The Water Diviner (Movie 2015)

4 Kernels

Stars: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Uilmaz Erdogan

The Water Diviner is another historical look at World War I but set in the Middle East. Directed by Russell Crowe (his debut directorial picture) and starring Russell Crowe in the lead role, it is an intense and heart-wounding journey.

Unfortunately, the movie has a limited release in the United States. I only found one of two theaters in the Portland, Oregon area showing the film. If it’s not at a theater near you, make sure to rent the DVD and put it on your watch list.

It’s the story of a man named Joshua Connor from Australia, who travels to Turkey after the war and the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate the bodies of his three missing sons – Arthur, Henry, and Edward. The brothers enlisted on the same day, fought in the same battle, and died together. The movie is a mixture of current events and replays of the former battles as it moves through the storyline. The battle scenes are intense, and the loss of life heart-wrenching. It is not an easy movie to watch but worth it for the sake of the drama and the history.

Joshua Connor has a gift of being a water diviner. He is able to find water by two small rods in each hand that eventually point to the spot where he begins to dig a well. Just as his gift of finding water in the ground, he has an uncanny gift of discerning where the bodies of his boys are buried in a vast landscape of forgotten corpses left on the battlefield. When he first arrives in Turkey, he is told by the British to forget his search and return home. However, he defies their refusal to help and finds his way to where his sons died in battle.

Immersed in an Islamic culture, he learns to acclimate himself to the history, people, and the once great Ottoman Empire. Turkey has been defeated and is now occupied by Britain while the Greeks fight the Turks for another portion of their homeland. During his stay in Istanbul, he resides at a modest hotel and becomes intertwined with the lives of one family.

Russell Crowe did a splendid job of both directing and acting in this film. It costars Olga Kurylenko (who has a striking resemblance to a younger Catherine Zeta-Jones). Yilmaz Erodgan plays Major Hasan, a Turk whose life has been changed by the war’s outcome as he struggles, along with other nationalists, to keep their Turkish identity and nationalism. The film was shot on location in a ghost town, Kayakoy in southwest Turkey.

Russell Crowe, as you know, is Australian. The Australians celebrate the battles of Gallipoli on April 25th, even though they were battles of defeat with massive loss of lives. It apparently is a matter of identity for both Australia and New Zealand. Young men, in the rather new independent nations joined forces to make their country proud. Unfortunately, 10,000 died in this particular conflict. Here is a link to an interesting article about Gallipoli and the Australian’s day of remembrance. CLICK HERE

The movie won Best Picture in the Australian Film Institute 2015 awards, as well as Best Costume Design. Yilmaz Erdogan won best supporting actor. The film is obviously well received in Australia but received mixed reviews in the United States.In the end, the film states that 27 million servicemen worldwide died during WWI and then leaves this final thought:

“This film is dedicated to all those who remain ‘lost and nameless’ and who live on in the hearts and memories of their families.

To my surprise, I discovered in my recent ancestry search of my own family roots, that my 2nd cousin 2 times removed died in the same battle.  In his memory, I leave his name:

Name: Thomas Douglas Holland
Birth Place: Salford, Lancs
Death Date: 5 Jun 1915
Death Place: Gallipoli
Enlistment Place Manchester
Rank Private
Regiment Manchester Regiment
Battalion 1st 6th Battalion
Regimental Number 1851
Type of Casualty Killed in Action
Theatre of War Balkan Theatre


Man of Steel (Movie 2013)

PG-13 | Intense sequences of sci-fi
violence, action and destruction,
and for some language.
4 Kernels
Well, I just got back from watching Man of Steel.  After being hyped up for months on end with trailers, pictures, and secrets about this movie, it’s over.  Superman has arrived in a new cool suit.

Wow, where do you begin?  Well, how about Russell Crowe delivering a baby on the dying planet of Krypton.  I often wonder if alien planets were out there, would their technology look as cool as the stuff we imagine?  Kudos to the minds who thought up these visuals.  Perhaps they had an alien muse from Area 51. Aside from the nifty technology, Crowe was great throughout the picture alive and dead (you’ll have to figure that one out).

Move onto planet earth with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, more legends on the screen giving great performances.  The movie offers insight into Superman’s younger years with terrific performance from the young lad (Dylan Sprayberry), who plays his part.  It’s an internal struggle that Clark must journey on his own to find his identify.  His earthly father teaches him wisdom and restraint with his gifts, until he finally meets his real father and learns of his origins and why he is on planet earth.

Enter cute Amy Adams who plays Lois Lane, destined to fall in love with Superman.  As one army woman says at the end, “I think he’s hot.”  And hot he is!  Henry Cavill did a great job in the role with the internal identity struggle and the will to do good among the humans he has lived with for thirty-plus years.  It’s not until the end in order to save the planet does he finally succumb to willfully killing another to save others.   Amy is cute in her own right, falling in love with a handsome well-dressed alien in red and blue, but she is also acquainted with the man in jeans and a tee shirt.  I’m sorry, but you just can’t help but wonder what making love to Superman would be like – perhaps we shouldn’t go down that road.

The technology of the aliens is quite cool.  The alien ships, suits, and costumes are unique. Though many humans are killed in the battle for earth, there isn’t a lot of blood and gore.

The only complaint I really had about the movie was the lengthy fight scenes between Superman and the aliens.  They seemed to go on forever, and frankly I think they could have cut a good half-hour out of the movie.  All right, you get the point, it’s a fight of evil and good, but a few good cuts on the editing floor would have done the movie better.  My guess is the guys in special effects were like kids having too much fun seeing how many walls and buildings they could throw Superman and his enemies through. It’s two hours and twenty-three minutes long, so hit the restroom or be like the fifty people I saw running out during a lull in the story — including yours truly.

Of course, as you watch the movie you think things like — How can he fly in space without air?  How can he get beat up for a half hour straight and not have a scratch or drop of blood on him?  How can he walk through fire?  How can he breathe under water? How could society recover at the end with so much devastation?  The list goes on and on – but hey, it’s Superman!  I suppose if we ever do get invaded by aliens, I’d like this dude on my side.

It’s quite obvious at the end that sequels are coming, because it ends with Clark Kent getting a job at the Daily Planet to blend into society. Of course, Lois Lane, who has probably kissed him a few more times by now, knows his secret!
One more note, Hans Zimmer does a great job at a musical score.  A bit dark like the Dark Knight, but nonetheless quite good.  I love the guy’s music anyway.

Is it worth the ticket?  Sure.  Just for the story and the visuals, plus the top-notch stars in the movie.  Is it worth two-hours and twenty-three minutes?  I could have done with one and forty-five and less fighting between Superman and Zod (played by Michael Shannon), who by the way is one of those damn villains who just won’t die!

All in all, Superman is just super. It is not a movie filled with jokes and lighthearted scenes. It’s serious. He overcomes obstacles constantly when he should have died at least twenty times in the movie from all that he went through to save the human race.  Probably a little over-the-top but that’s the movies.  It’s all make believe, epic sci-fi special effects, and cute Henry Cavill in one damn good looking suit.

And it’s not an “S” on his shirt – it’s a symbol that means hope.  But on earth, it’s an “S” to us, standing for Superman.

“You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

(You might enjoy the cool website too!