Continued from page 1

As “Winter in Wartime” unfolds, Michael begins to find himself caught between his own idealistic visions of courage and the painful reality of the choices war forces upon adults.

Based on a best-selling, semiautobiographical novel, “Winter” follows Michael as he embarks on a harrowing journey involving a wounded Royal Air Force pilot he tries to help find his way back home. Michael finds himself battling contradictory emotions, wanting to share his secret with someone to impress them with his courage, yet also growing increasingly aware of the danger in which he is placing himself and his family.

Actor Martijn Lakemeier is impressive as Michael. He brings a youthful energy and openness to the role that engages our sympathy and wins our rooting interest. At the same time, we see the boy’s dawning understanding of his father and other adults whose compromises he finds confusing and, perhaps, unforgivable.

Martin Koolhoven solidly directs this well-crafted coming-of-age story, despite his resort to some visual cliches, including the use of slow motion, to bring the film to a painful, but honest, conclusion.

Released in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, the only extras featured here are a “making of” feature and the film’s theatrical trailer. In Dutch, English and German with English subtitles. MPAA Rating: R, for profanity, violence and brief sensuality.

 

BACK OF THE RACK

 

October Sky

Universal Home Entertainment

★★★★

With the final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis just completed, an era has ended. As a spacecraft designer and astronaut trainer for NASA, Homer Hickam was one of those who helped make manned space travel a reality. “October Sky” is the stirring and entertaining tale of how his interest in rocketry began and how he fought to make it his career.

Jake Gyllenhaal, in his first major starring role, plays Homer, the son of a coal miner (Chris Cooper). When Homer learns of the Russians’ Sputnik launch from his high school science teacher, Miss Riley (Laura Dern), he and three of his friends begin building and experimenting with rockets and considering college.

His father sees rocketry as a hobby that distracts Homer from his inevitable fate - joining him and his older son working in the mine. A struggle soon develops between father and son, each of whom wants something different for Homer’s future, and the teacher who sees what the father can’t - his son’s intellectual gifts and potential.

Based on Mr. Hickam’s acclaimed autobiography “Rocket Boy,” “October Sky” is a heartfelt tale of doing whatever it takes to fulfill your dreams. Director Joe Johnston draws sincere, affecting performances from his entire cast while unfolding this touching story at an unhurried pace.

Story Continues →