The Siege of Jadotville

Some time ago, in the early sixties, Belgian Congo, located smack bang in the middle of Africa, moved towards independence. Not everyone was thrilled with the idea. For one, a sizeable group of people living in the mineral-rich province of Katanga(uranium) wanted independence from independent Congo, while  the original colonizers, the Belgians, wanted no independence at all. Both being the enemy of their enemy, they went for one of those curious alliances that defy logic and Katanga was declared independent. To make sure it retained it’s independence Katanga was supplied with an army of mercenaries. French ones, given by De Gaulle, so the movie tells us.

The new government of Congo under Lumumba tried to conquer the state of Katanga by force. Since the west and the UN seemed lackluster in their support, Lumumba turned to the Soviets for aid. With the cold war edging towards a new high Congo seemed to become a battle ground where east and west could fight the cold war by proxy. So the United Nations stepped in with the aim to prevent this from happening or to control the damage.
(which it did in hindsight).



In this complicated political scene a company of Irish soldiers gets ordered to take control of a place called Jadotville as part of their UN Peacekeeping mission. Unfortenatly, we are not informed why that particular place. It gets hinted at that it is an important location, but what are the orders?

What orders?

The movie does spend some time on the background of the incident, but when it comes to the main part of the movie, we are clueless. What are these guys doing there anyway?


The compound consists of a few buildings. Wisely enough the commander has his men dig trenches. Which is following the sage advice: dig in dammit!


After some preliminaries, we get to the meat of the movie, which consists of an hour of battles scenes. There is little time for anything else but explosions and shooting. Character development is the first victim in this movie.

The French dude. He is the honorable enemy. Who is he anyway? 
Allrighty.. I just killed like three hundred of your men with no loss of my own. No hard feelings, right.
That is the enemy. Figures in a landscape.


The second victim is, of course, the truth. Politicians are not to be trusted and leave noble soldiers to fend for themselves.Reality is probably more complex and given that the movie spends some time on background, but not enough to flesh out the characters  we are never given an insight into the complex  political background and motives of the persons involved. In fact, the movie would have done better with leaving this part out entirely and not painting those involved in this tense complex political situation in a bad light with such rough brushstrokes. It is easy to point the finger at them politicians.  A more noble and heroic movie would have shown how hard the job actually is.


O’Brien being appointed by the UN Secretary. O’Brien’s career as an international politician was broken in Congo/Katanga incident.
He is the bad guy.


And there you have it. Katanga’s prime minister Thombe doesn’t think well of the UN.


.The siege of Jadotville isn’t really a good movie. Its main flaw is a lack of character development. Except for the commander, everyone is forgettable. But even as a historical insight into the events it leaves much to be desired. The same old story can be found here: untrusty politicians are selling out the noble soldiers. There is simply no time taken to delve into the complex world of cold war politics, but just enough to lay the blame with the usual suspects. The issue isn’t that there is someone to blame, the issue is that a good movie would show how a person choose his path, not because he is an untrusty bad person, but because that was his best choice, according to him at that time.

But even as a war movie it lacks the quality of say: Karthoum, Zulu, The Alamo, The lost battalion, Saving Private Ryan or the defense of Arnhem bridge by Frost in A bridge too far.
It is just a boring sequence of heroics that get to be unbelievable.

The siege of Jadotville rightly salutes the  company of Irish soldiers who ended up in a bad situation at a bad time, but it dishonors them at the same time by making a complex situation easy by laying blame by the politicians for betraying them. I know this is a hugely popular thing, but you can’t just do away  history because you dislike politicians. It would have been a better movie if it had just not taken that path but had given the politicians their due.  Politicians are people and they sometimes have to make hard choices. It would be a great movie that takes that into account.



Story telling: In the heat of the night 2/2

In the hunt for key scenes in movies, it was hard to make a decision for In the heat of the Night. In an earlier post I showed one scene somewhat one-third into the movie where Virgil Tibbs is sitting at a train station waiting for the train so he can leave the town of Sparta with its oppressive atmosphere of racism.
Another scene I find intriguing happens about halfway into the movie. Virgil Tibbs and Police Chief Bille Gillespie visit the local big wig plantation owner Endicott played by Larry Gates. The scene is set in a greenhouse where Endicott is tending to  Orchids. After an intro, which is in itself epic, talking about orchids and comparing the meticulous tending of orchids to the tending of blacks the two policemen seem about to leave.




After the discussion about the orchids the suspicion against Endicott grows as fern was found in the car of the victim and fern is used in the cultivation of or orchids. Gillespie makes a move towards the exit.


In these scenes we see Endicott change from amicable condescending, to downright condescending and then the quarter drops. The key trigger is Gillespie who basically uproots the exchange by suggesting to leave.
And you can see Endicott, beautifully played by Gates get suspicious and hostile. For why did they come here?

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:37:39 PM

This is a classic WTF moment.

The next scenes move the story towards the slap scene.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:38:06 PM

Now the roles switches, staying perfectly formal and neutral Tibbs explains their presence, but it is obvious that he feels and acts in no way that Endicott finds acceptable. The ‘Negro’ becoming the dominant one and questioning him.


[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:39:18 PM

Gillespie’s presence in this scene is important. He seems like a neutral bystander just watching what is happening.. Steiger plays Gillespie in a way that it is hard to get what he is thinking. People around him vent their opinions, but he never seems to have one. This is a handy way, for people often take it that by having a clear opinion he seems to agree with them.  As the movie progresses it becomes clearer that a kind of respect is growing between him and Tibbs. At the end of the movie this results in a scene in which Gillespie turns around and tell Tibbs to take care of himself.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:55:41 PM

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:39:18 PM

At this point Endicott drops all pretense of civility and enraged slaps Tibbs in the face.
Tibbs instantly returns the favor, to the astonishment of everyone.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:52:42 PM

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:52:48 PM

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:52:50 PM

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:52:53 PM

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:52:58 PM

We are now halfway through the movie and Gillispie, a sheriff from a town deep in the south sees a ‘negro’  slap a white man. But this particular negro is a fellow policeman and the suspicion that Endicott might have been involved, which is what Tibbs believe or like to believe, might have gotten hold with Gillespie too.  And  so he doesn’t act. Or rather he acts by not acting. Hence Endicott’s reaction:

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 6/3/2016 , 9:53:02 PM

The interesting part about the movie isn’t the investigation of the murder. It is pretty pedestrians as murders come. On the face of it, it seems like a movie about racism. And while that is true, it is more about the relation between Gillespie and Tibbs and how this unlikely pair of policemen work together and find common ground and respect. And thus racism might disappear.

Story telling: In the heat of the night 1/2

The scene:

Virgil Tibbs(Sydney Poitier) is a black police detective from the North who gets stuck in a small town deep in the South where  black people are addressed as ‘boy’ and other derogatory names. He is more or less forced against his will to aid the local police forces headed by Chief Bill Gillespie(Rod Steiger), investigating the murder of a prominent businessman.
The murder isn’t the most interesting  part of the movie and is more the MacGuffin that keeps the story going.  The racial tension itself is more the focus. But in a way in how Tibbs and Gillespie interact. For while there is the racial divide, there is also something like a band of brothers for they are both policemen.
The scene starts with Tibbs, having a belly full of the racial hatred, deciding to leave town. Chief Gillespie attempts to change his mind.  Since the images say enough(edits are mine):

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:32:15 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:32:20 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/9/2016 , 10:29:08 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/9/2016 , 10:29:11 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:32:56 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/9/2016 , 10:28:21 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:02 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:12 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/9/2016 , 10:29:40 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:29 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:34 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:44 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:50 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:52 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:33:59 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:34:02 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:34:11 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:34:14 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:34:28 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:34:45 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:35:02 PM[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
6/3/2016 , 9:35:05 PM


Movie rawr: Requiem for the American Dream

It is hard to level criticism at a documentary that has the famous Noam Chomsky as spokesperson in it. Who am I to naysay a man who knows more, has experienced more, means more and has more written all over? But this, in a strange manner, works both ways. When a documentary is out to proof something accepting it because Chomsky says so sets us up for a fallacy called speaking from authority. But before continuing on: what is the documentary about anyway?

This documentary is trying to make the case that there is some kind of conspiracy to kill democracy and the American dream. It is not a documentary trying to give you an insight in the theories of Chomsky for instance or trying to give you an overview of his career. In fact Chomsky, being a linguist, is treading outside his area of expertise. We are in the land of economics, politics and power-mongers in general. Which doesn’t mean that he has noting valid to say, but it is really a pity that what he seems to have revolutionized isn’t being talked about or used. Linguistics, the use of language, is a powerful way to shape the world around us for it is the way we get to know the world. You can read books like 1984 or How to read Donald Duck to get an idea. Mind you that me naming them doesn’t mean that I agree with the contents, it merely to give you examples.

The documentary is split in two logical parts. One part has figures and charts that show how the divide between the rich and the rest of the country dramatically changes over the decades. It shows how all kinds of restraints and controls on banks and other financial institutions have been done away with. It shows how the labor unions declined and so on. It tries to make the case that power is getting monopolized. And this all commented upon by Chomsky. And there is nothing wrong with this as far as I can determine.

It is the second part however that made me pause. It is where the documentary and Chomsky try to suggest that all of this is deliberate and aimed at undermining democracy and the American dream to the benefit… of who actually and planned by whom?
And here is the weakness of the documentary which is profound. Who are those people, Chomsky? Only a flimsy piece of evidence is given, which is where Chomsky strongly suggests that Alan Greenspan admitted in an open inquiry to promoting worker insecurity. I was baffled at this, for what use is a conspiracy that openly reveals itself and thus admits to being one? And as a matter of fact, it wasn’t what Chomsky said it was. And Chomsky was even challenged on this back in 2014, but he didn’t bother to correct himself and even repeats it in this documentary but now in a sly way.
The documentary first has Chomsky say it was designed. Then it shows Greenspan concluding worker insecurity  kept the wages low and an excerpt of the rapport is given and then Chomsky immediately says in the next shot that it is deliberate again. Thus suggesting again strongly that it was a deliberate policy. It took me a few minutes to google this how Chomsky tries to misuse this. Down below is a link where Chomsky in Counterpunch says it was imposed. You can google the internet too.

Here are screenshots from the documentary

22 minutes into the documentary

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:33 AM
Chomsky stating it is deliberate(designed)
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:38 AM
Chomsky pointing at Greenspan
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:41 AM
Here Chomsky is at his slyest. Running implies he was in on it. But it also doesn’t imply direct involvement. He can can always claim he didn’t mean to imply Greenspan planned it.
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:55:49 AM
Read the the whole paragraph. ‘Considered surprising.’  ‘Less than predicted.’ ‘Atypical.’ Greenspan is making observations and they are not as many would have expected(Greenspan probably wants to pass himself off as smart by suggesting others are surprised but he is not. Oh the irony for now he is open to Chomsky’s accusation. Had he said: it surprised me as well, Chomsky would have had no case to make. Well almost not.).
[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chromechrome 5/22/2016 , 11:56:04 AM
Probably but you still have to proof it was deliberate and planned.
The documentary in this part reveals to be another conspiracy aimed at promoting the idea that yet another version of the Illuminati is at it again, only now they are so vague that we do not even get to know who these people are(was it Greenspan?), what they do and how they do it. Chomsky talks unopposed and no criticism of what he says can be found in this documentary. It is preaching for the choir. It is propaganda.
Chomsky strikes me as a man walking in a forest who hears a tree topple over and concludes that a private company is out to wreck nature because the tree must have been cut down by a man, and that man can only work for a company and companies only do stuff because they aim at enriching themselves at the cost of anything else and therefore it is a deliberate way to wreck nature.
Upon investigation however it could very well be that the tree toppled over because it was old and decrepit. You can probably think of yet another explanation.
Alas this documentary doesn’t give room for alternate explanations and this damages the whole purpose. For what would be the upshot of Chomsky’s arguments? That a nefarious group of people plans this? Hence: get rid of this group and all will be well?

Chomsky shoots himself in the foot. For he has to twist language to vindicate his believes which is really shameful for a man who has been a linguist. Twisting words in one case with intent discredits everything else that is said for I do not have the time to fact check everything. And now? What can I trust you to say truthfully? I would almost say: shame on you, Chomsky and those who made this documentary and didn’t bother to check and correct. You did everyone(including yourself) an extreme disservice.

Sources for  Chomsky’s claim that it was planned(by Greenspan?)

Chomsky stating that it was ‘imposed’ by Greenspan in Counterpunch.

Actual text of the report:

Invesitgation by politifact & social coldstream

A detailed examination by the New York Times of the role of job insecurity at the time

Story thoughts: The better life(Trainspotting)

The scene:

In a smoke filled pub Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud squat around a table filled with empty beer glasses. Prominent on the table is a black and white sports bag. The men are merry and exchange light banter. Begbie rises to get a new round of beer.  His gaze glances briefly over the bag. He nods at the bag and tells the others to keep an eye on it. Sick Boy rises as well to go to the bathroom and mentions to the remaining two that the bag would better still be there when he returns.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For a moment Renton and Spud are alone. Renton suggests to Spud the notion of taking off with the bag as if in jest. Spud rejects the idea. A moment later the Sick Boy returns from the bathroom. 

Then Begbie makes his way back to the table, his hand full with glasses and he collides with another man. The beer spills over his clothes. Enraged he turns around to shout abuse at the man. The man returns words in kind. Begbie explodes and smashes a beer glass of beer in the face of the man, kicks him hard and again when he falls to the ground. Next he draws a knife to threaten the mans friends. When Spud closes to calm him down he cuts Spud in the hand by mistake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Renton, his back to the scene of violence, then makes his decision. He will abscond with the bag to a better life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I’m about to be on the floor again,
Surely you’re gonna find me here

I’m about to sleep until the
End of time, drug I take
gonna wake my
fear right now
I’m passing away on to the
Better life
“The Better Life” 3 Doors Down

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
4/15/2016 , 9:50:59 PM

The desire for another -often better- life has always motivated people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. Like stealing from friends of instance. Trainspotting starts with Renton listing all the things ‘normal’ people have and he lacks. At the end of the movie, after having acquired the means to attain a better life, or so he thinks – he lists them again. Everything he is going to have. The movie has come full circle: the snakes bites its tail.

Renton lives at the other side of the fence, in the prison: he is a drugs addict, living in a poor area, in a time the economy was in a bad state. He smokes, he drinks and is involved drugs and petty crimes. And his friends aren’t really friends. So he calls them mates. For Renton has just one friend really, which is Spud. Which is why he give Spud his share of the money from the bag.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome
4/15/2016 , 9:47:28 PM

Will Renton escape the prison to the better life?

What do you think?

And does it matter?

Movies end before we actually find out. For once the escape is done, there is nothing more to convey. Like the summit of the mountain has been reached what was needed to be told is told. It reminds me of the movie Goodfellows: Henry Hill escapes from his life as a mobster by ratting on his fellows, an inevitable development because he is caught by the law and his criminal associates suspect him of doing what he is going to do: betray them as part of a deal with the authorities. In the end he has no other option. At the end we see Hill on the porch in front of his house. It is an unremarkable house in an unremarkable neighborhood. He is a nobody now, like you and me. Safe perhaps, but a nobody. And he seems to regret it in a way.

Many story is are like aiming at the better life: if the ring has been destroyed then the evil is gone and a better life will return. It is a powerful motive in a story. A kind of MacGuffin that makes a story go. Stories seems to abide in a world that is off-kilter, a temporary state of unbalance and unrest. Different from the normal world. Something to consider when writing stories.






Movie Thoughts: Saving Private Ryan

The scene

Captain Miller slumps against the wreck of an  abandoned motorcycle with a German bullet stuck in his chest. A dust cloud hides something big. Suddenly it is torn apart by the huge shape. A Tiger tank rumbles over the bridge towards Miller..  Miller draws his pistol and aims at the tank. He squeezes of one shot.. Then a second.. A third..Another… bang.. BANG. The tank explodes in a huge ball of fire.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

History it ain’t.

To understand Saving Private Ryan is to watch the official trailer. The story is given to us in a 136 seconds nutshell . A mother –  the father isn’t mentioned – loses three of her sons to war, two alone during the invasion of Normandy alone, that last great invasion during that last great war(so the movie has it), the fourth son is lost somewhere in Normandy at a place called Neuville. His exact location and fate are unknown. Nevertheless a band of brothers is send out to save this one man as to spare the mother the loss of her last son.


The trailer keys us in on a few more things. For one there is not one shot with a German in it. It isn’t about them at all and their presence is more a matter of  necessity that an actual attempt to portray Germans at that time. During the whole movie we will not be meeting any Germans but one, who is portrayed as an ugly, cowardly  murdering man spouting foreign lines(his German is atrocious). French civilians also feature, for convenience sake they happen to speak English. The movie is not about them either.

The movie isn’t even about the question whether one man should be saved at the cost of another. Or  others.

The movie is about memory.  The clue is given at the beginning. We start with an unknown old man at a  war memorial cemetery. He isn’t named. We don’t know where he is. At the end of the scene the old man stares into the screen and the movie fades into June 1944. Normandy. This particular part of the beach is called Dog Green. Is this his memory? Or is this Captain Miller’s memory? 


What we see is what that old man thinks occurred. It is the distorted memory of one man. It is a story he gobbled together in his mind, from survivors, from movies, from documentaries, from books and from people he met. After fifty odd years this is what he has in his mind. And therefore things happen that did not happen.

The movie reports that no tanks  reached the beach but as a matter of fact, Dog Green, the part of Omaha beach where Miller lands, had ample tank support. 40 out of 48 tanks actually made it to that beach.
The water  is colored red by blood. Alas it takes a lot of blood to do that. It is unlikely.
It takes them about thirty minutes to clear the beach and pierce the enemy positions. In reality it took them much longer.
Miller and men are send from Omaha to Neuville to find Ryan. Trace the route and one sees it an odd route to take, especially considering Omaha being heavily opposed, while Utah, much closer to the airborne troops, would have been a far better jump off position.
Did Tiger tanks and SS men assault a group of Americans defending a bridge near a place called Ramelle? There is no place called Ramelle in Bretagne and there were no SS and Tiger tanks until weeks later, and those were mostly deployed against the English sector and the connection between the English and American part. To drive a stake into what was believed to be the weakest part.
During that fight we even get an interesting image of Ryan. He isn’t fighting the Germans, he is screaming in terror doing nothing at all. He isn’t even in the battle. 


Saving Private Ryan is what Ryan thinks about when he walks over the cemetery towards Miller’s grave. He stands before the grave and asks himself the question.

Am I good man?

At the end we do not get an answer. James asks his wife, but she hesitates and then sort of admits it in an ambivalent way. But we will actually never know, because how could we? We simply do not know anything about Ryan, but that he has family and that he says he tried to live a good life. But what does that tell us?

The question extends further into: was I worth the deaths of this man and all the others?  It is another question that never gets answered.


The movie doesn’t actually turn around this, but around the idea that a group of men go out and do something because that is what they have to do. Not for any lofty reason. Miller says it in the trailer: if getting Ryan out is going to get me home, then that is what I will do.

He has to do a job, so doing the job is what he does.

The funny thing is: he had no choice in the matter.

There is a deeper message behind the movie. That warfare is something you do because you do it, not for something like patriotism, or honor, or god, or liberty, but because it is a job that you do. And here lies a great danger. For once a soldier is just a guy paid like any other guy, you can point the finger at anyone as long as you pay him. The soldier is no longer a citizen,  he has become a soldier of fortune: a paid killer.

As Vito Scaletta in the Game Maffia II says: in the war I killed who the president pointed at, now -back in the US- I kill whomever pays me points at.

It might be a dark future that gets revealed here.









Movie thoughts: Taxi Driver


The scene

A man has his arms crossed across his chest. He stares into the camera. He challenges an unknown adversary: are you talking to me? Are you talking to me…? Whom else would you be talking to?







Taxi Driver is about a man who returns from a foreign war to eek out a living  as a taxi driver. He lives in a crummy apartment, without any friends or family in a city that is as distant to him as it is to anyone else. He works in an underpaid job driving random people around.  He doesn’t mind who. As a taxi driver he just transports them.. but he never gets to know them.He is a  man isolated from the world.

He tries to connect to people, but soon enough when he interacts his inner strangeness surfaces to undo any approach. He will not connect.


The whole movie gears to a point.. and at that point we still are not certain what will happen. And when violence finally erupts we might see a hero being made or a villain, but we as watchers know his inner thoughts: he  is just a pistol-shot away from being either a villain or a hero. It is a close call.

Taxi driver is a great movie as it explore the estrangement of  man  alone in a city.The story of this lonely man is well told and supported by music. The cinematography is great. Helped by the scenes of the city. A must see for the story and the combination of music and scenes.

Here some mood scene.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.





Movie thoughts: Beasts of no nation

The scene.


Three young boys stand on the edge of a water basin. The fist is saluting repeatedly  the second one. The second boy tells the third one that he is training the first one to be a warrior. Less than 50 feet away of their comrades executes an enemy soldier.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 3/24/2016 , 6:00:11 PM

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 3/24/2016 , 5:59:58 PM


[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 3/24/2016 , 6:00:05 PM

War used to be a man’s business.
I don’t  mean to write this in a melancholic way. Like something has been lost and should be shed tears over. For me it is an observation from history. A matter of  historical fact. History used to be my business a long time ago. Specifically warfare..Until I got fed up with it. I threw out all my books, but I kept one. It is called: Warfare in the Classical World.
It tells me that a warrior of the Greek age had to carry around armor that weighed something like 60 pounds. Not something a mere boy could carry to or on the battlefield..It requires a grown up man to do so. Mind you a modern day soldier still carries a hefty weight around, but if need be.. he can do without it in battle.

Modern warfare has been a kind of equalizer. That is to say: any man, when properly trained, could fire a gun that kills any other man. .And since no armor could stand up to a gun in the end, it inevitably caused the downfall of those who were privileged to afford armor. Back in those days personal wealth could provide protection in the days that knights ruled the battlefield. Common wealth provided the lowly citizen with the power to undo that. A beggar could kill a knight with something as cheap as a gun. And a lot of beggars could kill the few knights at random by using a lot of guns.


History shows a few key moments. The battle of Arsuf; where crossbowmen ruled the field, or the battle of Agincourt where long-bowmen dominated, but more in evidence are the movies Kagemusha.. where the samurai are defeated by firearms and  The Last Samurai, that is about the final defeat of the samurai at the hands of a regular army equipped with modern firearms.

When it is possible to arm mere beggars with guns to defeat an army, it wouldn’t be illogical to arm mere boys to do the same.

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;Netflix - Google Chrome chrome 3/24/2016 , 5:58:39 PM

And that is what movie Beasts of No Nation is about.

Here is a movie that, without reservation or pastiche, just shows the bare truth. In modern times you can even arm a boys to kill men. And what is more: they would be better at it because sense is only developed a later age. Hence at that age.. there is no sense.. and without sense they can arbitrarily kill anyone without any reservation. You just point the finger.

They are killing machines…


Arm boys with guns and guns and boys will rule you.. without mercy and predictability.Not because they are evil, but because that is how they are raised. They do what they do.. because they are boys.

Beasts of no nation shows this without reserve or pastiche. Without a message or anything. It just shows. It a well made movie.. and scary.



















Movie thoughts:The Kill Team

For who is unfamiliar with the name The Kill Team – we are, after all, not all American citizens -: it was given to themselves by a group of soldiers that were active in Afghanistan around 2010 and subsequently the name was taken over and spread by the media when these men were accused, arrested and convicted for crimes including pre-meditated murder during an incident known as the Maywand District murders(Maywand_District_murders)

The scene is set up well as we are introduced to the setting -Afghanistan in the first decade of the 21st century – then given some background on the soldiers in general and finally shift to the handful of individual soldiers that are the subjects of the documentary.

Screenshot - 3_20_2016 , 11_13_11 AM

In particular The Kill Team follows Adam Winfield, who had attempted to alert the army of The Kill Team’s existence prior to the Maywand incident. The actual whistle blower however was Justin Stoner. We should remind ourselves not to confuse Winfield with Stoner. The first made an attempt to alert the army, did not succeed, and then did not stop the murders from occurring. He was thus sentenced to prison and got an dishonorable discharge. Stoner did notify the army and thus the investigation was started on his instigation. He was dismissed with honorable discharge. I want to mention this because at first it seemed as if the whistle blower got punished for doing his duty.

Screenshot - 3_20_2016 , 12_00_35 PM.png

The documentary does an excellent job of portraying Winfield and his parents as they struggle with what he has become. We even get a moment where he cries over what has happened and tells us at one point that he once planned his own suicide. We get an in-depth view of the anguish of a man who knew what happened was wrong, what others did was wrong, what he did was wrong and did not stop it, mostly because he was unable to. It was a truly sad thing.

Screenshot - 3_20_2016 , 11_12_49 AM.png

But when the documentary wraps it up it feels like something is missing. In fact, besides the interviews and some spurious remarks about what happened to the key people involved, there is nothing that is lifted above the level of personal drama. Isn’t there a bigger picture?

Stoner sums it up at the end: Your job is to kill.You’re infantry.[] Well, why the hell are you pissed off when we do it?

And here the documentary fails. If soldiers are taught to kill and just kill regardless is that what we want them to do? And if we don’t, how come they do things that we don’t want them to do?
Would that not be a valid question to ask, explore and answer?

Here is a few quotes that gives us a startling insight in the armies way of thinking(see the wikipedia):

“Colonel Harry Tunnell’s (of the 5th Stryker Brigade) “inattentiveness to administrative matters … may have helped create an environment in which misconduct could occur.”


“The brigade, was reported to be “rife with lapses of discipline, misdirection and mixed signals about its mission.”


“As an Army, we are troubled that any soldier would lose his ‘moral compass’ as one soldier said during his trial.”

Does it mean that soldiers get bad when their commanders allow them to go bad? Is losing your moral compass the expected behavior when a lack of proper discipline releases a soldier from the leash that his superior keeps him in check with? Like a dog?
Does morality come with rank? And has a general more morality than a private?
Is that how we see people?

But if that explains it, why were those soldiers punished at all? I mean, without their commanders keeping them on the right track, they are bound to go off in the deep end as the reports seem to suggest. They lost their moral compass.Can’t they plead insanity(as in A time to kill) or perhaps a sufficient lack of amorality?

The kill team is a well made documentary but also one that leaves something to be desired. The documentary doesn’t spent much time on the bigger picture and keeps the camera focused on the personal drama of a few individuals, which makes for a gripping tale, but not much more and that is a pity. It would have been a lot stronger if it they had asked themselves: why did this come about? It tells you the who, the what, the how but does not address the why.



Review: Maleficent

PopcornTimeDesktop 2016-03-17 22-46-15-91
I often find myself among the cynical as it comes to movies, so when I see a movie that is heartwarming I suddenly know what I have been missing out.

Maleficent is such a heartwarming movie because it wants to make you understand the reason for the actions of the ‘evil’ person in an old fairy tale. It also incorporates a deeper tale as it shows the consequence of one (impulsive) action(the curse), which inevitably results in a series of actions that cause an inescapable result.

Maleficent is a magical being wronged by Stefan, a human friend who abuses her trust. He desires to be king, and therefore he steals her wings. The irony is that he only steals the wings and does not kill her as he was asked to do, he cannot bring himself to do it. His actions are therefore at the one hand selfish, but on the other hand: he also shies away from outright killing Maleficent.
PopcornTimeDesktop 2016-03-17 22-55-52-34

But stealing what is dear to her, her ability to fly, makes her hate him. So she plots revenge and when her old friend Stefan, now king Stefan gets a daughter she shows up at the celebration in the palace to place a curse on the child: she will prick herself on a spinning wheel the day she turns 17 and fall asleep until a true love will kiss her. And since Maleficent does not belief in true love, she is sure that it will never happen.

And this starts the tale. For Maleficent keeps track of her cursed victim, who grows up to be a lovely young woman. It puts her in a dubious position because to fulfill the curse the girl has to survive dangers and therefore she feels the need to rescue her unaware and unwanted charge. And thus the wicked witch thaws towards the girl.
But alas the curse can not be denied and inevitably the tale proceeds towards it’s predicated ending. Now Maleficent no longer has to make sure that the girl survives, she wants to rescue her from the curse. But how to do it?
PopcornTimeDesktop 2016-03-17 22-56-49-62

I won’t tell you the end, but the story gripped me. You probably see the twist at then coming from miles away, but I still find it a nice one and for once: what does it matter. This is a fairy tale and a lovely story.

However I admit that there are some things wrong with the movie. For instance, instead of explaining the actions of an ‘evil’ person, the ‘evilness’ attributed to Maleficent is in essence shifted on the shoulders of king Stefan. Now he becomes the evil guy as he has stolen her wings and turns into an unreasonable, uncaring and hatefu tyrant. It is sad that could not have him act withing the understandable limitations of humanity in that he intended to do good, but he ended up doing wrong. Now he is just the new bad guy.

And then there is one thing that was no pushed far enough. At some moments the relation between Sleeping Beauty Aurora and Maleficent seems almost of a lesbian nature. It could have been played upon more deliberately in my opinion. This would have given the movie an extra layer. However, considering that a lot of people would not understand nor like it and since this is a Disney film I can understand that they went as far as they went but not one step further.

The drill down: Angelina Jolie plays a marvelous Maleficent in a heart warming story that gives a twist on a well known fairy tale. You end up with a smile and a tear.

PopcornTimeDesktop 2016-03-17 22-48-10-50