Fort McCoy (R)

Drama 100 min. August 15, 2014
By Steve Erickson
As critic Kent Jones noted, the progression of digital technology has made it much easier and cheaper to shoot two people in a room talking but no simpler to direct a period piece. That makes the success of Fort McCoy, a low-budget film set in the summer of 1944, all the more impressive. It obviously was a labor of love for co-director Kate Connor, who also wrote the script, co-produced and acted in a role she based on her grandmother. Barred from serving in the Army because of his age, Frank Stirn (Eric Stoltz) gives haircuts to the soldiers and POWs at the base/prison camp near his home in rural Wisconsin. One of the POWs, a Nazi SS officer, stalks Stirn's wife (Connor). Meanwhile, her Catholic sister (Lyndsy Fonseca) falls in love with Sam, a Jewish soldier (Andy Hirsch.) It's hard for HD video to simulate the look of Technicolor, but Fort McCoy does its best to resemble an old-school Hollywood film. The colors are bright and saturated. It's just a little too explicit — in language and violence — to actually have been made in 1944. (It was shot in 2010, and it has taken four years to get a theatrical release.)

Without any sense of the present as a utopia superior to the past, Fort McCoy shows how World War II opened up opportunities to women and Jews. If the film has a major flaw, it's the profusion of subplots in a 100-minute running time. Still, it is a real accomplishment.
Kate Connor, Michael Worth Eric Stoltz, Kate Connor, Lyndsy Fonseca, Andy Hirsch, Camryn Manheim, Brendan Fehr, Seymour Cassel, Rene Heger, Johnny Pacar, Matthew Lawrence Kate Connor Eric Stoltz, Kate Connor Monterey Media

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