Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Where Hands Touch - an interracial love story during WWII

Greetings, commies!

You know my fondness for obscure historical occurrences that get ignored (unfairly) by writers and filmmakers. Where Hands Touch is the answer to my prayers, the treat for my hunger. The archetype of a tormented, conflicted, sympathetic Nazi soldier is not new, but in this film it's taken to a different level and given an additional layer of human complexity. I am grateful that there is a film highlighting the complicated plight of Afro-Germans during WWII. They were not exterminated en masse like Jews or gypsies, and they were given some protection under the Reich, but their position was rather precarious. 


When the daughter of a white German mother and an African father meets a member of the Hitler Youth - compulsory for all Aryan boys in 1944 Germany, they must battle against the fates laid out before them during the most brutal of times.

My thoughts:

This film exceeded my already high expectations, from impeccable casting to authentic acting. A film like this could have been so easy to ruin with excessive sentimentality or righteousness. There were so many opportunities to throw in some 21st century righteousness and monologues about human dignity. Thankfully, the screenwriter did not tumble into that ravine. Humanist ideology is strategically rationed.

I will not commit the common crime and compare the main characters to Romeo & Juliet - that would be a lazy shortcut - but this is a story of two ideologically confused and conflicted lovers. Leyna and Lutz discover the difference between patriotism and allegiance to an absurd regime. I was a little surprised that Leyna was not more bitter towards her ... hm... "fatherland" after all the rejection and mockery she had faced there, after all the filthy things she had heard. She continues clinging to the idea of being German and loving Germany. She has a sort of Stockholm syndrome towards her country and her background.

Any time you have an international cast, the director has to decide which language they speak in and if they should have an accent. You have American and British actors faking German accent to various degrees of authenticity, but that does not detract from the movie.

The character who plays Lutz also has some moderate acne. I don't know if it was a deliberate move to not have it treated prior to shooting. Those teenage outbreaks give him an air of vulnerability. It's terrifying to see that scrawny, pale, pimply kid in an SS uniform. Makes you think of how many other German boys were cajoled into this hellish situation under similar circumstances.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Through a Different Lens: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

Greetings, commies and fellow Aspies!

This novel should have been reviewed in April - the autism awareness month. As a proud and vocal member of the neurodivergent community, I should really commit to reading and reviewing more works featuring characters on the spectrum. Through a Different Lens by Riana Everly is a yet another take on the classic Pride & Prejudice. It offers an actual clinical explanation for Mr. Darcy's behavior. What would it be like to be on the spectrum before the term autism existed? What social perils did autistic people face in Regency England?


Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation and a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.

Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy's new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?

My thoughts:

Let me begin by saying that I am not a huge fan of the original P&P. I never understood all the swooning around Darcy. Clearly, there are enough readers and writers fascinated by him to spawn a metastatic plethora of sequels and spinoffs. I picked this particular spinoff because I was intrigued by the original twist on Darcy's character. I commend the author for immersing herself in the world of Jane Austen and her characters, for reproducing their language and customs that may seem so foreign to 21st century readers. A truly titanic endeavor! It is so easy to ruin a novel like this with flippant anachronisms. You almost have to be on the spectrum yourself to become so obsessed by that era, by that social strata, to replicate scenes from their daily lives. 

If you disliked the Lizzie-Darcy pair in Austen's original, you are not going to like them in this particular novel. They have kept their most annoying traits from P&P - and that's what makes their interaction so intriguing and entertaining. The chemistry between them is mildly toxic. You keep wondering how high the toxicity levels will rise before an explosion occurs. 

I noticed that some reviewers criticize the novel as tedious, but the original itself is rather slow-paced. You enjoy this novel, you need to train your attention span and learn to appreciate the slow burn. Remember, the people of that class had plenty of time to reflect and ruminate. 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

"The Life Before Her Eyes" - a man-hating anthem

Greetings, commies & screenwriters

If you want a lesson on how to create annoying, unsympathetic female protagonists that you cannot wait to strangle with your bare hands, check out The Life Before Her Eyes. It's on Prime now. 


The Life Before Her Eyes is a 2007 American thriller film directed by Vadim Perelman. The screenplay was adapted by Emil Stern from the Laura Kasischke novel of the same name. The film stars Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood. It was released on April 18, 2008, and revolves around a survivor's guilt from a Columbine-like event that occurred 15 years previously, which causes her present-day idyllic life to fall apart.

My thoughts:

I watched this movie because it popped up in my suggestions. A good chunk of it was filmed in my area - Stamford/Greenwich, CT. I remember entire blocks barricaded for that purpose. What detracted from a potentially compelling story was the blatant misandry. There is not a single redeeming male character in the novel! They are either cheaters, or psychopath murderers, or cowards. Evan Rachel Wood plays the same character over and over again - a sarcastic, rebellions teenager. I am referring to "Thirteen", "Pretty Persuasion" and "Mildred Pierce". I am sure she is a fine actress with some range, but she keeps getting typecast in the same role. It's like the same character with different hopping from one movie into another. In "The Life" she does not come across as very sympathetic. At some point you just want to smack her. Her character Diane acts like she is the only teenager living with a divorced overworked mom. She does not become more sympathetic just because the men around her are dirt bags. I don't know whose shortcoming it is, the director's or the screenwriter's, but tooting misogyny is not the most effective way to create sympathetic female protagonists.