Tigerland (2000)

Tigerland
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Ross Klavan, Michael McGruther
Cast: Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis, Clifton Collins Jr., Tom Guiry, Shea Whigham, Russell Richardson, Nick Searcy, Afemo Omilami, James MacDonald, Keith Ewell, Matt Gerald, Stephen Fulton, Michael Shannon, Cole Hauser
Seen on: 18.9.2021

Content Note: slurs abound, especially racist and misogynistic ones

Plot:
It’s 1971 and a fresh batch of recruits has come together to be trained for the Vietnam war. Their reasons for being there differ greatly, but only a select few of them chose to join the military. Jim Paxton (Matthew Davis) is one of them, hoping the experience will give him fodder for a book. Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell), on the other hand, was drafted and uses every opportunity he can find to subvert the training. Bozz tries to keep his distance from everybody else, but Paxton is too intrigued by him to stay away. And he is not the only one paying close attention to everything Bozz does as the military machine tries its best to whittle him down to size.

Tigerland is an unusual war movie in that we never ever make it to the war. Instead the film is entirely focused on dismantling both the army itself and, a little less successfully, hero narratives. I was really impressed by it and especially Farrell in it.

The film poster showing Bozz (Colin Farrell) in military garb, behind him other soldiers in a splash of ink.
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Mayak [The Lighthouse] (2006)

Mayak
Director: Mariya Saakyan
Writer: Givi Shavgulidze
Cast: Anna Kapaleva, Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargsyan, Sofiko Chiaureli, Ruzana Avetisyan, Mikhail Bogdasarov, Sergei Daniyelyan, Anastasiya Grebennikova, Albina Matveyeva, Mikhail Silantev
Seen on: 15.9.2021

Plot:
It’s the 90s and Lena (Anna Kapaleva) is returning to her home village in Armenia for the first timme in a long time. She is visiting her grandparents (Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargysan) who have stayed behind in the village despite it being in the middle of a warzone. Lena tries desperately to convince them to go away to safety with her. Instead, Lena stays longer and longer than she anticipated.

Mayak is a melancholic piece if cinema that shows us the daily routine of war for the people who aren’t really involved in it. It isn’t always easy to watch, but it is very interesting.

The film poster showing a childish drawing of a house and a figure walking towards it over a red path through a wave of water.
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Europa Europa (1990)

Europa Europa
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Writer: Agnieszka Holland
Based on: Solomon Perel‘s autobiography Ich war Hitlerjunge Salomon
Cast: Marco Hofschneider, André Wilms, Ashley Wanninger, Klaus Abramowsky, Delphine Forest, René Hofschneider, Julie Delpy, Hanns Zischler, Martin Maria Blau, Bernhard Howe, Klaus Kowatsch, Holger Kunkel, Halina Labonarska
Seen on: 19.8.2021

Content Note: holocaust, anti-semitism, fascism, sexualized violence

Plot:
Solomon (Marco Hofschneider), called Sally, lives with his Jewish family in Germany, but with the rise of the Nazis, the situation becomes ever more dangerous for them. After his sister is killed, the remaining family makes its way to Poland, hoping to be safe there. When the Nazis come to Poland, too, Sally becomes separated from the rest of his family. He first finds shelter in a Russian school, but after the Nazis catch up with him there, too, he doesn’t have many options left. When he finds himself face to face with German soldiers, he tells them that he is a “Volksdeutscher”, member of a German minortiy in Poland, and since his language skills prove him to be a valuable interpreter, he is taken in. But it’s not that easy to pretend that he isn’t Jewish.

Europa Europa gives us an important perspective on World War 2 – one on what it could mean to simply survive, and how hard even the “lucky” persecuted people had it. It’s a really memorable film with a memorable protagonist.

The film poster showing Solomon (Marco Hofschneider) leaning over Leni (Julie Delpy) to kiss her.
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De røde enge [Red Meadows] (1945)

De røde enge
Director: Bodil Ipsen, Lau Lauritzen
Writer: Leck Fischer
Based on: Ole Juul’s novel
Cast: Poul Reichhardt, Lisbeth Movin, Per Buckhøj, Gyrd Løfquist, Kjeld Jacobsen, Preben Kaas, Arne Hersholdt, Karl Jørgensen, Lau Lauritzen, Preben Neergaard, Bjørn Watt-Boolsen, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Freddy Koch
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2019

Plot:
Michael (Poul Reichhardt) is a Danish resistance fighter, doing everything in his power to stop the Nazis. But he finds himself captured by the Germans after his last attempt. As he thinks about that last mission – to blow up a weapons factory – he tries to figure out who must have betrayed him and his group so that he was captured.

Red Meadows is one great piece of propaganda for the Danish resistance that was, according to this film at least, the best resistance to ever resist. Since we can unfortunately still use a reminder to fight against Nazis, I didn’t mind that hyperbole one bit.

The film poster showing Michael (Poul Reichhardt) holding Ruth (Lisbeth Movin).
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