Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Wanted Man, Rock of Ages, and Airborne

Recently I watched a History Channel documentary called “The Third Reich: The Rise” which used contemporary footage to chronicle not Hitler’s rise, but the growing acceptance of Nazism in the ‘30’s. It was a powerful film, and well done. You should try and catch it the next time it’s on TV.

Two points however: the doc stresses that Jews accounted for less than 1 out of every 13 German citizens at the time Hitler took office. That’s less than 8% of the population, and one has to figure that the majority of that 7+% were women and children, and a fair number were no doubt poor or living paycheck to paycheck. The documentary closes with text stating that the funds confiscated from these [German] Jews funded approx 30% of the cost of Germany’s war effort.  That’s 30% of the cost of a six year, total war fought on three continents. That’s a staggering sum, and it raises some questions:

One – how accurate are the figures presented in the documentary? Are they limited to just the German Jews, as implied, or does it include the citizenry of occupied lands?

Two – if a tiny portion of your population can fund 30% of such a bottomless hole, it should raise the question of whether the anti-semitism and racial profiling of the Nazi’s was simply an sick, elaborate smokescreen for what amounted to class warfare.

Was institutional mass murder just the result of old fashioned greed?  Oddly, that sounds almost worse, doesn't it? I almost prefer the barbarism of religious and racial hate, because then at least the motives, while horribly wrong, were at least hot-blooded.


I’ve finished reading Lee Child’s latest Reacher novel, A Wanted Man. Reacher hitchhikes on a lonely country road and is picked up by a car just as the local sheriff orders roadblocks on the highway. It seems there’s been a murder, and the killers are almost certainly on the road, but what are the odds the killers would take the time to stop and pick up everyone’s favorite former MP/hitchhiker? This is a good adventure novel from the great Lee Child. The stakes escalate exponentially, and for a second I thought Child was going to go wobbly and venture into paranoid conspiracy land, but he reined it in nicely – if you view world-endangering espionage and armed assault as ‘nice’. Grade: A Book #80 of the year

Yesterday Lisa and I watched “Airborne”, a low budget horror film set on a sparsely occupied trans-Atlantic flight where things begin to get a little crazy. Of special note: it features Mark Hamill in a supporting role. He does an admirable job, even if he does look like a chubby old man the Force forgot, but no movie featuring the man should have a character named “Luke”. It’s an insult. As to the movie itself, I was surprised by how entertaining and nearly intelligent it was, with the ‘nearly’ sneaking in during the third act, when the plot is fouled by the introduction of an ‘ancient curse’. Scratch that crud and you’re looking at a B/B-; with it I can’t give them better than a C+

Finally, Lisa and I rented Rock of Ages, the film version of the Broadway musical. There's only the thinnest thread of a plot, and what there is of it is recycled from every rock and roll film ever made, but the all-star cast was great and the music spawned a sing-along in our living room. Tom Cruise, all his zaniness aside, is an incredibly talented man - his performance as Stacee Jaxx made the film for me. Kudos also to Diego Boneta and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It's cheese, but it's good cheese. Grade: B

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