The Bookshop (2017)

This movie stars Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, and Patricia Clarkson.  It is set in 1959, in a quaint seaside location near London and is a story about a persons dream and courage in the face of adversity.  Bill Nighy is one of my favorite actors and doesn’t disappoint in this film.  It is rather slow compared with all the action films we see today in America, but it has two elements I think are necessary for any good film, an interesting scenic setting and a good story with an ending that makes sense.  With these two factors well done a film has a good chance of being worth ones time to watch.  IMDB rates it 6.5 which I think is a little low, but probably due to the slowness with which the film develops.  However, the book upon which it is based has a slow unfolding purpose that is part of its genre.

What I liked was it’s portrayal of courage.  We seldom hear much about courage in our society and in truth it has fallen out of favor with the politically correct crowd.  Bruce Jenner was called courageous for being mentally ill.  To be courageous one must have a purpose and conviction.  A crowd can not exhibit courage, certainly not a mob, since they are not standing for something, but rather are seeking to forcefully obtain it through intimidation and militancy.  Courage is the essence of this movie which I liked and the story is quite plausible.  I thought the acting was good and particularly the children who were involved in the story.  It is unusual to have children involved in a story about adults where they are not simply part of a family.

I have always been fascinated with courage.  The movie Patton was about courage and destiny and it is one of my favorites.  In my career it was necessary, I concluded, to confront powerful entities represented by highly successful influential attorneys.  It took courage of sorts and I often found myself encouraging and seeking to persuade others to join me in a right cause.  At least once a year I would think to myself, “This may be the end, I may encounter someone who will have me removed for the work I’m doing.”  Was it courage or that I was simply willing to loose my position, rather than look the other way and sanction what I knew to be wrong.  We had a meeting in Washington with some of the highest agency executives in the nation.  I met privately impromptu with the Division head in order to secure his support, but I could see his main concerns were political, although he knew our position was right.  I considered this cowardice at the time, but who was I to judge this man.  We lost our issue in a farcical parody of justice, but courage is often best illustrated in loss.

If your expectations are not too high and you can appreciate a simple movie about ordinary people and real life concerns, you might like this film.  If you want to be dazzled look elsewhere.

Crockett’s Own Story

Recorded history may be more awash with opinion than fact.  Of course, movies and TV shows are designed to exaggerate and embellish stories for entertainment purposes, but an honest man’s own account will bear up against the cross examination of opinion.  I found “A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett” to be an interesting and well told story.  It is written in the language of the common back- woodsman in 1835 and doesn’t contain any contrived accents as used so prolifically by Mark Twain.  I believe a twelve year old would enjoy it as much as an adult.  It’s not a complete history which would include Mr. Crockett’s  travels to Texas and heroic demise at the Alamo, but it reveals his character and convictions as no third party could.

When I first began my inquiry into Mr. Crockett’s life, I had one predominate thought, “Was he a man of character and faith?”  These are private matters that are deep within a man, but of the utmost importance.  Not every hero is so bold as Sargent Alvin York, who shared his faith openly and with great conviction.  Still, the nation was young and the second great revival was at its peak, but the western frontier of Tennessee was still a vast wilderness occupied sparsely by settlers in western expansion.  Moreover, Crockett’s life was hard, beginning in early childhood, such that he had very little schooling where Biblical history and Judeo-Christian principles were introduced.  However, more than once he states that he trusted himself to “Providence”, which reveals some grounding in faith.  Also, he expresses a well formed concept of duty, responsibility, and mercy toward others.  He explains this as being the product of humble beginnings and it shaped his life through both struggles and good fortune which he attributed to God’s mercy.

His narrative articulates a consistent profession of the virtue of honesty and uprightness.  For example, his grandparents were massacred by Indians, whom he later fought in war, but also befriended on occasion and supported politically, to the detriment of his political career and reputation.  His favorite quote which he wished to be remembered was, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”  His political instincts were outstanding, but he embarked on politics in reply to a practical joke.  He preferred to conduct his own enterprises, including subsistence in the backcountry, but circumstances beyond his control turned him back to government service more than once.  He was careful in his campaigning, but exercised great courage  to promote the public interest rather than his own or others political ambitions.  This is a demonstration of character that is near and dear to my heart and my own personal experience.

After reading his story, I saw a man who endured adversity without becoming a victim or filled with bitterness.  Here was a man who stood for conviction, virtue, and duty, but accepted others as they were.  He is an example of a politician that is desperately needed today, sincere and courageous in the face of schemes and contrivance against the will of the people. To the extent that the saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words”, Mr. Crockett’s life sounds a clear call to embrace humility and commit to honesty.