Five Came Back (2017)

The latest documentary Five Came Back on Netflix focuses on five directors who went to and fought in World War II and came back from it alive. This documentary was interesting as when it comes to World War II we some 70 years out all know the broad strokes of it, there Hitler takes power, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Holocaust, Bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Sure HBO’s two brilliant miniseries focusing on the Army (Band of Brothers) and the Marines (The Pacific) telling the stories of the two theaters of war and there are a bunch of great films on World War II but this documentary tells an interesting story of the people who went to war and how it changed them.

Five Came Back focuses on John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens all of whom are directors who joined the War effort Ford joined the Navy while Wyler, Huston, Capra and Stevens all were members of the Army Signal Corp. All of them were involved in filming World War II. The documentary features famous directors all talking about one individual Steven Spielberg talks about Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola talks about Huston, Guillermo del Toro talks about Capra, Paul Greengrass talks about Ford, and Lawrence Kasdan talks about Stevens. In the first hour we hear about how they made names for themselves before the war, the second hours is about their time at war and the third hours from D-Day to after the war and what became of them afterwards. If you are a fan of film history this is a very interesting film to watch.

One of the coolest things that I’ve discovered after watching is that you can watch the films that they made during WWII which were talked about in the documentary on Netflix as they have a handful available to watch. If you have some time I would recommend that everyone watch this.


Dunkirk (2017)

The latest Christopher Nolan film is about the battle of Dunkirk and evacuation. It looks amazing and it is nice to see that Hollywood is making other types of film instead of a remake, a Superhero movie, or sequels upon sequels. Give it a watch.

Pearl Harbor

Today marks 75 years since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It was a brutal day as FDR put it “a date which will live in Infamy.” This event has been made into numerous films, From Here to Eternity and Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor. The Smithsonian has an interesting story of that day and a Sikorsky JRS-1 a plane which the American flew to find the Japanese that day.  On the path to the USS Arizona Memorial there is a small plaque with a prayer/poem which Eleanor Roosevelt carried with her throughout the war.

Dear Lord,

Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

News Roundup

Gawker Media: With the bankruptcy that stemed from the Hulk Hogan sex tape. Univision is buying Gawker and all their blogs in a diversifying move. Univision, best known as the place for Spanish-language television also owns The Root, an African-American culture e-mag as well as has a stake in The Onion and A/V Club. It’s great that the Gawker sites will be around a bit longer and perhaps have a bit more money to do thing in case they get sued again.

Disney: It seems like Disney is now just going around and making live action adaptations of their classic movie musicals. With The Little Mermaid being just the latest in line, this time around Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken will be working on it. Apparently they will be mixing some of the classic songs from the movie and perhaps stage show with new songs. It will be adapted from The Little Mermaid by Hans Christen Anderson and hopefully we will get the actual story this time around and not just a live-action adaptation of the 1989 Disney film.

World War II: Since the end of the war there have been rumors of a hidden train full of Nazi gold. Well in Poland treasure hunters have started to dig into the tunnels and look for this hidden train. According to local legend an armored train carrying gold from what is now the Polish city of Wroclaw as the Soviet army closed in was hidden in the tunnels of a secret military complex which was never completed. It would be cool if they find something.

Au revoir les enfants (1987)

Au Revoir les Enfants is a biographical story about director Louis Malle, when we was a boy in France during World War II. This film is on the Vatican list of 45 films honoring 100 years of films in the values section. There are spoilers to follow.

The film is about a group of boys at a Catholic boarding school who have just returned from Christmas break in occupied France. Julien Quentin and his classmates are introduced to three new pupils when they return Père Jean brings them in Jean Bonnet in put into Julien’s class and at first no one likes Bonnet and they make fun of his name calling him Easter Bonnet. Bonnet excels at math and piano playing. His peers still pick on him until Julien goes to confession on day and is told by Père Jean to be nice to him. One night, Julien wakes up and sees Bonnet wearing a yarmulke and praying over two candles in Hebrew. The next day, Julien snoops in Bonnet’s locker and find a book with the name Jean Kippelstein in it. This leads to one day the boys are having a treasure hunt and Julien and Bonnet get lost in the woods and are found by German soldiers, who bring them back to the school. The event is where Julien and Bonnet begin to bond. Eventually the German come and conduct a raid on the school uncovering that Père Jean has been using the school as a safe haven for Jewish individuals.

All to often in films about World War II and the Holocaust we get them told from in the camps or in Germany/Poland so it was nice to see a story that take place before the camps and in France. If you haven’t seen this film what’s taken you so long it isn’t that big of a sobfest but it is tells the story of World War II without blood or violence focusing on the other tragedy.

Lesser known…

This week I found two groups of saints who’s feast day is this week. I don’t think that “group saints” are that common sure there are the some others like the 26 Martyrs of Japan and Issac Jogues and companions but this week we have a unique one the Four Crowned Martyrs. The Four Crowned Martyrs are so named because they were all martyrs. They consist of two groups of people who actually number nine people. According to tradition the first group was Severus (or Secundius), Severian(us), Carpophorus, Victorinus they were Roman soldiers who refused to offer a sacrifice to Asclepius and were killed by Diocletian. In the second group was Claudius, Castorius, Symphorian (Simpronian), Nicostratus, and Simplicius these five were sculptors who refused to make a pagan statue for Diocletian or make an offering to a Roman god Diocletian was not to pleased with this and had them placed alive in lead coffins and thrown into the sea, around 287. This was years before the soldiers would be killed.  The others are a more traditional since they are a group of Martyrs who died at the same time. the Lubeck martyrs. This group is three Catholic priests and an Evangelical-Luthern Pastor, Fathers Hermann Lange, Eduard Müller and Johannes Prassek, along with Lutheran pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, who were guillotined in a Hamburg prison in November 1943.  They have only been named blessed, but they would pass around sermons from the Bishop of Munster Clemens August Graf von Galen. On Palm Sunday 1942 Stellbrink preached that the latest air raid on the city was God’s judgement on them. They would be arrested and a year later were put on trial where they were charged with “defeatism, malice, favouring the enemy and listening to enemy broadcasts” and sentenced to death.

World Kindness Day: This is a day which we should celebrate everyday. The World Kindness Movement is behind the day which highlights good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us together since kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition.  They are working to get the UN to officially recognize the day and for members of the United Nations to  unanimously sign a Declaration of Support for World Kindness. This would be a good thing to do since I think if we all were a little bit kinder just think of how the world would be.

Ingruentium Malorum

This encyclical comes from Pius XII and is about reciting the Rosary. It came out in 1951 about a decade into Pope Pius XII’s papacy. Ingruentium Malorum begins with a reflection that from the beginning of his papacy 1939 “…We have never ceased, in the face of approaching evils, to entrust to the most powerful protection of the Mother of God the destiny of the human family…”, this means that since Pius became Pope he has been entrusting the human family under the protection of Mary. At the time of writing the world was only six years away from WWII, and there was still some hatred simmering between nations (Cold War) and there has been an uptick in church persecution.

Pius tells us to “fly with greater confidence to the Mother of God. There, the Christian people have always sought chief refuge in the hour of danger, because as Irenaeus said “she has been constituted the cause of salvation for the whole human race.”” With this he encourages us to pick up the Rosary and pray it. Pius strongly suggests that families pray the rosary together since in praying it the family becomes a place of sancity, and by praying the Rosary it teaches the faith to the children and teach the adults to live, through the examples of Jesus and Mary. Pius wishes that Mary be moved by the prayers of her daughters and sons “asking that those who have miserably wandered from the path of truth and virtue may, with new fervor, find it again; that hatred and rivalry, which are the sources of discord and every kind of mishap, may be put aside, and that a true, just, and genuine peace may shine again upon individuals, families, peoples, and nations. And, finally, may she obtain that, after the rights of the Church have been secured in accord with justice, its beneficent influence may penetrate without obstacle the hearts of men, the social classes, and the avenues of public life so as to join people among themselves in brotherhood and lead them to that prosperity which regulates, preserves, and coordinates the rights and duties of all without harming anyone and which daily makes for greater and greater mutual friendship and collaboration.”

Finally, Pius tells us to not forget about those in prison/concentration camps since they are still members of the human family.  and offers his Apostolic blessing on those who read this encyclical but especially those who pray the Rosary in October.

Lesser Known…

Stephen Nehmé (March 1889 – 30 August 1938)
Stephen was born Joseph Nehmé in Lebanon and was the youngest of seven children. In 1905 he joined a Maronite monastery and stayed for the rest of his life doing the manual labor in the fields and gardens, as well as in carpentry and construction. When he took his monastic vows he adopted the name Stephen. Stephen used to chant the mantra “God can see me.” In 1951 his body was reported as being incorrupt and in 2010 he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.

Jeanne Jugan  or, Sister Mary of the Cross, L.S.P., (October 25, 1792 – August 29, 1879)
Jeanne Jugan is a marvelous saint who cared for the elderly poor. She founded the Little Sister of the Poor and the mission continues all these year later. I’ve gone on about Jugan in the past but the Little Sisters are a begging order and they continue to go out asking for help for the care of the elderly poor.  Jugan’s order has grown to one of the largest communities in the world caring for the aged.

As we being the month of September the Eastern Orthodox begins a new Liturgical year.

September 2 officially marks the end of World War II as it is the day that Japan signed terms of surrender although August 14\15 was the date it was formally announced  as happening.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, MC, (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997)
Mother Teresa is another Blessed but I think that most people know who she is as she did a lot in service of the poor primarily children.  However it is also the International Day of Charity, the UN chose the day primarily because of Mother Teresa, International Day of Charity is to raise awareness and provide a platform for charity related activities around the globe for individuals, charitable, philanthropic and volunteer organizations for their own purposes on the local, national, regional and international level. There were rumors earlier this year that in 2016 Teresa was going to be canonized but there hasn’t been official word from the Vatican about this happening, perhaps because it is a whole year away. Hopefully, Teresa will be canonized at least before 2017.

Lesser Known…

August 6 will mark the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb upon Hiroshima and on the 9th the dropping on Nagasaki. This is marked with A-Bomb day and with a peace festival in Hiroshima. It is held at the Peace Memorial Park and at the ceremony victims are consoled and they pray for the realization of lasting world peace. I’m not sure if there are any victims of the bombings still alive today but in 1986 there was a documentary about the Hibakusha, those exposed to the either of the atomic bombs.If you have some time over this week it is an interesting subject and it’s a part that we typically forget about.

Porziuncola: This feast is celebrated August 2, and might as well be considered the high feast in the Franciscian year at it marks the first building that St. Francis rebuilt after he heard a voice telling him to rebuild my church.

Sithney: This is a great story not much is really known about Sithbey but was in Brittany(Brenton). According to one legend God asked Sithney what he wanted to be Patron Saint of and the Lord suggested being patron saint of girls seeking husbands, but Sithney said he would rather be the patron saint of mad dogs and get some rest. So it came to pass.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Last year on the Fourth of July I raved about 1776 and wondered if there were any other great movies to watch on the Fourth of July and Yankee Doodle Dandy was suggested. I said that I’d watch it the next time I caught it on TCM, and as it happened that was on Independence Day.

Yankee Doodle Dandy is a film biography of George M. Cohan from 1942 staring James Cagney. First off it’s not really a truly biographical film as there are some changes to the story to simplify and make a better story. However I am sure that this is what happens with most of the bio-pics that come out. The movie has uses a pretty cool device at the film is presented at Cohan telling his life story to the President, who has summoned Cohan to present a Congressional Gold Medal or something. I didn’t know much about Cohan before seeing the movie. George Cohan was a member of The Four Cohans with his parents and sister, they were a vaudeville act in the 1890s. George would eventually make it to Broadway. In 1904 his first musical Little Johnny Jones debuted on Broadway. From then on he became a producer and continued to write his own music, from 1904-20 he had over 50 shows on Broadway and at some times as many as five shows running at the same time. This is what earned him the nickname as “the man who owned Broadway”. Besides musicals Cohan was one of the big Tin Pan Alley composers publishing about 300 songs and wrote the song “Over There” which was a rallying song during the World Wars.

The biggest surprises for me with the film was James Cagney, who is best known for playing mobsters in movies but this was the film that Cagney won his Best Actor Oscar. Many critics call Yankee Doodle Dandy Cagney’s best film. It’s a great film and full of laughs and at time I found myself going Cohan wrote that song, many times during the movie. If you haven’t seen it next time it’s on take some time to watch it and enjoy a trip of nostalgia.