Apr 28, 2019
We’re back with another week of reviews, including a spring cleaning of my HBO queue, another Fantastic Fest review from Andrew Campbell, and a review for a small film from this weekend called, and let me check my notes here, yes, “Avengers: Endgame”. I’ll give you my thoughts on this niche film tomorrow with a special Matinee Monday review.
So, obviously to get ready for this film, todays classic review will be... “Dunkirk”. I shot myself in the foot last month recycling “Avengers: Infinity War” to prepare for “Captain Marvel”. But I’ll let you all in on a little secret. I’m reviewing “Dunkirk” today because this Saturday I’ll be reviewing a movie within a movie within a movie, asking questions like “Am I Chuang Tzu dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that I am Chuang Tzu?”. Like whoa, right?
“Dunkirk” maintains a 92% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an incredible 94 Must See rating at Metacritic. You can check it out streaming exclusively on MaxGo, or by rent and purchase from most digital outlets. Highly recommended for war film fans.
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Here we go!
Today’s movie is “Dunkirk” (2017), the Oscar winning drama written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film follows an ensemble cast of characters during the World War II evacuation of Dunkirk. The film was nominated for eight Oscars and won three for Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
Christopher Nolan really knows how to make a film, and I’m not saying that because he made one of my favorite films of all time, “The Dark Knight”. At least not just because of that. I’ve been a fan since checking out “Memento” in college, having my mind melt as the story progressed backwards, knowing I had seen something that will be studied in a few decades. And sure enough, my daughter is studying that film in her high school TV & Film class, along with “Exit Through The Gift Shop” (Episode #060) and “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father” (Episode #095). We both kind of laughed that she was studying two films I had reviewed earlier this year. And while I haven’t yet seen “Inception” (I know, I know...), I was excited to see this, and now that I finally have, really regret not seeing it on the big screen. Because damn.
I was impressed by structure of the script, splitting the story into three separate stories with different timelines, converging at the end with the final rescues and aftermath. I was a little worried at the start, wondering if it would be too confusing, but Nolan does a great job using thematic storytelling for the film, keeping the right tension across the stories, even as they are converging. It is the same kind of scripting genius that drew me to “Memento”, and has brought me back ever since. The thematic storytelling only works with the right composition, though, and here again, Nolan weaves the sights, sounds, score, and performances to drive home the meaning of Dunkirk, both the reality of the day, and the inspiration later drawn from it to continue fighting the fascists. Top film, which definitely earned every Oscar for film and sound editing.
The cast is a great ensemble, including Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, James D’Arcy, Will Attenborough, and Kenneth Branagh. I don’t think anyone turned in a bad performance, and nearly all of them were in top form. War films that involve major battles almost require having large casts, to create the necessary realism, as opposed to the World War II films of yesteryear that relied heavily on small casts and large backdrops, like the film about Dunkirk being shot during World War II in last year’s “Our Finest”. We expect a lot more since “Saving Private Ryan”, and Nolan delivers.
“Dunkirk” (2017) is a sweeping tale of one of the greatest and most miraculous evacuations of all time. Nolan constructs an amazing script using thematic storytelling across converging timelines, showing three separate aspects of the event that inspired the United Kingdom to continue fighting, even in their darkest hour. Everyone has likely already seen this, but I would definitely recommend it to just about everyone, especially with the PG-13 rating.