David Knights' Weblog

April 2, 2020

Ki-78

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 7:38 pm
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Film has been discovered of the Ki-78 in testing and flight.  No such film of the aircraft had existed before this discovery.

March 12, 2020

Movie review: The Trench (1999)

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 4:43 am
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I’d never heard of this film before Dr. Hill lent me the DVD.  Apparently it was an independent film made in 1999.  I don’t think it got a very wide release.  I haven’t been able to find any box office numbers for it.  It is a shame that it didn’t get a wider release.  It is a good film.  Not a great film, but a good one. The story centers on a British Army platoon holding a section of forward trench that will be part of the jumping off point for part of the attack on the Somme.  The film’s goal is to illustrate both the boredom and tension that the troops in the forward trenches were under.

The movie stars Daniel Craig in his pre-Bond career as the platoon sergeant who know what stress his troop are under and what awaits them in the coming battle.  He spends the story trying to both educate the men in the skills that will increase their chances of staying alive, while also trying to maintain order and discipline and keep the boredom from degenerating into insubordination.

I liked the movie.  I think it did a decent job of telling the story in a way to keep the viewer interested while imparting the feel of trench warfare.  The movie is a tight 98 minute long and well worth the time to see it.

February 21, 2020

Movie review: The Lion in Winter (1968)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 10:00 am
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The Turner Classic Movie channel is one of the best channels on DirectTV.  The only bad thing about it is watching the movies on that channel will quickly make you realize what crap movies and crap actors we have in Hollywood today. The Lion in Winter is the story of an aging King Henry II in 1183. He has 3 sons. He has imprisoned his wife, the queen (who is also the former queen of France) and is having an affair with his ward, a French princess, who was sent over as a child to be the wife of his eldest surviving son Richard. Henry wants to bypass his eldest Richard for the title of the next King in favor of his youngest son, John. (BTW, in actual history Richard is later to become Richard the Lionhearted and John is evil King John of Robin Hood fame.) The queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, favors her eldest son Richard.  Eleanor and Henry are locked in a love/hate relationship and use every weapon at hand to hurt each other.  In fact, in many ways the question of who gets to be the next King doesn’t much seem to matter to either except in the fact that each chooses in opposition to the other out of spite.

The movie is phenomenal.  Peter O’Toole is amazing as Henry and Katharine Hepburn is great as Eleanor.  I did not realize that at the time of the movie, Hepburn was 25 years older than O’Toole. Anthony Hopkins plays Richard in one of his first movie roles. The dialogue is sharp and the interplay between Henry and Eleanor, switching between spite and love and back again is fantastic.  The film was nominated for 8 academy awards and won 3.  If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely add it to your must watch list. 5 stars.

February 13, 2020

Movie review: T-34 (2018)

Filed under: General,Modeling — dknights @ 6:57 am
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T-34 is a Russian war movie about a Russian tank commander and his crew who put up a valiant defense in front of Moscow in December 1941. After defeating a number of German PzIIIs, their tank is knocked out and captured. In late 1944 the tank commander is pulled from the POW camp along with other tank crew members and forced to operate a captured T-34 in training against German tanks at a tank training center in eastern Germany.  Unbeknownst to the Germans, the Russians locate several tank main gun shells in the Russian tank and use those to escape, in the process taking with them the female Russian prisoner who is a translator for the German guards who helps them in their escape.

Putting aside the slightly silly story, this movie is good.  Really very enjoyable and not just for the Russian and German military equipment.  It is a classic action/war movie and could easily have been made in Hollywood instead of in Russian.  Much of the equipment is actual period equipment, or very realistic mock ups. (Much better than M-48s as Tiger tanks in Battle of the Bulge.)  The acting is very good and equivalent to most B-list actors out of Hollywood.  I watched a dubbed version and it was entertaining to see how the dubbed dialogue differed from the subtitles which were more direct translations of the Russian dialogue.

According to Wikipedia, this is the second highest grossing Russian film of all time. In additional to being available on DVD, it is also available for streaming on Amazon Prime.  It is well worth watching. 4 out of 5 stars.

January 11, 2020

Movie review: 1917 (2019)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 10:22 pm
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Short version: Go see it.  Right away.

OK, longer version.  This is an amazing piece of film-making. The story is straightforward.  Two British soldiers in WWI are tasked with crossing ground recently occupied by the withdrawing German army to reach a unit that is about to attack into a trap.  They carry orders cancelling the attack.  To add to the drama, one of the two soldiers has a brother in the unit they are trying to reach in time to cancel the attack.

Through some digital trickery the film is shot as a single continuous tracking shot.  This has the effect of making the viewer feel as if they are on the journey with these two soldiers.  The tension builds throughout the film, with several twists which add to the story.  The uniforms, equipment and sets are amazing.  I can’t praise this film highly enough.  Nothing I can tell you will do it justice.  I will say that I think it is one of the best portrayals of a soldier’s experience that I have ever seen in a movie.  The film is greatly aided by several well known actors in small supporting roles.

5 stars.  Go see this film.

January 3, 2020

Movie review: Unknown Soldier (2017)

Filed under: General,Modeling — dknights @ 4:00 am
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Previously I viewed Winter War, a Finnish film that told the story of the Winter war between Finland and the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1940.  I followed that film up with another film from Terry’s Movie Vault; Unknown Soldier.  This movie follows a Finnish machine gun company thru the Continuation War, which is what the Finns call the War Between Finland and the Soviet Union from 1941-1944.  The book is based on a novel of the same name that is considered THE novel of this period in Finnish history.  This is the 3rd film based on the novel to be made in Finland.  When it was made in 2017, it was the most expensive film ever made in Finland.

The money spent shows.  The film has wonderful sets, and the cinematography of the beautiful Finnish countryside is dramatic and wonderful.  The uniforms and props are very detailed and appear to be period correct.  The fact that the film had a big budget (at least big for a Finnish film) shows in the film.  Its look is indistinguishable from any Hollywood release.

Unknown Soldier

While I don’t want to give away the entire plot, the film basically follow this

machine gun company from the start of the Continuation War in 1941 thru their recapture of the land lost in the 1939-40 war and then into the Soviet Union proper and their capture of a Soviet city.  Then the unit digs in, WWI style and spends 2 years holding their ground and beating off Soviet probes.  Finally the Soviets, having gotten the Germans in hand, devote resources to the Finnish front and go on to recapture the territory lost in 1941.  With the Soviet assault, we get to see a T-34/85 and a couple of T-34/76s used in the film and they appeared to be authentic.

The film is well acted with the members of the machine gun company consisting of archetypes; the grizzled veteran, the idealistic young officer, the comedian, and so on.  The characters will be instantly recognizable to any viewer who has seen US war films.  The film is in Finnish and has only subtitles.  There isn’t a dubbed version.  While subtitles don’t both me, they do both some viewers and it can become tiresome reading them over the films entire 3 hour length.  Finally, there are some moments in the movie where you can tell that there is something that is referred to is culturally significant and would be easily understood by a Finnish moviegoer, but is lost on one who doesn’t have the Finnish cultural background.

It is a long movie, but worth watching, especially for the cinematography, scenery and Finnish army equipment details.  4 out of 5 stars.

December 1, 2019

Movie review: The Winter War (1989)

Filed under: General,Modeling — dknights @ 11:05 pm
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Welcome to Terry’s movie vault.  Dr. Terry Hill has the most extensive collection of war films and war documentaries (including many foreign films) I’ve ever seen.  From time to time Terry lends me some of the better films.  This film, The Winter War (Talvisota in Finnish) is a Finnish film about the 1939-1940 winter war between Finland and the Soviet Union.  As you would expect, the film is in Finnish, with English subtitles.

The film revolves around two brothers, who are part of a reserve unit called up in anticipation of the coming war.  There are several subplots revolving around members of the unit.  In structure it is very reminiscent of US war films of the 50s and 60s. As far as the acting goes, it is hard to judge the quality of acting in many foreign films. It is amazing how cultural acting is and how it varies from country to country.

Now, for us modelers, the main area of interest in any war film is the combat sequences.  The ones in this movie are pretty good.  It is amazing how much the Winter War resembled WWI with massed hordes of Russians charging entrenched Finnish positions.  There are several T-26 style tanks that appear in the film and hordes of Soviet troops in full battle dress. (I’d love to hear Mike Baskette’s commentary on this)

The film is 2 hours and 5 minutes in length.  It drags a bit in spots, but overall it is a very good film.  Well worth watching. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

November 14, 2019

I want to see this movie

Filed under: General — dknights @ 9:25 am
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The previews look great.  It is an amazing story.

November 7, 2019

Movie review: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 2:35 am
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Reviewing this movie is ridiculous.  It is acknowledged to be one of the greatest films ever made.  And it is.  This is just one of the best films ever made.  Every shot, every piece of dialogue is just amazing.  It was John Huston’s first film as director and he obsessed over it.  It shows.  Perfect cast, perfect script, perfect direction and cinematography.  I have watched it 5 or 6 times and it is just amazing each and every time.  There isn’t anything that isn’t flat out amazing.  If you have never seen it, you should. One of the many things of note is that thought the film was shot in 1940, there is no hint that there is a war going on in Europe.

And I want this for my desk.

September 11, 2019

War films

Filed under: General — dknights @ 12:07 am
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Here is a list of war films the writer considers “great”.  Frankly, with the exception of Apocalypse Now, I agree. (Apocalypse Now has some great scenes, but I’d argue it isn’t a great movie.)  I’d move Das Boot up from an honorable mention.

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