Storming Juno Another Important Story Of WWII

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Stories of WWII told from the American and British vantage points are quite plentiful in the world of television and movies.  Stories from those in other Allied forces are far less.  That is they are far less prominent in the United States.  Now finally, another lesser told piece of WWII history has finally been added to the whole.  One part historical drama and one part documentary, Entertainment One’s brand new WWII story, Storming Juno is an impressive work.  The hour and a half presentation tells the story of the events of June 6th, 1944 from the perspective not of the American or British forces, but from the Canadian military.  It is centered on three young soldiers that were actually there on the day that marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. 

It is difficult to know where exactly to begin in the discussion of Storming Juno.  It would be very easy to compare this movie to the likes of bigger blockbuster films such as Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers.  By comparison, Storming Juno is just as good as those war epics if not better than them.  That might be a bold statement to some.  But it is a true statement.  That’s not to say that the aforementioned films were bad.  It just means that for an indie war film, Storming Juno definitely holds its own.  And it does so quite well at that.  So what enabled Storming Juno to hold its own so well against much bigger, more epic war movies?  For starters, the movie itself runs just over an hour.  The remaining half an hour of the entire feature’s ninety minute run time is taken by a documentary of sorts.  Another factor in the success of this movie is tied directly to its run time.  That factor is the story’s writing.  Script writer Christopher Gagosz managed in his script, to balance the intertwining stories of the three men on which it focuses.  Along with its balance, there are two more factors that make Storming Juno a success and a must see for any history buff and lover of war films. Those factors tie in to make this a complete story that any history buff and war movie fan will enjoy just as much as any war movie released by Hollywood’s major studios.  The factors in question are the incorporation of actual footage taken on D-Day by Canadian forces and the general historical accuracies portrayed in the movie itself.  These tie back into the writing and in turn the story length and overall enjoyment of the movie.  It all works together to make Storming Juno not just an enjoyable war story, but also one of 2013’s best independent movies.

Storming Juno holds its own against other bigger name war movies first and foremost because of its run time.  Paramount’s Saving Private Ryan clocked in at a massive one hundred sixty-nine minutes long.  That is roughly two hours and forty-nine minutes, or in simple terms, nearly three hours long.  Paramount’s other major war epic, Flags of our Fathers, came in at roughly two hours and twelve minutes.  Storming Juno on the other hand comes in at only ninety-minutes.  The primary story itself (not counting the semi-documentary that follows the main story) comes in at just over sixty minutes.  This puts the actual story at less than half the time of both previously mentioned movies.  If one were to count the full ninety-minutes, then it would still be just over half the time of said movies.  Thanks to the writing of Christopher Gagosz though, it doesn’t feel that ninety-minutes at all.  It keeps viewers engaged through every action filled moment.

Script writer Christopher Gagosz’s writing is largely to thanks for the movie’s ability to keep viewers engaged throughout its full ninety minutes.  He does this because instead of focusing on melodrama, as Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers do, he instead balances the personal emotions of his subjects with the story’s action.  While Juno Beach might not have been nearly as fraught with danger as Utah Beach, it was still dangerous.  The body language of the soldiers as they waited to take the beach said so much without saying anything.  It served to set the mood of tension, thus keeping viewers engaged.  The action that ensued from the moment that the troop transports landed and the tanks were launched (and subsequently sunk) plays into that tension and does even more to keep viewers’ attention. Right to the battle’s final moments.  As those final moments close, audiences are introduced to some of the men that were there at Juno Beach.  Their interviews serve to cement the story presented and tie into the final factor of the movie’s success.  That factor is its accuracy. 

Much of what is presented in Storming Juno was taken directly from both oral and written first-hand accounts of this battle.  As noted in the bonus “Inside Storming Juno” feature, much work went into bringing the story to life and making it accurate.  Even actual veterans from the battle were brought in to help set the scene, as was an individual with expert knowledge of the Royal Regina Rifles to make certain that the battle was portrayed as accurately as possible.  It would seem that the only questionable aspect of accuracy is that of the planes used in telling the story of the paratrooper.  They seemed to look like B-25s of some sort.  Other than that one slight inaccuracy, so much else was done right with this movie.  It ties right back in to the writing.  And along with the writing and run time, it makes Storming Juno a movie that any history buff and war movie fan will appreciate regardless if another movie based on non-American or British Allied forces is ever made.  It is available now in stores and online.

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Star Trek Sequel One Of Summer 2013′s Best

Courtesy:  Paramount

Courtesy: Paramount

Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the best movies of the Summer 2013 movie season.  However, for all of its successes, there is no denying that it is not a perfect work.  The movie, which clocks in at just over two hours keeps audiences engaged from the story’s opening moments.  And that is thanks in large part to following the standard Summer blockbuster formula.  Here’s where things get dicey, and some of this critic’s fellow Trek fans might be angered.  To those potentially angered readers, please read this entire review before attacking.

One of the biggest factors in the success of Star Trek Into Darkness is that much like its predecessor, audiences don’t have to know the rich history of Gene Roddenberry’s creation that started with Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS).  Its references to the movie franchise’s reboot were so few that audiences that have yet to see that movie need not worry about having seen it in order to enjoy this story.  Director J.J. Abrams and his staff of writers did an impressive job in keeping this tradition alive from the movies based on both TOS and TNG.  Though, those that are long-time fans of both Star Trek TOS and the long running movie franchise will enjoy it just as much as TOS and the movie franchise’s reboot.  Long-time fans will enjoy the reference in this movie to the famed Troubles with Tribbles episode from TOS.  Long-time fans will enjoy seeing actor Leonard Nimoy reprise his role as the original Spock just as much (not to reveal too much).  That’s right.  Leonard Nimoy is back once again.  And long-time fans will love how Abrams and company poke fun at themselves with his re-appearance.  How they go about doing so will be kept under wraps so as to not spoil another positive moment from an overall impressive work.

Director J.J. Abrams and his staff of writers did an impressive job making a story that much like the movies from TOS and TNG, doesn’t require knowledge of the previous movie to be enjoyed.  This and the references to TOS played important roles in this movie’s success.  Just as much cause for success was the personal growth of Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock.  Kirk starts off in this movie the same brash almost Tom Cruise “Maverick” style figure as they were introduced to in the series’ 2009 reboot.  It would be impossible to explain this without spoiling at least one aspect of the movie.  That aspect would be that Admiral Pike is killed off.  In his death, audiences finally see Kirk grow as a person.  They see what was obviously the relationship of a son and his (for all intents and purposes) surrogate father in Pike.  Audiences also see the relationship between Spock and Kirk grow even more from their initial meeting in the 2009 reboot.  This is perhaps one of very few aspects of this work that would require viewers to have seen the previous film in order to appreciate it.  Theirs are the only relationships that show any growth from the previous installment in the franchise.  That’s not an entirely bad thing.  Simon Pegg is as funny as ever in his role as Scotty.  And the relationship between Scotty, Kirk, Spock and Bones produces more than its share of laughs once again.

For everything that makes Star Trek Into Darkness such a success, it isn’t without its faults.  This story has plenty of comical moments between cast members; enough that they would make quite the blooper reel in the movie’s home release.  But one can’t help but look back on the movie and realize just how much running around and yelling filled most of the story.  There was so much that in hindsight, it makes for more than enough fodder for Saturday Night Live’s writers to spoof.  Thankfully for the movie’s staff of writers, all the running around and yelling wasn’t enough to overpower the story’s main plot that while not overly original, is still nicely updated.  It’s a story that is well worth its time overall, whether one is an experienced Star Trek fan or not.

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Spongebob Soundtrack One of 2012′s Best Christmas Albums

Courtesy:  Viacom International, Inc./Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Viacom International, Inc./Nickelodeon

The soundtrack to the new Spongebob Christmas special, It’s a Spongebob Christmas is one of the best Christmas albums of 2012.  This compilation of songs is fun and original.  It takes listeners through the recent TV special and takes listeners on a ride through the world of pop music at the same time.  The album’s opener, ‘Don’t Be A Jerk (It’s Christmas)’ is a great start to this album that will entertain parents and kids alike.  Spongebob, voiced by Tom Kenny, sings of being polite during the holiday season in a variety of ways.  From something as simple as using the proper checkout lane at the supermarket to generally being polite to others and respectful towards others’ belongings and more, this song both entertains and sends a very important message to its listeners.  The song’s traditional Christmas sound makes it even more entertaining.

The album’s enjoyment keeps up after its opener in the rockabilly style of ‘Christmas Eve Jitters.’  The general musical vibe of this song will quickly conjure thoughts of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and any number of other rockabilly/Americana style artists of days gone by.  Lyrically, it’s just as entertaining.  It does a very good job expressing the excitement and joy that any child feels anticipating Christmas morning.  Spongebob sings, “It’s the night before Christmas/And all through my little pad/Not a creature is stirring/Not even mom and dad/But I’m lying here wide awake/No it ain’t the heebeejeebees/nor the eggnog shake/I’ve got the Christmas Eve jitters tonight.”  That opening line sets the tone for the rest of the song.  It does an excellent job of expressing not only Spongebob’s excitement, but it mirrors the feeling that any young listener has on Christmas Eve.  It makes for one more enjoyable song on this album.

It’s a Spongebob Christmas Album has more than its share of enjoyable songs for the entire family.  Though if there’s at least one that really stands out, it’s the country/western Christmas tune, ‘Ho Ho Hoedown.’  Voice actress Carolyn Lawrence voices Spongebob’s friend, Sandy Cheeks as she sings what Christmas is like in the old Lonestar State.  She sings in the song’s chorus, “It’s a Ho Ho Hoedown/Where jingle bells will ring/It’s a down home country Christmas/With a dash of Western swing/Tis the season to be jolly/Like a rodeo clown/Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho Hoedown.”  Even if a person isn’t a Country/Western fan, this is a song that will still be as entertaining as any other on the special’s soundtrack.

While ‘Ho Ho Hoedown’, ‘Christmas Eve Jitters’ and ‘Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas)’ are all great songs for the whole family, this soundtrack offers no fewer than nine other songs that will have the kids singing happily right up to Christmas.  Even parents might find themselves unexpectedly humming some of the tunes.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.  The songs here are enjoyable and will be every holiday season no matter how many times they get played and by whom.  It’s a Spongebob Christmas Album is available in stores and online now.

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Nickelodeon, CBS Present New Spongebob Special, Album

Courtesy: Nickelodeon

With Thanksgiving only days away, many people are looking forward to the second half of the holiday season and the arrival of Christmas.  One of the most beloved traditions of the holidays is sitting down to watch the annual holiday specials on television.  CBS will have a new holiday special this year in the form of a new Spongebob Squarepants special called, It’s a Spongebob Christmas.  Along with the new special, there will be a soundtrack available for parents to pick up for their kids, too.  In anticipation of both, the special’s lead song has been released. The song, which was co-written by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley even has a video to go with it. 

The video for ‘Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas) was the winner of the 2008 Built By Me Movie contest. The contest in question is held by Lego and Nickelodeon.  It features Spongebob and his friends celebrating the holiday season all while Spongebob sings.  It can be viewed here now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVOPRCnc8r4.  And families can even follow along with the lyrics right here, too!

DON’T BE A JERK (IT’S CHRISTMAS)

(Andy Paley & Tom Kenny)

BRING JOY TO THE WORLD IT’S THE THING TO DO
BUT THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

THERE’S A SIGN ABOVE THE LINE THAT SAYS “EXPRESS”
THAT MEANS TEN ITEMS OR LESS
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

BE NICE TO BABIES AND ANIMALS
OLD FOLKS TOO
‘CAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU’D LIKE THEM TO TREAT YOU
USE TURN SIGNALS DON’T SCREEN MY CALLS
DON’T WRECK THE HOUSE WHEN YOU DECK THE HALLS

SPIT YOUR GUM WHERE IT WON’T WIND UP ON MY SHOE
SQUEEZE TOOTHPASTE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE TUBE
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

(solo)

WHEN OTHERS ARE TALKING NEVER INTERRUPT
DON’T PUT PEOPLE DOWN AND LEAVE THE TOILET SEAT UP
IT’S THE TIME FOR FAMILY AND HOLLY AND TURKEY
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY NOT JERKY
(JOLLY NOT JERKY)

DON’T DIG IN THE CEREAL BOX FOR GOODNESS SAKES
TAKE THE PRIZE AND LEAVE ME NOTHIN’ BUT FLAKES
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

SANTA BROUGHT NEARLY EVERY GIFT ON YOUR LIST
WHY WHINE ABOUT THE ONE THAT HE MISSED?
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

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John Mellencamp Shares His Thoughts On Music Piracy In New Huffington Post Piece

Veteran musician and activist John Mellencamp recently wrote an article for the Huffington post about what’s currently happening to artists as a result of music piracy, and the basic lack of drive among people to stop piracy.  He makes an interesting argument concerning the need for regulation among search engines and their relation to music piracy.  He discusses how Safe Harbor is basically allowing piracy to happen, both in terms of music and video.  It’s quite an in depth article.  You can read the entire thing here.  Once you’ve read it, feel free to share your thoughts.  Read on!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-mellencamp/online-piracy-search-engines_b_2018332.html.

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