Thursday, December 01, 2011

Seen in November

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days image via

While some may try nobly to rebrand November as "Movember", to raise consciousness of men's health issues, to me, it will always be about the ultimate men's health issue; war. It was my intent to watch a heap of war films. It didn't quite turn out that way. Oddly, this poor number of films watched happened the same month I got a TV, a cable package and Apple TV. Overwhelmed, I guess.*

Black Book
Dutch drama set during WWII that tells the story of a beautiful Jewish woman who goes from hiding from the Nazis to fighting them as part of the Dutch resistance to falling in love with a Nazi officer who wasn't such a bad Nazi because he collects stamps (what?) At times this flick feels like a zestful 1950s style war flick while at others it feels like a graphic exploitation movie. In the end all we know is that what our heroine did, she did for queen and country and the men she loved died as misunderstood or as traitors but it took a very unconvincing and overly long road to get there.

There's some kind of subtext to this story of an unsuccessful writer who gets hooked on a drug that sort of makes you the best "you" that you can be. I have no idea what that subtext would be. The drug heightens and enhances the mind to allow you to 1) write a masterpiece in days 2) pick up languages and ladies with aplomb 3) fight like Bruce Lee 4) and make millions of dollars easily. More than a few plot points are ignored or forgotten but in general I liked this updated Faustian tale that seems to mix self-help dogma with an action thriller.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
In the last days of WWII, based on actual events, Sophie Scholl, a young anti-Nazi activist is arrested as a member of the White Rose group for writing and distributing treasonous leaflets. Her courage, intelligence and passion are evident throughout her Gestapo interrogation. The more they press her, the more resolute and assured she becomes — right through her trial & execution. I often wonder how I would've acted in Nazi Germany. Would I stand up for what was right or would I even have been smart enough to leave as so many did? Or, more likely I would've been done in by making a wise crack about Hitler's height. I hope I never have to find out.

The son of Odin is disgraced by his scheming trickster brother and ousted from Valhalla. He falls from that world/dimension to Earth and into the waiting arms of Natalie Portman. Well, that was a rotten bit of luck. From there on it's the story of an arrogant and entitled Thor learning to be a little bit human. When he learns to sacrifice himself for others his powers are restored and mankind saved etc. It's all played too large or importantly for my liking but if your keen on little mindless feux d'artifices then go right ahead.

*mind you, 2 of these films were seen via Netflix, one via Video on Demand and another via iTunes, so the same services that kept me from watching more movies enabled what I did watch.

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