Dunkirk reviews

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby mlrg » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:09 pm

Dunkirk remade as a silent movie. Very good video.

https://youtu.be/DbIbchSteCI

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:32 pm

The Original BJ wrote:Oh, and Mister Tee, I had the exact same issue with "The Mole" reference. Was the pier ever referred to as "the mole" in the context of the movie? I only found out that wasn't referring to the "traitor" subplot until I read online articles after the movie. I wonder if in Europe, that's a much more common reference than it is in the States.


I'd assume British schoolchildren are taught Dunkirk the way ours are taught Pearl Harbor -- an essential part of your country's history. So, for them, knowing The Mole might be like us knowing the U.S.S. Arizona.

But worldwide audiences, not so much. I looked at David Edelstein's review a while ago, and he had the same mistaken take we did. And I'd guess that some of the critics that correctly identify it know only from the studio-distributed material. (Years ago, I remember reading a review of Cries and Whispers -- after I'd seen it -- wherein the critic referred to a character suffering from cancer of the womb. My thought was, hmm, I don't remember her ailment being specified like that. A short time later, I got an invite to a critics' screening, and saw the voluminous PR material critics receive in conjunction with a film. I assumed the Cries and Whispers handout specified cancer of the womb, and the critic just ran with it.)

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:26 pm

It's interesting just how far this movie has gotten based on the technical achievement. And I don't just mean with the critics praising it to high heavens -- a lot of us here, even those who weren't blown away by the movie, are hard-pressed to deny that it's a very technically impressive piece of craft.

But pause for a second and imagine the same material with a different director, say a Mel Gibson, who might have really amped up the hokiness, dwelled sadistically on the violence, and displayed a far less artful command of craft. The reception likely would have been drastically lower, right? Because at that point, what would there even have been to recommend it? I'm sure some would say, this is the auteur theory at work, that Nolan's abilities are what make the film special. But I'd argue that his direction is papering over a lot of inherent deficiencies in his script that might be more glaring to people in different hands. (Put another way, I found Hacksaw Ridge a much worse movie, but the central idea at its core was a lot more compelling.)

Also, I've been thinking a lot about how both Detroit and Dunkirk could have benefited from having a protagonist. This isn't to say that every movie needs a central hero who provides the audience access to a story, but there's something to be said for the tenets of Joseph Campbell sometimes. In my own writing experiences, I've often found myself asking the question, whose story is this, and how does their journey convey the basic ideas of what I'm trying to say? And for me, part of the deficiency of both Detroit and Dunkirk is that it doesn't seem like the filmmakers were interested in that question, which essentially leaves us with technically impressive recreations of historical events that don't feel like they have a lot more on their minds beyond that.

I will say that I'm quite pleased Dunkirk has done so well at the box office. It's no small feat for a serious piece of filmmaking -- and whatever its limitations are, it clearly qualifies as such -- with nothing but history as its source material, and sold without much attention on its stars, to become such a popular success. That's the kind of movie I'm always rooting for, even if I think it's been overly heralded.

Oh, and Mister Tee, I had the exact same issue with "The Mole" reference. Was the pier ever referred to as "the mole" in the context of the movie? I only found out that wasn't referring to the "traitor" subplot until I read online articles after the movie. I wonder if in Europe, that's a much more common reference than it is in the States.

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:34 pm

Two other thoughts, partly gleaned from things I've read elsewhere today, but also partly my own jumping-off point:

1) Nolan seems to want to make an epic that's in most ways a small, intimate movie -- concentrating on one boat, basically two pilots, and, in among the vast crowds on the beach, two or three soldiers. But to do that effectively, he'd really need to have been a better writer, or, more succinctly, a writer who knows how to create characters, not just story-lines.

2) I'm not sure Nolan could tell you what his baseline idea was for this movie. "Recreating the experience of Dunkirk" doesn't constitute a dramatic idea. Nor is there a thematic connective to the material (the closest would be the sporadic reference to "home", but that's both pretty basic and not developed). To create a work of art -- which is what I certainly think Nolan aspires to do -- having some overall concept is pretty essential.

These failings are, I think, why the movie felt empty to me, beyond the tech achievements.

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:34 pm

I avoided this thread during the weeks it's taken me to get to Dunkirk, but I'm almost sorry I did -- the more tepid responses here would have better prepared me for the film than the extravagant raves.

Masterpiece? Are you kidding me? It's a technically proficient, mostly-classical war film -- Wings, made with 21st century technology. The only explanation I have for the excessive huzzahs is critical amazement at seeing a serious grown-up film show up in summertime.

Many of those reviews seem dazzled by Nolan's three-pronged story structure. Did anyone here think they added anything? I didn't feel any frisson of excitement when, say, Rylance & co. rescued the pilot -- I could as easily have seen those stories played out in real time (which would have meant Rylance wouldn't have turned up till the second hour of the film, but so what?). There was no value-added from the time-scrambling that I could glean.

And one thing really confused me. It looked to me as if Rylance's boat was one of those that showed up at Dunkirk Beach for the grand rescue; I swear I saw him in that sequence. Yet, by the later story-line, his boat would have been full-up before he got there, with the pilot and survivors of the sunk boat, so he should never have gone there. Did I mistake something?

One thing I know I went astray on: According to various reviews, the pier from which so much of the action took place was called The Mole, and that's why Strand 1 had that title. But when I see "The Mole", and am focused on two young guys (the main guy and the Frenchie), I'm assuming one of them's a traitor who's somehow giving up the rest to German intelligence. (I even thought, oh, the fact he turned out to be French-not-British is a pretty lame use of the "mole" motif.) Anyone else go down this path?

I'll echo Sonic and say, of course I'm not claiming this is in any way a bad movie. It's technically impressive, though not, for me, soaring. It's not close in impact to either of the films to which it's, variously, being compared -- Saving Private Ryan (where the carnage was felt at a much deeper level) or Gravity (where the visuals were far more mind-boggling). Like the rest of you, I have no idea what level of films we can expect from the remainder of the year, but I'd say at this point that for Nolan to win, it'd have to be a relatively thin year, and the notion that he's been egregiously denied in the past would have to be an idea that penetrates upper Hollwood echelons and not just Internet boards.

Even there, the lack of much story -- and the full concentration on physical action -- will make best picture a tough climb. There was speculation that lack of interest in all-boys' military stuff played a part in Saving Private Ryan's defeat -- that female audiences just didn't go for it in the same way. Well, Private Ryan was a literary masterpiece placed next to Dunkirk, which comes close to having no script whatever.

I wish I could have gone into this cold; maybe then I'd have been impressed enough by the tech (which will undoubtedly score sound/sound editing/probably film editing Oscars, at minimum) to emerge from the theatre with enough buzz to pass for enthusiasm. But, having been primed for something close to great, I have to count it a pretty severe disappointment.

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:21 pm

bizarre wrote:I have no real desire to see this but - I guess this is our Best Picture in the absence of any real competitors?


Having seen it, I gotta reject the premise of the question entirely, because it would have to be a real weak year if we have no movies that can seriously compete with Dunkirk. Not because it's a bad film (hardly anyone, including me, thinks that), but because it lacks that extra something - a hook, an angle, SOMETHING - that would make it stand apart from other harrowing, top-quality war and battle films that have been made in the past 20 years. And I don't see too many people claiming Dunkirk is anything more than what it is. And today's AMPAS doesn't automatically go for the biggest, or most successful, or most traditional film anymore. IOW... what Sabin and Original BJ said.

Technical Oscars is another matter. I have an easier time conceiving a scenario in which Dunkirk manages to win a good number of Oscars without taking home Best Director or Picture. Again, we'll see.
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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:56 pm

A few more award-y thoughts:

With its combination of subject matter, reviews, and now box office, Dunkirk has to be considered a top awards candidate. But I don't understand the inclination -- which I've seen elsewhere as well -- to declare the Oscar race over before it's even started. It's not even a case of "there might be something to come along to unseat it" so much as "there are dozens of movies to come that could conceivably become the front-runner." As Sonic says, who knows what competition lies ahead? I seem to recall another WWII summer hit from a blockbuster director that seemed to be running unopposed for Best Picture most of the year, until a late-breaking release swooped in at the last moment to take that prize.

To expand on Sabin's opinion that Dunkirk doesn't quite seem like a Best Picture winner, I would have to argue the same, along the lines that it doesn't feel to me like a movie of the moment. I guess you could point to numerous winners that didn't feel that way -- The Artist, for instance, certainly didn't seem to be tapping into much of anything in the culture in 2011. But I wonder if this political moment might lead voters to want to crown a Best Picture winner that seems more of the now, the way Moonlight unquestionably was. Put another way, Dunkirk doesn't really lend itself to an obvious narrative for why it should end up Best Picture of 2017 as opposed to Best Picture of 1953. I know we're accustomed to view historical epics as the ultimate in award-bait, but that strikes me as somewhat of an '80s/'90s mentality -- we actually haven't had many Best Picture winners that fit that bill over the last two decades, and voters seem pretty interested in going elsewhere these days.

If you're going to land on a narrative that sets up Dunkirk as the top winner, I think it would have to be based around Christopher Nolan. Numerous Oscar-winning filmmakers -- Spielberg, Zemeckis, Howard -- built their careers on blockbusters that made a ton of money for Hollywood, then finally won Picture/Director Oscars when they turned to more serious dramatic fare. So, if the "it's time" narrative sets in for Nolan, and voters want to rally behind his commitment as a filmmaker to the big screen theatrical experience, that could be the thing that puts the movie over the top.

But, as a lot of us have said, we're only getting started.

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:12 pm

bizarre wrote:I have no real desire to see this but - I guess this is our Best Picture in the absence of any real competitors?


I suppose if we immediately leapfrogged from here to the end of the year we could say it's the frontrunner. But I'd never assume - especially in July - that there will be no real competition.
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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:19 pm

Hell, even Steven Spielberg couldn't win Best Picture for his war epic Saving Private Ryan. It went to something much fluffier.
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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Sabin » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:25 pm

Greg wrote
Which would make it completely match Gravity, except for not winning Visual Effects.

That's about right.
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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Greg » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:31 am

Sabin wrote:I could see it winning Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing (which will be the worst win of the night), and Best Sound Effects, which will continue the tradition of the movie winning the most Oscars not winning Best Picture.


Which would make it completely match Gravity, except for not winning Visual Effects.
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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:00 pm

bizarre wrote
I have no real desire to see this but - I guess this is our Best Picture in the absence of any real competitors?

I don't know what else is coming out this year, but I don't think Dunkirk is winning Best Picture. It reminds me of Gravity and The Revenant. Heavy on spectacle, light on character and heart. Like those movies, it won't be up for Best Original Screenplay. I could see it winning Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing (which will be the worst win of the night), and Best Sound Effects, which will continue the tradition of the movie winning the most Oscars not winning Best Picture.
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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby bizarre » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:46 pm

I have no real desire to see this but - I guess this is our Best Picture in the absence of any real competitors?

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby dws1982 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:04 pm

The Original BJ wrote:(I didn't have the reaction dws did to the IMAX 70mm, though I should add that mine was at a normal theater, with a screen that didn't curve, so it likely didn't present the same issues -- I was more perturbed I paid $28.50 for a ticket plus $3 for parking for the whole experience.)

Yikes! At least I only paid $10 for mine (all shows at that theater are $10). The dome-like screen really distorted the image at the edges of the frame--so a rifle on the left side of the frame would be v-shaped rather than straight. Can't imagine that Christopher Nolan would want his movie presented that way.

Saw it in a regular theater (and used a gift card, so I still haven't spent much money on this) and liked it much more. I think a lot of the liking or disliking it is going to come down to the fractured timelines. It worked for me, but I know it won't for others. I didn't have any issues with understanding the dialogue. I'll try to come up with some actual thoughts this week, rather than these very scattered thoughts.

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Re: Dunkirk reviews

Postby danfrank » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:29 am

A good movie, not a great one, and certainly not a masterpiece. It's greatest strength are its visuals and it is indeed quite a marvel to look at. I like that it didn't overexplain what was going on at Dunkirk and that it wasn't gratuitously bloody. What didn't work so well for me were the non-sequential timelines, and I thought it cut from one storyline to the next a bit too rapidly at times. You never got to spend enough time with any character to feel much of anything for them. I also thought that the Cillian Murphy subplot--the "shellshocked" soldier who lands on Mark Rylance's boat--was awkwardly handled. And I agree with Precious Doll that for a film that is aimed at capturing what it was like at Dunkirk, you never get a sense of the scope of the evacuation. There were more than 300,000 troops on that beach but in the film it never looks like there are more than a few thousand.


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