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Tyler

Dunkirk

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Tyler   

Christopher Nolan's next movie will be about the WWII evacuation of Dunkirk.

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Following in the footsteps of Steven Spielberg and Stanley KubrickChristopher Nolan is prepping an epic war movie titled “Dunkirk” about the WWII evacuation of Dunkirk, France. Tom HardyKenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance are in talks to star in the action-thriller, Warner Bros. announced Monday.

The large-scale film will be shot on a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film photography for maximum image quality and high-impact immersion. Shooting will begin in May using many of the real locations of the true-life events, which form the background for the story.

 

Atonement also had a famous Dunkirk scene. 

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It's a good teaser. Nolan's films have generally had strong marketing campaigns. He's successfully branded himself as a name director, for which he deserves some credit. That's very hard to do in today's Hollywood.

I dug Interstellar more than any Nolan film preceding it, so I'm hoping that I'll like Dunkirk, too.

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Spoon   

getting mostly rave reviews but im siding with the 9% on rottentomatoes who are all saying a similar thing - the movie lacks an emotional center. for me, that center is the main reason i loved 'interstellar'.

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Andrew   

Yeah, count me underwhelmed as well.  A few major drawbacks to it:  1) it felt too clinical with its near-total lack of character development; 2) some of the CGI effects were unconvincing; 3) the three separate Inception-esque timelines were quite disorienting at first.  To be sure, there were some very touching moments, especially around Mark Rylance's character and the civilian rescue efforts.  Overall, though, this feels far inferior to Nolan's best work. 

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M. Leary   

If I could have just watched Mark Rylance pilot a boat and Tom Hardy land a plane in IMAX for 1.5 hours, I would be thrilled. That last sequence with Hardy over the beach was really stunning. I am imagining Michael Snow cutting back and forth between the two. 

I otherwise resonate with reservations about the light or clumsy approach to script here. This story about coastal Brits rising to such epic bravery is always so thrilling for me to hear or read about. But every time the script lands heavily on dialogue or plot advance, it just feels like necessary mechanics to prop up the pretty stunning visual work.

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Well, I loved it. The entire film is its emotional center--it's about mise-en-scene more than about particular characters or moments of dialogue. My review.

12 hours ago, M. Leary said:

If I could have just watched Mark Rylance pilot a boat and Tom Hardy land a plane in IMAX for 1.5 hours, I would be thrilled. That last sequence with Hardy over the beach was really stunning.

For having such little dialogue or backstory, their performances are simply remarkable, and quite affecting.

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I'm less interested in Dunkirk as a film in and of itself than I am interested in it as another opportunity to try to puzzle my way through Nolan's unique stew of influences and obsessions. As with seemingly every Nolan film, there doesn't seem to be any underlying logic as to who responds favorably to Dunkirk and who doesn't.

Nolan's very peculiar priorities as a filmmaker--and the ways in which those peculiar priorities play out differently from project to project--continue to fascinate me.

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Tyler   

I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about Dunkirk. I get that having coatracks instead of characters is a feature, rather than an oversight, and that it's central to what I think Nolan was trying to show with the movie. But at the same time, the anonymity of everyone in the story (especially in the Mole parts) kept me at a distance in a way that works against the immediacy of the movie as a whole. Still not sure if that's my problem or Nolan's, though.

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M. Leary   
22 hours ago, Mr. Arkadin said:

I'm less interested in Dunkirk as a film in and of itself than I am interested in it as another opportunity to try to puzzle my way through Nolan's unique stew of influences and obsessions. As with seemingly every Nolan film, there doesn't seem to be any underlying logic as to who responds favorably to Dunkirk and who doesn't.

Nolan's very peculiar priorities as a filmmaker--and the ways in which those peculiar priorities play out differently from project to project--continue to fascinate me.

I do not connect to Nolan (other than Interstellar, which I like a lot). But I do like hearing people describe their connection to a director in this way. What do you think are his primary priorities? There is the obvious technical stuff, which always makes him must-see regardless of what I think about his scripting. Thematically though, what do you see there?

I do think Nolan takes camaraderie seriously kind of an ideal human experience. Memory for sure. But what in Dunkirk strikes you as essentially Nolan?

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I have not yet seen Dunkirk, so I can't comment. I am considering working through those questions in a longer piece after I've seen it.

Interstellar remains the only Nolan film I actually feel personal attachment to, rather than just detached fascination, so we're on a similar page there.

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M. Leary   
2 hours ago, Mr. Arkadin said:

Interstellar remains the only Nolan film I actually feel personal attachment to, rather than just detached fascination, so we're on a similar page there.

I think there is some kind of Interstellar Preference Nolan Club out there. Dude does sci-fi with such aching precision, I wish he would indulge more. The only other director I could compare to Nolan's sci-fi acumen is Tarkovsky, as Solaris is probably the closest companion piece to Interstellar genre-wise. If Nolan could spend the next decade adapting Bradbury, we would all be in his debt. 

Sorry for the off topic post though, I look forward to your responses should you catch Dunkirk.

Edited by M. Leary

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Evan C   

I was back and forth throughout, admiring the ambition and intensity but unsure how I felt about it thematically or formally, until the climax thoroughly won me over, convincing me that Nolan's approach to making the audience survive the rescue mission was a masterstroke.

My review: https://catholiccinephile.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/dunkirk/

 

And for the record, while I admire the scope and ambition of Interstellar more than any Nolan film except Dunkirk, because of the clumsy third act, Interstellar is hands down, my least favorite Nolan film. So, make of that what you will regarding my opinion of Dunkirk.

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24 minutes ago, M. Leary said:

I think there is some kind of Interstellar Preference Nolan Club out there.

If there is, I want to be a card-carrying member.

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I am on the yea side, fwiw, though certainly not one who wants to argue with those who didn't like it.

Perhaps because the last war movie I saw was Hacksaw Ridge, I found myself appreciating the mournful, resigned tone rather than going the route of sensationalizing the violence to the point of fetishizing it. Typically I like a more traditional narrative, but that didn't bother me here because I didn't really need or want it to be any one person's story...the relative anonymity of the characters felt...appropriate...

 

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kenmorefield wrote:
: Typically I like a more traditional narrative, but that didn't bother me here because I didn't really need or want it to be any one person's story...the relative anonymity of the characters felt...appropriate...

I haven't seen this film yet, but I wonder how it would compare to The Longest Day, which used lots of Hollywood stars (as well as up-and-comers like Sean Connery, whose first James Bond film came out a few weeks after The Longest Day did, I think) to *distinguish* its cast of characters, while preventing the movie from becoming any one person's story... The Longest Day is also noteworthy for having prominent French and German characters, which I gather this film doesn't.

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8 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Perhaps because the last war movie I saw was Hacksaw Ridge, I found myself appreciating the mournful, resigned tone rather than going the route of sensationalizing the violence to the point of fetishizing it.

 

I think that's what I admire most about this film. Next to The Thin Red Line, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a war film that felt so... truthful about war. It never succumbs to the cult of masculinity. Hardy's character is the closest thing to a traditional war hero here, but he's all business.

I didn't mind the lack of an emotional center because Nolan's emotional centers tend to feel forced (for me, anyway).

For kicks:

The Dark Knight > The Prestige > Insomnia > Memento > Batman Begins > Dunkirk > Inception > The Dark Knight Rises > Interstellar.

I jotted a bunch of first impressions as Letterboxd.

Edited by Overstreet

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Sam Van Hallgren makes an observation that I remember thinking about during the movie (but forgot when I wrote my first impressions):

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It never felt to me like there were 400,000 thousand men on that beach. I'd believe maybe 5,000? And impossible for me to believe that the relatively small fleet of private boats that Nolan shows us would be capable of evacuating that many men anyway.

 

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Andrew   

THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD

I dunno, I think a golden mean can be found between fetishizing violence (I only made it through 45 min or so of Hacksaw Ridge before turning it off as war porn) and sanitizing it.  With its bloodlessness, Dunkirk erred to the opposite extreme (when bombs drop on a crowded beach, the result will look a whole lot different than what we saw here).

And the dangers endured by the characters here (especially the repeated scenes with water filling compartments) felt too movie cliche to me, such that I never felt the main characters in these scenes were actually in grave danger.

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M. Leary   

On that point, Andrew: " I never felt the main characters in these scenes were actually in grave danger"

I did only when prompted to by the score, which in IMAX was not merely a matter of sound, but a felt experience of alarming rumbles and seat-shaking. This film was the most physical experience I have had in a theater, given what I can only assume was in intentional side effect of the amped up score. And I say "score" loosely, as a lot of this prompting to feel danger came from very low register rumbles, kind of a Zimmer sensory assault (low-flying panic attack?), which was often coupled with gunfire or bombs. At other times it was present beneath engine noise from the airplanes. But then at other occasions, the idea that something life-threatening was about to happen was signaled by a deep, room shaking, crackly base note. I am familiar with this particular kind of sound from various industrial concerts in the 90s.

This was unnerving for me throughout. I get what Nolan was doing technically, or even formally, there. I did somewhat appreciate the sound design around gun activity, as I hate the way films sanitize what guns actually sound like. But the overlap between score and sheer sensory assault rankled my convictions about cinema, verite, and all that.

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M. Leary   
7 hours ago, Overstreet said:

Sam Van Hallgren makes an observation that I remember thinking about during the movie (but forgot when I wrote my first impressions):

 

Yes. The conflation of the "One Week" part of the time sequence does not quite work. I think we are meant to assume that the unseen week passage of time accounts for the massive amount of people movement on the beaches.

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