The aspect of real world conflict and the perceptions of an era can sometimes be caught in art but it is always the texture of perception that determines through what lens the emotion and drama is captured. in “6 Days: The Incredible Story Of D-Day’s Lost Chapter” [Robert Vendetti/Vertigo/148pgs]”, the author examines a small piece of Operation Overlord (which was used for a different effect in the movie of the same name). In this story, when many regiments are dropped over France, they miss their target but converge on the small town on Graignes. The story is of them trying to hold off the German assault until they can be relieved from the American forces coming from the coast. While some of the imagery, especially during the firefights is quite good with out being gory, it is the intersection of the small moments that connect, whether it be some of the young woman listening outside a church to the men inside who take initiative themselves to the simple happiness inside a mess hall just to get some warm food. There is an essence to the humanity. One part that works very well though it tends to play a little melodramatic is the aspect of the families back in America praying in a church in sadness while the soldiers and the local villagers in Graignes convene in the church in hope. The hope doesn’t last long and the texture of war and just surviving takes hold. In all actuality, the actual overrunning of the troops is more alluded to rather than shown as an overall stampede of German troops. But what the battle does offer is the perspective of war but also the psychological toll at points on a textured level. “6 Days” shows a direct and plain view of the lost memories of war before everything was laser guided. World War II was a war unlike any other and even a brief glimpse into the minutiae of the day allows for a window into the time.
By Tim Wassberg
When “Serenity” was released earlier in the year, the essence of the cast and what seemed to be a noir structure gave it definite want-to-see possibility. Matthew McConaughey’s choices are always divisive but he has a certain idea of almost existential progression in most of his roles. The idea for example of making “Sea of Trees” or “Free State Of Jones” perceives to this thematic structure of his work. This film is no different though its blend of high concept and locale might be too much for some viewers to take or give patience to. With a director like Steven Knight, known for “Peaky Blinders”, the blend does have possibility but this is not Christopher Nolan or “Interstellar” for that matter. The comparison obviously moves in play since Anne Hathaway is a catalyst of sorts here as well as she was in that previous movie though in a different structure. The vamp structure she employs here might be a function of not just the plot but the rules that are set forth in the narrative. This blend of what motivates characters and indeed what their ultimate goals are is an interesting quandary within the story.
The film was shot on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean off of South Africa so the locale has an otherworldly quality in that the viewer almost can’t place where it is. Many of the characters are caricatures in this way but again that is a function of the plot without giving anything away. In selling a movie, subtlety and the way a film unfolds is much more criticized than ever before which made this specific release even tougher.
What “Serenity” does have is almost an 80s genre twist while similarly on a restrictive budget but with decent or at least recognizable stars. Diane Lane plays a character that is almost a piggy bank at times for McConuaghney’s Dell. Again when it all is said and done…her character makes sense within the structure even if it is light. Dijmon Honsou who also starred with McConaughey in Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” also plays a structural part in the idea. He becomes a voice of reason but also one that unbalances the motivation. Again a specific notion of the plot. Even Jason Clarke as the baddie per se, has a specific arch that is meant as a commentary on what the underlying structure of the story actually is.
Towards the end, the breakdown of exposition might have been too much for audiences to handle because, while it is an intriguing idea, the dialogue, even though it is meant to be stilted at times, overplays its idea. The exposition, in addition, tries too hard even though there are holes in motivation and plot which are too glaring to ignore. Also, some of the sequences and the imagery, especially the jump cuts and McConaughey’s venture through water, may be symbolic but mostly function flat. In terms of technical, the transfer brings out the beauty of the location but the slipshod nature of some of the visual effects takes away from some of the power certain sequences could have had. There are no additional material on the disc, so the movie simply functions on its possibilities which may in time form an idea of one of those genre movies that tried but didn’t quite connect. However it might be one that will be revisited in years to come.
By Tim Wassberg
The coalescing of the overall structure of the “Star Trek TNG: Terra Incognita TPB” [Scott & Arthur Tipton/IDW/147pgs] storyline gives a more rounded view of the inherent motivation of the characters. While the different issues go off in different directions in terms of character beats, the Barkley story does have resonance in terms of its more basic existential versions of self, and the idea of the alpha and the beta. The fact that many of the crew tend to like him more in a mirror self than his more sensitive regular self points to a structural point of the ID. This is also reflective in one of the issues within this TPB that explores the passing of a Katra after a summit gone wrong that leaves a Vulcan dead. A younger Vulcan doctor makes a judgment call after speaking to Picard who interrelated his mind meld with Sarek and what that allowed them to accomplish. The backdrop of this is interrelated to a peace negotiation between the Federation and the Cardassians. The background of that of course fuels what is going on on in subtext in the mirror universe which has interrelated in both the TNG and Voyager storylines. It involves classified tech which is not available in the mercenary universe which revolves less in R&D and more in industrial espionage. Ultimately it is the infighting and insight by both Riker and Picard which allows the Federation Universe to get the upper hand although simple human error always is a variable. “Terra Incognita”, in a continuing perception both of command education, priority contact and simple diplomacy between disparate species, is an interesting if not disjointed continuation of the issues that plagued but also enhances the voyages of the Enterprise D.
By Tim Wassberg