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Dunkirk Film Review

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Since Following, Christopher Nolan has been experimenting with time in his films. You see narrative go by and in the next sequence, there’s something completely new that disrupts the plot. Or so you think. Although it would throw you across the room, it won’t exit you out of the home or the theater that’s sanctuary to what is being ingested. When the next sequence commences, it’s back to the part of the narrative that was pampering you in the first place. What a way to play the mind. What a way to get you be engaged and at the same time, it does not harbor with your emotions and Nolan knows how to do that.

He is always at the tip of the iceberg. Nolan achieved the experimentation of time with his new film, Dunkirk based on true events in World War II where English troops–under heavy sweeps of German forces–are waiting to go home via boats and ships which is literally an eye’s view away and they don’t let it down. The film is great. Coming out of that theater was a great feeling that Nolan has done it. He gave me something to look forward to and that’s the award season. I was lucky to see in its native IMAX 70mm format. The expense of seeing it in that form gives a depth that you can’t get if you see it in a plain, digital screening. If they’re offering you IMAX, it’s because you want to be as closely connected to the film as you possibly can. Why should there be any substitutes? It’s really a privilege and to explain why is a whole other subject. The film is filled with visuals and almost a lack of dialog and I love that. When you think about it and realize it, it’s a very straightforward in an nonlinear order. I love the fact that Nolan decided to the write the screenplay with little dialog from the key cast of the film. To me, what the characters say in that script is good as it is. There’s no trading past experiences, recent war stories, talking about who you’re coming home to; no! The main thing is to survive. That’s what the film is about: survival. All men and women in the film are getting bombed and shot at whether it’s air bombers or u-boats. It’s all in the viewpoint of 3.5 character stories which eventually intersect in the film and I will be honest, the timing of these viewpoints will get you at first. It will make question, “where am I?”. What is the correct order events, you ask. Meanwhile you ponder, the action doesn’t stop. There is always a major event happening to these characters that you immediately wonder if they’re going to survive at all and the music that accompanies it is beautifully composed by Hans Zimmer. For the most part, he knows how to raise the bar. There a couple of sequences where the arrangements are odd, that would fit best in maybe, a sci-fi film. It’s loud but not at all obnoxious. It fills the space whether there is a lot or little on the screen.

Coming back to the film format, there’s so much to look and admire. The cinematography is fucking great and what gets me the most is the aerial cinematography and there’s a lot of it especially in the dogfight scenes that feature Tom Hardy shooting down Germans. The choice of angles cannot be more sure. Those very scenes  up until the ending are not only written very well but directed so precise and almost poetic. Every choreographed move of the planes seem very natural to the viewer and those scenes are in the IMAX stock because there is no black lines on the screen. All of the space is filled. A huge square and it’s unusual to audiences nowadays because that’s a format used back in the early decades of film. A plane in the endless ocean, sometimes is all you need to see in the frame. Soldiers sleeping at the shore. Soldiers lined up, waiting for help. There’s a sense bliss and invincibility when you see the planes because there’s only the planes. There’s nothing else that can touch it. It’s something I haven’t seen Nolan hit and I feel he should do more of the aerial cinematography. The sound design alone is impenetrable. The bullets, if you hear a whizz, a bang, a plunk, it’s all in your face. It surprises you and you definitely don’t know where it’s coming from. You never see a face of a German soldier in this film which is very interesting because, they to, are a part of history in all corners of the world. The thing that represents them are artillery. That itself becomes a character of it’s own because it’s affecting the possible outcomes of the characters and that’s it’s only job.

I was pretty impressed with Harry Styles’ acting. I don’t like the guy but he did a sold job in the film. He stood out without really trying. Even if I didn’t who this person was, it wouldn’t have mattered. I would still feel the same. There was no showboating whatsoever. It shows the discipline that was mentored by Nolan. Obviously. There’s not too much traits in the characters but barely enough for things to move along. It’s not about back-story because there’s nothing that will come out of it. There’s specific goal for each character except to go home. There’s enough at the beginning of the first act. Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Nolan makes you feel all kinds of ways and it’s not overbearing. It’s a real genuine gift that he has and I like that it’s very consistent when you look back to his other films. It’s a strong film even though it’ll scratch your head a couple of times but your eyes will be glued on the screen.

3.5 / 4

By : Ray Salazar

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