Knight at HOME at the Movies
This Is War!
Three docs and a classic focusing on different aspects of war - all worth checking out in this edition of DVD Recommendations.
Ask Not - From Persistent Visions. Out director Johnny Symons insightful documentary about the U.S. Government's idiotic "don't
ask, don't tell" policy on banning gays serving in the military is definitely worth seeing.
Waltz with Bashir – From Sony. This thought provoking, visually dazzling (and disturbing) film was a Foreign Film Oscar
nominee last year. Following in the footsteps of The Chicago Ten, filmmaker Ari Folman presents an animated documentary that
recounts the psychological toll of the 1982 war on Lebanon on a series of Israeli war veterans. The gorgeous animation only
amplifies the horrors and the continued nightmares of the film's narrator who is haunted by a particularly brutal mission. Folman
takes a potentially obscure moment in history and artfully makes it pertinent and thought provoking for film audiences.
The Fog of War – From Sony. I'm a huge fan of the films of documentarian Errol Morris (especially Gates of Heaven and The Thin
Blue Line) but surprisingly, I never got around to seeing this 2004 Oscar winner for Best Documentary until McNamara's recent death.
And boy, is it fascinating. The former Secretary of Defense for Kennedy and Johnson, who presided over the Vietnam war speaks
candidly at some length on the U.S. Government's rigid policy on war and whether he made the right decisions. Morris, who drills
McNamara at certain points, presents a portrait of a man haunted by a lot of "if onlys." The film also looks at WWII and the Cuban
Missle crisis from McNamara's viewpoint and is filled with retro footage and a typically anxiety producing Philip Glass score.
The Diary of Anne Frank - 50th Anniversary Edition – From 20th Century Fox. Director George Stevens managed to
create enormous tension in his 1959 widescreen adaptation of the much honored Broadway play. Based on the now legendary diary
of the young Jewish girl, written while in hiding with her family and their friends during WWII, Stevens assembled an expert cast to
join three of the Broadway veterans (including the wonderful Joseph Schildkraut) and launched a worldwide talent hunt for an actress
to play the title role. He discovered model Millie Perkins who appears in several new documentary featurettes included on this new
anniversary edition. Shelley Winters took the Supporting Actress Oscar as the whiny Mrs. Van Daan, Lou Jacobi is her cranky,
cigarette, food starved husband, Richard Beymer, whose cat provides a scene of tremendous tension, is their son. The excellent film
is enhanced by Alfred Newman's evocative, moving score. Though Perkins, with her thin voice has always made me long for Audrey
Hepburn (who was unfortunately too old to play the role) or Susan Strasberg (who starred on Broadway), that's but a mere quibble.
This is a profoundly moving story - the rare example of Hollywood presenting a weighty, "important" movie with genuine feeling.