May 9th, 2022

The Survivor: Ben Foster stars in this newly released film. It is the story of Auschwitz survivor Harry Haft, who boxed his way while in the concentration camp to stay alive. He later after the war was a boxer professionally with modest success, but he did fight the great, undefeated Rocky Marciano. 43 of Marciano’s 49 fights were won by Knock Out. Harry was not that good. But this really isn’t a boxing movie. It is a movie about Harry surviving, through any means necessary. Then dealing with the aftermath in his life, and during, of the choices that he has made. Early in the film, quite by chance a German officer notes Harry fighting abilties and then decides that he can protect him, and make money off of him with betting on fights against other Jewish inmates. These bare fisted matches lasted until one pugilist went down and couldn’t continue. Harry wins, in fights where the loser is shot on this spot. Terrifying and incredible. Harry has to deal with this pressure, but also the scorn of his own people. They resent the fact that he fought and defeated men who were then executed. He became the executioner of sorts to these people. Little are they thinking that he is simply trying to survive in horrendous circumstances. Meanwhile, in his personal life, he was separated from his girlfriend during the war and he had no idea if she was living or dead. Memories of her, and getting back to her, were a driving force in his will to survive. Later after the war, he meets up with a woman while looking for any work possible. But his memories and thoughts of this girlfriend still linger. He suffers from PTSD, with vivid images of atrocities in which he saw first hand. But he seems to move on with his life, a marriage with kids and a boxing match that made a name for himself. Stories like these are fascinating to watch, because they are a glimpse into a horrific past. Tremendous empathy is created for a man who had impossible choices to make, with guilt that would shatter lesser men. He has a loving wife, played by Vicky Krieps (also in Phantom Thread) who loves and supports him but sees the pain that he has endured. She also suffers. This isn’t a feel good movie, but it one to experience. No Holocaust-related movie will be uplifting and joyful since the subject matter and timing is so terrifying. However, survivors and their stories should be told. In this tale, people around Harry would tell him NOT to speak of his history, bacause “no one is interested in that”. Perhaps they felt that it would bring shame to Harry or make people look upon him as that executioner. I am glad that he decided to share with a local newspaper man. Because of this he was able to bring his life around full circle addressing some of the hurt that he experienced. Ben Foster does an excellent job of bringing this bloody tale to light. His eyes say so much as Harry struggles, but there is a fierceness too. A rage that he can channel which allows him to carry out what needs to be done. Well worth watching.

Gaslit: I watched a couple more episodes of Gaslit last night. The Julia Roberts character was locked into her hotel room, and not allowed out for a period of time against her will. The Watergate perpetrators are shown to be the ragtag, poorly organized lot that many suspected that they were. John Dean continues to take hits as this somewhat dazed and confused young lawyer who despite seeing the challenges in what he is asked to do, seems to set out to do them anyway. Yet fate can step in for this series and keep his hands relatively clean for a guy who comes across as more than a little scattered. It is not a look which matches my previous ideas of the eventual Legal Counsel to the President. It is interesting theatre. More to come.

Julia: Continues to be fun as Julia becomes more famous and her shows are helping to support the entire PBS enterprise in Boston. Sarah Lancashire channel Julia Child well verbally, but she is prettier than the Julia who was on TV. I can’t help but seeing a little bit of John Lithgow from The World According to Garp in her.

John Lithgow in The World According to Garp
Sarah Lancashire as Julia Child

What amazes me about Julia is her energy, and all the projects that she has going on at once. She isn’t a spring chicken when her fame took off. She was writing cook books, doing her show and managing her own house. This series is a good insight into her life as the TV personna began to take off.

2 thoughts on “May 9th, 2022

  1. I would argue that JoJo Rabbit is a film about a young boy in Germany during the War, and not a Holocaust movie. The people in his town were being hanged in the streets. They were not being sent to the gas chambers. I loved that film and thought that it was brilliant and funny. A definite film to see for a difficult time and subject. Some could say that Life Is Beautiful was uplifting and cheerful as the father tries to make the son laugh, but once again it is more sad.

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