Beowulf and Grendal, 30 days of Night, and Nobi (Fires on the Plain) and Under the Flag of the Rising Sun

Beowulf and Grendal came up on my Netflix list just as all the trailers for the new CGI production started showing up on TV and at the movies. Gerard Butler is Beowulf a Norse hero who is called to a town where Grendal, a troll, has been killing gobs of people. Stellan Skarsgård plays the king of the village, who has wronged Grendal by murdering his father. The witch who intrigues Beowulf tells him the tale of revenge that has set Grendal upon the villagers. There is a lot of slaughter in this movie, so the squeamish should stay away. The story is quite sad. The hero is not quite a hero, but a swell guy any way. As Mr. Butler is so cute, I will have to rate this 2.9/5 acorns. He also played Leonidas in The 300. I saw the trailer for the new animated upcoming version with screenplay by Neil Gaiman, and it looks pretty intense with a loud metal soundtrack. I will have to see that one too.Gerard Butler

30 days of night is a rolicking action flic with vampires in Barrow, AK, and Josh Harnett. 30 days of night is plenty of time for a group of vampires to decimate a town and make it look like an accident what with all that oil and gas running through the pipeline. They are clever these vamps, how they remove all means of communication and transportation before anyone gets suspicious. Josh is sheriff of the town, and he is estranged from his wife. In a small town, many are invested in this relationship and it makes for a nice contrast to the main carnage. This is the kind of movie that makes you jump and doesn’t give you time to breathe. The vampires are fast and strong, and have a very annoying screech, but are they a match for the hardy soles that make an isolated place like Barrow there home? Josh thinks not. If you want to jump out of your seat several times during a movie, this is the show for you. I will rate it 4/5 acorns and 2 clives.

Nobi is 1959 Japanese movie directed by Kon Ichikawa. Mr. Ichikawa is a very prolific director who also directed Taketori Monogatori, Princess of the Moon, a movie I saw one night and thought, wow, a samurai scifi movie. But then I digress. Fires on the Plain is a very dark, movie about Japanese troups at the end of the war, starving and constantly on the run in the Philipines. How low will a man sink to survive? In the end death comes to all.

Under the Flag of the Rising Sun tells the tale of a wife who seeks out the true story of her husbands experience in a similar time and situation. She has been denied the pension of a soldiers wife. Kinji Fukasaku directed many a yakuza movie and also the campy Message from Space and Battle Royale. He tells the soldier’s story from the viewpoint of people who served with him, and at the end the viewer is still not sure if he was a hero or scum.

One thing for sure. War is hell in any language. Not pleasant stories at all and all the more bleak in black and white.


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