Christopher Nolan Outwitted Again in Dunkirk [u]

Christopher Nolan is highly overrated.  Let’s review:

Following: Caught some of it via VOD.  Don’t remember it well enough, but it started sucking quickly enough that I did not finish.

Memento: A stupid, implausible film.

Insomnia: An utter waste of the talents of Al Pacino and Robin Williams, and a tremendous missed opportunity given the powerful latent elements.  Look at The Machinist for an example of how to use insomnia effectively.

Batman trilogy: Not great; I’ll take Tim Burton over Christopher Nolan any day of the week.

Inception: I saw this before writing my blog, so I don’t remember why I didn’t like it.  But I do remember it wasn’t good.

Interstellar: OK; maybe his best film other than Batman Begins.  But Nolan’s best only reaches a marginal thumbs-up.

And Dunkirk.  I liked the opening sequences, about the first 20-30 minutes, very much.  Nolan very effectively demonstrates the utter futility of the situation.  For that I give him credit.  But then he enters into Balkanized, choppy storytelling that has no flow.  The only thing more futile than the armies’ dire circumstance is the hope that Nolan can convey the powerful story at hand in a way it deserves.

Ultimately, add Dunkirk to the long list of films that show what a hack filmmaker Christopher Nolan is.  This is a great story that I wish Steven Spielberg had made.  5/10

Comparison Notes: Captain Phillips — for how dramatic, edge-of-your-seat true naval adventures should be told.

UPDATE: I just read about the Dunkirk evacuation on Wikipedia.  It was a dire situation, and many lives were lost — but not near so many as Nolan would have you believe: most of the British troops were saved.  Watching Dunkirk, you’d think that only a slim percentage of the army survived.  This looseness with the facts is about enough to drop my rating down another peg.  What a hack.


Docu-Log: The Act of Killing

Within 5-10 minutes of the beginning of this film, I knew what it was about and wondered where do we go from here? The answer is not very far.  Critics were besides themselves with this one; me, I like good movies.

I found the presentation ‘cute’ — and not in a good way.  A straightforward accounting of events would have been much better.  4/10

* * *

Comparison Notes:  The infinitely better Mr. Death

American Sniper Strikes Back

American Sniper - poster

FINALLY!  A good movie about American contemporary war.  After Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty I was beginning to lose faith.  A couple clips nail it:

Kenneth Turan, LA Times:

Eastwood’s impeccably crafted action sequences so catch us up in the chaos of combat we are almost not aware that we’re watching a film at all.

David Denby, The New Yorker:

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is both a devastating war movie and a devastating antiwar movie, a subdued celebration of a warrior’s skill and a sorrowful lament over his alienation and misery.

A great film, one of the best of 2014.  That it was completely absent from the Golden Globes points to a wacky awards season.  Could it be a “sleeper” at the Oscars?  I hope so.  9/10

Film Brief: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game - posterQuite good, old chap.

With a general knowledge — or so I thought — of Britain’s efforts at WWII codebreaking, and my taste for UK period pieces sated by The Theory of Everything, I had no desire to see The Imitation Game.  The steady drumbeat of the Tomatometer convinced me otherwise.

Marketing of this film points toward a simplistic anecdote about one part of the British war effort, but this is more an account of the complex man who drove it.  As such, layers and an arc of story likely bring The Imitation Game into the ever-tightening Top Ten of the year.  8/10