Grey Wolf, Nazis on the Run

DATELINE: More Nazi Junk

Hitler on deathbed Re-enactor of Hitler on deathbed.

If you are not a Nazi expert, you likely never heard that one of the most popular words in German is “wolf.”  Hitler used it to describe everything from his U-boats to his various lairs and homes.

Grey Wolf is not a western; it’s a Nazi on the Pampas kind of tale.

Now it seems we have old ascot gentleman yellow journalist, Gerrard Williams producing, directing, writing, and putting his familiar undone ascot tie everywhere.

You may recall Gerrard as part of the Hunting Hitler series—like his fellow researcher James Holland, he has branched out into other Nazi realms. Here, he presents us with his theories in a docudrama that shows Hitler living in South America at Bariloche.

He espoused this theory on the Bob Barr series, and now he has given us a big-time documentary. We don’t see Gerrard with his undone silk ascot, dangling in the wind.

His version of Adolph Hitler is old and suffers badly from plastic surgery after the war to help hide his identity. Here too he has escaped with his wife Eva, and at least one daughter (others are rumored but never seen). He is not emaciated and aged from drug addictions to cocaine and crystal meth, as other expert documentaries have revealed.

Gerrard’s escaped Hitler makes strange mistakes of character: the vegetarian is eating squab and living well in Argentina. He seems to have overcome his drug addiction and sundry health problems. Now he mostly depressed and suffering melancholy. After all, he lost a Reich. It does not mesh with the man falling apart in Berlin.

Martin Bormann is the other big name here who seems to dominate his leader—ultimately making money over politics. A bunch of “witnesses” tell their connections: from Juan Peron to teenage house maids.

Hitler is either wearing a wig or has lost weight, grown a few inches, and seems less mercurial. Whether we are meant to accept these discrepancies as bad reports or accept them as proof that Hitler fooled some of the people, we cannot tell you.

We can report that as re-enacted documentaries are concerned, this one is compelling and well-done. If this is all hogwash, we wallowed in it. Gerrard Williams unleashed is a fairly wild film director, compared to his supporting role with Bob Barr in Hunting Hitler. Here Eva leaves Hitler and lives until the 21st century and well into her 90s.

Just another in the cottage industry of Hitler and Nazi history.

 

 

Happiness is a Protective Cup

DATELINE: Chernobyl Goes to Dogs

up on the roof Suicide by Radiation?

Young conscripts sent to the Chernobyl disaster are given crude and useless cups for their scrota. It won’t help. They are not told the truth of the dangers of their mission, though it may not be hard to figure out.

The despondent faces of the young men ordered to commit suicide is quite evident.

Yet, critics of this series noted that the Russians in the series use the wrong type of drinking glass for vodka. Yikes! your world is ending! The type of glassware you select seems a minor consideration.

Episode 4 of Chernobyl reaches an apex of appalling. Cheap and homemade lead cups are tied loosely around the underside of young soldiers as they walk around camp.

Soviet bureaucrats begin to rebel against a mentality of their leaders to hide the notion that the Soviet empire can do anything wrong. It may be the last straw that will lead to the fall of the Communist rule.

One group’s job is to go into deserted and evacuated towns and shoot the stray dogs and cats that are dangerously radioactive. It is part of the mental strain that can break men.

In the meantime, Stellan Skarsgard and Jared Harris want to use lunar robots to push graphite off the roof of the power plant. However, the Soviet leadership will not accept American help (only West German)—and they provide false information to the Germans, who make a rover that cannot withstand radiation.

It leads to the most horrific of all concepts: bio-robots. Men will go into the roof area to sweep up the most radioactive debris. They will likely be dead in a short time, especially figuring on the thin lead aprons and headcovers.

If you fall during the job, you are likely to be dead before the sun sets.

A Russian general gives each man his pay at day’s end and wishes them “good health and long life,” knowing full well that neither will be available after their work.

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Unwrapped!

DATELINE: Rami as Ghost of Mercury!

Rami.jpeg Rami as Freddie.

Is it a musical tragedy, or a concert biopic?  You might say it is a hard rhapsody to the kisser. And, it is director Bryan Singer’s best picture since Apt Pupil.

We were expecting the tale of squandered talent, losing to a hailstorm of hedonism. Instead, we were given the gift of seeing Rami Malek channel the ghost of Freddy Mercury to haunt us forever. Bohemian Rhapsody is worth every moment.

With some clever re-enactments of how the hits were designed and developed by Queen, all four members, you have interwoven built-in classic reactions of the time. The panning comments on the title song by original media critics is priceless and interspersed into the music.

Nor did we expect to see such intriguing supporting actors as Alan Leech (from Downton Abbey) and Aiden Gillen (now starring as Dr. Hynek in Project Blue Book). They bring gravitas to the queenly shenanigans of Freddy.

The notion that he was gay and it was his undoing during a bad time in history strikes us as impossible to accept. You mean no one knew he was gay—not even himself? We suppose self-knowledge is always a struggle. Rock Hudson in the news may have tipped off Freddie that he was in trouble.

Mercury was titanic and hit the iceberg of rock music.

His talent emerges like instant drink—and fizzles in a wave of self-indulgence. Unlike many other rock stars and prima donnas, Freddy Mercury has the wherewithal to see the error of his ways—and tries to repent with the famous Live Aid concert.

The media is once again a vicious dog that bites artists in the throes of creativity. It is delightful to see how some tunes were formed, like “Another One Bites the Dust”, or “We Will Rock You”.

The title tune comes in and out, but the finale, with all its morbid references to death, is “We are the Champions”, saved for the big finish.

Rami Malek is the show, man-tanned or not, and convinces you he is the genuine article. Add music and you have a masterpiece, but Freddy Mercury would not be surprised at all that his life and music survive and flourish.

 

 

LBJ with Woody & Rob Reiner

 DATELINE: Sympathy for Lyndon

LBJ

Two of TV’s biggest personalities in the 1970s have managed to survive as two highly respected professionals today. These are Woody Harrelson who started out as a boy toy on Cheers, and Rob Reiner who was Archie Bunker’s son-in-law punching bag.

They team up as star and director of LBJ, an interesting and sympathetic portrait of a man who has fallen into disfavor among Kennedy fans and conspiracy theorists. It’s all the more interesting when you consider Woody Harrelson’s father was a CIA agent arrested as a person of suspicion in Dallas in 1963.

The ironies of history are not lost on this film in which Johnson is largely despised by Bobby Kennedy, almost with a pathological hatred, and mistrusted as a Judas figure by the Southern senators of which Johnson was often a key leader.

Under heavy (and impressive) makeup, Harrelson is an amazing likeness of LBJ. It’s matched by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird.

The movie jumps between re-enacted assassination scenes in Dallas and times before and after with the Kennedys. John Kennedy seems to laugh at the wit of Johnson, but nothing can save LBJ from Robert Kennedy’s disgust. This may be the most negative portrait of the Attorney General in movies. Bobby is played by Michael Stahl-David as a sourpuss.

LBJ quotes Shakespeare and one smarmy Kennedy aide notes that he is quoting Brutus. A little knowledge is dangerous.

The film dismisses Vietnam in one sentence in one scene, and though Johnson talks to J. Edgar Hoover in a one-sided phone call, there is nothing about the Warren Commission.

LBJ is devastated by the death of JFK and swears to bring forth Kennedy’s desire for a Civil Rights bill, even if it brings him into loggerheads with Sen. Russell of Georgia (Richard Jenkins). He calls his long-time friend a racist to his face.

Johnson’s crude humor and drawl contrasted badly with the debonair charm of JFK—but this film tries to go below the surface, and therein is the movie’s importance.

 

 

Post Toastie, Post Haste, Post Dated

 DATELINE: Movie Review

 post toastie  The Post

Back in the days of the Nixon Administration, journalism became elevated to the career and mission of national guardian, and you had movies like All the President’s Men about Woodward and Bernstein, starring Hoffman and Redford.

Today, with fake news all the buzz, you have an attempt to recreate the nostalgia of journalism in The Post-Watergate movie in the era of Stormy Daniels and James Comey.

Hence, you have The Post with two actors of note, exceptions as targets in the crosshairs of President Trump: Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.

The Post is the name of the newspaper that is most maligned nowadays by Sarah Huckaboo Slanders in her daily briefings at the White House. It is also the name of a movie that tries to redeem journalism.

You’d have better luck collecting a nickel for your empty beer bottle.

This is a movie preaching to the people not sitting in the church pew. You will need to chain someone to a pillar to watch The Post.

Muckrakers no longer read newspapers or books and prefer ten seconds to hook their media audience with an image. By the same token, movies are not watched for messages nowadays, and not watched without a good car chase and explosion. You might as well hook your worm and go fishing.

But, we do have a movie here, not a video game. And we have to say something to that cult of movie watchers and the cult of message movie fans.

When documentaries are accused of being faked news, a docudrama is the ultimate fiction to the new breed of Trumpist news monks.

Oh, by the way, The Post is a prestige movie. That means no one is watching, which is a shame.

Mrs. Brown, You Have a Lovely Horse

DATELINE: Early Dench Victoria

 Dench as Victoria Dench as younger Queen Victoria

Count on us to have it backwards. Judi Dench first played Queen Victoria over twenty years ago in Mrs. Brown. Her recent foray into the royal personage in Victoria and Abdul is a re-boot. We reviewed the later performance before the older.

Mrs. Brown is given a new title on your streaming list: it is inexplicably called Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. The title of Mrs. Brown is what the detractors called the Queen, owing to her relationship to the horse whisperer from Scotland. No, she never married him, except in spirit.

Like Helen Mirren and her reprisals as Queen Elizabeth I and II, Judi Dench has made Queen Victoria Regina all her own.

The earlier depiction showed Victoria in the years after the death of Prince Albert, her beloved consort and time in which she was in deep mourning and totally inconsolable.

Enter a Scotsman who was Albert’s equestrian expert, a commoner with brutish manners by the common name of John Brown. Gerard Butler is nearly unrecognizable as the younger brother footman, Archie Brown.

Her royal society is scandalized as Brown consolidates power in her friendship. Billy Connolly is suitably kilt-worn and boor before the Boer War. He oversteps his bounds ultimately.

Whether the intimate twosome were romantically involved or whether Victoria was simply a lonely widow who needed companionship, the film coyly dances around.

The other characters clearly think her loose with her trappings.

One of the most amusing, and bemused, of the observers is Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (Antony Sher) played with a perpetual smug as a canary-eating cat. Sher’s delightful performance gives the film a modern sensibility and balance.

Once again, we have a well-produced movie with Queen Victoria smarter than her subjects, the film’s subject, and even smarter than the script. This movie is Downton Abbey on a regal scale.

You will find another bio-film worth your time. Judi Dench is at the top of her game.

Frontiersmen of America, Episode 2

 DATELINE: Never Surrender

 Robert I. Mesa   Robert I. Mesa as Tecumseh

History Channel and Leonardo DiCaprio present the second documentary in the series, Men Who Built America: The Frontiersman.

This time, they take two storylines and entangle them for their parallels: Tecumseh (played by hottie Robert I. Mesa) starts off as a young man whose tribe is wiped out largely by smallpox, brought on by the American settlers flowing into the Ohio and Indiana territories after the Revolution.

The twin sides of the story feature Meriwether Lewis and William Clark being saved by their guide Sacajawea, who meets a long-lost brother and intervenes on behalf of her friends. Jefferson’s plan to have a peaceful settlement soon meets the reality of the greed of American settlers.

On the other hand, Tecumseh’s brother is a visionary who helps the Native American bring together tribes into a united nation. To that end, Tecumseh creates Prophetsville, a symbol of Pan-Indian unification.

The stories diverge from there. Lewis ended up committing suicide and Tecumseh’s village is wiped out in a genocidal attack by Tippecanoe Harrison himself, who parlayed the vile sneak attack into political capitol.

Tecumseh never trusted the British who tried to curry his favor, but the Americans were worse, convinced of their destiny to drive out the natives to settle the land from coast to coast.

The episode manages to bring the highs and lows of American roots into one trail, both of tears and joy. You cannot blame Tecumseh for wanting revenge whose power was enhanced the the New Madrid earthquakes—and an alliance with the British in 1812.

Yet, Tecumseh knew the quality of mercy is never strained. He wanted a diplomatic settlement to the war.

 

 

Darkest Hour Before Gary Oldman

DATELINE:  Two Fine Hours

Oldman Churchill Oldman Churchill!

Gary Oldman had several makeup specialists to help him take on the dowdy appearance of an old reprobate as he played the gin-swilling, cigar-chomping temperamental British prime minister during World War II, the irascible Winston Churchill.

You might think he won Best Actor Oscar for his prosthetic achievement, but his performance is a gem—and you can almost forgive him for playing Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies.

Joe Wright’s Churchill movie is quite different from the many others that have come and gone over the past few years. In the past you had Albert Finney, and in the distant past you had Timothy Spall and even Richard Burton. We could go on and on.

The latest version takes on a slightly different approach, lending itself to atmosphere, style, and a human touch. This Churchill’s worst enemies are his own conservative party members—and appeasing, peace at any price types who want to work things out with Hitler.

The film also takes the non-epic approach to the rescue of British soldiers at Dunkirk. That movie was the arch-rival to the Darkest Hour at the Oscars.

Kristen Scott Thomas plays wife Clemmie and Lily James does a turn as Churchill’s private secretary, but make no mistake, the bull in the china shop is Oldman, almost unrecognizable and totally convincing, perhaps with the performance of his life.

The film puts its focus on a short time when Churchill had to convince the public, and his King, that he was the man for the job. A couple of bravura scenes make the film well-worth the time, in which Churchill challenges himself to ride the subway to find how the common citizens feel, and his stirring speech that set Hitler on the road to ruin.

You can fit Darkest Hour on your DVD shelf next to The King’s Speech, as grand use of oratory skills and language during World War II.

Feud: Ryan Murphy & Olivia DeHavilland

DATELINE: Creepy Producer

 

coda

The spry legend, Miss Olivia DeHavilland whose Oscars outnumber anything Ryan Murphy will ever compile, has fired another volley at miniseries Feud: Joan & Bette, created by Mr. Murphy.

Right before the series is about to reap Emmy glory for its hilarious and entertaining depiction of two movie stars in a death throe struggle like scorpions, more turns of the screw emerge.

Miss DeHavilland’s character, ‘herself’ it appears, is a mere supporting figure. Yet, she does not like how she is portrayed. In a deposition through her lawyers, she tells the world she never called her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, ‘a bitch’ to any director or producer.

That may mean she used to term privately among friends, or even to hapless Joan Fontaine’s face, but her point is the script and series misrepresented her behavior. She said: “The false statements and unauthorized use of my name, identity and image by the creators of Feud have caused me discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment, and distress.”

Yes, being violated is like that, no matter what your age.

Murphy’s glad-hand attitude demeans Miss DeHavilland by calling her “Olivia,” despite her age, her position, and the fact that he never has met her, let alone sought her permission to use her as a figure in a docudrama.

In blatant admission, Murphy’s mouthpieces claim: “The fact that the words attributed to her and the purported endorsement are false does not transform the character into anything other than an exact depiction of de Havilland.”  Hunh?

That’s quite an admission: they know they have misused her by having her say words she never uttered, but it’s all for the profit of Ryan Murphy—and to give us viewers a few guffaws.

We wish to point out that Miss DeHavilland is a real human being, not an emblematic symbol like the White Whale, appearing in a work of fiction.

Murphy is betting that the 101-year old Oscar winner may pop off at any time—thus giving him the last word, which he will have anyhow as time will likely bestow on him the honor to be standing at the end of all this mess.

In all likelihood, the arrogant TV producer probably thought DeHavilland was already dead—and it didn’t matter how he used her identity.

What the old legend is showing here is that identity theft can occur in many ways:  when you profit from stealing someone’s personality, you’re a thief, Mr. Murphy. But, as Hollywood producers go, that is no crime at all.

 

Free e-books

DATELINE:  Is there really a free lunch?

Starting Wednesday on most titles.

Apparently in the world of Ossurworld.  On Amazon.com, this week for the first time you can find a few of Ossurworld’s favorite movie review books available for free. The offer lasts for a few days. Grab’em while they’re hot.

The Menu:

Is It Real? or Just Another Movie

realkindlecover

Movies to See or Not to See

kindlecovermovies.

Movies in the Stream

kindlecoverMoviesStream

Mal Tempo

Malkindlecover

When Jack the Ripper Met Ben Hur

jackcover

 

 

Lost City & Lost Spirit, Zed Renamed Z

DATELINE:  No Bomba Here

 Zed

An old-fashioned epic journey was once the purview of great films and studios. Think David Lean or John Huston. To tackle a grand mystery, the disappearance of an explorer and his son in the 1920s seems to be the stuff of legendary movies.

Lost cities and their discovery also play in the ballpark of great historical drama.

Yet, something may have become lost in translation when it comes to The Lost City of Z.

Without a doubt, many facets of the Percival Fawcett saga are well-produced, well-acted, and directed with an old-style elan by James Gray.

So, where did the audience become lost? Nowadays, your viewership is weaned on cartoonish plot-holes with noisy special effects, but this film resists the urge for going that way. It paid the price with quality unappreciated. This is not your father’s Indiana Jones.

The film is an adventure in the classic Royal Geographic Society tradition, perhaps better suited to a miniseries from BBC.

Fawcett’s most significant discovery was that the RGS was filled with racial prejudice against ancient tribal societies in 1910. Imagine that! Prejudice that South American natives might not produce a classic civilization thousands of years ago!

Brad Pitt originally planned to play the obsessed British explorer, but wiser heads moved on to Charlie Hunnam, who certainly has come a long way since the days of the British Queer as Folk cast. He is quite perfect in the role, even aging with subtlety from 1906 to the 1926 when Fawcett ostensibly disappeared in the jungle.

Perhaps the understated, stiff upper-lip manner is truly anachronistic and misunderstood, leaving audiences cold.

The best part of the film for us was the role of Robert Pattinson, lately taking secondary co-star parts, sidekick to the hero. He is a delight.

Here he may come across as the next Gabby Hayes, or Ralph Bellamy, but Pattinson’s transition from cute vampire to character actor may have just given his career a new, untold longevity.

By the wayside, snippets of familiar classical music are tossed around like rose petals, which may be the truly greatest criticism we can muster.

 

Olivia DeHavilland Strikes Back

DATELINE:  Livie Legend

101 AP Camus

On occasion of her 100th year, AP Camus photo, 2016 image

As much as we loved every hoot from the miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan, apparently the same cannot be said for Miss Olivia DeHavilland. She did not see anything remotely funny.

Now 101 years old and living in royal exile from Hollywood in Paris, the living legend and two-time Oscar winner is now suing the producers of the Feud show for misrepresenting her.

We thought that Catherine Zeta-Jones did not do justice to Miss DeHavilland, a grande dame in the truest sense. A long-time friend and devoted supporter of Miss Bette Davis, Miss DeHavilland was shown in the series giving a series of petty interviews to the press.

She replaced Joan Crawford at Bette’s request in Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte because she had fortitude and never buckled under pressure. She now charges modern producer Ryan Murphy of portraying her as engaging in “gossip and other unkind, ill-mannered behavior.”

Miss DeHavilland is not gaga or in her dotage—and she believes FX producers have done her image and her person “emotional harm.”  We figure there is not a jury in the world that would disagree.

To show what a heel Ryan Murphy really is, he showed Miss DeHavilland no respect. He admits he never called her or notified her of the impending portrayal. What’s worse, he calls her “Olivia,” as if the slug ever met a woman of such class.

We figure Murphy, as a new age producer of no manners, has no respect for the past, and apparently no respect for his elders.

We admire Miss Olivia DeHavilland for her legal battles decades ago when she took on Jack Warner’s star system—and won. Murphy is decidedly the loser here.

Miss De Havilland is the Last of the Mohicans, which befits the classic model and usual choice of acting roles she carefully selected in her career.

Today we remain a staunch fan of a great star.

 

Post Traumatic Patriots Day

Wahlberg

DATELINE:  Boston Under Attack

On occasion, you encounter a movie that is a burden to watch, but you feel utterly compelled to stay the course as your patriotic duty. Such a film is Patriots Day.

We were in our hometown Boston when the horrific Marathon bombing occurred and lived through the four days of wall-to-wall TV coverage in 2013. It seems like living self-torture through post-traumatic stress to watch and relive the movie version produced and starring Mark Wahlberg. As a Bostonian, he wanted to be sure the movie had a Boston perspective.

It does, almost to a point of caricature, with accents flowering and scenes filmed mostly on location. Watertown residents preferred not to relive the mayhem in their backyards, and a different set was used for those climactic scenes of a Wild West shootout with two local residents turned terrorists.

If there is much to admire in this docudrama, police and detective work as well as FBI heroism is top of the list. In a matter of hours, starting from scratch, an entire operation and manhunt was created with tireless work from police, hospital workers, and citizens.

The film probably will best be seen years from now with more perspective on events, like the film Parkland about the Kennedy assassination, made 50 years after it happened. The raw nerves of the Marathon event are too fresh, still, to not feel abused again by what we know as familiar names and places and inevitabilities.

Hollywood fireworks are not missing here: as the shootout with the terrorists is stunning. Performances of J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon, are appropriately underplayed. Red Sox star and local celebrity David Ortiz plays himself.

If any question remains, it is how to handle the people who were most unhelpful: Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s American wife and Dzokhar’s pothead UMass friends. Their reputations should be mud forever, according to this movie. We would say they got off far too easily.

Since this film may be the ultimate history lesson for viewers of the future, it stands as a moment in time, close enough to events, to ensure its accuracy. If we know anything from documentary history, it is that time dilutes, distorts, and changes the perception of the age’s Zeitgeist.

We think this one will pass the test of time.

Little Boy Lost in Lion

DATELINE:  Real Life Spiritual Journey

 Kidman and Sunny

Kidman with adorable Sunny Pawar

This international production called Lion may tap into the wide audience of movie fans in Australia and India with a true story that is reminiscent of classics like The Search with Monty Clift.

This time the lost boy, separated from his desperate and loving mother, is five years old and lost in a mass of humanity from New Delhi to Calcutta. After some brutal travails that are reminiscent of 19th century Dickens, he is adopted by acouplefrom Tasmania.

However, happy ever after is not in the script.

This also marks an interesting first for Nicole Kidman who adopts the little boy (Sunny Pawar)—and before she knows it, he is 25 and she is playing her first matron.

It happened to Mary Astor and Bette Davis with grace, and just a few short years after playing some of her most sensual roles, Kidman is into motherhood. There may be no looking back. She is, above all else, an excellent actress.

The trauma of the young boy seems to come back to haunt him as an adult. You can thank Google Earth for allowing him to conduct an armchair search of his geographical roots.

Because the story is all true, Saroo is a compelling figure both as a child and as Dev Patel in adulthood when his torment about his lost family becomes something that allows him to take charge of destiny.

The actual footage of in the post-script of the movie shows that Kidman’s role is not far afield of the adopting mother in the story. It will surely tug at your feelings as the young Indian’s spiritual journey is truly difficult emotionally.

When it comes to true stories, you can’t go wrong here. Since there are no lions in the story, you have to stick around for the closing to learn the reasoning behind the film title.