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Changi

Changi (2001)
This Australian miniseries follows the fortunes of six young Australian soldiers who are captured early in the war against the Japanese in WWII and spend over three years in the notorious Singapore POW camp Changi. Each of six episodes focuses on one of the men as 55 years later he prepares for one last meeting with his mates and, through flashbacks, remembers the time they were all together in the camp.

As the series progresses, your attachment to these irreverent and closely united men grows and the poignancy of seeing them both as cocky yet fearful young POWs and elderly men with their lives all behind them becomes almost too much.

The George Segal movie King Rat (1965) is also set at Changi.

Visit the official website for more information about the series and the Changi prison.

Mother of Mine

Mother of Mine (2005)
This Finnish/Swedish film directed by Klaus Härö received good reviews from the Finnish press and several awards internationally.

Mother of Mine is based on a novel by Heikki Hietamies. During the Winter War (which began with a Soviet offensive on November 30, 1939 — three months after the start of World War II) Eero, like many Finnish children, is sent to Sweden as a refugee. He is forever conflicted because he feels his own mother abandoned him and his adoptive mother has a hard time accepting him.

Paradise Road

Paradise Road (1997) R
After Pearl Harbor, European and American women and children try to escape ahead of the invading Japanese. When their evacuation ship is sunk, the women make their way to the coast of Sumatra where they are captured and imprisoned by the Japanese. Two women with musical training (Glenn Close and Pauline Collins) start a voice orchestra and involve other prisoners (including Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Ehle, and Julianna Margulies) in their plan. The prisoners, including Dutch, English, Australian, and American women, squabble but also make friendships across cultural and class lines.

This is a moving film and sometimes hard to watch as many characters we have come to know take the final trip down “Paradise Road,” the name the women have given to death. And the voice orchestra really did exist (check out Song of Survival by Helen Colijn).

The Americanization of Emily

The Americanization of Emily (1964)
Set during World War II in London, Julie Andrews is a war widow. James Garner is the personal assistant to an American admiral played by Melvyn Douglas. His plan is to stay alive. Hers is to get by without getting attached to anyone again. When the two start a relationship, will her ideals come in conflict with his cynicism? This is a thought-provoking movie, surprisingly realistic about relationships between men and women.

Check out the original New York Times review.

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (1947)
This is Michener’s first novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, inspiration for the musical South Pacific, and a quietly moving story of men and women far from home at a time of war. These tales are connected short stories in which a handful of characters appear. In the background, the invasion of a Japanese held island is being planned, but in the mean time, sailors and nurses fall in love, write letters home, drink, and fraternize with the local population.

Learn more about this ever popular author.

Glory

Glory (1989) R
This is a Civil War film, the story of the first and only black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Cavalry, to actively participate in the bloody business of war. A young white officer from a wealthy Boston family (Matthew Broderick) takes on the grueling job of getting these men ready for battle. He is tough, untried, but idealistically driven to turn these men into soldiers and he does.

This is the heart of the story, watching the unit grow from roughshod to ready, forming bonds of friendship that reveal their own inner problems. The common desire to engage the enemy, thereby breaking down a unique military prejudice, is another absorbing part of the story.

The cast and characters grab your heart and keep it until the final second. A must see.

Also starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. Check out reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

The Dam Busters

The Dam Busters (1954)
British command during WWII is desperate to disrupt German production in the Ruhr Valley. Toward that end, they devise a clever and complicated plan to blow up crucial dams on the Ruhr River. Eccentric genius B. N. Wallis, played by Michael Redgrave, has devised a bomb that will bounce across the surface of the water and explode as it reaches the exact optimum depth. The only trouble is that the bomb must be dropped at a very precise height from a plane going a very precise speed at a very precise distance.

The first two-thirds of the movie explores the ingenious ways in which these problems are solved and the last third is the exciting mission itself. For those who liked The Man Who Never Was (1956), a movie about another British and American plan to mislead the Germans.

Miracle at St. Anna

Miracle at St. Anna (2008) R
The movie is about a black infantry outfit in Italy during WWII, but the film starts in the 1980s. A man is working in a New York post office as a teller selling stamps. A guy comes to buy stamps; the postal worker recognizes him, pulls out a gun and shoots him dead.

Then the movie goes back to WWII and we find out what triggered the attack. Four American soldiers end up behind enemy lines; they are sequestered in an Italian village after rescuing a young Italian boy. A statue is involved. Someone is a traitor.

You’ll have to watch Miracle at St. Anna to find out what happened in this interesting movie that will keep your attention throughout. Based on the novel by James McBride. Directed by Spike Lee.
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The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party (2007) R
A fascinating story based on true incidents that follows a war correspondent, a cameraman and a young journalist as they search for the no. 1 war criminal in Bosnia.

Richard Gere plays Simon Hunt, a burnt-out, discredited war journalist who sees this mission as a way to redeem himself plus claim a multi-million dollar reward. In 2000, he convinces his ex-cameraman to join him, and the son of a network VP tags along as they go on a dangerous and crazy adventure. The cast of characters they meet are amazing. A dark comedy with episodes of violence but also witty dialogue and empathetic heroes.

Happy 20th Birthday, Indian Prairie! Join us as we celebrate all day long. The festivities conclude with a Neverly Brothers concert tonight at 7:00.

The African Queen

The African Queen (1951)

This classic movie stands the test of time. It has humor, adventure, romance and two American icons of acting. Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart are good alone, but as a team they brilliantly enhance each other. Even if you have seen it before, it’s a reliable night of fun watching and GOOD FOR ALL AGES.

Based on the 1935 novel by C. S. Forester.