Only one this week as we still haven’t got through all of the 4 HR LONG!! epic grim war movie Phil decided to do on Thursday night, so a review of that at some point will turn up. Edit- it’s in the post now 🙂
My Saturday night movie however was actually a little bit grim, but not epic by any stretch. Midnight Special (2016) is a science fiction movie written and directed by Jeff Nichols with a stellar cast. Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton and Sam Shepard.
The plot (spoiler free ~ more or less 🙂 ) is regarding the kidnapping of an 8 year old boy, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) by his Dad- Roy Tomlin (Shannon) who have both been living as residents of one of those cult type thingy’s Americans like to have (Waco, Jonestown etc). The cult is called The Ranch and is headed by Pastor Calvin Meyer (Shepard) who ‘adopted’ Alton. The Pastor sends two of his followers to retrieve the lad. The FBI are also on the case and arrive at The Ranch as somehow the Pastor’s sermons have included secret information only the Govt would know. The Ranch has also upped it’s purchasing of weaponry over the past 6 months and the FBI want to know why. Paul Sevier (Driver) of the N.S.A turns up and starts to put the pieces together of what’s going on.
Roy is travelling with an old friend Lucas (Edgerton) and they are on the way with Alton to his mother Sally (Dunst).
That’ll do for spoilers. Well, this was a strange one. Firstly the acting was really good, especially Dunst and Shannon. Driver was a bit lacklustre I have to say. The cinematography and music were well done, and it moved along at a good pace. There are some special FX which are nicely done too, though nothing we haven’t seen before really. It wasn’t until after the movie ended when Phil said, well that was good, but what was the point? And he had me there. Then we kept finding questions about the plot that we didn’t get answers to in the movie, and wondered if we’d missed something, but I don’t think we did. So it was good for acting and visuals, but left a fair bit to be desired regarding a satisfactory outcome.
Fraggle Rating : Not bad.
Well we got through the 4 hr movie last night, which for some weird reason was not a 4 hour movie at all, but the same 2 hr movie twice over, the difference being the first version was in black and white, and the second version in colour.
The Captain or Der Hauptman (2017) is a historical drama set 2 weeks prior to the end of WW2. It’s directed by Robert Schwentkr and tells the story of Willi Herold, a teenage German paratrooper running away from the military police who are after him for desertion. Except this is not just a ‘story’, as Herold was a real person and the things he did really happened. Herold (Max Hubacher) escapes the military police, and comes across an abandoned German car, in which he finds a suitcase and uniform of a German Captain which he puts on and then impersonates. He comes across various deserter/stragglers who he takes command of, and then travels through Germany pretending to be on a secret mission from Hitler, to assess the morale of troops behind the front line. He names his men Kampfgruppe Herold and writes on their papers that they are seconded to him. The two main characters in this band are Freytag (Milan Peschel), an aging rifleman who is a kind, nice guy and becomes Herold’s driver, and Kipinski (Frederick Lau), a sadistic drunk. They get to a camp full of German deserters waiting for execution, where Herold and his gang take over, executing prisoners (with Kipinski being the main executioner) and where bit by bit Herold loses any humanity he once had and becomes increasingly tyranical.
When the camp is (spectacularly) blown up by British bombers, Herold and his surviving group move into a village, where they loot from the population and set up a command post in an hotel after executing the mayor for treason as he has put up a ‘Welcome’ flag in the anticipation of the allies arriving. After a night of debauchery during which Herold executes Kipinski. The German military police turn up and arrest them all.
We then move to Herold’s trial, where he asserts that all he did was for the defense of the German people and to encourage them to not give up but to keep fighting. The guys judging him decide to send him to the front as a punishment, but Herold jumps out of a window and escapes. We then see him walking through a forest full of skeletons, and we are informed that Herold and his men were actually sentenced to death after the war. The real Herold, also known as “the Executioner of Emsland,” was executed at 14 November 1946 in Wolfenbuttal prison.
Of course it’s impossible to ‘enjoy’ such a movie as this, but Wow, it was so well done. The cinematography was amazing, Florian Ballhouse the chief cinematographer. The acting equally so, especially Hubacher, who develops his character with such a gentle panache. The director builds his movie with subtle bricks, although the murders of the prisoners are shown, the graphic nature of them are not in-your-face blood and gore, a lot is left to the imagination. The uniforms and vehicles and weapons are all authentic (according to Phil 🙂 ) and the bombing of the camp though brief is stunning and realistic.
We compared some of the most impressive B&W scenes to the same scenes in colour, and we both agreed the B&W versions had much more depth and impact so if watching this I strongly recommend the B&W version. Anyone with an interest in WW2 history and films about it, should see this movie.
Fraggle Rating : Bloody Brilliant.
Both movies we found on Amazon Prime.