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
Opening my mailbox and seeing a greeting card sitting there still gives me a gentle, warm feeling. I know many people send email greetings, but I find cards sent the “old-fashioned” way are more personal. When I find a store that sells greeting cards, I can get lost for an extended period of time as I look through the variety on display. The cheaper priced cards are usually simple and direct, no frills. As the cost rises the cards become more elaborate with glitter, 3D foldouts or some other such things. I have a problem with some of these pricey cards. The greeting card companies think they have to give the consumer more for their money; so, they pour on the cheesy, over the top gushing sentiments. These types of cards make my skin crawl; I do not find them sincere. This dramatic film fell into this category of greeting cards. It was so syrupy that I felt I had been dipped in molasses then covered with powdered sugar. Logan Bartholomew (American Wedding, The Genesis Code) played Jason Stevens, billionaire grandson and heir to his grandfather’s charitable foundation. With family members suing him for control besides handling the daily functions of the organization, Jason never seemed to have time for his girlfriend. It was not until Jason received his grandfather’s journal that he began to understand the gifts his grandfather Red Stevens had bestowed upon him. The story wanted to be a moral tale for one of life’s lessons; however, it was so blatantly heavy-handed, banging it over my head, that I found it nauseating. Told in flashback with over dramatic music we see a teenage Red, played by Austin James (Supernatural Activity), spurred on to make a success of himself due to a news article he read about Andrew Carnegie. The stiff acting continued throughout the movie. Drew Waters (The Hit List, Breaking the Press) took over the task of serving us this cloying story as the adult Red Stevens. Directed by Michael Landon Jr. (The Velveteen Rabbit, The Last Sin Eater), the pacing was at least steady. The best part of this film was seeing James Garner and Lee Meriwether. Not that they added anything to this cliched mess, just seeing them provided me a memory of them playing respectively Jim Rockford and the Catwoman. How ironic that a story involving billionaires was so poorly made.
1 2/3 stars