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Movie Review: ‘Queen and Country’

Like John Boorman’s semi-autobiographical “Hope and Glory,” the sequel “Queen and Country” uses war as a backdrop for hijinks and easily-healed heartbreak.

Taking place nine years after Boorman’s 1987 film, which looked at the London Blitz of World War II through the eyes of a boy who doesn’t really understand the gravity of his situation, the new film presents the Korean War from the distant, somewhat sardonic perspective of a young British army conscript more interested in chasing women than in defending democracy.

The saga’s now-almost-grown hero, Bill Rohan (here played by Callum Turner), is a baby-faced sergeant teaching typing on a British military base while waiting to be shipped off to combat in the early 1950s. Revolving around Bill’s friendship with fellow recruit and reprobate Percy (Caleb Landy Jones) and the hero’s doomed romance with a beautiful but unattainable member of the upper class (Tamsin Egerton), the film toggles, at times awkwardly, between scenes of romantic melodrama and episodes of sometimes coarse comedy, most of which derives from Percy’s theft of an antique clock from his regiment’s priggish commanding officer (Brian F. O’Byrne).

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Another plot line, played mostly for laughs, has to do with Bill and Percy’s campaign — enabled by their company’s resident slacker, or “skiver” (Pat Shortt) — to embarrass a by-the-book officer named Bradley, portrayed by a nicely put-upon David Thewlis. When a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is applied to Bradley, a World War II veteran, late in the film, the offhandedness of it seems weird.

There’s a lot of that in “Queen and Country,” the title of which, like “Hope and Glory,” is delivered with a healthy dose of irony. War is not always tragic, Boorman seems to be saying, and sometimes everything really does turn out fine in the end. When a soldier returns from Korea with a leg blown off by a land mine, he cracks a joke about “putting his foot in it.”

Featuring a reprise by David Hayman as Bill’s bumptiously patriotic father, Clive, and an updated version of older sister Dawn (Vanessa Kirby) — now married with children in Canada, but no less wild — the film is something of a chimera. A little too silly to be taken seriously, yet also too heavy to get all the laughs it very clearly craves, “Queen and Country” at least shows where Boorman’s schizoid, if less than wholly satisfying, sense of storytelling comes from.

★ ★ ½

Unrated. Contains obscenity, nudity and a sex scene. 115 minutes.

Movie Review: ‘The Salvation’

“The Salvation” is nothing new. In fact, it feels a little dated, but that may please fans of the practically abandoned Western genre. The movie, by Danish director and co-writer Kristian Levring, doesn’t break new ground, but the story efficiently sets up the old battle of good vs. evil, and excellent acting makes up for middling special effects.

Mads Mikkelsen plays Jon, a Danish soldier who moved to America with his brother to find a better life and set up a home on the range for his wife and son. Seven years later, his family finally joins him. But no sooner do they step off their train than they are murdered by a couple of despicable drunks. Jon wastes no time getting his revenge. He hunts down the pair and kills them, only to realize that one of the thugs is the brother of a powerful goon named Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

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Delarue supposedly serves as the protective guardian of a nearby town, but really he terrorizes and extorts its residents. And when he finds out a killer is in their midst, he holds the whole town hostage until the citizens give up his brother’s murderer. All roads lead to a showdown, naturally.

“The Salvation” is a bleak movie about harsh living, and there is plenty of violence, although none of it is particularly gruesome compared to what we see on screen these days. The gunshot wounds that look like ketchup splotches make the villains seem a little less scary, but superb acting from a cast that includes Jonathan Pryce and Eva Green helps rectify that. Green is especially haunting in a wordless role as a scarred and tattooed woman who was kidnapped by Native Americans as a child only to be “rescued” by Delarue’s brother and forced into marriage.

Surprises are few and far between in “The Salvation,” but for Western fans looking for a fix, it’ll do the trick.

★ ★

R. Contains violence and sexual situations. 92 minutes.

GSC Student Art Show Reception Planned

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Works from the Eighth Annual Student Juried Art Show are now on display in the Fine Arts Center Spears Gallery at Glenville State College.

The show features art submitted by GSC students which will be on display until Friday, April 17, 2015.

The public is invited to the opening reception and awards ceremony on Monday, March 23, 2015 beginning at 4:00 PM.

The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM and one hour before all Fine Arts Department musical performances.

For more information contact Associate Professor of Art Liza Brenner at or call 304.462.6346.

Annual ARTS ALIVE Celebration Already Spotlighting Student Talent

Robert C. Byrd High School senior Kevin Collins got a glimpse into the world of graphic design as part of winning a recent poster competition for Arts Alive. Arts Alive is the West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) annual event to showcase the outstanding achievements of West Virginia public school students in dance, music, theatre and visual art.

As the winner of the statewide Arts Alive 2015 Poster Design Contest, Collins spent a day at the WVDE tweaking his 2015 Arts Alive poster design. Collins worked with WVDE Creative Lead Michael Daniels to make his design come to life.

Collins’ design will be used to promote this year’s Arts Alive celebration scheduled for Friday, April 03, 2015 at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, West Virginia.

The event is free to the public.

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To learn more about Arts Alive visit: wvde.state.wv.us/arts-alive/

Earlier this year, the Arts Alive planning committee sent out a call to all public school students to submit an original poster design.

Students were encouraged to think abstractly and design images that are not stereotypical of an art form.

Collins’ design features an eye capturing the philosophy that art exists in every corner of our daily living environment.

Arts Alive aims to support developing and established arts programs in public schools throughout West Virginia; inspire local education systems to embrace the arts as an essential part of every child’s education; and empower the broader learning community to advocate for comprehensive arts education in public schools.

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