I have had a long weekend of doing totally nothing and I enjoyed it immensely! I have just started a new job (about a month ago) and I have been getting back into the working routine. The one thing that I really have to get used to is the long days. I have had jobs before, but those were always just 2 days a week. Now I am working at more of grown-up job that is partly in an office. Including commute my days are significantly longer than they were before. The upside of a regular job is the weekend off and I have really made the most of it. I managed to watch some other movies that I do not want to withhold from you!
12 Years a Slave (2013)
I had heard many things about his movie but had not yet taken the time to view it. There was something about it that deter me: I am not very good at dealing with injustice. And it so happens to be the case that this entire movie is based on an injustice committed against Freeman Solomon Northup. Right until the moment I pressed play to watch it, I was torn. On the one hand I think it is important that the stories of people like Northup are told. Solomon was alive and he mattered as a human being. On the other hand I have difficulties with watching the harsh environments and the terrible things Northup and his fellow people had to endure in Antebellum USA.
Despite my hesitations I am glad that I took time to watch this movie. The movie, based on the memoir 12 Years A Slave, is about New York Freeman Northup who was betrayed, abducted and sold into slavery. Unfortunately Solomon was not the only one as he meets others that have been baited as well. On the Georgie plantations Northup is no longer Solomon, but is now called Platt. He needs to hide the fact that he is a learned man: that he can read and write, that he can outsmart most (white) men around him. Chiwetel Ejiofor was very convincing as Northup, and I felt that he really had a connection with the character. I was, however, more surprised by the performance of Michael Fassbender, who plays the role of plantation owner Edwin Epps. There is absolute true malice in his eyes when he is disciplining his slaves. Every contact between Epps and “his” slaves made my skin crawl: Fassbender crawled in the dark recesses of the mind of a slave owner and it is visible. I hope to never meet a man as Epps ever in my entire life.
Sarah Paulson as Mistress Epps was also scary authentic. Just like I would not have want to meet Epps, I certainly would not like to be acquainted with Mistress Epps. Darn, that women was icecold. 12 Years a Slave also showed a glimpse of other slave owners: Benedict Cumberbatch as Ford and the Shaws show that slave owners were not all cruel. Slavery is never and nowhere an acceptable situation, but at least these two families thought about their actions. No, they did not make the right decision by owning slaves in the first place but they treated them a heck of a lot better than Epps did. I think that it also has much to do with a state of mind. The Shaws are a good example of this. Sorry for the crypticness of this sentence but when you see the movie this makes more sense!
Overall, the story was intriguing. Having not read the book I cannot comment on the acuracy of the movie but the setting felt very historically accurate. I have visited a former slave plantation in George (close to New Orleans) two years ago and that ambiance was really visible in the movie. The estate was beautiful, the manor home luxurious and grand but it so unfathomable that less that 250 years ago slaves were worked to death there. 12 Years a Slave has shed some more light on the circumstances of slavery and I am thankful that Northup, despite the injustice done to him, has been given a voice.
Keeping Mum (2005)
Oh, I love silly films like this one. This one is a bit older (2005) but is still such a laugh! You might recognize Rowan Atkinson (Mister Bean) and Maggie Smith (Harry Potter): both are hilarious! Rowan Atkinson has almost become synonymous with Mister Bean and in some roles he tries too hard to be funny. In Keeping Mum, Atkinson is the total opposite of his most famous character: his is minister in small parish with a wife and two children. No Mister Bean connections here ;). Walter Goodfellow (Atkinson) and his wife Gloria (Scott Thomas) have not been really close. Walter is a religious man, while Gloria takes care of the family. Over the years they have drifted apart. Things begin to change however when the new housekeeper Grace Hawkins (Smith) moves in. All of a sudden their problems just seem to disappear!
This movie might not be everyone’s cup of tea. In my opinion British and American movies are very different. First off, the pace is just a lot slower in British films. There is less action and the humour is much less direct. All these things do not mean that this is bad movie (I did include it here for a reason!). No it means that you have to go in with a different viewing expectation. This movie is really funny, although some jokes are somewhat hidden in the story. Nevertheless this is a great comedy to watch when you want something funny without endless action scenes or cheap humour (even though Maggie Smith is holding an enormous cleaver).
There is not really much more I can say to you about this movie because I don’t want to give anything away. This movie is super British (which I absolutely love) and Patrick Swayze has a role in it if you prefer your movies with an American actor :). The only thing left to say for me is: Watch it and let me know what you thought of it!
Honor Flight (2012)
Honor Flight is by far the best thing that I watched the past couple of weeks. Honor Flight is not really a movie, but more of documentary movie. I cried buckets during Honor Flight. So if your ready to bring out the waterworks, read on! Honor Flight is about Wisconsin organization that partakes in the Honor Flight initiative. In 2012, 900 U.S. World War II veterans were dying each day. Veterans that fought in the Pacific and the Atlantic in far and few between and in just a couple of years there will be no more World War II veterans left. Many of the veterans that came back to the U.S. after the war, those that had the fortune to survive while so many other did not, disappeared back into daily life. In 1945 programmes for post traumatic stress disorder were not as well established as they are today. Many veterans live in anonymity and many of their neighbours, family and friend don’t know that were ever in the war. In the cases that they do: they know little about what the veterans have been through. The majority of those that came back never talked about horrors of Iwo Jima or the POW camps in Germany.
A Wisconsin organization of volunteers wants to give these heroes one last gesture of appreciation and vowed to get a much veterans as possible to see their monuments in Washington D.C. free of charge before time runs out. Unfortunately for some their acceptance onto Honor Flight came to let, showing the time pressure the organization is under. This movie chronicles the stories of the volunteers that made Honor Flight possible but also shows the stories of 4 specific veterans. Among those is Joe Demler. The name might not ring a bell but many of you will probable have seen Joe Demler before. Demler fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was captured by German soldiers near the end of the war. Demler and the rest of his squad were sent to a POW camp in Germany where they stay until they were liberated by their countrymen in 1945. At the time of liberation Demler weighed just 70 pounds and a picture of him as the Human Skeleton appeared in Time Magazine. Now, more than 60 years later Demler still lives by the motto he devised in the POW camps: Every Day is Bonus.
It is the stories like these that get my teary-eyed. When you see Demler now he looks like a really nice grandfather. To realize that he has gone through some much hardships and that he was so lucky to come out alive (the person on his right in the Time picture perished on the day of liberation before he got any food) and survive is testament to his strength. But Demler is not the only one with a story and I admire all those that have fought in the war. In hindsight all of them saved the world and made it so that I can live my life in the Netherlands in peace. The volunteers of Operation Resolve (the organization) tries to capture all those heroic stories, lest we never forget. For that reason you should watch this movie as well. I think it is really important to keep remembering the veterans whichever war they fought in. Now is the time to do it, before it is too late.
Honor Flights across the US are not solely organized for World War II veterans but also for Korea and Vietnam veterans. All flights are entirely sponsored by donations. On the Honor Flight website you can donate to the organization.