Dunkirk (2017): Christopher Nolan Places The Audience At The Heart Of The Dunkirk Evacuation To Tedious Results (Review)

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
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Dunkirk tells the true story of the evacuation of allied soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, France during World War II. The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy and is directed by Christopher Nolan (Insomnia, The Dark Knight, Inception).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

Let me share a personal tidbit about myself: one of my biggest fears is the prospect of being placed in the deep sea to which I will drown almost instantaneously because I can’t swim and large bodies of water freak me out. There are certain moments throughout Dunkirk where many characters are jumping ship or are faced with the task of attempting to stay afloat when nothing is under them and I truly felt a sense of unease during it. There are a handful of sequences director Christopher Nolan manages to execute extremely well where you’re placed squarely in the shoes of the soldiers as torpedoes are being shot at them and bullets are piercing through whatever form of refuge they’re in. Everything occurring prior to these sequences, unfortunately, are rather a slog to get through. By no means am I advocating for mindless action droning on or disgustingly brutal violence to get my goat going, however when you catch yourself wondering when the next set piece will occur rather than remaining enthralled with the characters on screen, this is somewhat of an issue.

As Dunkirk features as ensemble cast, there were only a few who I believe were the true standouts – Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy (the second husband in my dreams behind my everlasting love, Matt Damon). These three and their stories were the ones I was most intrigued with and I honestly would’ve been fine with watching a separate version of the film solely based on the experiences of their characters. Harry Styles certainly surprised me as the film progressed and his character was given much more to work with. Murphy and Rylance’s chemistry was immediate with the former giving an incredible portrayal of a soldier with clear signs of PTSD (Murphy heavily researched on the then-unnamed disease and it definitely shows on screen). And, of course, there’s Tom Hardy… Is there any role that man can’t do? What he manages to convey with a simple frustrated glance is a talent I will forever be dumbfounded by.

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Tom Hardy’s upper facial region is spectacular | Warner Bros.

The other members of the cast certainly gave serviceable performances. As we weren’t given much to learn about their characters, there simply wasn’t enough to grow an emotional attachment with which is obviously not to suggest that I didn’t care for their unimaginable plight. I actually found myself feeling more connected to the extras like the injured and poor doomed nurses! SPOILER When that one nurse was distributing blankets and referred to one of the soldiers as “love”, I felt a pang in my stomach that this woman will probably die. END SPOILER Those little personality subtleties can go a ridiculously long way and although I didn’t hate any of the main cast, unlike the aforementioned Big Three, their respective characterizations could’ve been handled much better.

| Check Out These 13 BTS Images From Your Favourite Movies |

Nolan has let it be known that he aimed for the PG-13 rating for Dunkirk as he strove to depict a “survival story” that focuses on the suspenseful components of the work rather than the “bloody aspects of combat.” While this is an admirable goal and one that someone of Nolan’s calibre should be able to accomplish, combining the lack of care for these characters and the sanitized violence makes the film feel rather lackluster.

I don’t need a hand-holding kumbaya to feel anything for Fionn Whitehead’s character, however if we’re going to be focused on these individuals for the duration of the run time, I want to see the appallingly horrendous conditions the real life soldiers experienced. I want to feel the grime on my hands and the sweat on my forehead. Nolan has also stated that he didn’t want the film to be “bogged down in the politics of the situation” which is all well and good, unfortunately any form of context was rarely given at all so we were left with higher-ups discussing various plans I could only decipher bits and pieces of. Don’t spoon feed me but damn it, don’t make me construct the spoon.

Imagine what could’ve been had Dunkirk tracked the nine psychologically grueling days these soldiers experienced through the vision of an R-rated Christopher Nolan. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Dunkirk?

The technical components of Dunkirk are phenomenal. There is no two ways about it, from the opening sequence to the conclusion, the sound design and editing are at the top of their game – particularly the sound. You truly feel your stomach growing weary as the bomber jets are approaching and there is nowhere to hide. That opening was incredibly well done, the not knowing affected me the most as you’re aware of imminent danger yet you’re essentially handcuffed until you find some semblance of a sanctuary. 

Lest we forget that sound of Nolan’s ticking pocket watch mixed and synthesized via the genius mind of his frequent collaborator Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar) which ties the film beautifully together. 

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]

If you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan, you’ve probably watched this film already. If you’re looking for an impactful ride regardless of who is depicted on screen and interested in an event not nearly enough people know about, check out Dunkirk.

Dunkirk receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads.

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War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017): A Fitting Conclusion To Caesar’s Journey Complete With All The Slo-Mo Deaths One Could Hope For (Review)

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[Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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War For The Planet Of The Apes is the third installment of the recent Apes trilogy which follows Caeser (Andy Serkis) and his band of merry apes as they attempt to live out their lives in peace and harmony, however the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his band of shitty humans just can’t allow that to happen. The film also stars Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller and is directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

I’ve always resented the phrase “what are you, an animal??” Because there are instances throughout history where animals have acted with more humanity than actual human beings. The recent Apes trilogy has been a fascinating journey and insight into the character of Caeser portrayed flawlessly in all three films by Andy Serkis with the assistance of the spectacularly talented mo-cap VFX team. War provides a masterful conclusion for Caeser and a fitting goodbye to a friend we’ve all grown immensely attached to since 2011 with Rise. Throughout the film, there are emotionally heavy sequences that feature typical tricks to pull as much as it can on your heart strings (melancholic piano notes, slow mo). While there were a few moments where I felt myself rightfully tearing up, I believe it could’ve been toned down just a smidgen since certain sequences felt majorly drawn out. 

There have been some to criticize the film for its lack of traditional “war” sequences, that is, if you’re going into it expecting bombastic action sequence after bombastic action sequence featuring apes on unicorns shooting RPGs at a wall of humans, you will be sorely disappointed. For myself, I rather enjoyed the focal point being the brutal relationship between the apes and humans since it’s such a great concept that the film explores relatively well. The motivations for all the characters were clear and while Woody Harrelson‘s mustache-twirling antagonistic ways made me roll my eyes occasionally, I understand why he holds such a deep hatred for the apes… There was an actual moment, however, where he blurts out something like “YOU’RE SO EMOTIONAL!” and I couldn’t hold it in. 

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[Credit: 20th Century Fox]
An aspect I thoroughly enjoyed with the film was the introduction of its newer characters. Steve Zahn’s presence is made known in every single film he’s in yet many general audiences have no idea who he is which is frankly quite criminal in my eyes. His portrayal of Bad Ape is absolutely brilliant and provides much needed breaths of comic relief during the latter half of the film. Easily the standout performance for me (besides the obvious Serkis and Zahn) is 13-year-old Amiah Miller (Lights Outwho portrays Nova, a young girl unable to speak who is befriended by the apes. Virtually every time she was on screen I was fixated completely on her performance, particularly during her interactions with Maurice (Karin Konoval). Would I pay for a spin-off series where we watch various hijinks ensue with Nova and Maurice? Absofuckinglutely.

There is some pretty brutal imagery in the film that I didn’t expect would pack such a punch but it did tenfold. I’m able to tolerate all the blood, guts and violence seen in a shitty underground guerrilla flick, however when it comes to the idea of a living being treating a fellow living being (regardless of species) as if they are genuinely as important as a speck of dirt, it just turns my stomach. I like how far they went with the depiction of such atrocities, as much as a PG-13 would allow anyway.

While I enjoyed how events unfolded for the most part, an aspect I really wish was executed better was in the actual camp itself. I’m unable to say it without spoilers so here be a warning: SPOILERS I can accept the random stumbling onto the underground tunnel even though it seemed a bit of a deus ex machina. What really irked me was the idea that there was just wide open holes inside and surrounding the camp that nobody managed to realize while on duty or simply walking around. Had there been some type of actual covering or even a plank of fucking wood, I would’ve relatively accepted it for what it was. However this was a glaring thing I couldn’t forgive because it could’ve been solved so simply. END SPOILER. The guards were also wildly incompetent somehow especially during a specific sequence in the camp involving a guest’s ability to seemingly turn invisible in the face of adversity. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of ‘War’?

Matt Reeves clearly knows how to frame these shots to thoroughly highlight the mo-capped actors’ expressions. The tense sequences were executed well and because of the remarkable minds behind the visual effects, it is gorgeous looking albeit incredibly dreary overall (possibly because of the whole “war” thing). Michael Giacchino’s (LOST, Spider-Man: Homecoming) score is ridiculously impactful, I love that man’s work and this is another stellar addition to his composing works.

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[Credit: 20th Century Fox]

If you’ve been invested in the Apes trilogy and are looking for a brilliantly beautiful conclusion to the arc of Caeser, check out War For The Planet Of The Apes.

War For The Planet Of The Apes receives 3.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: 20th Century Fox

Cast Away (2000)

 

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Credit: 20th Century Fox

Stan: We buried you. There was a coffin, a gravestone… the whole thing.
Chuck Noland: I had a coffin?
[Stan nods]
Chuck: Well what was in it?


Starring: Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, Helen Hunt as Kelly Frears and Nick Searcy as Stan, dir. Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future, Forrest Gump).

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Cinematographer: Don Burgess (Spider-Man, Forrest Gump, Allied)

 

Cinemagraph source: orbo
‘cast away’ distributor: 20th Century Fox

 

‘Bumblebee’ Spinoff Rounds Out Cast With A Handful Of Fresh Faces — Can A Solo Film Transform The Franchise?

The monster money machine that is Paramount’s Transformers franchise hopes to continue its ridiculously successful run at the box office with its upcoming slate of prequels and spinoffs that will form the Transformers Cinematic Universe.

Despite the latest installment of the series, The Last Knight, failing to achieve the same financial feats as its predecessors, the franchise as a whole has totaled over $3 billion which indicates the audience that does adore the Michael Bay-powered depiction of robotic violence adores it hard.

The upcoming Bumblebee will kick start the TCU (rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) and we now have the names of the young cast that will lead the spinoff. THR reports Jason Drucker (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Abby Quinn (Landline), Rachel Crow (Rio 2), Ricardo Hoyos (Degrassi: Next Class) and Gracie Dzienny (Zoo) are all in various stages of negotiations. While these names may not necessarily be cause for celebration, others who are involved in the production and the rumored plot details of the film definitely generates some sense of intrigue… As much intrigue as a Transformers spinoff may ever generate.

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Credit: Paramount Pictures

‘Bumblebee’ Has The Power To Successfully Usher In A New Audience For Transformers

When it comes to the past decade of Michael Bay’s “critic-proof” Transformers films, I haven’t been a fan myself, however I do enjoy hearing the sheer joy it brings to many moviegoers. Although the financial performance by The Last Knight certainly isn’t terrible, audiences may be growing tired of witnessing the same bombastic visual junk (with little focus on having any sort of emotional core) that the franchise has become infamous for. Even those who voice their disdain for the Transformers franchise the most may admit the first installment with Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox wasn’t that bad. Truly the relationships depicted between the otherworldly metallic species appealed more to certain audience members than any of the human characters.

Among the previously mentioned bunch, the Bumblebee prequel/spinoff will also star Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and most notably, the incredibly talented Hailee Steinfeld who exceeded all expectations in last year’s Edge Of Seventeen. As we’ve seen time and time again, a great cast is never a promise for an equally great movie (as evidenced by Sir Anthony Hopkins whose wallet miraculously wandered its way into the latest Transformers). As there are a number of new talents sprinkled throughout Bumblebee, expectations for the film will be lowered drastically since audiences will now be happy if the new cast simply doesn’t suck. The addition of Steinfeld is a major advantage for those interested in her phenomenal work and hope to see her in a big budget blockbuster.

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Credit: STX Entertainment

The director for the film is frankly why I’m as excited as I am. Travis Knight’s directorial debut was last year’s criminally under-appreciated Kubo And The Two Strings – an example of an “original” movie people clamor for yet never take the time out to watch it because it’s an original property. Besides all the brilliant components of that stop motion picture, what Knight managed to accomplish with the emotional aspect of Kubo and its enchanting world made it as great as it was, hopefully that brilliance is able to be captured in Bumblebee.

Plot details have not been released officially yet, however the rumored details surrounding it sounds next to perfect – Bumblebee will serve as a prequel to the main film series and focus on Bumblebee’s life during the 1980s. The film will follow Steinfeld’s character and a group of her friends as they team up to help Bumblebee. Watching a straight prequel for one of the greatest autobots in the franchise set during an exhilarating time period with a (hopefully) talented young cast? Call me crazy but sign me up!

Bumblebee is slated for a June 8th, 2018 release and if it does well, expect 14 more Transformers spinoffs that will most likely range from When Optimus Prime Visited The DMV to Mr. Magorium’s Robotic Testicle Emporium.

(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

The Revenant (2015)

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[Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Hugh Glass: I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’d done it already.


Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald, Domhnall Gleeson as Andrew Henry and Will Poulter as Jim Bridger, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu.

| The Revenant (2015) Review |

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Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki (Children Of Men, Gravity, Birdman)

 

cinemagraph source: orbo

Veteran Spoiler-Keeper Emilia Clarke Admits Talking About ‘Star Wars’ Is Much Scarier Than ‘Game Of Thrones’

Emilia Clarke is no stranger when it comes to projects that require her to stay quiet about virtually every single detail. In fact, her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game Of Thrones has fully prepared the Mother of Dragons for how to dodge questions about her mysterious female lead in the upcoming Han Solo anthology film.

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[Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm]

For both Star Wars and Game of Thrones, remaining tight-lipped about every aspect is a requirement for cast and crew. Both have become known for their ‘spoiler free’ approach in order to please fans. Well, for anyone wondering which ridiculously anticipated project is the most intimidating to talk about during interviews, Clarke has the answer for you.

In an interview with The Independent, Clarke revealed what she’s allowed to tell the press:

“I genuinely can’t tell you anything other than Alden [Ehrenreich, who plays Han Solo] is magnificent, and it’s a delight to do something on that level with really cool actors and nice people. But it’s even scarier talking about that than Game of Thrones.”

Game Of Thrones | HBO

 

As a seasoned veteran of keeping secrets about the biggest series on television, this is incredibly telling of just how much Disney wants to keep details under wraps. Unlike what she experiences with Game of Thrones and the latest season, Clarke read the screenplay for the film, which means she technically knew more about what will happen to Han Solo than many Game of Thrones characters.

According to the actress, the creative team on the TV series strives to keep everyone – including the actors – in the dark about what will occur during the upcoming seasons. Funnily enough, this makes it easier for her to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers because she has genuinely no idea what will happen next:

“No one knows anything. No one is told anything. It’s all crazy. It’s a secret from the cast. We generally can’t be trusted. They pretty much have told us so.”

Just like Jon Snow, we know nothing | HBO

What We Know So Far About Solo

As is with every upcoming Star Wars property, if anyone even contemplates uttering a detail they will probably be silenced by a skilled bounty hunter. The film is still referred to as the Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film, but there are rumblings that a fan favorite Jedi named Drysdon Vos may appear.

What we definitely know is that the film will cover a six-year time period, taking the beloved character from 18 to 24. We will learn how Han befriends a Wookiee named Chewbacca and see the game where he wins the Millennium Falcon from a young Lando Calrissian, portrayed by Donald Glover.

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[Credit: Lucasfilm]

The Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Joonas Suotamo and hits theaters on May 25th, 2018.

While we wait for the return of Han Solo on the big screen, you can see Emilia Clarke reprise her role as Daenerys Targaryen in season 7 of Game of Thrones which currently airs Sundays on HBO.

(Source: Screenrant)
featured image credit: HBO

Would you prefer knowing spoilers for ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Game of Thrones’? Let me know in the comments below!

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (2011) (Review)

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[Credit: CBS Films]
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Salmon Fishing In The Yemen follows Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) and Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) as they attempt to bring a wealthy sheikh’s vision of fly-fishing in Yemen to fruition. The film also stars Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas and is directed by Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Casanova, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale).


Upon reading the synopsis for Salmon Fishing, I genuinely thought it would be one of those films that appealed the most to someone like myself. The slow-burner flick that places emphasis on the characters and their development while the simple plot is progressed and concluded at the end of its shorter run-time. In the most extreme examples, something like Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy or the film that makes jury duty invigorating, 12 Angry Men – these grade-A films manage to enthrall the viewer with its phenomenal writing and intriguing characters while having arguably some of the simplest plot synopsises in film history (ie. so a couple walk around a beautiful city for three films and 12 jurors are stuck debating a murder case…)

While Salmon Fishing is heightened with its cast of brilliantly talented actors and hysterical British humour, it ultimately falls flat with its vast pacing issues and (I hate to say it) rather unlikable characters. Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor give delightful performances despite the predictability of where their characters would end up from the getgo and strange reasonings for why their respective relationships fall apart – Alfred’s wife Mary (Rachael Stirling) neglects to tell him when she’s going on a work trip and wants him to keep his comfy government job because it’s fantastic money for working in the frigging Ministry Of Fisheries. Harriet, who kicks all the ass with her financial advising, and her boyfriend Robert (Tom Milson) have dated for 3 weeks and he must go to war so she and Alfred can bond over their mutual troubles. I understand the various intricacies involved with relationships and of course I’m aware that my condensed version isn’t the only reason for them to have issues. Unfortunately the combined charisma of Blunt and McGregor wasn’t enough for me to give any kind of care for their characters and their journey to getting together. I’d also like to reiterate on that pacing issue as this film is less than 2 hours long, however it felt painstakingly longer. No amount of beauty emanating from Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt is worth it.

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[Credit: CBS Films]

Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) was also a walking Hallmark card. Everything that came out his mouth related to the existential struggle of a person and he was the source of plenty of the cheesiness involved with the film. If anything, Conleth Hill was the standout of the film with his portrayal of Bernard, the lethargic boss of Alfred’s. His “I-am-completely-over-this” face his character had throughout the film and his various quips made me pine for a spinoff where it just shows his everyday experience at the Fisheries Ministry.

Humour Resides Where Men Believe It Resides

The strength of the film lies with those quips that had me laughing out loud. I’d occasionally snap out of the monotonous funk I was in courtesy of the witty dialogue uttered out of Alfred and the hilarious messages between the Prime Minster and his Press Secretary, Patricia (Kristin Scott Thomas). I’m a lover of the dryest of the dry humour (the dryer the better, I always say) and thankfully the humour present in the film made me enjoy it as much as I had.

Lest we forget that disgustingly gorgeous Scottish Highlands backdrop I first noticed in 2012’s Skyfall. Thanks to that James Bond installment, I will now perpetually notice any film where such a lush and beautiful landscape is featured.

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Skyfall | Columbia Pictures

If you’re looking for a visually and humorously pleasing film with some stellar actors portraying less than stellar characters, check out Salmon Fishing In The Yemen.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen receives 2.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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