dmc515

Dunkirk (Spoilers)

63 posts in this topic

As a borderline-obsessive Nolan fan, I've been admittedly disappointed with the elder brother's last two offerings.  The ending of Interstellar did not sit well with me, and I agree that Jonah's version would have been much more poignant.  Dark Knight Rises plodded to the finish line of his Batman trilogy, and seemed uncharacteristically sloppy in many parts.  That's not to say I don't love and re-watch both films, but I have high expectations for Nolan films.  And when I read the reviews for Dunkirk, that baseline expectation was risen.  Still, it exceeded it.

I think the most salient criticism of Nolan films is they lack characterization, and subsequently a cohesive narrative.  The former is certainly true here.  Other than Mark Rylance's storyline, the characters are interchangeable, or simply tools to tell the larger story.  And that's where I fundamentally disagree with the common "Nolan movies lack coherence" argument.  

Outside of the Batman trilogy, every film he has made has been focused on telling a story that demonstrates an idea.  It's here that this film excels, in which Nolan shreds away every other aspect of a movie other than constructing the narrative to make his idea come to life.  Nolan had something to say about the Dunkirk evacuation, and what it said about war and human nature and the human spirit.  In that way, this is a beautifully unique film undertaken by an artist at the peak of his powers.  But yeah, the score and inability to hear dialogue at times still sucks.  Not as bad as DKR though.

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The soundtrack was great, and I had no issue hearing any of the dialogue, such as it was... maybe a theatre issue?


Anyway, in terms of the pared back narrative, it reminded me in a way of Mad Max Fury Road- just bang straight in with the action and almost all characterisation was conducted through how the characters behaved in that action, with relatively minimal dialogue and almost no pauses for clarification or exposition. Both had an almost silent-film aesthetic despite being REALLY REALLY LOUD... I think Mad Max did that slightly better, in terms of building the characters from it at least, but I didn't think it was a real issue here. In fact possibly the weakest strand of character building was the one where they did the most traditional talking-things-out, with the boy on the boat.


I'm very glad that Nolan did something a bit simpler here, because I'm a big fan of his earlier films but for me, Inception, TDKR and Interstellar all bit off more than they could chew and, yes, lost control of their own narrative and got very sloppy. Here, he did a clever narrative structure but other than that it was one simple core concept and no frills and it just allowed Nolan to really show off his increasing mastery of spectacle, and of scene-by-scene narrative.

All-in-all, it was great.

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Watching Dunkirk this week, I'm excited.

I will defend TDKR till the day I die. Yes it has sloppy moments, but of all the Dark Knight movies its the most fun and emotionally resonant, the most comic-booky if you will. Its probably my favourite, especially as my opinion of TDK has dropped on numerous rewatches.

Interstellar is a bit of a miss though, Nolan does need to reign it in a little.

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22 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

Here, he did a clever narrative structure but other than that it was one simple core concept and no frills and it just allowed Nolan to really show off his increasing mastery of spectacle, and of scene-by-scene narrative.

That's true, but I encourage him biting off more than he can chew, for the most part.  It's why I don't just teach the rest of my life.  If Nolan wasn't finding ways to be ambitious, I fear he would get bored with filmmaking altogether.  At least he seems like that type of personality to me.

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I was expecting a bit more story to the film, but I thought it was a pretty good theater experience.  I saw it in 70MM like a true cinerd, and it did its job at creating 100 minutes of almost non-stop tension.

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Posted (edited)

 

5 minutes ago, dmc515 said:

That's true, but I encourage him biting off more than he can chew, for the most part.  It's why I don't just teach the rest of my life.  If Nolan wasn't finding ways to be ambitious, I fear he would get bored with filmmaking altogether.  At least he seems like that type of personality to me.

I totally applaud the ambition, and I prefer a grand ambitious (mostly) failure to a limp, never-attempted failure. When he gets it right, it's great.

But I'm not going to (or be able to) ignore the flaws I see just because they came from worthy aims. And I think he's been guilty of lack of quality-control on his scripting at times in those three named.

I don't want him to stop reaching, but I felt it might be good for him to take a step back and try something different than constantly trying to mind-bend the audience, and it seems to have worked out.

Edited by polishgenius

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2 minutes ago, PetyrPunkinhead said:

I was expecting a bit more story to the film, but I thought it was a pretty good theater experience.  I saw it in 70MM like a true cinerd, and it did its job at creating 100 minutes of almost non-stop tension.

Yeah I liked the 70mm - it was much more worthwhile than watching Hateful Eight in the format, even though I adored that movie...mostly for the dialogue.  Tarentino should totally write a Nolan movie.

2 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

But I'm not going to (or be able to) ignore the flaws I see just because they came from worthy aims. And I think he's been guilty of lack of quality-control on his scripting at times in those three named.

I don't want him to stop reaching, but I felt it might be good for him to take a step back and try something different than constantly trying to mind-bend the audience, and it seems to have worked out.

Totally agreed - except I'll defend Inception to the ends of the earth.

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There's a lot to love in it, but I felt Nolan really did lose control of his narrative at the end, all the more egregiously because he specifically laid out a bunch of rules earlier on and then broke most of them. Thought other films, like the original Total Recall and Satoshi Kon's Millenium Princess and Paprika both, did similar ideas better.


Don't wanna go to into it in a Dunkirk topic though... suffice to say I don't hate it or anything, and it probably annoyed me more because of the huge expectations I had of Nolan going in.


Ha, Tarantino and Nolan, dream combo.

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1 minute ago, polishgenius said:

Ha, Tarantino and Nolan, dream combo.

Yeah it was more a flippant joke.  In terms of egos, it'd never work.  In terms of styles, it probably shouldn't.  Can you imagine a Tarantino monologue in a Nolan movie?  Instead of Churchill speeches we'd have four-letter words half the time.  It is fun to think about.

4 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

Don't wanna go to into it in a Dunkirk topic though... suffice to say I don't hate it or anything, and it probably annoyed me more because of the huge expectations I had of Nolan going in.

Agreed.  Arguing about Inception was pointless when it came out, let alone now.  It's an interesting tabula rosa in terms of criticism - one can find fault or defend virtually every aspect of the film with equal validity.

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3 minutes ago, dmc515 said:

Yeah it was more a flippant joke.  In terms of egos, it'd never work.  In terms of styles, it probably shouldn't.  Can you imagine a Tarantino monologue in a Nolan movie?  Instead of Churchill speeches we'd have four-letter words half the time.  It is fun to think about.

I would be interested to see how Nolan shoots a Tarantino dialogue scene, tbh.

And one thing both love is fucking around with timelines, although Nolan usually has more purpose to it.

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5 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

I would be interested to see how Nolan shoots a Tarantino dialogue scene, tbh.

And one thing both love is fucking around with timelines, although Nolan usually has more purpose to it.

LOL.  Nolan would make a 3 minute Tarantino dialogue scene last 20 minutes.

Not sure about Tarantino having less purpose to his splicing.  Nolan's reasons are more straightforward, to be sure, but the only really pointless jumps I can think of with Tarantino is Inglorious Bastards, in which the structure leading to the third act seemed to be rather arbitrary in general.  I suppose Jackie Brown just gets annoying after awhile too, but that's all I can think of (not counting Deathproof which I've never bothered with).

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Posted in the what are you watching thread the other day but I didn't love it for multiple reasons. 

 

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A very good movie, though not one I would care to re-visit many times.

The cinematography, the soundtrack, and the sounds effects were all excellent. The sound of the Stukas was truly terrifying. The acting was good, but this was not a movie meant for strong acting performances. The story was simplistic, and I wish it showed more of the overall war situation. I was initially irritated on how Nolan chose to tell the story with the different timelines. Between this, Inception and Interstellar, Nolan must really obsessed about time relativity. In the end, though, I thought this choice paid off, and I found the last third of the movie to be really strong on all levels.

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I thought it was great, possibly one of the best movies I've seen this year and one of the few big blockbuster movies out there that has some level of artistic integrity.

As with most Nolan movies the sound design is what pushes it above most other films. The way they used music and sound to keep the tension growing for about 2 hours is a really impressive achievement. I could feel the tension in my body the entire way through. 

Whats great is that I never thought I'd enjoy a movie about Dunkirk, a story that is hardly a happy period in British History, and a tale about running away. But Nolan has made a movie that I came out of feeling very satisfied. 

Also the Tom Hardy dogfights were fantastic, you watch this in comparison to some of the other attempts at planes fighting in recent years. There has been an overuse of obvious looking CGI and flashy camera angles in recent years, but Nolan went down the realism route and it succeeded because of it.

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I absolutely loved the look and feel of it, but I missed the first 2 or 3 minutes because my friend turned up late. I was very confused with the 3 story lines. So did the Mole storyline take place over a week, the Sea storyline over a day and the Air storyline over an hour? It felt confusing jumping back and forth in time, though I think the way they tied together at the end was satisfying.

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6 hours ago, Stannis Eats No Peaches said:

I was very confused with the 3 story lines. So did the Mole storyline take place over a week, the Sea storyline over a day and the Air storyline over an hour?

Yes.  This is emphasized in the first few minutes with supertitles.

19 hours ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Also the Tom Hardy dogfights were fantastic, you watch this in comparison to some of the other attempts at planes fighting in recent years. There has been an overuse of obvious looking CGI and flashy camera angles in recent years, but Nolan went down the realism route and it succeeded because of it.

Agreed, I could actually follow the coherence of the dogfights - that may be a first - which is definitely due to him eschewing CGI.

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Posted (edited)

On 7/24/2017 at 1:34 AM, dmc515 said:

Yeah it was more a flippant joke.  In terms of egos, it'd never work.  In terms of styles, it probably shouldn't.  Can you imagine a Tarantino monologue in a Nolan movie?  Instead of Churchill speeches we'd have four-letter words half the time.  It is fun to think about.

We will fight on the fucking beaches, we will fight on the goddamn landing grounds. We will bust a motherfucking cap in that nazi ass in the fucking fields and in the shitting streets, If these piece of shit Jerry fucks hit me in a dream they better wake up and apologize. I'm about to go medieval on this Hun ass. 

Edited by Manhole Eunuchsbane

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On 7/24/2017 at 3:34 AM, dmc515 said:

Yeah it was more a flippant joke.  In terms of egos, it'd never work.  In terms of styles, it probably shouldn't.  Can you imagine a Tarantino monologue in a Nolan movie?  Instead of Churchill speeches we'd have four-letter words half the time.  It is fun to think about...

Agreed, it'd be an interesting exercise in film. Have Quentin write different scenes for different directors to do and maybe put it together as anthology film. Putting aside the Tarantino/Nolan fanfic colab, I truly wish we'd see another anthology film like the Twilight Zone Movie or Four Rooms. 

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I enjoyed this a lot. Like others have mentioned I found "interstellar" frustratingly flawed. This one is a return to form and quite different from his other films in that it's quite straight-forward (besides some narrative tricks) and focuses on the event. This is a good thing given the dialogue/characterisation was the worst aspect of interstellar.

He immerses you in the event completely and while I came out of it not really knowing any of the characters I felt like I could empathise with what they had been through which can be just as important. I liked how Nolan didn't rely on gore at all yet still got the terror and confusion across.

I'm not sure it will have as much of a rewatch factor as most of his other films do but I 100% see where Nolan is coming from with his vendetta against Netflix and what he perceives as an attempt by them to destroy cinema. Unless you have a massive screen and a great sound system, this film really needs to be seen at a cinema.

Although I was left thinking that spitfires have incredible gliding capabilities at the end of the film, that's my only real quibble with it.

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Peter Hitchens posted a very negative review of Dunkirk.

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2017/07/dunkirk-considered-at-length.html

By the sounds of things I'll probably agree with Hitchens if I ever see it (although I don't plan to because I don't like WW2 films that much). That being said, I did quite like Interstellar and principally because of the spectacle/atmosphere: I did not think much of the plot or the father/daughter dynamic. The main actor was also an awful mumbler.

 

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