Monday, July 13, 2015

Movie reviews: Honor Flight, Dancer & the Dame

Summertime and the living is easy...except finding the entertainment is hard.

But good movies are out there.

First, Honor Flight. This is a 2012 documentary chronicling the efforts of Wisconsin volunteers to organize Honor Flights in the Midwest. These are special flights transporting WII veterans from their home to the WWII Memorial in Washington DC and back, all free of charge. The IMDB blurb says
Honor Flight chronicles a community coming together to honor World War II veterans. The film follows a team of Midwest volunteers as they race against the clock to send every local WWII veterans to see the memorial built in their honor and the heart of the Capitol city of a nation that they protected.
The race against the clock refers to the fact that 900 WWII vets die per day. They are all in their mid-to-upper 80s and early 90s now, and many are very ill. Within 20 years there will not be any left in which to honor or hear first-hand accounts.

Common Sense Media movie review of Honor Flight
Parents need to know that Honor Flight features significant grainy footage of WWII, including bombings, wounds being tended in field hospitals, and some graphic descriptions of the horrors of war, as well as a recurring photo of a starved (but alive) man in a Nazi concentration camp. It shows modern-day, terminally ill vets in hospital settings and has several intense emotional scenes about death, nostalgia, and heroism. There's some historical context regarding the importance of different battles, but the focus is largely on the lives of the living veterans, their families, and their desire to see the D.C. memorial before they die.

HONOR FLIGHT is a moving documentary about the work that can be done when a group of passionate people work toward a common goal. In this case, the goal is simple: Help WWII veterans, who die at the rate of 900 a day at the time of the documentary's filming, visit a WWII memorial in their honor before they pass away. For kids interested in history, this puts a very human touch on a distant war. These are living veterans discussing their memories of losing friends and fellow soldiers to battle, surrounded by their loved ones today who want to show respect for their service. There are some good context discussions of important battles, but the main focus of the documentary is the way a community came together to provide this service, free of cost, and must race against time to extend the offer to terminally ill veterans who sometimes are in no shape to travel. Better for older kids due to the emotional intensity, but, for those mature enough, it provides a compelling picture of families mobilizing to give closure to a generation that's expected to be gone entirely within the next 20 years.
One of the featured veterans was at Iwo Jima and witnessed the raising of the flag, a moment captured in Pulitzer winning glory by Joe Rosenthal. The vet described the battle and the conditions, as well as the flag raising. Hearing a first hand account was so moving, all the more so because it was given in typical humble style noted by the documentary as a hallmark of the WWII veteran generation. "I'm not a hero. The guys who didn't make it back, they're the heroes."

Another featured vet living in Wisconsin was made sadly famous as The Living Skeleton.
Source
Joe Demler was 19 years old and weighed just 70 pounds when LIFE's John Florea took his picture in a notorious German POW camp in 1945
When Joe described the liberation, again in typically humble fashion, he was concerned for two things, one, that the soldier in the bunk next to him was alive when the Allied soldiers liberated the camp, but died before they could feed him. And the second thing Joe worried about...was that his mother would see the photo and be upset.

It was only geographic happenstance that there were two veterans who had such dramatic stories. In truth, every WWII vet's story is dramatic and precious. The entire documentary is one well-told, from the perspective of the organizers of the Honor Flight, to the volunteers, and family members. The veterans are terrific. Really. It made me want to run out and find a Grandpa to adopt.

If you are even 1% patriotic, this documentary will absolutely amaze you and inflame your passionate gratitude for our country's war hero men and women. If you are 0% patriotic, if you watch this film you will be 100% before the end. Get the tissues, tears will flow.

FMI or to donate, Honor Flight Organization

On Netflix. Also free on Snagfilms.com

Dancer & the Dame

A movie released in April 2015 (missed this in the theaters? Yeah, so did I), starring Mike & Molly's Billy Gardell, CSI: Miami's Eva LaRue, and The Practice and Lillyhammer's Michael Badalucco.

IMDB blurb says,
Billy Gardell is Rick Dancer, a wisecracking, disgruntled detective who is long past his prime. Only with the help of Princess, a fussy and fastidious canine cop, can Dancer break the case of his career.
I saw that it was "recommended For You" on Netflix. Afterward I also saw it was deemed "A Christian Movie" and had Dove ratings. It had one moment of "Dear God, if you're there..." kind of prayer so it had no overt or even particularly detectible Christian message.

However as a movie that Christians may enjoy, yes. It had no nudity, no double entendres, no sexual situations, not even any suggestive situations. It is a cop movie so it did have some bullets flying, but no gore. A frying pan to the head, and some bar fights. No swearing.

As a movie it was poorly written, implausible, and cheesy. It also aggravated me that they dumped the K9 on Dancer with no training, something that is not only implausible but dangerous.

That said, it was engaging, innocent, well-acted, and good for the whole family. The dog is great and the kid is cute. Billy Gardell is very witty and natural, I'd see more films with him in them. If he gets the chance after this one!

On Netflix. Also on Youtube for free, here.

2 comments :

  1. Hi,
    I am female & 64, so my movie watching is 'slanted' & goes back further.
    I love this movie.
    Saving Grace (1986 film) staring Tom Conti.
    Definate religious content here.
    Cheers
    Mira

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mira,

      An Internet Movie Database reviewer synopsizes the movie thus:

      "Tom Conti, Giancarlo Giannini, and Fernando Rey are all terrific here in improbable story about how depressed young pope gets accidentally locked out of the Vatican and has an adventure amongst Italian peasants in a remote village."

      I can appreciate the good things about the movie that reviewers have stated, foremost that the filming in Tuscany and Rome is gorgeous, and that the acting is good (I always liked underrated and underappreciated Tom Conti) and that it is definitely a feel good movie. So thank you for chipping in with a suggestion.

      However, Christian matters are serious and I would not recommend that anyone watch a movie that is Catholic and promotes Catholic dogmas. The very plot, the young pope dislikes his assignment inside the Vatican, feeling isolated and unable to help the people as he could when he was a priest, summarizes one of the problems with Catholicism: we are all priests to each other (1 Peter 2:5) and there is no such thing as a pope. Of course the richest person on earth, living in a castle as infallible, absolute monarch would be out of touch with the people he is supposed to bring spiritual comfort to! That is why Jesus didn't design His church that way and the very premise of the movie explores a conundrum that happens when we stray from God's word. :(

      Delete