Movie reviews #53…

Stronger. David Gordon Green, dir. The superlative title is taken from “Boston Strong,” the ubiquitous cheer after the Boston Marathon bombing. The main character is Jeff Baumann who lost his legs in the attack. Played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who maybe gives an Oscar-worthy performance, Mr. Baumann comes across as an ordinary guy with a lot of rough edges. His family comes across much worse, and the girlfriend Erin Hurley, played by Tatiana Maslany, comes across better than all of them. Of course, Mr. Baumann had a lot on his plate to contend with, so you have to admire his courage.

This movie is both depressing and uplifting. After living many years in the Boston area, I didn’t want to see it, but I did. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride, but I reacted better than I did with 9/11 when I learned about friends and colleagues who died (the first two planes took off from Boston). These are powerful emotions that I have trouble with as a reasonable and logical person, but terrorism is neith logical nor reasonable.

The Vietnam War. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, dirs. OK, this is more a serialized documentary, probably the best doc I’ve ever seen. Of course, I might be biased because I lived through a lot of this. Even so, it’s a learning experience.

Millennials, do you wonder why baby boomers aren’t activists? Don’t fret because we were, are, and forever will be. This war changed everything, and you weren’t even born! Our parents’ generation fought World War Two and then the Korean War. One can argue that the latter was a precursor to Vietnam, but those fighting didn’t question it as much as Vietnam, and there weren’t ever the kind of protests as those against the Vietnam War, as people at home and in the fighting soon came to realized their government was lying to them.

But back to the learning experience with the doc: I learned that we can add Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy to the list of leaders who thought the dominoes were falling in Southeast Asia. LBJ and Nixon thought that too (the latter started his career supporting McCarthyism—not Eugene but the other jerk—but so did Bobby Kennedy). Lying to the American public seems to be a skill most politicians develop. Kennedy actually OK’d a coup without consulting his advisors. Nixon did worse by telling the corrupt South to delay their participation in the Paris talks until after he beat Humphrey, promising he would prosecute the war against the North more than LBJ had if they did him that favor. Ad infinitum. The worst of American politics was displayed during the Vietnam era.

The doc rightly focuses on those fighting in the conflict—how the North started boldly as a movement for independence, not a Communist uprising, and became corrupt; how the South wanted nothing to do with Communism, and became corrupt; and how soldiers on both sides fought to defend corruption. This was a human tragedy all around, but especially for the Vietnamese people, when you consider how many combatants and civilians died in the conflict.

The series also portrays the discord at home in the U.S. The war tore this nation apart more than any other since the Civil War. It even tore families apart—my brother and I never reconciled our opinions about the war. What’s going on today seems to diminish in importance compared to that national upheaval, the longest war until Afghanistan came along. The times are a-changin’, but a lot of thing stay the same, because we make the same mistakes and will probably continue to do so until I’m no longer alive to care.


Sci-fi book sale: More than Human: The Mensa Contagion and Rogue Planet are now on sale at Smashwords from October 1 through October 31. Their prices are reduced to $1.99—that’s one-third off. In the first novel, an ET virus changes the world, but in a good way, and leads to the colonization of Mars. In the second, there’s a wee bit of fantasy mixed into the hard sci-fi as Prince Kaushal leads his Second Tribe in their fight against the First Tribe’s brutal theocracy. Both books are stand-alone, not part of a series. Use the Smashwords coupon numbers when you check out. A print version of the second book is available on Amazon. Lots of exciting fall entertainment for a reasonable price!

In libris libertas!


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