Tag Archives: world war 2

Movie Review – Operation Finale (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Just a quick review here.

World War II may have ended in 1945, but for many Jewish people, “closure” (if that was even possible) didn’t come until the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Third Reich’s “Final Solution” i.e. the Nazi official who devised the Holocaust.

In the early 1960s, an ex-patriot community of Germans still carrying a torch for Hitler has formed in Argentina.  Hiding out among them is Eichmann, having found a new life as an auto factory foreman.

Enter Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) who leads a team of Israeli spies on a mission to identify and kidnap the Nazi and bring him back to Israel for trial.  Unsurprisingly, it’s a high stress situation, as Malkin faces flack from all sides, from his backseat driving bosses in Israel, to the Argentine government who don’t take kindly to foreign espionage missions being carried out on their home turf, to the local pro-Nazi community who want to protect Eichmann at all costs.

The worst enemy of all is Eichmann himself, who, as a captive, goes out of his way to get into Malkin’s mind.  To Malkin’s disgust, Eichmann argues they aren’t that dissimilar.  Eichmann was “just following orders” and it’s not like there was much opportunity for a Nazi to voice dissent.  Worse, he argues the Holocaust was “humane,” i.e. his instruments of death, ovens and gas chambers, though vile, were better than putting Jews in ditches, shooting them, then burying them, which as we see in a flashback, happened before Eichmann got his efficient system of death up and running.

Malkin, on the other hand, was a young boy during World War II, but he saw the death and destruction first hand, having lost family in the most gruesome of ways.  He knows there’s no excuse for the atrocities. It’s up to Malkin to stay strong against the mind games and get Eichmann to break before he does.

This is another Oscar worthy role for Isaac, allowing him to prove he’s got the acting chops the Academy likes to see.  The film will probably come and go quickly out of theaters, but just as he did in 2016’s The Promise, he’s out to prove that he’s more than his swaggering, trigger happy fly boy character in the latest Star Wars films.

It was odd to see Nick Kroll, a comedian and master of gross out humor, as Malkin’s fellow Israeli operative.  It’s a serious role in a serious film yet somehow, you expect Kroll to break out in fart noises any minute.  He does well with the character, but if he’s transitioning to drama, he might need to get a few more roles under his belt before I stop seeing him as his character in The League.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Worth a rental.  Obviously, due to the subject matter, it’s not exactly the feel good movie of the year, but it provides some history of a dark time and how the Israelis worked to locate Nazis all over the world and bring them to trial.

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Darkest Hour – Why People Need to Watch It, Why Politicians Need to Make Decisions and Accept Consequences

Hey 3.5 readers.

I reviewed it last year, but Darkest Hour has been on HBO, so I’ve been watching it constantly, leaving it on in the background whenever it is on while I do other stuff.

I don’t think people really understand the bind England was in at the height of World War II.

First, and I don’t mean to dump on the French, but France screwed the pooch.  Part of me doesn’t blame them.  It’s easy for backseat drivers almost eighty years later to say, “I would have fought those Nazis!” but for the people who actually had the Nazis coming for them, I get why they surrendered.

The problem is the Brits had sent their army to France on the idea that it would be better to back the French up and stop the Nazis in France before they reached the French coast, thus gaining access to the English Channel.

So…with 300,000 British troops in Dunkirk, on the coast of France, the Brits had to make a decision.  Negotiate a surrender or lose the Dunkirk troops and lose the United Kingdom.

Amidst this backdrop, Sir Winston Churchill has been recently named Prime Minister.  Churchill is wise and experienced, having served in war himself, but also intelligent, having written a number of books.

Unfortunately, personality wise, he’s boorish and considered a buffoon.  He drinks non-stop, he’s chubby, overeats, smokes too much, and doesn’t have much of a filter to hold back from offending people.

Here’s why people need to watch it.  It really illustrates why politics suck.  They really do. Essentially, it’s all just a big game played by scheming scoundrels, all trying to get something done, everyone prepared to take the credit for a job well done but also trying like hell to avoid any blame.

The problem is that anything worth doing comes with good and bad consequences.  No matter what you do, there’s always room for celebration and blame.  You’ll never avoid a bad consequence unless you hide in a closet for the rest of your life.

Churchill understands this.  As a former military man, he understands war is hell and victory can’t be wrapped up in a nice little package.  He has been haunted by the failure of Gallipoli, where under his command, Brits died in World War I.  Throughout his life, his political rivals hold it over his head.

At any rate, while Churchill maintains that surrender to the Nazis is not an option, he is henpecked by politics all the way.  Parliamentarians Neville Chamberlain (the previous prime minister) and Viscount Halifax, constantly try to browbeat Churchill into negotiating “peace” with Hitler, though Churchill knows “peace” is code for surrender and a UK under Nazi rule is an unbearable idea.

Sorry to be longwinded.  Halifax and Churchill want to surrender.  They have a point.  Why risk so many British lives?  Defeat looks inevitable.  To save 300,000 army men in Dunkirk, Churchill must sacrifice 3,000 to draw the Nazis attention and buy some time for civilian ships to reach Dunkirk and pick the Army up.  Halifax argues why sacrifice 3,000 when defeat is inevitable?

So, here’s the thing.  At any time, parliament had the ability to boot Churchill and name a new prime minister.  Halifax and Chamberlain know this.  Churchill knows this.  Not in so many words, but he basically tells his detractors, “Come at me, bro.”

If Halifax and Chamberlain want to surrender to the Nazis, they can make it happen.  They can go to parliament and make the case.  Tell them that Churchill is a dick who is going to get us all killed and it would be better to be a Nazi subject than to be dead.  Halifax and Chamberlain can say they’d be willing to become the prime minister and do the surrendering.

By that they don’t want to do it.  They believe strongly in surrender but they do not want the blame for it.  They feel Churchill is a dummy that they can push and bully into surrendering, make him be the fall guy, harass him into giving in and then when all the Brits are in leiderhosen, staring at a swastika flag flying over Buckingham palace, then Halifax and Chambelian can stand around and be like, “Well, Churchill’s the one who surrendered!”

Churchill suffers a great deal of internal anguish until….SPOILER ALERT…he gets out of the office and gets around London, talking to common folk.  Do they want surrender?  No.  Would they rather die in an invasion than let Hitler win? Yes.

LESSONS:

  1. If you’re a politician and you think you are right, you MUST be willing to stand up and push your idea yourself.  It’s understandable that Halifax and Chamberlain fear Britain will lose, but if they felt that way, they should have stood up and been willing to wear the, proverbial “I support surrender” badge.
  2. If you’re a politician under pressure to do what you think is wrong, you must seek out what the people think and hopefully, they’ll support you even if what is right might lead to a bad result.
  3. The people have to be willing to support leaders in doing the right thing even if it results in a bad end.

BOTTOMLINE: Politics is the game of how decisions are made and unfortunately, making a decision is like a hot potato.  A decision, and the ensuing responsibility, is passed around and around.  No one wants the potato when it’s burning hot.  They only want it when it is warm and smothered in sour cream and bacon bits.

Politicians push each other to decide how they want, but they won’t make the decisions themselves for fear of backlash if the decision goes wrong.  If it goes right, they can say they supported it.  If it goes bad, they can say they avoided it.  Meanwhile, the people are schizophrenic.  They’ll shout to do this or that and if it works out, great and if not they complain.

Churchill made a decision.  He said we’re going to fight the Nazis.  He knew it could lead to certain doom.  He decided it would be better to risk seeing the UK bombed into the ground and conquered, its citizens dead,  if there was a chance the island could be saved and Hitler beaten back.

In a stirring scene, he shouts, “I will take full responsibility!”  No one else around him was willing to.  That’s what politicians need to do.

Deciding to fight the Nazis could have easily lead to the total destruction of Great Britain, just as deciding to not fight them could have lead to thousands of years of subjugation to Nazi rule.

All decisions have consequences.  I can tell you in my personal life, my biggest failing has been putting off decisions, avoiding that role of the dice and letting life pass me by rather than to just get in the fight and find out what happens at the end.

Bottomline is Halifax and Chamberlain weren’t willing to accept the consequences of the decision they wanted to be made.  They wanted a surrender, but they didn’t want to go down as the dorks who surrendered.  Meanwhile, Churchill wanted victory, but had that led to ruin, he most likely would have stood up and said, “Well, hey I tried.  Sorry fighting the Nazis didn’t work out.”

OK I’ll stop ranting.  I just see this a lot even today.  Politicians fight and demonize each other but when it comes to, you know, actually writing and passing a law that backs up their vitriol, they rarely do it.  “You should do what I want!” but few, if any, are actually just willing to step up and make it happen, put their name on a decision and accept the credit if it goes well and the blame if it goes bad.

 

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Movie Review – Darkest Hour (2017)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

BQB here with a review of “Darkest Hour.”

You know 3.5 readers, modern politics suck.  They’re messy and brutish, a blood sport on all sides.  Amidst all this kerfluffle, where is the man who is willing to stand up, not for what is popular, but for what is right?  Where is the man who is willing to slap his balls down on the table and be prepared to lose them to the naysayers if they’re proven right?

Sigh.  That man (or woman) is working the drive-thru at Arby’s or some such bullshit, because let’s face it, people without polish and pizzazz (or money) can’t get a foot through the political door these days.

Luckily, such wasn’t the case for Sir Winston Churchill.  An old mumbler who looked like a bald bull dog, he drank to excess, took most meetings in his bathrobe, and chain smoked cigars and drank bottles upon bottles of booze all day long.  Moody, unpolished, rude, but he had balls.  Oh, how he had balls.

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) sought peace with Hitler.  The result?  At the start of the film, Hitler’s armies stand ready to overrun Belgium and take over France, where, without intervention, they’ll push British forces into the sea at Dunkirk, effectively ending the UK’s ability to defend itself.

It’s a hopeless situation and the political types in parliament are more interested in saving their careers than the nation.  No one even wants the position of Prime Minister now, as defeat seems imminent and no one wants to go down as the leader who handed England over to Germany.

Thus, Churchill, who had long been the lonely canary in the coal mine, warning England and the rest of the Europe that Hitler was up to some serious shit and he should met not with appeasement but early attacks before he gets too far, is placed in charge.

Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane or Roose Bolton to “Game of Thrones” fans) want to double down on a new attempt to appease Hitler, oblivious to the fact that earlier attempts to satiate the Nazis just made them that much stronger.

Together, they make moves to force Churchill into peace talks, putting the bulldog into a grave position.  The 25,000 lives he lost under his military command years earlier weigh heavily on him, and the prospects of victory against a war machine that has conquered the rest of the continent seem grim.

Ultimately, it’s up to Churchill to make some tough choices and outfox the foxes in his hen house at their own game.

SPOILER ALERT – because, I mean, it’s history, so you should know already, but Churchill chooses to fight Hitler rather than make a peace.  He’s certain it would be a lame ass peace, one that would leave the swastika flying over Buckingham Palace and a Nazi controlled puppet government running the show.

But it was definitely an unsavory roll of the dice.  Had Germany prevailed, the puppet government would have looked better than a defeated, decimated Britain…and thus Gary Oldman as Churchill gives us a front row seat to how the proverbial sausage is made, how leadership requires the bold to make a tough decision and to stay the course, no matter how far away the light at the end of the tunnel may seem.

Will there be more Churchills in the future?  Honestly, I feel television really screwed our collective political pooch.  As long as elections are decided based on who has the most polish and pizzazz, perfect looks and fabulous hair, the ornery old bald foul mouthed drunk who’s willing to put his balls on the line and to tell the enemy to eat a dick doesn’t stand a chance at election.

Hell, even Churchill didn’t.  Once his big balls one the war, his reward was to be thrown out of office.  But, he was able to walk away knowing he and his balls had stood up for what was right.

Worthy of Oscars all around but will probably lose to the movie about the fish fucker.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Rent it today.  Props to the women behind the man, i.e. his wife Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) who reigned him in and got him to focus on shit.  Meanwhile, scenes with his personal secretary, Elizabeth Layton (Lilly James) who has to undergo the stress of taking Churchill’s cigar smoke cough laden, booze fueled, mumbling rants and putting them into actual words to be typed and dispatched are particularly touching.

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Hitler Reacts to BQB

Hey 3.5 readers.

Did you know that Hitler used to read this blog?  I’m not bragging…I mean, you can’t control who your 3.5 readers are.  I’m just surprised that at the close of World War II, when the allies were closing in on Berlin, he didn’t have anything to do other than to bitch about how shitty my blog was…is?

I don’t know how he read it in 1945.  Time traveling web browser, maybe.

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Hitler Video

I was surprised Hitler had that much time to worry about me:

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Movie Review – Dunkirk (2017)

Bombs!  Explosions!  The fate of the free world!

BQB here with a review of Christopher Nolan’s World War II flick, “Dunkirk.”

It’s May of 1940. The Nazis have swept into France and pushed allied British and French troops to the sea.  400,000 troops await evacuation while being pinned down by Nazi fighter/bomber warplanes.

The stakes are high.  The loss of 400,000 troops would be a terrible loss for the allies, hindering their chances of victory.  However, Churchill has surmised that to send in Navy warships to pick up the men would be a suicide mission, essentially sinking the much needed ships.

Thus, it’s a death defying escape mission.  The film switches back and forth between various parties.  British Fighter Pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) patrols the scene, shooting down German fighters and watching the backs of those on the ground below.  Meanwhile, Mark Rylance plays Mr. Dawson, one of the many private citizens who volunteered to take their commercial/fishing boats into the war zone to help rescue the troops.  He dukes it out with Cillian Murphy, a battle weary soldier he’s picked up who, for obvious reasons, is scared to return to Dunkirk.

Soldiers trapped in the hold of a ship hunker down to avoid the constant gunfire piercing the ship’s hull.  Kenneth Branagh, the highest ranking officer on the scene, makes a lot of sullen facial expressions every time one of his subordinates delivers bad news, essentially capturing the fear that death might be certain and imminent.

If you’re looking for a plot driven film, you might be disappointed.  There isn’t much intrigue.  There aren’t any twists.  There isn’t much in the way of getting to know the characters or their backstory.  It’s basically a battle reenactment caught on film.

It’s a pretty intense ride.  Nolan makes ample use of ominous music, making you feel as though a Nazi fighter pilot might drop a bomb on your head at any minute.  He also works wonders with sound, the explosions are so loud and jarring you can feel them rattle you, probably the closest experience to war that can be provided through a film.

History flicks are always a risk.  The general public does not want to be educated.  They want to be entertained.  However, Nolan earned his bones through Batman, giving him the ability to preserve this heroic tale on film, one where the military and private citizens came together in a swift, massive effort to avoid a defeat that could have been staggering.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.

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BQB’s Time Travel Adventures #2 – BQB vs. Hitler

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So, after I visited the 1970s and busted up a gang of ninjas in a disco, thus making all bushes in the future 25% bushier, I then went back in time to the early 1900s with one goal in mind – I would stop World War II from happening.

I arrived in Austria, where a dopey looking young man named Adolf Hitler was sitting on a park bench, trying to draw a picture of his bratwurst (not the one in his pants but the one he was intending to have for lunch later.)

“That’s a fine piece of art, Herr….”

“Hitler,” Hitler said.  “And nein!  I have applied to every art school around and they all tell me my work is nothing but goosenpoopen.”

“Really?”  I said.  “That’s terrible.  Everyone with creative talent should be able to pursue it.”

“That’s what I said,” Hitler said.  “But if I don’t get into art school I will have to go to my fall back plan.”

“What’s your fall back plan?”  I asked.

“To scheme my way into the German Chancellorship, declare war on the entire world and gas six million Jews to death,” Hitler said.

I was shocked.  I mean, I knew the history but still, to hear him say it out loud.  It was disturbing, to say the least.

“That’s your back up plan?”  I asked.

“Ja,” Hitler said.  “Also I might bang my niece.”

“Bang your…dude!”

“What?”  Hitler asked.

“Well,” I said.  “Is there no happy medium with you dude?  Most people who don’t get into art school say, ‘Well, I guess I’ll go be a janitor’ or ‘I guess I’ll go be a plumber’ or some other noble occupation.  I have literally never heard someone say, ‘Well, if I don’t get to do what I want then I’m just going to become the leader of a country and use my power to gas all the people I don’t like.”

“Undt bang my niece,” Hitler said.

“Yeah,” I said.  “I’ve never heard anyone say they want to do that either.”

“Undt I won’t gas all of them,” Hitler said.

“You won’t?”  I asked.

“Nein,”  Hitler said.  “Some of them I’ll push into ovens, or I might line them up against a wall and have them shot, or send them off to camps where they starve to death, or use them as forced labor and work them until they die of malnutrition and exhaustion.”

“Dude!” I said.

“It’ll be a mixed bag, really,” Hitler said. “I mean, ja, most of them will get the gas chamber or the oven but I’ll play it by ear and see how it goes.”

“Hitler,” I said.  “Not for nothing, but why do you hate Jewish people so much?”

Hitler sat back on the bench and closed his eyes.  “One time, when I was but a little kiddenheimer, I vent to lunch at mein school and a Jewish boy he…”

“Beat you?”  I asked.  “Tortured you?”

“Nein!”  Hitler said.  “He ate mein lunch!”

“Umm…”

“Mein sausage!  It was all gone!”  Hitler said.  “He said it was an accident.  He mixed up his bag with mine.  He apologized profusely but at that very moment I said to myself, ‘Adolf, you must really gas all these people and push them into ovens and only then will you get your revenge for your lost sausage!'”

“Hitler,” I said.  “Honestly, it sounds like the kid just made a mistake.  It happens to the best of us.  Sometimes we accidentally offend someone and all we can do is apologize and move on.  Even if he did it on purpose, it’s one kid.  You can’t denounce an entire group just because one member of the group did something you like.  One member of a group doing something wrong doesn’t mean the entire group is bad.  Seriously, what group in the entire world doesn’t have at least bad apple in it?”

“You sound like undt pussenstein,” Hitler said.

“No, really Hitler,” I said.  “You’ve got to listen and maybe I can help you screw your head on straight here.  If you’re just going to start killing groups of people just because one of them did something you didn’t like then you’re going to have to just kill the entire world.”

“Das est mein intention,” Hitler said.  “First the Jews, then the world.  Mein armies vill spread out across the globe.  All vill either obey me or vill be shoved in the oven.”

“Where are you even going to get a people oven?”  I asked.  “It’s not like there’s a people oven store.”

“I’m going to make a people oven,” Hitler said.  “I have some rudimentary designs.  You want to see?”

“Not really,” I said.  “But Hitler, have you considered the fact that on the whole, Jewish people are good eggs?”

“Nein!” Hitler said.

“Good food, good culture, music, arts, inventions, industry, hard work ethic,” I said.  “Historically, the Jewish people bring a lot to the table.”

Hitler began scribbling something on a piece of paper.

“What are you writing?”  I asked.

“A note to myself to have you pushed in an oven when I’m the chancellor,” Hitler said.

I sighed.  “You’re hopeless, Hitler.  Come on, let’s get you into art school.”

At that point, I found Hitler’s favorite art school.  “Das Skoolen Fer Peepzen What Wantzen to Drawzen Not Like Scheizen.”

I brought a thousand bucks back with me, a lot for me even in 2017 but it was like a small fortune in the 1930s.  I handed it off to the Dean and made him promise that he wouldn’t just accept Hitler, but that he’d also heap massive amounts of false praise on anything Hitler made, no matter how shitty it was.  Further, I made the Dean promise to really promote Hitler’s work, get all his friends in the art community to become Hitler’s patrons.  Set the guy up with a good living off of his art so he wouldn’t have to resort to his fall back plan of world domination and ethnic cleansing.

I arrived back in 2017, only to, you guessed it, learn that I had really cocked things up.

“Heil Hitler!  Video Game Rack Fighter said to me upon my arrival to BQB HQ.

“What the hell?”  I asked.  “Video Game Rack Fighter, my beloved nerdy girlfriend!  Why are you in a Nazi uniform?  I’ve never known you to be anything but sweet and kind to all people!  Are you a Nazi now?”

“Ja!” VGRF said.  “Everyone is a Nazi now, thanks to the leadership of Steve Hitler!”

“Steve Hitler?”  I asked.

“Ja!” VGRF said.  “Heil Steve Hitler!”

“Something’s amiss,” I said.  I turned on the TV and found a documentary.  The announcer summed up what happened:

“All hail our beloved World Chancellor, Steve Hitler, who is alive and well over 140 years old thanks to creepy and disturbing Nazi scientific methods!  Steve was but a modest little boy from Austria who used to sit back and dream of becoming a pig farmer.  He would overhear his brother Adolf talk about his fall back plans of world domination and ethnic cleansing and think that sounded like a real neat-o way to make a living. However, he had doubts about Adolf.  He thought Adolf would probably just cock the whole thing up and eventually lose the impending war.  However, when Adolf was accepted to study at an acclaimed art school, Adolf gave Steve his blessing to pursue his goals of world domination and ethnic cleansing.  In fact, Steve was so good at world domination and ethnic cleansing that Nazi historians are assured that Steve was the best choice to run the Nazi party whereas Adolf was better off behind the scenes.  Also, the art school helped Hitler become such a great artist that Hitler drew all kinds of propaganda posters that inspired the masses to become super racist and evil!  All hail the Nazi party and hail that random asshole that helped Adolf Hitler get into art school.  Because of that guy, everyone in the world is either dead or a super racist evil Nazi now!”

“Aww crap sandwich,” I said.  “I guess I know what I have to do.”

I returned to early 1900s Austria and found the version of myself that had time traveled to that time.  I kicked him in the nuts and instantly felt the pain myself.  I told him how his plan to stop World War II works out and he gasped.

After that, we scrapped the whole plan to stop Hitler and went to get some strudel instead.

The moral of the story?  If you try to fix something, you’ll just make it worse, so just shut up and go get a strudel.

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Movie Review – The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

War!  Intrigue!  Nazis vs. Zoo animals!

BQB here with a review of The Zookeeper’s Wife.

Based on a true story, this film tells the tale of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, owners/operators of the Warsaw Zoo who used their property to save persecuted Jews during World War II.

Before the war, Jan (Johan Heldenburgh) and Atonina (Jessica Chastain), live an idyllic life.  They love animals and they take care of zebras, elephants, lions, tigers, all sorts of exotic animals on their sprawling property.  They even do a good business, charging admission.

Alas, all this changes because of the Nazis.  Oh you dirty Nazis, you’re always the turd in history’s punch bowl, aren’t you?

The Zabinskis’ zoo is partially destroyed by Nazi bombs dropped all over the city.  What’s left is confiscated.  The animals are shot and turned into meat and soap for the Nazi war effort.

Sidenote:  Whether it’s during World War II or more recently in Venezuela, once the government resorts to shooting zoo animals for food, shit is not good.

Back to the review.  Long story short, what’s left of the zoo is turned over to Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), a German zoologist who had once been a friend of the Zabinskis in happier times.  Sadly, once Lutz puts on a Nazi uniform and becomes Hitler’s official zoologist, he gets a little too drunk on power and becomes an insufferable douchen-dorfer.

You know you want to see this movie just because the villain is a Nazi zoologist, don’t you?

Anyway, being the good people that they are, the Zabinskis begin rescuing and hiding their close Jewish friends.  Pretty soon, they realize that with underground tunnels once used to house tigers, buildings and trucks, they have all the means necessary to run a Jewish rescue/hiding/smuggling to safety operation.

The danger comes from the fact that they must do all this right under the nose of their ex-friend turned Nazi.

Will the Zabinskis be successful?  Will they be caught?

You’ve got to watch to find out.

Overall, it’s a touching story.  So many stories came out of WWII and they continue even today.

Much credit is due to the Zabinskis.  They probably could have relied on their friendship with a Nazi to ride out World War II by just keeping their heads down and going about their business.  Instead, they put themselves into great danger and in doing so, saved the lives of hundreds of people.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  A good movie, sort of an Oscar-bait film designed to show off Jessica Chastain’s acting chops.  Not necessary to rush out to the theater but it’s worth a rental.

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Movie Review – Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Sometimes a conscientious objector can still be a badass, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Hacksaw Ridge.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING

This film tells the story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic who became the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor after saving seventy-five men during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge in World War II Japan.

Having experienced too much violence as a young man, the devoutly religious Doss vows to never commit violence and would rather die than hurt anyone, even if that someone is about to hurt him.

Naturally, the Army is puzzled as to why the hell he voluntarily signed-up if he won’t carry a rifle.

His superiors, played by Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington, go out of their way to get him tossed out of the army as they can’t fathom the idea of a soldier who is unwilling to learn how to shoot a weapon.

Will Doss earn their respect in the end?

The first half of the film is a tad hokey.  Lots of war movie cliches mixed in with Doss’ battle with the brass to pass basic training without touching a gun.

The second half is a blood and guts fest. Explosions and gun fire galore. Stabbings, mutilations, flame throwers, grenades, missing limbs, all kinds of gore.

Movies are able to speak with images and the message the director is giving us is, “war is hell.”

Some films and the overall media try to capture what it is like to be a soldier and fail.  Patriotic movies are all well and good but this movie takes us onto the battle field in all of its “Holy shit my friend just got his face blown off and now a guy is stabbing me and holy crap my face is on fire and my leg just got blown off!” butt puckering glory.

Thus, if you want to join the army, make sure you’re joining for the right reasons (not just because a spiffy uniform is involved) and understand there will be many butt puckering moments you won’t be able to even comprehend until you face them.

Further, politicians should consider what soldiers must go through during war time and avoid war at all costs.

That’s the message I took away from it, anyway.

It’s definitely an underdog story as Doss takes heaps of abuse from his unit for his non-violent ways only to prove his bravery and save tons of men on the battlefield.

Speaking of underdogs, Mel Gibson’s career is also on the line here.

You remember Mel, don’t you?

Beloved actor/director. Starred in and directed a lot of great movies. Had a reputation of “Well, if Mel’s in it then it will be good” and then he had some, well, I won’t get into the details but let’s just say some well documented breakdowns.

Since then, he’s starred in some films that were sort of blah.  This is Hollywood letting him at the helm with a big budget and a great script so…I mean the film is fabulous Oscar bait and though I don’t wear my emotion on my sleeve, even I found myself crying as Desmond proved all the naysayers wrong…

…but, it is still hard to get over those nasty rants, Mel.  I don’t know.  You might have to cure cancer or something.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy and worth a trip to the theater for the explosions, but skip the popcorn if you don’t want to hurl once the guts and limbs and assorted body parts start flying.

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Guardian Article About Joseph Goebbels’ 105 Year Old Secretary

Hey 3.5 readers.

Just wanted to share an interesting article I read in The Guardian:

“Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing.’”

The article features an interview with Brunhilde Pomsel, who worked as a secretary for Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda during World War II.

At 105, Pomsel is a living bit of history. The article describes her as unrepentant, that her job as a secretary was just like any other job, that “a combination of ignorance and awe” “shielded her from reality.”

She discusses how after the war she was jailed by the Russians for five years.  Only then, she claims, did she learn about the holocaust.

The article further explains that she had a friendship with a Jewish woman but wasn’t able to find out what happened to her until she visited the Holocaust Memorial in 2005.

Interesting quote:

“Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis – I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldn’t have.”

I don’t know. Obviously, I can’t/don’t want to condone Nazi-ism or even working in the Nazi typing pool but I guess the fraulein might have a point. If that was where you lived and you needed a job and you weren’t exactly working for people who shared all the details…and if standing up to them meant you’d surely end up taking the big dirt nap…

I have no idea. I don’t want to pin a medal on her or anything but from a historical perspective the article is interesting and I imagine A German Life, the film in which she recalls her story, has a lot of history told by a rare person still alive who lived during that time period.

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