MovieBob Reviews DUNKIRK 2017

first_img Is Dunkirk good?Yes. I sincerely wish I’d liked it more, but it’s none the less a perfectly solid military procedural drama that, thanks largely to the inherent subject matter and some great actors, is absolutely worth seeing.What’s it about?“The Dunkirk Evacuation” (also known as “The Miracle at Dunkirk”), a strategic retreat from France back across the English Channel by beleaguered British and Allied forces during the early phase of World War II. It was complicated by geographic inaccessibility and a lack of available warships. Ultimately leading Churchill to order civilian boats from England to mobilize for the rescue while the stranded soldiers held out as best they could.Apart from the history, why is it a big deal?It’s a WWII movie directed by Christopher Nolan, so a lot of his ultra-zealous fans are hoping that this will be the one that wins him the Best Picture Oscar they’ve insisted he’s been robbed of for every movie since Batman Begins.Yeah, people are seriously “into” that guy, huh?It happens – he’s the current unquestioned Film School Bro god-figure, an undeniable auteur, and craftsman of occasionally staggering technical acumen whose catalog nonetheless flatters the Bros baser sensibilities by putting that substantial skill toward infusing artistic credibility into a defiantly macho subject matter like revenge, crime, con-artistry, heists, rocket ships and Batman.Whoa – do you have some kind of issue with Christopher Nolan?Nah, I think he’s terrific. I just also think he’s sometimes hampered by an inability or unwillingness to engage his films on a human/emotional plane. He’s a devout technician overwhelmingly more interested in the hypothetical “blueprints” behind heists, cons or vigilantism than the humanity of his human chess pieces (hence why his best film, Inception, is all about how unrestrained emotions are destructive psychological viruses that ruin attempts to construct a fantasy narrative.) I mean, we’re talking about the filmmaker who once decreed that an aesthetic decision like “Anne Hathaway in high-heels” required a practical, utilitarian explanation.Does Dunkirk overcome that?It tries to. A brutal, enormously complicated, messy-as-hell military operation held in particular reverence in the British national psyche. This subject offers Nolan interlocking clockwork mechanisms to obsess over the inner workings of and real-life, fact-based stakes the humanity of which seem so recognizably built-in. And “goes without saying” apparent that he need not once again flail impotently against the cosmic walls of Murph’s bookcase trying to convince us that “No, really – he understands how human beings work, honest!”The actor’s pick up a lot of the slack. Cillian Murphy is haunting as a rattled shell-shock victim, Kenneth Branagh shows up to deliver what might be his most naturalistic and understated performance ever, Tom Hardy is essentially auditioning to replace the lions on the Royal Arms of England as an RAF ace gliding on fumes to stay airborne long enough to fend off the Nazi fighter planes and Mark Rylance as the civilian yacht captain who damn near shows up wearing an “I’M THE SOUL OF THE MOVIE” t-shirt gamely commits to the Herculean task of making a Nolan film feel almost humanistic and… kind of pulls it off.I’ve heard the timeline is weird – what’s up with that?The narrative divides into three separate narrative tracks for land, sea, and air. One storyline following a group of soldiers scrambling to survive on the beach, another centered on middle-class father and son yacht crew making their way across the channel to join the rescue effort and a third tracking a pair of Royal Air Force pilots striving to provide cover-fire for their mates on the ground. However, each story is proceeding on its own separate timescale, and they don’t fully “synchronize” until the very end: The “Land” storyline takes place over about a week, the “Sea” portion is one day, and we’re really only up with “Air” for an hour.That sounds confusing…It is, especially if you blink near the start and miss the title cards that clue us in that this is what’s happening. But when the bulk of your film is dialogue-free depictions of harrowing rescues, boat-sinkings, plane-crashes, young soldiers starving, shivering, drowning, being pinned-down by gunfire… you’d have to be made of stone yourself NOT to get wrapped up in it. The obvious functionality of expanding and contracting the different timelines to make everything feel uniformly immediate and thrilling is always apparent, and (again, thank the cast on this one) it ends up connecting when it needs to.Is it really only rated PG-13?Yes, and while that doesn’t “ruin” it as a war film, it’s hard not to feel like things are a little too bloodless and sterile to be truly immersive in this case.Do you recommend it?Absolutely. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, but it works where it needs to and the individual moments that need to work really, really work. Plus, whatever else can be said about Nolan his technical skills are second to none, and every frame of it unquestionably deserves to be seen on the biggest screen you can find.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Stay on targetlast_img