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WWII SAGA RECOUNTS HEROIC EXPLOITS OF TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

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Red TailsThe new Underworld movie took the top spot at the box office this weekend, but right behind it was the movie Red Tails, which is an action-packed pic about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. Kam Williams has written his take on the George Lucas production.

 

Kam Williams

The Tuskegee Airmen is the nickname given the 332nd Fighter Group, the first squadron of African-American aviators ever trained by the U.S. Air Force. Formed in 1940, the historic unit had to be stationed at a base on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama, since the Armed Forces were still racially segregated at the time of its creation.

Even after America entered World War II, the government initially remained reluctant to deploy these pioneering pilots overseas, out of a concern that the presence of black officers in the midst of white soldiers might have a negative effect on military morale. Consequently, the Tuskegee Airmen languished stateside for several years, seeing no action until they were finally cleared for combat in the European theater of operations.

Upon arriving in Italy, their 2nd rate aircraft were upgraded from junky jalopies to state-of-the-art, P-51 Mustang fighter planes, thereby enabling them to escort B-17 bombers on dangerous raids behind enemy lines deep into Germany territory. The untested pilots proceeded to perform admirably on over 1,500 successful missions, demonstrating an unexpected combination of competence and valor in the process.

Red Tails is an eye-popping, special-f/x driven adventure which recreates these belatedly-appreciated veterans’ daring exploits in the skies, while chronicling their simultaneous, uncompromising quest for dignity in the face of the incessant humiliation mandated by Jim Crow. The movie marks the feature film debut of Anthony Hemingway, who is previously best known for having shot episodes of a host of TV series, including The Wire, True Blood, Treme, The Closer, and CSI: NY.

The picture was produced by Lucasfilm where it has been a pet project of the studio’s legendary founder, George Lucas, for the past quarter-century. And it features an ensemble cast topped by Academy Award-winner Cuba “Show me the money!” Gooding (for Jerry Maguire) and Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard (for Hustle & Flow).

Aside from raising the question of the arbitrary color line, the plot reads like a typical, cliché-ridden war flick revolving around a tight-knit, motley crew of colorful characters. Each is based on a simplistically-drawn archetype, like the ill-fated pilot you know isn’t long for this world the moment he’s shown sitting in his cockpit gazing fondly at a picture of his fiancée right before takeoff.

Another familiar figure is the cigar-chomping Major (Gooding), a paternalistic pontificator given to delivering inspirational speeches about God, mom and apple pie. He cares about each of the men under his command, including alcoholic “Easy” Julian (Parker); daredevil “Lightning” Little (David Oyelowo); class clown “Joker” George (Elijah Kelley); and “Junior” Gannon (Tristan Wilds), a youngster who yearns to be taken seriously by his teasing colleagues.

Meanwhile, back at the Pentagon, we find exasperated Colonel A.J. Bullard (Howard) tirelessly lobbying the military brass to put an end to racial discrimination in the ranks. In the end, the film proves more memorable for its eye-popping, action sequences than for its corny dialogue which ranges from  preachy (“We’re on the side of God Almighty!”) to trite poster-speak (Let’s give those newspapers something to write about!).

Nonetheless, Red Tails amounts to a worthy, overdue tribute to a group of intrepid, World War II heroes who never let their second-class status diminish their patriotism even one iota.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for violence and profanity.

Running time: 125 minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

To see a trailer for Red Tails, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpA6TC0T_Lw

To see a trailer for the picture’s companion documentary, Double Victory, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBuxFuOCCCA&feature=related

Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2012 16:15  

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ROT IN HELL!

Jim Traficant, Rot In Hell!

JIM TRAFICANT
EX-CONGRESSMAN, EX-CON, ANTI-SEMITE

1941-2014
Oh, Jim Traficant. The "colorful", "maverick", "populist" congressman from Ohio who died days after a tractor flipped over on him as he tried to park it inside a barn on his family farm (soon to be changed by the conspiracy theorists he palled around with to "assasinated") is being lauded in death by publications like Politico as "our kind of crook"  but when you see that he is also being called "hero of the people" by a neo-Nazi website, pause is in order. Traficant might have been all the adjectives they use about him, but he was a raging anti-Semite that defended Nazi war criminal Demjanjuk and upon being released from prison after being convicted ofbribary, tax fraud, racketeering, among other things, blamed Jews for his incarceration and while he was at it, accused them of running the world. He was a regular around the anti-Semites of note, speaking at events put on by Willis Carto's American Free Press (AFP) and by the band Poker Face. He was also frequented the Tea Party rallies from a few years ago, and when he wasn't there his supporters were there promoting runs for congress, as we saw when they came out to Kent State in 2010. In the video, one supporter said in the video he was no longer involved with AFP, but last summer (that's four years later) he was hawking the launch of a new organization of his through the AFP who on the organization's website as supporting them with office space and support staff in DC. Traficant was a non-entity for the most part, which is why all the talk about him in his passing has been about his colorful tenure as a congressman, but even then, that color was lost on decent people who saw how dark and decrepit he truly was.

 
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