3 items from 2012
This haunting small-scale war movie, given a very limited release 20 years ago and available for the first time on DVD and Blu-ray, is based on a widely praised novel by William Wharton, who was wounded serving in the Us infantry during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-45, the setting for the film. An ironic, at times surreal fable about the madness of war, it centres on a six-man intelligence and reconnaissance squad dispatched by a reckless, vainglorious major (a mortician in civvy street) on a dangerous mission on the snowbound border of France, Belgium and Germany in the Ardennes, and how they become involved with an equally disillusioned Wehrmacht unit who want to negotiate a separate peace. The film's witty, intelligent narrator is Sergeant Will Knott (Ethan Hawke), and the plot's twists are matched by the sharpness of its moral insights.
The writer-director, »
- Philip French
★★★☆☆ Keith Gordon's A Midnight Clear (1992) is an undeniably intriguing investigation into the human survival instinct, focusing upon a group of young soldiers during the Second World War and their desperate attempts to return home unscathed. Set against the French winter of 1944, a group of American Intelligence operatives locate a group of German troops who wish to surrender rather than die fighting. Both groups find themselves isolated, and thus decide to spend Christmas together. However, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, the plan goes awry and blood is tragically spilt.
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When you hear a movie cost only £25,000, as Black Pond is reported to have, it's hard not to be automatically impressed.
However, in most of these cases impressed is all you're likely to be, as these micro-budget affairs often deserve to be patted on the head rather than clutched to your heart. But the co-directors of this, Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley, have worked either side of the camera and have access to better equipment and talent than most, so £25,000 in their hands goes further than it would for many. Cost aside, Black Pond is not just an experiment in pound-stretching ingenuity, it's a film that has plenty of character, something no amount of money can buy. The story concerns the Thompson family, introduced to us by tabloid headlines branding them murderers. With interviews and flashbacks, the lively and witty storytelling reveals more, as the events that transpire »
- Phelim O'Neill
3 items from 2012
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