June 20th, 2022

Operation Mincemeat: Winston Churchill said “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” This movie from 2021, stars Colin Firth, Matthew MacFadyen (Succession) and Kelly Macdonald. It details the amazing story set in Britain in 1941 when the Nazis were winning the War, but the Allies were working on their counter offensive. The Man Who Never Was is the story of deception as the British try to deceive Hitler on where the invasion would be. The British were battling and winning in North Africa, and could look to enter southern Europe in Greece, Sicily or France. The Germans had assumed Sicily. The British wanted to avoid a difficult invasion landing, and to convince the Nazis that they would land in Greece. They decided to try an improbable situation where a British “soldier” would wash up on shore with papers identifying “top secret” directives from a general that the invasion would be Greece. An added unknown wrinkle was that apparently there were factions within the Nazi party who felt that the Hitler leadership was not in their best interests and so they might assist in a deception. In 1941 I would find that hard to believe given that the war had been going so well in sweeping into France and beyond. But how do you find a body, and what do you place on him to make it look authentic? There is the story.

The human side of the story is that Colin Firth has a strained relationship with his wife. She and the kids get shipped off to the US to be safe. Both he and his more awkward colleague MacFadyen are looking at the female team member. She rebuffs MacFadyen, but shows some apparent interest in Firth, which causes a tension. There are other elements at play with family members which cause a little more drama. I knew about the deception run by the British for the Normandy invasion. I was less aware of this. One must remember too that the activities of Blechley Park were ongoing with decoding the Enigma machine, as well as all the drama surrounding Churchill himself and his new leadership. It is a fascinating time, and this is just another story from those times that changed the course of the war. This movie can be found on Netflix.

Lightyear: Pixar and Disney have combined to release the new animiated film which tells the backstory of Buzz Lightyear. Back in Toy Story, Andy sees a movie about Buzz Lightyear and gets the toy for his birthday. This is the movie that he watched according to Disney to get him all excited. Being a Pixar film, I had pretty high expectations for this movie. That, often can be the kiss of death. Overall, the early adventure starts as Buzz is part of the Space Rangers, a galctic force for good. The images in space are very reminiscient of Star Wars, and some borrowed from Alien. Buzz winds up on a planet investigating a signal, and they end up through his actions being stuck there. He feels guilty and wants to correct the problem and get back to his place in the galaxy. He struggles. All the while other members of his team that are very diverse look to improve their here and now. As an aside, it is very interesting given the current political climate in Florida and the actions of the Governor Desantis against Disney that the movie goes where it does. I was in a theatre on opening night that had a birthday party of kids likely no older than 10. I expect that in scenes that I won’t describe further some questions could be asked that the adults didn’t expect from a Disney movie. Is this a bad thing? No. I think movies can reflect society and community norms or they can be at the forefront. It is a bold step by Disney on this front. I do think that the story gets off the rails about when the character Zurg shows up. From my memory and this clip helps that story is told over time.

To say that this story doesn’t really reflect these segments is a bit of an understatement. But I will leave it at that. This movie was okay. It didn’t meet expectations. I think that Pixar can do better. I suppose even though Disney now owns all the Star Wars properties that it needed to do more with the backstory. Truth is, Buzz was for mid 1990s the toy for kids which resembles some Star Wars, but also some Six Million Dollar Man and others. I will remain hopeful that more backstories for Toy Story characters don’t emerge. The obvious candidate would be Woody. I will note that Tim Allen’s voice is nowhere to be found and Buzz is voiced by Chris Evans. They have added a cuddly robot character that is comic relief at times, but also helps push the story along. If you have small kids, they may enjoy. This doesn’t have to be a big screen movie for you or them. But you may want to prepare yourself for a couple questions…..