'Aviano contends with many challenges, including his sorrow that the defense of the Church in this instance would involve warfare and the loss of life. He represents a tortured protagonist, a Christian confronting harsh temporal realities.
The merit of the film in my view rests also in the fact that the protagonist, courageous and charismatic Kara Mustapha, the Turkish Grand Vizier, emerges as a strongly defined, very human historical figure. His character is not two dimensional, but highly complex in this intriguing historical drama. Despite his deep love for his favorite wife, and their son, he undertakes an ambitious campaign, quite literally risking his career, his wealth and his life on his belief that he will prevail in seizing Rome by capturing Vienna, "the Golden Apple" of Europe. Enrico Lo Salvo portrays him with great talent.
The historical outcome of the siege is accurately reported. The film could be seen as a study of conflicting world views and value systems. It is definitely worth watching, although the material is unsettling and at many places is clashes with modern perspectives and ideals.
The Eagle (2011)
Interesting Action Movie Set in the Age of the Roman Empire
The Eagle (2011) offers an interesting presentation of an historical action movie. It will probably appeal to history buffs, especially those interested in movies with a strong emphasis upon Pictish/Celtic or ancient Roman themes.
Although certainly too violent for children to watch, this film offers adult audiences almost non-stop action strongly rooted in powerful characterizations. Set during the period of the Roman occupation of the British Isles, it also provides beautifully photographed re-creations of Roman and Pitctish/Celtic culture during the ancient period.
The story follows the career in Gaul of a brave young Roman officer whose father perished several years earlier during the massacre of a Roman Legion in Scotland. The well written script offers audiences an opportunity to develop empathy with both the occupying Romans, and the indigenous population. Just as the central characters grow and evolve over the course of the film, as a friendship develops between the Roman, Marcus Aquila and a British servant, in symbolic terms the movie could depict the amalgamation of Roman and Celtic values which contributed to the development of the British Isles.
The impressive acting, directing and photography contribute to the overall entertaining quality of this movie. The film offers many beautiful natural outdoor settings as well, without losing any of the qualities of tension viewers appreciate in action films. Although The Eagle does contain many horribly violent scenes, these incidents stem directly from the plot.
The Little Kidnappers (1990)
An Interesting Family Film
The Little Kidnappers (1990) is a charming film which provides an engaging story suitable for all ages. Although a bit saccharine at times, the story recounts the introduction of two young brothers from Scotland into an ethnically divided Canadian coastal village near the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Although the Boer War had recently ended in South Africa, tensions evidently remained in communities with significant British and Dutch ties.
On one level, the movie offers distracting entertainment. From a sociological perspective, it brilliantly depicts several important features of Scottish cultural life in the post-Victorian era. Pre- eminent paternalistic values, the importance of religious, and educational structures, sentimentality, clan traditions, frugality and a persisting element of bellicosity all enter into the complex relationship between an elderly grandfather (played by Charleton Heston) and his two young grandsons.
Anyone with an interest in Scottish culture will probably enjoy watching The Little Kidnappers. Although in the early 1900s the members of the household would most likely have spoken Scottish Gaelic with one another, not English, the movie appeared pretty accurate in its depictions of many aspects of traditional Scottish family life. Even the clan tartan worn by the children when they arrived in Canada was correct.
The film might also appeal strongly to viewers with an interest in Canadian history and nationalism. The story presents a powerful argument that community cooperation and understanding contributed to the development of a vibrant civic life in modern Canada.
An Excellent, Thought Provoking Film
The film Shuffle (2011) offers audiences a rare treat: a thought provoking, emotionally gripping story suitable for a family audience. Exceedingly well written, with powerful acting, excellent makeup and special effects, and incredible lighting and photography, this beautiful film both entertains and inspires!
The plot unfolds gradually in the beginning. But soon Shuffle captures the attention of viewers through a series of intriguing events. Populated with fascinating, yet believable characters, the movie contains many outstanding moments. It addresses profound issues within the context of daily events in a masterful way.
The central character encounters a challenge apparently so unusual that he cannot believe his own dilemma. He encounters disturbing clues along the way from unexpected sources. As a narcoleptic, he struggles with temporal issues- but this film goes much deeper, to present a reality extending beyond the superficial confines of time and space.
This movie offers a great treat. Don't miss this one!
Nicky's Family (2011)
An Inspiring Documentary
The documentary entitled "Nicky's Family" (2011) describes how one British businessman organized a valiant effort to rescue over six hundred children in Czechoslovakia from the Nazis during the tense months immediately preceding the outbreak of World War II. At the time, Adolf Hitler's military forces had invaded parts of Czechoslovakia and begun terrorizing the Jewish community. Many parents realized that their children's' best hope for survival would involve becoming temporary refugees abroad.
The film contains a few historical dramatic depictions, but most of the coverage involves interviews with key participants. It is very fortunate that so many people were able to share their memories of the events. The documentary production also makes excellent use of film footage dating from the prewar and wartime era.
"Nicky's Family" contains a bittersweet quality. While everyone can rejoice that just a few dedicated volunteers rescued so many children from peril, some accounts describe intensely painful events.
Viewers can empathize with the separation of families at the train station in Czechoslovakia, the terror of Jewish children undertaking a long and confusing journey through Nazi Germany on their way to their host families in the British Isle, and the sadness many rescued children experienced when they learned what happened to so many of their relatives and loved ones who remaining behind. The fact that many families in Czechoslovakia tried to send their children abroad to safety but could not do so also provides a sad undercurrent to the events in the film.
This is a beautiful, inspiring and informative documentary which deserves attention. It is also a kind tribute to the brave Englishman who organized the relief efforts, and to the host families who agreed to shelter the refugees.
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
Not So Fictional...
"Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)" deserves far more attention than it often receives today. This classic film about the early life and career of Abraham Lincoln offers a portrait of the eloquent United States leader that emerges word-for-word in some instances from the pages of history. (For example, the campaign speech delivered by Mr. Lincoln during the first few minutes of the production was taken verbatim from historical records.) The central storyline is loosely based upon an actual court case conducted by Abraham Lincoln early in the course of his legal career.
Today Americans sometimes forget that Abraham Lincoln did indeed possess less than a year of formal education...Yet he taught himself to read and write and he could quote long passages of Scripture entirely from memory. He mastered a number of difficult academic subjects entirely on his own volition.
"Young Mr. Lincoln" accurately depicts the nation's Sixteenth President as an ambitious and enterprising self-starter, an aspiring politician with a concern for other people and a devotion to principle and morality. It makes everyone remember just one more reason why Abraham Lincoln remains an enduring influential and inspiring figure in modern history.
This wonderful film by the great director John Ford boasts a talented cast of actors and actresses, and includes a powerful portrayal of young Abraham Lincoln by Henry Fonda. It presents material suitable for all ages.
This classic film would make an excellent literary addition to most modern high school and college History classrooms. The film offers a refreshing depiction of Abraham Lincoln by offering a perspective on a more innocent era in civic life in the USA.
Absolute Zero (2006)
Entertaining Disaster Film
If you can overlook a number of inaccuracies with respect to the scientific information presented, the movie "Absolute Zero" (2006) offers an entertaining bit of diverting disaster plot fare. It provides content well suited to a family viewing audience, without offensive language, graphic sex scenes or needless crudity. Some scenes stretch credibility, yet the movie as a whole discusses a potentially timely geophysical concern which had not obtained a lot of recent public discussion in the news media.
The plot unfolds in a structured manner, with tension rising until near the very end of the plot. Additionally, the central characters, although sometimes a bit stereotyped, generally behave according to traits and personality flaws presented early in the course of the drama. The conflict between the protagonist and the chief antagonist (a force of Nature) originates clearly within the first few minutes.
The actors and actresses provide entertaining, sincere depictions. Some of the obvious errors in production, such as scientists in Antarctica wearing insufficient protective gear or violating basic safety protocols with aplomb indeed do stretch credibility, as do some of the special effects. (But since it has been a long time since the most recent magnetic pole shift, portraying one of those events in a realistic manner likely involves considerable technical challenges.)
"Absolute Zero" clearly indicates why weather-related subjects and global warming issues should concern the public. The final few moments of the film indeed seem almost reminiscent of a timeless Old Testament theme, Lot's wife breaking the instruction to not look backwards. The inability of modern people to refrain from imposing a materialistic, profit-driven perspective in analyzing serious issues of public safety may perhaps constitute one of the underlying themes of the film.
A Strategic Conflict During World War II
In "Secrets of the Dead: Churchill's Deadly Decision" (2010), the award winning PBS documentary series presents information about a challenge which confronted the British government shortly after the German military's rapid invasion of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Prime Minister Winston Churchill's controversial response still arouses debate.
The documentary offers excellent historical background details surrounding the dilemma confronting the newly elected English leader. During the first few, tense weeks of the war, Winston Churchill appreciated that his nation would require the support of industrial resources in the United States in order to counter the Nazi onslaught.
But across the Atlantic Ocean, President Franklin Roosevelt and his closest advisers worried: would the small British Isle be able to resist or would that government, too, surrender to Adolf Hitler's regime? Faced with an upcoming national election, the Roosevelt Administration did not want to commit resources to support the British unless Americans could be assured that the assistance would not be wasted.
With the humiliating defeat of the elected French government, the British Cabinet and Prime Minister faced a terrible problem-- they feared that the Nazi regime would be able to assume control of the powerful French Navy and possibly launch a successful invasion of the British Isles. The documentary covers this tragic history in a thought provoking, yet fast-paced way.
"Secrets of the Dead: Churchill's Deadly Decision" will appeal to history buffs and a general audience alike. It is a well written and well executed documentary.
Far and Away (1992)
A Nice Romance
The film "Far and Away"(1992) gives audiences the opportunity to watch a well constructed, entertaining romance. It offers content suitable for everyone in the family. Although a few scenes do depict violence, the movie flows well based upon strong characterizations, and the confrontations which do occur move the story forward at a rapid pace. Probably even young children will enjoy this wonderful movie.
"Far and Away" offers some very beautiful, scenic backgrounds. These panoramas lend an element of interest also to events. The historical drama unfolds during an era of turbulent growth in many parts of the United States. The interactions among the central characters resonate with this influence.
The beginning and ending scenes provide a unifying theme running through the entire production. If you are seeking an enjoyable family film-- this may be the right choice!
The Big Valley: The Stallion (1967)
A Timeless Theme of Old Age Versus Service
In The Big Valley (1967) second season episode "The Stallion" viewers obtain a treat: the opportunity to watch a popular television show offering a substantive, timeless theme. The series aired for the first time several decades ago, but some of the issues developed in the program retain a classic vitality.
The Stallion offers strong characterizations, fueling the plot in an entertaining and suspenseful way. The audience also enjoys an opportunity to watch a Western which involves non-violent interactions between the major characters (for the most part) without losing a sense of apprehension about the outcome.
The well constructed script raises some timeless questions: at what age does an employee's desire to continue contributing face limitations imposed by declining physical abilities? And what steps should the friends and loved ones of such an individual take in his best interest? Is it kinder to hurt a person by imposing external changes upon him as a matter of safety or alternatively to permit some one to take life threatening risks? And at what point do other members of society have an obligation to act to protect other people from harm? The main characters of The Big Valley series appear briefly, although Lee Majors as Heath figures most prominently in this particular episode. The guest role of Brahma, a longtime employee of the ranch, superbly portrayed by the late Paul Fix, holds a central place in moving events forward.
Despite some predictability in the concluding scene, overall The Stallion possesses the power to retain viewer interest. It can offer both entertainment and food for thought about a conflict which appears in many different aspects in human history...safety or liberty?
The Conflicting Ties of Blood, Money and Friendship
The Bonanza (1968) television series episode "Blood Tie" (from the ninth season of the long running Western) provides a diverting hour of audience entertainment. In recent years, the Cowboy genre has fallen in popularity in the United States; however, well done dramas can withstand the test of time, as the enduring Bonanza program demonstrates.
In "Blood Tie" the regular cast of characters encounter unexpected danger when the Ponderosa hires an unknown, apparently unconnected drifter as a cow hand (a complex character well-played by the late Robert Drivas). An interesting plot ensues when the young man finds himself torn by divided loyalties.
Lorne Greene also excels in his portrayal of Ben Cartwright, the stubborn, highly principled owner of the Ponderosa Ranch. His character figures prominently in this episode.
"Blood Tie" presents beautiful singing in addition to providing escapism fare. Although somewhat violent, no foul language is employed. This episode probably represents a show which most members of a family will enjoy watching together.
Counterfeit Culture (2013)
A Documentary Raising Consumer Awareness
The approximately one hour documentary "Counterfeit Culture" (2013) deserves more attention. Narrated by Ann-Marie MacDonald, the film explores many aspects of the potentially life-threatening problem of product counterfeiting in the global marketplace.
Tim Phillips expresses a paradox of the counterfeiting issue: consumers sometimes willingly succumb to tempting prices by purchasing less expensive "knockoff" items without scrutinizing the source of the supply line carefully, yet in large numbers members of the public expect products free from hazards...Counterfeit purchases cannot offer an assurance of safety testing or quality manufacturing or cruelty-free production.
Spending a little time watching this film may raise consumer awareness about the scope of a alarming global problem which has expanded rapidly in the wake of growing online and international sales volumes. Today, buyers frequently do not meet sellers face to face during the purchasing process. They may not enjoy an opportunity to examine goods directly in the digital marketplace.
"Counterfeit Culture" definitely merits watching-- especially by decision makers responsible for overseeing medical supply lines or equipment maintenance and repair protocols which impact the lives and safety of others.