Churchill Unwrapped but Parboiled!

 DATELINE: Interesting Take on Great Briton!

 Cox as Churchill.

Every actor appears to want to sink his acting chops into one of the most melodramatic and imperious roles you can face. Heavy, middle-aged men are particularly apt to apply their skills to the role of Winston Churchill.

It is something off the track in 2017 with Brian Cox in the title role: Churchill.At least one critical judge called it a “hit job.” We are not prepared to go that far, but this is a meddlesome, troublesome, cantankerous version of Churchill in the hours before D-Day. It is not his finest hour.

There is no doubt he was opposed to the timing and the action as planned by others. This film attributes his motive to the catastrophe often linked to his name: Gallipoli where thousands died needlessly. Here, Winston becomes a first-level pain for everyone with his opposition to the landing on Normandy. He feels it is history repeating itself, and he does whatever petty temper tantrums to prevent this.

In this version, Churchill tries to pray and ends up ordering God, much to no result. Cox emotes, confabs, and blusters through every scene with smoking cigar and scotch in hand. He throws more than a few dinner plates off the table in arguments with Clem (his wife as played by Miranda Richardson).

No one can control him, and he is diminishing as leader and hero by the moment, not the same man who led the country through the Blitz. And, the country would soon turn him out of office as if it knew all these behind-the-scenes actions that seem fanciful and imagined.

Not Eisenhower, not Montgomery, not his wife, can make him listen. It takes a visit from the King, half-stuttering, to remind him his duty is not to fight or make military strategy. He is a mere symbol.

Though some purists and devotees of Churchill may take umbrage, toward the end of his term in the War, he was growing more marginalized and ultimately dismissed by voters. Director Jonathan Teplitzky takes a chance tacking an icon in an unfavorable light.

This film is an emotional upheaval, perhaps inaccurate but perhaps not. Cox chews the scenery and the role often puts Churchill alone, a small figure, in big landscapes and big halls with nary a security guard. There is no mistaking the message.

Absolutely interesting take on Winston.

 

 

 

Any Cost for the Race to Victory

DATELINE: World War II & Big Three

Leave it to History Channel to bait and switch its viewers yet again.

It seems after weeks of calling Race to Victory  a three-part series, it now appears it is multi-part series. Worse yet, History Channel simply tagged on the nextepisode after the third (now penultimate episode). But, wait, there’s even more!

Events superseded individuals in the first two episodes, but we wanted to see more about the interpersonal and psychological ties between the Big Three. This is a glaring omission in an otherwise excellent series. Now it appears this may be coming in the unknown fourth and fifth episode of the show.

We still have no idea what the “race to victory” of the title means. No explanation seems to have been offered, and self-evident strikes us as ridiculous.

 

This is still fascinating stuff: starting with Germany trying to break up the new alliance of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt, by revealing mass graves of Stalin’s victims. It didn’t work because the Allies needed the lesser of the two evils.

The first meeting of the Big Three didn’t happen because Roosevelt was too sick to travel to Asia where Churchill and Stalin actually became friendly. Stalin wanted aid to Leningrad, but Churchill was set on fighting in Africa to protect the Suez Canal.

 

The States were also preparing to take on the Pacific campaign to regain Midway. Both Brits and Americans were breaking Axis codes—and that was the real turning point, but it didn’t hurt to have General Patton show up to give the Nazis a headache.

There are likely many tidbits in this series that only diehard buffs of World War II will know. For the rest of us, this is illuminating and intriguing.

 

 

 

Ring-a-Ding on Oak Island

DATELINE: Empty Shaft

Rick Lagina compares their efforts to Winston Churchill’s “blood, sweat and tears,” as we draw to a close. Brit Gary Drayton is more akin to another ring-a-ding moment, as we find the season running out in Nova Scotia, and nary an Ark of the Covenant to be seen.

With the winter coming inevitably, they have now the biggest shaft ever.

The two who have found so much over the past few years, Gary Drayton and Rick Lagina come together for one last search of the swamp. These two are quite lucky in tandem: and there appears to be one last bit of luck in those metal detectors.

They find an elaborate ring, highly embossed, but without jewels. It has a flower or sunburst with some silver. One expert places it at pre-1730. They bring in a gemologist named Lewton-Brain. He finds two repairs to enlarge it. It is Spanish and likely belonged to a woman.

They also find part of a metal shield that was buried over 100 feet in 1936. Below this is likely original shaft.

Also coming out is large bit of human bone—and barrel casings! Something is so close that you know you will have to survive the coronavirus to see what occurs next season.

The bone is large and likely human. Why is a large human bone buried over 115 feet below the surface?

They even find a keg part. Yet, they hit bedrock and nothing. Yet again. They suspect it “shifted” through earth tremors or whatever. They once again are more ready to step back to think. They need to go back to Dan Blankenship’s office in his house (left to his daughter, now resident).

Next season looks like another fresh start to find Money Pit (if it isn’t simply a legend).

There is more talk now of history, not of treasure. These set-backs are bringing us to despair.

Outside the Lines: Fake or Fortune

DATELINE: Art for Art’s Sake

fake or fortune gang Culprit Among Art Gang!

Though it sounds like a bad game show, the Netflix series from the BBC about art detectives is quite intelligent and fascinating too.

The show’s misleading title Fake or Fortune does not do justice to the subjects or the experts. Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould work as a marvelous team. They are joined by historian Dr. Bendor Grovesnor who always seems to find key clues.

In essence, someone has a problem painting, without provenance or paperwork, and they cannot prove its true value, or actual artist. In comes the sharp and smart team of experts to track down the truth.

Inventive and dogged, the three detectives manage to find all kinds of evidence to show that Winston Churchill painted a scene in France, or that L.S. Lowry did a couple of small primitive works using unusual pigments.

What is most maddening about the series are the forces or powerhouses in the art world. As you might expect, these snobs are never satisfied with proof, tangible and common sense, if it undercuts their privilege and power.

As a result, many of the brilliant logical discoveries of truth are rejected by those who are threatened in their smugness as owners of definitive art houses.

Heaven forbid that you learn these pompous egos who run the art world are threatened by upstarts and those who are not rich collectors. This is a closed world of dilettantes and snobs.

The combo of scientific and technology with the historical legwork in libraries and archives makes for a pleasant and happy hour in this short series (only four episodes). You may be tempted to send a nasty email to David Coombs, Winston Churchill expert, but it won’t do any good with these inveterate know-it-alls.