WHO WILL REMEMBER THE MEMORIES WHEN the keepers of the memories are gone? I think about this from time to time. At a recent get together I started thinking about it again as the people in attendance were going over old, family photographs. There were several photos of people whose identities were unknown to the people at the party. These strangers, one had to assume, were related somehow to the family; but there was no one left from the previous generation who could help identify these strangers. I sat and wondered how many generations would have to pass before all the people in the photographs turned into unknown beings. As the gathering continued, I recalled from when I was little a neighbor who had lost many relatives due to war. She was a survivor herself. In fact, the first time I ever saw a tattoo was the one on her arm. It was a series of numbers and I remember asking her what the numbers meant. Looking back, she explained as best she could without frightening me how she was given the tattoo when she was in a concentration camp. Being so young I had not reached an age where I could comprehend the words, she was telling me; yet, though she is long gone I have not forgotten what she had said to me. NOW THERE ARE TIMES WHERE I wished I was privy to a person’s memories, especially when they have a historic factor. I knew several Viet Nam veterans, but that is all I knew about them. They never talked about their time away, what they did or what they saw; it was a subject one realized quickly they never wanted to talk about to anyone. I remember a friend’s family where one of the siblings was a soldier in Viet Nam. The family’s mailbox became their only connection to their son and brother. I was over at their house when a letter had arrived from overseas. The family huddled close together as a parent carefully opened the envelope and took out the onion skin piece of paper. Seeing the joy in their faces is something I have never forgotten. Being curious all these years, I had the privilege of talking to a Viet Nam veteran recently and asked him if the norm was not to talk about one’s experiences during the war. He explained the possible reasons for someone not wanting to talk about it, then generously shared his story. I carry his memory with me as I do now of the heroic act that took place in this dramatic, war film. THOUGH WILLIAM PITSENBARGER, PLAYED BY JEREMY Irvine (War Horse, The Railway Man), had the opportunity to save himself from the heat of a battle, he chose to remain behind and help save his fellow soldiers. Those who were saved wanted to make sure William was never forgotten. This film’s story was inspired by true events and I must tell you I was surprised with some of the things I saw in this picture. With Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Jackie Brown) as Takoda, Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise; I, Tonya) as Scott Huffman, Diane Ladd (Joy, Chinatown) as Alice Pitsenberger and Christopher Plummer (The Man Who Invented Christmas, Knives Out) as Frank Pitsenberger; I thought the cast was excellent. Seeing the older actors display their gift of acting made the characters come alive for me. I found the story unbelievable to the point it started playing out like a mystery. The issue I had, however, was with the directing and the script. Instead of coming across like one continuous emotional journey, the scenes felt like snippets of events which damaged the build up of emotional depth. I would start to connect to a character but then the scene would jump and sever that feeling. The story I felt was important enough that it needed more time to blend scenes together and tighten up the script. Essentially, this film lacked drama for me. Now maybe those who have gone through the war will have a different feeling, which I would certainly understand. Still, I am glad this story came to light and now I know and remember it.
2 ½ stars
If you really want to engage the viewer into your story, have a child or a pet as a main focus. The pure innocence of a child, who comes into the world with a clean slate until the adult world shades it, is an ideal candidate to make an adult care about the action in a movie. A pet filled with that unconditional love that pours out of their big brown eyes is enough to make the viewer shudder if there is any chance of danger in store for the loving animal. A horror movie needs to have a subject the viewer will care about; otherwise, they will not care if the character meets an early demise. The next element to have in the film is a love story or at least a potential love connection between characters. Simply put most people can relate to having their heart broken. The viewer will rally around the grieving, surviving character and follow them all the way to the end of the story. So if a movie studio wants to have a successful horror movie, they need one of these items in their story. WITH World War II raging and London being subjected to German bombing runs, children in the city were suddenly finding themselves orphans. To protect them from further harm Jean Hogg and Eve Parkins, played by Helen McCrory (Harry Potter franchise, Hugo) and Phoebe Fox (One Day, Switch-TV), took a group out into the country to an abandoned estate, hopefully to be away from the horrors of the war. However, their presence in the mansion would stir up an old terror. This dramatic sequel’s story took place 40 years after the story in the first film. It had a couple of the elements I listed earlier, children and a love interest. I thought this would be a horror movie that could scare me. It had a love interest in the character of Harry Burnstow, played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse, the Railway Man) and it had children in peril; what could be easier to grab the audience’s attention? Well, I am here to tell you this horror thriller was neither. The beginning of the movie started out good but quickly became a dull, bland imitation of a horror film. I thought the sets and staging were done well, but there was never a sense of horrible dread or something deeply sinister. Besides being predictable this picture left me with a blah feeling, where I felt I had just wasted my time. I do not think anyone could accuse me of being a callous jerk, but I did not care about the kids or the potential for someone to suffer a broken heart in this dud.
1 2/3 stars