Anne and I saw the new documentary Final Account in a county where masks were required of all patrons regardless of inoculation levels, in an auditorium where the A/C was on the fritz. Posted signs and the clerk warned us, but we insisted on proceeding anyway despite any consequences ahead. The environment was livable at first, but our comfort levels fluctuated as time went on and the air quality went from breathable to stifling and back again. Eventually we convinced ourselves to overlook our nagging concerns, but at no point could we simply sit back and pretend everything was fine.
Anyone who really knows Anne is well aware of her long-standing interests in American history in general and World War II in particular, with an intense specialization in the European theater. When opportunities arise to learn more about it and to view its remnants in person, those tend to rise near the top of our travel to-do lists. And so it went in Vincennes.
One of MCC’s steadfast rules is that every film I see in theaters gets its own entry, for better or worse or in between. My wife Anne and I saw Roland Emmerich’s Midway on opening weekend because World War II history is among her greatest proficiencies. Theaters don’t screen as many WWII films as they used to back in ancient times, but when they do, we try to be there. For us they’re good excuses for am afternoon date, even when they’re not a good use of filmmaking funds or resources.
Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Jojo Rabbit One of the Year’s Best Films!
That doesn’t mean much to anyone outside my own head, but it’s fun to type and just stare at it for a while. What if I said things and they mattered? Pretty cool daydream, right? Sometimes it’s comforting to traipse around in a world of pure imagination, until you’re forced to look at it from another angle and recognize when you’re wallowing in nonsense.
Longtime MCC readers know Anne is a lifelong American history aficionado with a deep specialization in World War 2. It comes up in our conversations even after all these years, in her reading matter and library selections, and even in our origin story. From time to time WWII has also come up during our travels. There was the time we spent hours in the massive National WWII Museum in New Orleans, then six months later my tour of the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs, not to mention Anne’s birthday that same year, when we spent the afternoon with concentration camp survivor Eva Mozes Kor, among other occasions.
All told, WWII is kind of Anne’s thing. It was completely understandable that she would be intensely interested in visiting the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, in viewing artifacts and reminders drawn from the life of the American President who was in charge throughout most of that. The museum didn’t disappoint.
In an era when the word “Nazi” is being overused as an insult to the point of meaninglessness and being cherished as a badge of honor by warped minds with zero sense of morality or history, perhaps it’s a wise time to return to one of the classic Hollywood subgenres of yore: the Nazi-huntin’ adventure flick.
Operation Finale could have taken the crowd-pleasing shoot-’em-up route and very few who matter would’ve complained or been surprised with a mainstream director at the helm like Chris Weitz, whose credits include The Golden Compass, the second Twilight, and the original American Pie. The results are surprisingly low-key, mostly faithful to the original event, and curiously devoid of either bullets or accurately sickening Holocaust violence…which makes sense given that Eichmann wasn’t caught till 1960.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover all of them in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.
Onward to nominee #5, Darkest Hour, the second and more old-fashioned of the two World War II entrants into the race as brought to us by director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna). The short version of this entry: my wife Anne, lifelong WWII buff, found this much more engrossing than Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Your Mileage May Vary.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…
The Historic Ships in Baltimore number four in all, and four is the number of preserved watercraft lining the north piers of the Inner Harbor for your perusal. After our casual walk through the 120-year-old USS Constellation, we tried to pick up the pace as we wound our ways through the other three. After a while some parts began to look alike, but each had its own unique features, especially the submarine.
Before we begin our usual movie discussion format, I present to you a historic milestone here on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our first guest movie reviewer! Reprinted here in its entirety is the full summation of Christopher Nolan’s latest Best Picture nominee Dunkirk as presented to me by my wife Anne, a lifelong World War II student/expert who can deliver literally hours’ worth of speeches on numerous aspects of it without using a single note card. It’s extremely rare for Anne to write or co-write anything here on MCC because she thinks of this site as my thing and prefers to read my creative takes on our experiences. She’s contributed to maybe three or four past entries, tops, but now we can add our Dunkirk entry to her official MCC bibliography.
Take it away, Anne:
“THEY TOOK THE MIRACLE AT DUNKIRK AND MADE IT BORING!“
…ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause for Anne, won’t you?
In this age of wall-to-wall summer action blockbusters and the multiple temptations to entertain ourselves at home for cheap, we have a hard time getting out there to see and support the obscure, scrappy little films whenever they air in the precious few local theaters that bother to screen them. On rare occasion my wife and I will find spare moments to make the long trek to the one art-house theater on the opposite side of Indianapolis if something tempts us on a not-so-busy weekend. Nine out of every ten experiences have ranged from pleasant to surprising to thrilling.
It’s been a while since we’ve run up against that tenth out of ten films. As soon as it opened here in town, we made an appointment with Anthropoid because films about World War II are usually her cup of tea. This time, not so much.