Apr 252013
 
Destination Tokyo

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Starring Cary Grant in one of his less debonair roles, an American submarine sneaks into Tokyo to gather information in preparation for the Doolittle Raid, where Japan was bombed in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite the implausible plot, Destination Tokyo is worth watching for the brilliant underwater photography, taut action, sharp direction, a terrifying depth charge scene and impressive attention to detail.
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Apr 042013
 
100 Rifles

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Famous for a love scene between Jim Brown and Raquel Welch, one of Hollywood’s first interracial love scenes, 100 Rifles provides a brief look at the fire that consumed Mexico during the Revolution, laying waste to entire states. The story of a marshal searching for a bank robber in Mexico who becomes involved in the Mexican Revolution, it is not the best movie on the Mexican Revolution, and to be honest it could be set anywhere, but it is entertaining. Read More…

Mar 282013
 
Bataan

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Set during the American retreat to the Bataan peninsula during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during WWII, a small group of soldiers must stop the Japanese from rebuilding a critical bridge. A workmanlike film, the plot shares much in common with The Lost Patrol (1934) but the cast is made up of an excellent group of character actors and the story moves along quickly. Read More…

Feb 282013
 
MacArthur

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Adopting a relatively even-handed approach, the movie covers MacArthur’s career throughout WWII, the American occupation of Japan and the Korean War. While the story does show MacArthur’s self-fixation and growing paranoia, it skips over many of his mistakes because they would have required a much, much, much longer movie. Unfortunately, the limited budget meant that the movie was filmed in the United States, not Asia. Worse, most of the actors are second-rate, and the low budget meant that the battle scenes looked like they were filmed on a studio lot. Although the film looks like an ABC movie of the week in the early 1980s, it is the only full-length presentation of a controversial and extremely influential American general. Read More…

Feb 072013
 
They Were Expendable

Rating: ★★★½☆
Having seen WWII firsthand, including the Battle of Midway and the Normandy invasion, director John Ford was determined that his first post-war film would show the stark truth of the failed defence of the Philippines in 1942. Although set in the Philippines, much of the movie takes place in shadowy interiors as the Japanese siege of Bataan gradually tightens. The movie may appear unbearably wholesome to modern viewers but it showed post-war audiences the hard choices and sacrifices that had been made early in the war. Based on the real-life exploits of Lieutenant John Bulkeley, commander of a PT squadron in the Philippines, Bulkeley himself was surprised by the authentic feel of the movie. Read More…

Jan 312013
 
Inchon

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Numerous film critics have ranked Inchon as one of the worst movies ever made. Inchon is not horrible, but it is painful. Set during early days of the Korean War, the movie is an epic tribute to General Douglas MacArthur. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and main financial backer of the film, later stated publicly that he wanted the movie to portray MacArthur and his love of God, as well as his battle against tyranny and communism. He succeeded. Unsurprisingly, director Terrence Young blamed the final mess on the producers’ interference. Probably best-known as the director of the first two films in the Bond series, Terrence Young’s career had started to decline. It did not bounce back after Inchon. Read More…

Nov 292012
 
Hell's Angels

Rating: ★★★½☆
Set in WWI, it is a surprisingly dark story, where the love interest is a bad girl who has no interest in becoming a good girl, and the never-do-well brother can not be redeemed. The superb technical accomplishments more than compensate for the unbearable overacting, including a minute-long death scene for one of the brothers. The mix of directors and the haphazard transfer from silent to sound resulted in a strange movie, but a very good strange movie that is worth watching.
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Nov 222012
 
War Horse

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Albert Narracott bonds with the thoroughbred horse bought by his father to serve as the family’s plow horse for their farm. Albert is heartbroken when his father sells the horse to a British cavalry captain at the beginning of WWI, and eventually enlists in order to be reunited with his friend. Although it is primarily a movie about a horse and his human, there are several superb battlefield scenes. Unfortunately, there is also far too much melodrama.
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May 052012
 
Old Gringo

Rating: ★★½☆☆
A vanity project for Jane Fonda, who starred and produced, Old Gringo (1989), set in the Mexican Revolution, is a jarring mix of epic and intimate stories that never comes together as a whole. Parts of the film are superb, but the script does not live up to the stunning images. Read More…

Mar 012012
 
Viva Zapata!

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Although it is a compressed version of the Mexican Revolution, and John Steinbeck’s script tries too hard to make the revolution stand in for the Russian Revolution, Viva Zapata (1952) is one of the better movies on the Mexican revolution. Read More…

Feb 212012
 
A Bridge Too Far

Rating: ★★★★☆

British, American and Polish paratroopers take part in a complex and risky operation to seize a series of bridges in Holland in September 1944 to enable British tanks to push through German lines and bring an early end to WWII. Read More…

Jan 302012
 
J. Edgar

Rating: ★★½☆☆

J. Edgar is a touching movie about gay lovers when the idea of gay rights did not exist, but the love story takes precedence over the story of a paranoid, narrow-minded bureaucrat who believed that his own patriotism was the ideal and anyone who did not meet his standards was a threat to the nation. Read More…