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X-Men: First Class – A terrific ride!

X-Men: First Class

Finally watched ‘X-Men: First Class’ last night. And it was truly first class! I remember watching the first two movies in theatres during the early part of the 2000’s. At the time I had no idea what the heck X-men was. I only went ‘cos my college roommates were going. I liked those movies but was not completely floored by them or anything. They looked like any other science fiction/superhero American film to me. But I have to say now that this new prequel really did bowl me over!

From the very first scene where we see a mother getting separated from a son at a Nazi death camp in Poland in 1944, the movie just completely grips you and doesn’t let go; keeps your attention till the very end! Of course, the fact that I am a major history buff did help. This movie is filled with mid-20th century references like the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis as well as actual footage of JFK’s speeches. And though the Holocaust is a very dark and morbid topic, I always find it completely fascinating when it is featured in films and covered well. So, this movie just seemed to have it all… fast-paced storytelling, excellent acting, interesting historical references, varied geographical locations and foreign languages. Except for Kevin Bacon, it has a list of relatively unknown actors (at least for me) but they all do such a stellar job! Particularly Michael Fassbender who plays Erik/Magneto.

I may now go back and watch the X-men trilogy again. That’s the good thing about prequels if they are done well. They make you re-discover the original films and put the whole storyline in order. In some way or the other, we are all generally suckers for sequence and chronology. No wonder that this prequel business has hit the big time!

As for ‘X-Men: First Class’, 100% recommended!

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

I have a sort of morbid fascination towards films centered on the Holocaust. ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘The Pianist’ are two of my all-time favourite movies. When I heard about this one, I had immediately put it on my wish list of movies to watch. After not being able to find it in any local rental libraries, I finally bought it sometime back and watched it. It is an absolutely stunning and heart-wrenching film about how the family members of a German Nazi officer get personally affected by the atrocities happening around them.

It starts with the Nazi officer being posted to a concentration camp and the accompanying family has to live in the housing quarters nearby. The family includes his wife and 2 kids, a boy and a girl. The kids have to leave their friends behind and find it difficult to adjust to this new life in a strange new place. The boy in particular has a difficult time coping, being the younger one and is always bored and itching to explore the new surroundings. The girl finds it easier, especially after getting caught up and brainwashed in Nazi propaganda by a teacher who home-schools both kids. So, while the girl is putting up racist posters in her room and following in the footsteps of her dad, the boy tries to hide from his worried mom and sets out exploring in the wooded area nearby. He soon finds the concentration camp and makes friends with a Jewish boy of similar age on the other side of the barbed wire fence. This is the first interesting person he has met in this boring new place, so the German boy is delighted. He spends some time every single day with this Jewish kid and even secretly brings him food from home. The conversations he has with this boy are very interesting and often touching. They show the innocence and curiosity of these little boys who are caught in a nasty web of discrimination that they have little control over. There is another character, an elderly Jewish gentleman, who works for the family doing odd jobs around the house. He is shown as a likeable, patient man who doesn’t hesitate to crack a smile on his weathered face despite being unfairly treated by almost everyone around him.

The movie has a powerful ending that would leave a lasting impact on the minds of anybody watching. The Nazi general doing his duty for the country, the wife who doesn’t approve completely of her husband’s job, the earnest young brainwashed daughter who is clueless about wrong and right, all get affected by the actions of the young boy who does the unthinkable and makes friends with a Jew. This really is a great film worth owning!

Rating: 5 / 5 stars.