As the holiday movie release schedule and awards season ramps up, Diane Taylor continues her round-up of everything she’s been watching

 

Harriet

You may think you know about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad but there is so much more! It begins with a slave named Minty on a Virginia plantation who sees her sister sold off and her forehead split open by a flying flat iron protecting the master’s son. The loss of family is never forgotten and the injury causes headaches and visions of God speaking to her for the rest of her life. Both save her from slavery and give her life purpose.

Knowing she is to be sold, she leaves her freeman husband, goes to the church of Rev. Green and begins her journey with his help and that of others across woods, fields, and rivers until she reaches Philadelphia and freedom. There she meets a black publisher named William Still and the “Angels” of the Underground Railroad. She becomes a conductor and famous as the “Black Moses” for her courage, ingenuity, tenacity and fierceness in leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. Rugged action, thoughtful, starring Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe.

“Harriet” is rated PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets.

 

Midway

We know Pearl Harbor but the battle for Midway was the day that turned the tide in the Pacific and stopped the juggernaut that was the Japanese navy from sailing all the way to San Francisco! It began in 1937 at an Embassy dinner  when Naval aide, Ed Layton had a conversation with Harvard educated Japanese Commander Yamamoto. Both students of military history, they spoke of Yamamoto’s fondness for Ulysses Grant but the conversation turned when he mentioned that many believed Japan was ready to become a world power but the only thing standing in their way was a dependency on U.S. fuel. Layton countered that Japan could never win a long war with America, to which Yamamoto replied, “But we could make a short disabling strike.” In December 1941, they did.

The attack, strategist Layton had predicted occurred. What would be the crippled American Navy’s response? History has not forgotten Chester Nimitz, Bull Halsy, Wade McClusky or Jimmy Doolittle, but this is also the story of young pilots, crewmen, sailors and marines who enacted the plan and crippled the Japanese. This was sometimes hard to watch, both violently graphic and emotionally intense. I was in a theater with a group of Vietnam veterans and younger vets. As the credits rolled, I saw many eyes wiped. As a WWII pilot’s daughter, mine were among them.  GO, SEE, LEARN and REMEMBER.

“Midway” is rated PG-13 for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking.

 

Ford vs. Ferrari

Henry Ford II wants to produce a sportier car for the Baby Boomers of the 1960s. Enzo Ferrari is millions in debt and about to lose his company, so what does he do when Ford offers to buy Ferrari? He tells Ford to “go back to Michigan to his ugly box of a factory and build his ugly box of a car,” plus some other comments this writer can’t print. Indignant, Ford calls on Carroll Shelby, the only American driver to win Le Mans and now the foremost sports car designer in the U.S. to build a car that can beat Ferrari at the 24 hours of Le Mans!

And so it begins. 

Shelby knows that he can’t beat Ferrari without Ken Miles, the erratic but passionate driver that can build a car but has an almost mystical touch when sitting behind the wheel. The Ford team lead by Lee Iacocca comes on board and the challenge to beat Ferrari begins.

Speeds of over 200 mph, sleek designs, daredevil drivers, looping road courses, deadly crashes and corporate back stabbing – it’s all there. If there is a villain in this action/drama, it is Leo Beebe, the brown-nosing, pompous, glory seeking V.P. at Ford who dislikes the free-spirited genius of Shelby and Miles.

Matt Damon is the charismatic Stetson-wearing Shelby and Christian Bale has morphed yet again into driving wizard Miles. Jon Bernthal as Iacocca is understated brilliance and Josh Lucas is the villainous Beebe.

Fasten your seat belts and get ready because this one is a wild ride!

“Ford v Ferrari” is rated PG-13 for some language and peril. 

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