Monthly Archives: November 2015

The 33

Movie:  The 33

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   There was a mine out in the Atacama Desert in Chile called the San Jose Mine.  It had been worked for gold and copper since 1889, and provided work for the hardy men who lived in the nearby town.  Until August 5th, 2010, that is, when 33 men went down the shaft 2300 feet and the earth fell on top of them, trapping them with no way out.

The foreman for the miners, Don Lucho (Lou Diamond Phillips), had pressed the owners to look at signs that there was structural damage in the walls of the mine.  Naturally he was given assurances that all was well, even though the miners are soon to learn that the escape ladders to the surface were never completed.  Once the walls of the mine began to crack and collapse, the miners hop on their transport vehicles and desperately make for “The Refuge”, where emergency supplies were kept.  Amazingly, all 33 miners make it to this refuge site, and find almost no supplies are stocked there.  Thus began the odyssey of how the miners fight to stay alive until help could come, without any means of contacting the outside world.

This film is a story about survival, and maintaining hope in the face of almost certain death.  In the first hours of being trapped, Mario Sepulveda (Antonio Banderas) stepped up to become the group’s leader.  Mario rallied the men to make plans for a long stay, rationed the meager supplies of food that were supposed to last three days but were stretched much further, and frequently provided the inspirational pep talks to keep their hopes of rescue alive.  Meanwhile, above the ground the families of the miners were going through their own tests of faith.  Maria Segovia (Juliette Binoche) confronted the government officials who seemed baffled by the enormity of a rescue effort, and became a public figure that was picked up by the Chilean media.  Chilean President Pinera (Bob Gunton), quickly realized the country would be watching to see how the government responded to the crisis, and dispatched the Minister of Mines Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro) and chief engineer Andre Sougarret (Gabriel Bryne) to assess the situation and attempt a rescue.  This film is a moving and compelling true story of how a miraculous rescue was achieved while the eyes of a nation, and eventually the whole world was watching.  Truly an emotional roller coaster worth experiencing.

Actress To Watch:  Of all the powerful and accomplished Hispanic actors in the film, only Cote de Pablo is from Chile.  Best known for her long run on NCIS as Ziva, Cote is a very fine actress who should be given bigger roles in film.  She is also a talented songstress, and performs a moving rendition of Gracias a la Vida (Thank You Life) in one of her scenes.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “If they make it to the Refuge, they have enough food and water for three days.”

Mine Administrator – “I’ve seen five collapses.  Do you know how many men were saved?  None!”

Trapped Miner – “It took 100 years to dig this deep.  Do you think they are going to spend what it takes to come get us?”

Andre Sougarret – “I’m saying there is less than 1% chance of reaching them.”

Two Trapped Miners – “Why don’t we pray together?”  “I don’t know the words.”  “God doesn’t care.”

Oldest Miner with 47 years experience – “I am handing in my papers.  I quit!”

President Pinera – “This message comes to us from the depths of the mountain.  We are all alive and well.”

News Anchor – “More than a billion people are witnessing this miracle in the Aracana Desert.”

Message left behind on wall of The Refuge:  “Here lived 33 miners 5 August – 13 October 2010.  God was with us.”

Interesting Factoid:  Drilling efforts from Chile, Canada and Australia went bust.  It was the drill from the good old USA that saved the day!

Post Credits:  See all the real miners together again after the film ends.






Labyrinth Of Lies

Movie:  Labyrinth Of Lies (German, subtitles)

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   It is 1958 in Frankfurt, Germany, and a young idealistic deputy state prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) is tasked with the unenviable job of working on cases involving traffic citations.  One day he takes the initiative to get a school teacher banned from his job because of his past war crime record, only to discover the man retains his job due to a “lack of teachers”.  Radmann makes the acquaintance of a man who was interned at Auschwitz, and soon the young prosecutor is delving ever deeper into the not so distant past of Nazi Germany, and what has been done to bring war criminals to justice.

Radmann quickly discovers that justice will not be an easy path to find.  After WW II, the Allies put the well known Nazi and Japanese war leaders on trial for war crimes at Nuremburg.  However, no German court had ever brought former military personnel to trial for their crimes.  For one thing, the German public had little knowledge of the concentration camps and what went on in them, often believing they were simply internment camps like those in the United States for Japanese citizens.  Other Germans firmly believed that any stories regarding atrocities were propaganda lies originating from the Allied countries.  Finally, police and prosecutors explained their reluctance to ever prosecute former military as either everybody was in the military, we can’t arrest them all, and the ever handy credo “they were only following orders from their superiors”.

At last Radmann finds a powerful sponsor in the person of Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss), the state attorney general, who authorizes Radmann to pursue any case regarding the Waffen SS personnel that ran the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Despite strong opposition from his fellow attorneys and most police in Frankfurt, Radmann soldiers on with the assistance of one other attorney and an office helper.   After five years of toil pursuing witnesses and scrounging for documentation, 22 former SS men were brought to trial and 17 found guilty and put in prison.  This real life landmark legal trial showed the German people, and the world, that Germany was serious about taking responsibility for war crimes committed by their former military.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Former German officer – “They all had camps, the Americans, the Russians.  I spent a year in a French one.  Don’t tell my wife, but their cooking was better than hers!”

German Reporter – “Don’t be naïve.  Do you think all Nazis disappeared into thin air after Hitler died?”

U.S. Army Major – “Ten million Nazis, and those idiots wrote everything down.”

Fritz Bauer – “The Germans must see these crimes were not committed by just Hitler and Himmler, but by ordinary people.  And that they did it out of conviction.”

Frankfurt Chief Prosecutor – “Do you want every German to ask if their father was a murderer?”  Radmann – “Yes, that is exactly what I want!”

Auschwitz Survivor – “In the camp, God wasn’t there….” 


Movie:  Spectre

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   After a year, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is still reeling from the death of his former boss M at Skyfall, and is carrying out an unsanctioned investigation of those events to determine who was responsible.  He has received information from M, reaching out from the grave, to provide a thread to follow to find out who was behind the bombing of MI6 headquarters in London.

The trail starts out in Mexico City, where Bond picks up a clue from some bad men regarding “The Pale King”, as well as an important artifact.  Alas, any hope of keeping his activities below the radar literally goes up in smoke as mayhem ensues as well as international news headlines.  Naturally, Bond is summoned to MI6 HQ and called on the carpet by the new M (Ralph Finnes), and ordered to stay inactive in London.  But, as they say in England, not bloody likely.  With a little inside help from Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Whisaw), Bond is quickly on the move to Europe to follow leads that he hopes will finally bring him to grips with the shadowy criminal organization Spectre, and whoever is in command pulling the strings.  Along the way he makes the acquaintance of the beautiful Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), who is highly intelligent and highly uncooperative when it comes to helping Bond.

This is the fourth Bond outing for Daniel Craig as James Bond.  It has a number of the trademark action sequences that are highly suspenseful.  There is a fight scene for Bond on a train that is just brutal.  In fact, Craig was injured doing that scene, and production had to be stopped for two weeks.  While there aren’t as many gadgets as used in some Bond movies previous to the Daniel Craig era, there is a great chase scene using the new Aston Martin DB10 automobile, created specifically by Aston Martin for this film.  Bond films are basically stand alone storylines, but Spectre in some ways is a sequel to Skyfall.  While this film is a thoroughly enjoyable yarn, it may suffer in the minds of viewers and critics as lacking enough of a satisfying climatic ending that is expected in the Bond genre.  Also, while Daniel Craig is ruthless and relentless in the Bond role which is true to the character from the Ian Fleming novels, his Bond character lacks the occasional clever quip and double entendre that made us love Sean Connery’s portrayals, and to some extent Pierce Brosnan as well.  Craig’s Bond uses his 00 license to kill, and his cold demeanor makes it hard for some viewers to like him.

Spectre:  The film never gets around to explaining just what Spectre is.  In the Fleming novel Thunderball, SPECTRE is an acronym standing for SPecial Executive for Counter intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.  It is a worldwide criminal syndicate that is politically neutral; their only goal is accumulating wealth by any means.

New Bond Movie Trend:  In the old days, Moneypenny was stuck behind a desk in M’s outer office.  Thank goodness she is getting out in the field.  The more Naomi Harris the better!  Even more unusual is Q is out and about in some danger, and even M is out of the office and kicking some ass.  A new age for Bond movies!

Bond Girl:  Having a beautiful female lead is critical in Bond movies, and French actress Lea Seydoux is terrific in her role.  She may be the hottest female lead since Daniela Bianchi way back in From Russia With Love.

Huh, What The ….:  I can’t help but wonder as Bond and Ms Swann careen around the world non-stop how they always have changes of beautiful clothing everywhere they go.  It’s uncanny.

See the eight car train rolling along with Bond and Ms Swann in it.  Where are the other passengers?

Dialogue Nuggets:  M – “007, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but it’s got to stop!”

Bond – “With all due respect, sir, it could have been worse.”  M – “Worse!  You blew up a bloody block!”

Q to Bond – “I believe I said to bring it back in one piece, not bring back one piece.”

Widow to Bond – “You killed my husband, didn’t you?”  Bond – “He was an assassin.  He didn’t take it personally.”

Moneypenny to Bond – “I think you’ve got a secret and you don’t tell anyone.  Because you don’t trust anyone.”

“It was always me, James.  The author of all your pain.”