OUR PARIS TRIP JOURNAL: Day 1

After a short hour and a half flight from Little Rock to Chicago my wife Jacki and I were ready for the big leg of this crazy adventure we began planning months ago – Paris, France. The flight from Chicago took off around 5:45 PM. After close to 9 hours we crossed the Atlantic and made a successful landing at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris at around 9:40 AM. Neither of us had slept much on the flight over. Maybe it was excitement, adrenaline, whatever. But that didn’t matter. All of our planning was about to be put to the test and this, the greatest adventure we have set out on in these 17 wonderful years of marriage, was upon us.

We navigated through the airport almost as if we knew what we were doing, got our first ever passport stamp, and made our way with our two carry-on bags to the “sortie” (a term I had learned in planning). We found our exit where a steady parade of taxi’s picked up travelers to take them to their destinations. We had an older gentlemen who never spoke a word other than “Bonjour”. I gave him a piece of paper with the name and address of our hotel. He knew right where to go and off we went with a nod. I sat in that back seat thinking “Whew, one of my biggest concerns is behind me”. That concern wasn’t flying. It was navigating the international airport for the first time in a foreign country. It went very well.

Our driver sped along before running into some pretty heavy traffic. We couldn’t help but notice how seemingly few rules there must be to driving in Paris. Scooters and motorcycles zipped by and weaved between cars. Vehicles would, for the most part, force themselves over in front of you. This resulted in a few brake stomps by our driver which had Jacki gripping the seat in front of her. As I looked at the surroundings outside my window, I remember saying to myself “This isn’t nearly as pretty as I expected”. That was soon to change. In almost a snap of the finger, we saw the breathtaking Arc de Triomphe. Welcome to Paris! The city architecture had changed before our eyes and I was stunned at the massive monument before us and the gorgeous buildings running down the street. We took several turns before the taxi made its way down the cobblestone pedestrian street of Rue Cler. Front door service to the Grand Hotel Leveque in the 7th arrondissement.

We jumped out, grabbed our bags, and tried not to look as stunned as we really were. The cab fare after a tip was around 57 euros, steep but the best option for first time travelers. The cool blue and gold hotel metal awning stood right in front of us and we walked in. We were greeted by a friendly young lady who informed us that our rooms wouldn’t be ready until around 2:00 PM. That made sense, after all it was only around 11:30 AM. But they had a luggage room so we left our bags and headed out to explore our new neighborhood.

Rue Cler

It was Monday and I had read that Rue Cler wasn’t as lively on that day as others. We strolled through getting acquainted with our new street feeling like we were seeing a real bit of Paris. There were shops specializing in cheese, bread, fish, chocolate, and pastries, some open, others not. Three different cafes caught our attention. It was getting close to noon so why not start out by getting a bite to eat. I broke out my fractured French on a nice young waiter who spoke a little English. Our meal was pretty good but the experience was priceless. French chatter surrounded us at every table and the people-watching was all we envisioned it to be. We set there and smiled at each other fully aware that we were really in Paris.

We finished then started walking. I mentioned walking towards the Eiffel Tower since our itinerary had us starting with it. The clouds were thick and gray and rain sprinkles made it even colder. We made our way to Champs de Mars and there before us stood Eiffel’s tower. It was pretty amazing at first even though we had seen it in hundreds of photos, movies, and TV shows. We walked towards it barely avoiding mud puddles as our eyes stayed focused on the once controversial metal structure. Jacki was wrapped up but kept mentioning how cold she was. She quickly became aware that she had packed too lightly, skipping a jacket for light sweaters. As the rain and wind picked up, we decided to skip the Eiffel line and find her a warmer layer.

Eiffel Tower

We made our way down a couple of streets and eventually to a souvenir shop where Jacki bought an overpriced pink hooded sweatshirt that screamed “I’m a tourist”. She didn’t care and quickly pulled it on. It’s not that the hoodie was ugly, it just stood out brightly among the grays, browns, and blacks worn by the locals. The sweatshirt became an ongoing joke throughout our trip and in turn a fun memory that we wouldn’t trade. With both of us now dressed warmly we took to the streets once again.

At first I was worrying that even with my usually solid skills at navigating and learning my surroundings, this was going to be tough. We meandered through streets trying to get our bearings and match them with our Fodor’s map. We finally ended up at Les Invalides. We headed to the Army Museum and after tons of searching we finally found the entrance. We bought our six-day museum pass at the ticket counter and then went straight to the World War I and World War 2 wings. AMAZING! The amount of exhibits and information was overwhelming. From authentic uniforms to authentic weaponry, the museum starts at the beginning of the war and moves to its end touching on everything including the rise of Nazism, the American entry, the Russian progression, the concentration camps, and the eventual end of the European campaign. We were blown away by what we had seen.

Les Invalides

We finished our tour just as the museum was closing and at closing time they waste no time ushering people out. After a few pictures of the building, we headed to the front of the Invalides and sat on the small wall and watched the traffic. This was another one of those small moments that we will cherish. A high traffic circle is in front of the Invalides facing the Seine. There are no traffic lanes and the cars weave and cut in to try to get where they’re going. Bicycles shoot right in the middle of the congestion with unwavering confidence. Road rage only goes as far as honking horns. All of that made for good theater for these two new travelers from Arkansas.

After watching the cars for a bit, we crossed over and headed towards the beautiful Pont Alexandre III bridge. We snapped photos and admired the beauty of the bridge and the Seine it covered. On one side of the bridge a bride was having her wedding pictures made and several other tourists posed for pictures that, like ours, would end up in a vacation photo album. We left the bridge and admired the Grand Palais and Petit Palais before hanging a right at the Champs Elysees. At this point we were getting a little tired. It wasn’t that we were feeling any real jet lag. In fact, that really surprised me. I was expecting some sort of internal clock malfunction that would cause us to flatline. Instead we just felt like we had been up past bedtime (which we had).

Place de la Concorde

We sat on a little bench and watched the traffic before hopping up and heading to Place de la Concorde. I was so excited to see what I thought were two of the prettiest fountains in Paris and of course the Obelisk. So much amazing history is tied into the square and it was pretty overwhelming. Cameras snapped and cars whizzed by but I still felt as though I was standing somewhere very, very significant. We scooted across the busy street to the beautiful Tuileries Gardens. We lounged in two of the cool reclining chairs by the huge pool and made ourselves believe we were Parisians. After making our way to the other side of the garden, we crossed back over the Seine and ended up on Boulevard Saint-Germain. It was getting late and we were getting hungry so we stopped at a little cafe and had a pretty good meal. It wasn’t the best but the waiter was friendly and the time together talking about what we had seen was wonderful. After a fantastic chocolate dessert we headed out. It was dark and we enjoyed the rather lengthy night-time stroll back to Rue Cler. But we were ready for some sleep.

Our hotel room was waiting for us. Grand Hotel Leveque has one tiny glass elevator for one person and a piece of luggage. It was quaint as was our hotel room on the third floor, room 32. We arrived and opened the streetside window to let in some of the street’s ambiance. Our room was small but clean and it offered everything we wanted. We showered, turned out the lights, and had no problem falling asleep. It had been a really long day. But it was also a perfect way to kickstart our vacation and we had so much more ahead of us.

MEMORIAL DAY… A DAY TO REMEMBER

 Instead of doing a Phenomenal 5 today, I thought it much more appropriate just to say thank you to all the men and women who have served our country to defend the precious freedoms we experience today. So many have sacrificed so much. Families are still feeling the loss of loved ones who were willing to give all. As I’ve watched several war pictures over the last couple of days it’s reminded me of the cost to maintain liberty and freedom. Movies can be a powerful source of information and reflection and Memorial Day is a prime example of that.

My grandfather was Lieutenant Colonel in the Army during World War 2. He took part in the North African campaign before moving into Italy as the Allies fought through Europe. As a teenager (and into my early 20’s), I appreciated his service and had a few conversations with him about it. But I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now. He’s not here today. He passed away in 1995. He sent so many interesting things back home to my grandmother from his time at war and we still have some of the most amazing photos of his time there. But I would give anything to have the opportunity to sit down with him now and just listen. He gave me so many reasons to be proud to be called his grandson. His service to his country is one of them.

So many people have similar stories. So many have relatives or friends who served their country with honor. This is a special day where we can remember and say thank you. Whether it be a day at the lake, a cookout with the family, or enjoying patriotic war movies – enjoy the day. But remember exactly why you’re able to do so. Think about those who have served and take time to say a prayer of thanks to God for giving us those men and women who sacrificed so much.

WORLD WAR 2 MOVIES: Blogger Buddies Speak…

 
 
All week I have been looking at movies based on World War 2. I’ve already shared reviews and a Phenomenal 5. So I thought it would be cool to hear the thoughts of some of my movie blogging buddies. There are literally hundreds of World War 2 pictures and so many of them are great movies. But there are also a handful that stand out as true classics as you will see by the picks below. I asked some of my movie-loving friends to share their favorite World War 2 movie with a brief explanation of why they love it so. I got some great choices and great defenses and I appreciate everyone who chimed in.
 
 
From my buddy Mark over at Marked Movies:
 
“THE THIN RED LINE”
 

“The brutality of war is ethereally and philosophically handled by Terrence Malick. Beautifully shot with an endless cast of familiar faces. War, captured as a meditation and a surprisingly poetic baptism that was based on the novel by James Jones.”

Adam from one of my favs3 Guys 1 Movieagreed:

“THE THIN RED LINE”

Without a doubt my favorite WW2 film of all time is Terrance Malick’s The Thin Red Line. This film was released in 1998 and was overshadowed by another small WW2 film also released that year, Saving Private Ryan. While both films are deserving of great praise, for me the Thin Red Line is a far superior film.

I would describe this film as, a thinking man’s war film. Malick presents us with a war movie from the perspective of an Emersonian philosopher. He also allows us a look inside the heads of several of the main characters, so you can see their thoughts and motivations for their actions.

This is a beautifully shot film, with the Eden like beauty of the tropical islands juxtaposed with the brutal horror of war. If you are looking for a war film that will leave you with more questions than answers, about the nature of man and his place in the world, this might be a film you would enjoy.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing performances in this film by Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and John Cusack to name a few. It’s a star-studded film with lots powerful performances and small cameo appearances. If you get a chance to check out The Thin Red Line I urge you to give it a watch, after all, it’s my favorite WW2 film.

Pete from the always funI Love That Film” :

“SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”

“Saving Private Ryan” feels more like an experience than a film. Never has a battle scene been more immersive than the opening assault on Omaha Beach. The rest of the film pales in comparison but still delivers some heart breaking characters and perfect cinematography.

However it is the opening thirty minutes that grabs the viewer; putting them in the terrified faces of puking, trembling soldiers before showing them being ripped apart and torn to shreds by enemy gunfire. The handheld point-of-view style camera puts us right there on the beach and changed war films forever. It is a scene you can never forget; a terrifying experience.

Overall, it may not have a complex narrative or be overly ponderous and thoughtful about the life of a soldier, but it does leave viewers with a brutal sense of the horror and the heroics of World War 2.”

Sharing the same view is my friend Kristin from the wonderfulAll Eyes on Screen“:

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

Well, I’m going to be cliché, or boring, or predictable, and say that my favorite WWII film is Saving Private Ryan. Partly because I haven’t seen a ton of war films, but the reason I primarily chose it is that I love the film. The story is moving, and there isn’t a hint of realism–the film is rooted in realistic combat, dialogue, and action. Tom Hanks leads a strong cast in a film that as many have said–and many more will say–was cheated at the Oscars. I did watch Shakespeare in Love in order to see what was so good about it that it was able to beat out Saving Private Ryan, and in my humble opinion, Shakespeare in Love didn’t come close.”

Marc fromLove Your Moviesadded cool twist:

“THE READER

With a different slant on a WWII film, The Reader tells the story of a woman and former prison guard for the Nazi party. An illiterate woman who was just trying to serve her country and make a living is later put on trial for crimes against humanity along with the other women guards she worked with. They soon conspire to have her take the fall for them all and with her ailment she is unable to refute the accusations.

Having had an unusual relationship with a young high school student whom she lost touch with over the years, he soon discovers her again when she is on trial and he is a young law student. After he is grown he begins to search her out in prison and helps her unknowingly learn how to read and write. Knowing she was innocent of the certain charges and that she is genuinely a good person he can’t lose touch with her.
 
With career changing performances from Kate Winslet and Ralph Finnes, it is an emotional powerhouse of a film that shows a side of one time Nazi’s that hasn’t been shown before. Quite a few soldiers and others involved were just trying to make a living and thought they were doing the right thing for their country as do most servants of their countries. While it’s not considered a traditional WWII film it is still a necessary story none the less.”
 
Great choices and great comments.

REVIEW: “SCHINDLER’S LIST”

Many movies have looked at the Jewish Holocaust from a variety of different angles. There have been films that examined it through the eyes of children, those that have focused on specific regions, and others that show individuals who went to great lengths to help the persecuted Jews. A well done movie on the subject always has a strong effect on me. It’s not just the terrible things and disturbing images that filmmakers are showing us, but it’s the fact that they are dealing with a very real and devastating time in our world’s history. The Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews marks one of the world’s darkest times. But it’s also a period that should never be forgotten and there are several films that help us remember.

While many movies have done an excellent job responsibly depicting events surrounding the Holocaust, Steven Spielberg’s 1993 movie “Schindler’s List” is the one that has had the strongest impact on me personally. I recently had an opportunity to revisit the film. It had been several years since I had last saw it and with good reason. It’s not an easy movie to watch. It features some of the most realistic and graphic depictions of Nazi violence and mistreatment of the Jews and doesn’t shy away from presenting it in a crushing and penetrating way. From their initial relocation to Krakow’s Jewish Ghetto to their brutal and deadly time spent in the Nazi extermination camps, we see the Jews experience all forms of cruelty and brutality made more disturbing by its roots in reality.

The Jewish plight is brilliantly and cleverly shown through the true story of Oskar Schindler. Schindler, played wonderfully by Liam Neeson, is a German businessman who arrives in occupied Krakow in hopes of making a load of money exploiting the war. At first, Schindler is a self-absorbed, money-hungry man who quickly finds acceptance by kissing up to an assortment of high-ranking German SS officers. Through bribes and his Nazi Party membership, Schindler obtains several contracts to make metal pots and pans for the German soldiers in the field. To secure even more money for himself, he brings in a Jewish workforce who work considerably cheaper than the local Catholic Poles. To keep his fledgling company up and going, he hires Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), an accomplished Jewish accountant and highly regarded member of the Jewish community. It’s through this relationship that Schindler begins to see his perceptions change.

Coinciding with SS Officer Amon Goeth’s (Ralph Fiennes) arrival at the Plaszow concentration camp, the Germans raid and empty the Krakow Ghetto, shipping Jews to the camp and slaughtering almost 2,000 in the streets. As Schindler witnesses the atrocities taking place, he’s deeply troubled and an internal conflict begins between his desire for a money-making business and his growing affection for his Jewish workers. He struggles with the temptation to take his money and leave the city. Instead he sets out to use his fortune to try to save his workers and as many other Jews as he can. To do so requires him to get close to high-ranking Nazi’s like Goeth making it all the more difficult.

The story of Oskar Schindler and his personal transformation is quite moving and Liam Neeson is nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal. Neeson’s Schindler is a confident and looming opportunist. Even Spielberg’s camera makes him stand head and shoulders about so many of the people he is in contact with. That’s just one reason the ending is so stirring (I’ll leave it at that for those who haven’t seen the film). I was particularly enamored with the relationship between Schindler and Stern. You initially see the two on a strictly business level. Neither really like or trust the other. But as mentioned, it’s this growing friendship that plays a key role in Schindler’s transformation. I talked about the fantastic work of Neeson. Let me just say Kingsley is equally good and I still view this as his very best performance.

I also have to take time to praise Ralph Fiennes and his incredible work as Goeth, easily one of the most detestable villains on film. Fiennes visually captures this sick and twisted personification of evil. While Schindler does find ways to manipulate Goeth, his ingrained wickedness never goes away and we see it on display through some of the movie’s more disturbing scenes. What makes the character more frightening is that the movie doesn’t stray that far in its portrayal of the real Amon Goeth. He was a sadistic cold-hearted murderer who is said to have killed close to 550 Jews himself. That’s not counting the thousands he sent to be executed. Spielberg included several scenes that show Goeth’s murderous tendencies including his penchant for sniping Jewish workers in the camp from the terrace of his château on the hill. This sick bit of reality only makes the character more despicable and Fiennes sell it perfectly.

“Schindler’s List” is also a technical achievement. Spielberg’s decision to shoot it in black and white was perfect. It gives the movie an added feel of authenticity and when mixed with the frequent hand-held camera work and strategically placed wide angled shots, it makes you believe you’re watching a documentary. The clever style of several scenes almost resemble old film footage of the actual events. It’s that convincing. The movie was shot in a way that resembled a more classic style of filmmaking but yet never shied away from the harsh reality it was depicting. The movie was helped by being filmed on or near the locations of the actual events. Spielberg’s desire for realism really pays off and the locations were a big part of it. But that same desire for realism also made filming difficult for the director. It’s been said he cried repeatedly during the filming and there were certain scenes he literally couldn’t watch.

While “Schindler’s List” is a great film, it can also be a difficult movie for audiences to watch. It’s a movie that’s sometimes painful and emotionally draining. But it’s also a film of immense power and the deepest sincerity. It’s a visually stunning war picture that makes you feel as though you are witnessing these horrific events first-hand. It’s also a story of incredible personal transformation in the middle of some of our world’s darkest moments. The performances are outstanding and Spielberg’s direction bypasses most of the other work on his resume. It’s a stirring historical drama that reminds me of the power movies have to entertain us, to move us, and inform us. It’s also a reflection on a time that we should never forget and events we should never repeat.

VERDICT – 5 STARS

5 STARSs

5STAR K&M

“FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS” – 3 1/2 STARS

If you looked at a list of movies made about World War 2 it would probably stun you. Hundreds of films have been made worldwide that have examined and portrayed the global conflict from a variety of different perspectives. Many have focused on the combat, particular battles, or even well-known officers. Others have looked at different aspects of the war including the horrors of the Holocaust and the resistance movements that rose against the Nazi aggression. In 2006 director Clint Eastwood released “Flags of our Fathers” and it’s sequel/companion piece “Letters from Iwo Jima”. It was an ambitious undertaking as both films attempted to look at the brutal and bloody battle of Iwo Jima, one through the eyes of the Americans and the other through the eyes of the Japanese.

“Flags of Our Fathers” was adapted from the James Bradley and Ron Powers book of the same name. It’s story centers around the six soldiers who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi. The flag raising was captured on camera on February 23, 1945 by Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Rosenthal and is considered by many to be one of recognized photographs from the war. The story is told through a series of flashbacks that are at first tough to navigate though. Eastwood sets up the battle of Iwo Jima and introduces us to the main characters early on. We see the landing, scenes involving the intense and rugged fighting, and the eventual flag raising.

But it’s all being told through the flashbacks of three of the soldiers who raised the flag, Navy Corpsman John “Doc” Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), Private Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Private Ira Hayes (Adam Beach).  After the photograph is released in the states, the three are called back to participate in a war bond tour to raise much-needed money for the war effort. But what’s being promoted isn’t exactly how things happened and the soldiers have a hard time reconciling the importance of the war bond campaign with their painful memories of the bloody battle they took part in.

Staying with Eastwood’s film can be a bit challenging and I found it at times be a little clunky in its transitions from the stateside scenes to the battlefield flashbacks. But that’s not saying the story is bad. It packs a lot of emotion and sincerity and Eastwood clearly wants to tell the stories of not just the soldiers at war but the people back home as well. He nicely portrays the battlefield camaraderie that goes well beyond the trenches and he also puts great effort and detail into presenting the United States and it’s mood during that pressing time. Everything looks and feels just right. The problem is that the attempt at clever storytelling does more to hurt the flow of the movie than to help it.

I was also a little mixed on Eastwood’s battle scenes. The visuals are at their best during the wide shots of the battlefield or the Naval fleet around the island. There are also a few really cool scenes involving airplanes attacking Japanese hillside fortifications. But the ground combat seemed to be missing something. There certainly are moments of intensity but as a whole things looked plain and with the exception of a few standout scenes, the combat feels a bit repetitive. I’ve thought that maybe I’ve seen too many war films and maybe the combat in movies doesn’t pack the same punch that it used to. But I don’t think that’s the case here. Eastwood is trying to create the same atmosphere that those soldiers faced back in 1945 but it’s the actors that relay that more than the visuals.

The performances are strong and the big cast of quality actors add a lot to the film. Phillippe is really good both on the battlefield and during that stateside scenes. I also enjoyed Beach’s performance as the Native American soldier who fighting more than just one war. There are several other good performances from the likes of John Slattery, Barry Pepper, and Neal McDonough.

“Flags of Our Fathers” ends with a poignant reminder of just how much this war effected our country and our people. In many ways it’s the final 15 or 20 minutes that helped bring everything together for me. I was really mixed during several parts of the film but after seeing it through, I get a better idea of what Eastwood is conveying. It’s a story of patriotism, sacrifice, and brotherhood. But it’s also a film about desperation, vulnerability, and exploitation. It does become a little melodramatic but never to the point of drowning the film. Instead the bigger problems centered around the movie’s structure and it’s so-so combat scenes. But I still find “Flags of Our Fathers” as an easy movie to recommend and it certainly looks at the war with sincerity and care.

“DEFIANCE” – 4 STARS

Edward Zwick’s 2008 World War 2 movie “Defiance” is an intriguing look at the Nazi’s invasion and ultimate occupation of Belarus. As with every other German occupation, the brutality was rampant and the death tolls were high. The Nazi’s stormed through the countryside, destroying villages, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, and shipping hundreds of thousands more to forced labor camps. As expected the Jewish population was hit particularly hard. This is the harsh and troubled setting for Zwick’s film.

“Defiance” is based on the true story of the four Bielski brothers. After their parents are murdered by Nazi sympathizers, the brothers flee to the forest to avoid the German atrocities which are spreading from village to village. While there, they come across fellow Jews who are also seeking refuge. While hesitant at first, the brothers agree to help protect them. In order to survive, they begin making trips into occupied villages where they swipe food and supplies and are assisted by a few sympathetic farmers. The Bielskis also see their numbers grow as more and more Jews came to be under their protection. In a span of over two difficult years, it’s said that over 1,200 Jews were saved by the Bielski’s efforts.

Daniel Craig plays Tuvia, the oldest brother who finds himself the leader of their forest community. At first his perspective is controlled by his desire for revenge. But over time as he connects more with the people under his care, he begins to see things differently. His tough, burly brother Zus (Liev Schreiber) has a different approach which at times causes friction between the two. Craig is an excellent actor and he is very good here. I’ve always liked Liev Schreiber and have felt that due to some of his past roles he is often time underappreciated. He’s also really good here and shares some fantastic scenes with Craig. I also enjoyed Jaime Bell as their younger brother Asael and Mia Wasikowska as young Jewish girl he becomes involved with. The movie also features strong supporting work from Alexa Davalos, Mark Feuerstein, and Allan Corduner.

“Defiance” is a pretty by-the-books production that plays it pretty safe. But that’s not to say its a bad film. In fact, I really liked the movie despite it’s formulaic approach. At it’s core it’s a truly extraordinary and inspiring story with roots in reality that gives it even more punch. Zwick makes it easy to care about his characters and their plight but he also shows some of the Bielski’s more questionable actions. The complexity of their situation goes beyond mere survival in the forest. For example we see the impact of the Soviet Partisans on everything from the Bielski’s forest camp to the relationship between Tuvia and Zus. As the camp population grows, internal fighting and power struggles pop up as supplies begin to run short. There are several other interesting dynamics that Zwick explores well.

Some have argued that the movie’s desire for a broader audience resulted in the inclusion of content that just didn’t belong. In some countries, people took issue with the film’s portrayal of the brothers. They felt they were made to look more heroic than they were and their shady dealings were underplayed. Some accused it of rewriting history while others griped about its use of other languages instead of Belarusian. It’s hard for me take issue with the movie for any of these issues. As with many historical movies, things were added for dramatic effect. Also, I never felt that it was dealing with the material in an irresponsible or half-hearted way. There may be some issues with the overall narrative, but as a whole the movie really worked for me.

“Defiance” is an underappreciated and often times overlooked World War 2 picture. It doesn’t take many risks and it never strays too far from the more conventional survival movie path. But it’s a very well made film that captures the look and tone of the period. It tells a story that many may be unfamiliar with and even with the historical objections of some, I found it to be a testament to the will to live possessed by this group of Jewish refugees. Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber are fantastic and their performances drive the film. “Defiance” is an underrated film that may not be the best World War 2 movie but it’s certainly worth a watch.