REVIEW: The Last Full Measure [2020]

Justice delayed is justice denied. While Todd Robinson‘s The Last Full Measure does center upon the cost of war, it’s neither a pro-war or anti-war film. He instead allows the idea of battle to exist as an imperative within Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr.’s story. Not only did this young man enlist to go to Vietnam, his bravery led him to voluntarily exit his helicopter above the massacre of Operation Abilene in order to help a division of total strangers who just sent their only medic up for evacuation. Pits…

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REVIEW: 1917 [2019]

It’s easier not to go back at all. While it appeared the Germans retreated, they were really just gathering their strength at the easier-to-defend Hindenburg Line as part of Operation Alberich in northern France. With British forces fooled and following closely behind to mount what they believed would be an offensive, their opponents were primed to turn the tables via ambush instead. After consulting aerial photographs of the Germans’ new position, General Erinmore (Colin Firth) realized 1,600 of Colonel Mackenzie’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) men would be slaughtered without his intervention. So…

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REVIEW: The Warrior Queen of Jhansi [2019]

Everything’s become red. The part Rani Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise) played during the 1857 Indian mutiny against the British East India Company is massive. A great moment of perseverance and rebellion on its own, this queen became a much-needed symbol for whom her persecuted people and dwindling allies could rally behind. Widowed five years earlier with an adopted son set to inherit the throne, England presumed a moment of weakness to seize her kingdom as its own. Believing Jhansi’s allegiance to this point gave them cause to simply take over, they…

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REVIEW: Jojo Rabbit [2019]

Where are all the goddamn knives? Seeing how skittish little Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) appears, a group of older Hitler Youths under an injured Nazi captain’s (Sam Rockwell‘s Klenzendorf) command decide to test his resolve. Since the boy enjoys talking the talk when it comes to killing Jewish people due to believing his father is a war hero doing the same on the frontlines (others wonder if Mr. Betzler turned deserter considering nobody has heard from him, alive or dead, for months), they hand him a bunny and order…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] [2019]

But we’re Christians. Director Alejandro Amenábar spoke very briefly before the screening of his latest film Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] and the main sentiment was this: “It could happen anywhere.” He doesn’t, however, just mean rebellion or uprising. He doesn’t mean a coup or military dictatorship either. What he and co-writer Alejandro Hernández share via the parallel journeys of Don Miguel de Unamuno (Karra Elejalde) and General Franco (Santi Prego) is that just fights always run the risk of becoming unjust very fast. This truth is ultimately…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: 1982 [2019]

Don’t invite the war into our home. Before 2007, all Lebanese men were conscripted to serve in the military for at least one year. I’ve heard from multiple people that it wasn’t a question of citizenship, but ethnicity. If I ever visited before that year, I wouldn’t have been able to return to America without fulfilling that obligation. Whether or not this was actually true—I’m not certain. But even if it wasn’t, all the children born there during a lengthy civil war against Syrian occupation and an eventual Israeli invasion…

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REVIEW: La battaglia di Algeri [The Battle of Algiers] [1966]

You never know. It’s almost impossible to receive an objective depiction of war considering how easy it is to skew art towards propaganda through the dissemination of a political agenda. And it’s only been getting harder as new technology keeps costs down when making movies that serve one side of things no matter the veracity of claims held within. A film like Gillo Pontecorvo‘s La battaglia di Algeri [The Battle of Algiers] therefore stands as a vision of what once was with a documentary-like vérité style refusing to pull punches…

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REVIEW: A Private War [2018]

I think fear comes later. American journalist Marie Colvin’s family’s lawyers say they have evidence proving the Bashar al-Assad-led government of Syria ordered her death in 2012. If that doesn’t express the power of a free press, I’m not sure what could. At a time when the US President is acting like an autocratic leader deciding who is allowed to cover the White House beat while also calling the media at-large “an enemy of the people,” we would do well to look back at what Colvin did just before a…

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TIFF REVIEW: Les filles du soleil [Girls of the Sun] [2018]

Women, life, liberty. It’s just like America to document ISIS as a fight we must combat—like the saviors we are. There’s a reason for this from our perspective, but our jingoistic thought process does detract from what’s occurring on the ground. People are engaged in a war that they have no way to avoid. They’ve been displaced from their homes by a terrorist regime that has murdered them, raped them, and indoctrinated their youth into joining the cause. So our hero complex has devastating effects insofar as erasing the victims…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Where Hands Touch [2018]

I want her to be like everyone else: unremarkable. Now is not the time to make a film romanticizing Nazism or allowing anyone who donned the swastika during World War II a modicum of sympathy. I’d argue there could never be such a time—at least not for those who say they felt bad but still did nothing to stop the nightmare they helped usher into creation. Their cooperation in a genocidal extermination cannot be given a footnote for remorse. They cannot skate by on some notion that they participated unwillingly…

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REVIEW: 火垂るの墓 [Hotaru no haka] [Grave of the Fireflies] [1988]

“Please stay home with me” Everything I read and heard about Isao Takahata‘s Hotaru no haka [Grave of the Fireflies] appeared to want to prepare me for a solemnly tragic tale that couldn’t be completed without tears streaming down my face. I took this train of thought as a badge of honor—preparing its emotionality and authenticity towards WWII’s futility and collateral damage. This is the reaction most war films hope to conjure with many going out of their way to manipulate the reception via story, score, or imagery. Reducing this…

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