Entries tagged with “Christopher Nolan”.


I fail to join the chorus of praise from critics and many film fans for Dunkirk. I came with big expectation to this film, not only because I read the critics, but also because is a director whose work I enjoy, who tries and succeeds to surprise in most of his films, in very different genres. This is why Dunkirk, his tentative in the WWII films genre slightly disappointed me. To be clear, it’s a good film on any scale. It’s just not the best on Nolan’s scale, IMO. I really hope that the race to the Academy Awards is not over (as some predict) and better films will show up in the race for the small statues.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5013056/

 

I am lacking in this historical description the element of surprise and innovation that Nolan brought to films like MementoInception, The Prestige, or even Interstellar. What we get instead is an almost docu-drama approach to a historical event that is known well enough so that we need not too much background information and we can face the individual destinies of the heroes. I liked the fact that for most of the film Nolan and the authors of the script avoided the heroic or melodramatic approach and presented war as lived by the soldiers, a bloody chaos which found the young men unprepared not only from a military point of view but also from a personal perspective. War is not a collection of heroic deeds but also or mostly a fight for survival. The trap of melodrama is not completely avoided however, and a few scenes to the end seem to belong rather to another film. So does the character of the British navy commander played by – wasted talent. The other actors are less known and it’s better so, as most are supposed to be the anonymous soldiers who fought for their own lives, some of them with success, some with less luck. A special mention for the excellent musical and sound track which helps a lot the cinematography which is also impressive at many moments.

 

(video source Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

At the end of the movie, when some of the heroes make it alive to Britain, the film leaves the personal contexts of its heroes to refer to the political context of the day, which is for us now the historical context. The trains with the survivors just start to make their ways and the politicians already use the events to push ahead their agenda. Their is a gap between the mess that they just had survived, and the words that describe the facts in the newspapers and in the Parliament. It was a necessary gap, however. Big war stories are built of small personal stories, that sometimes include fear and mistakes. The evacuation at Dunkirk was one of the key moment of WWII. The avoided disaster on the beach at Dunkirk prepared the victory on the beaches of the Normandie in the summer of 1944. The saving of hundred of thousands of soldiers after the 1940 Allied defeat in Europe allowed for the men under arms to be spared the sufferings of being war prisoners,  allowed for regrouping of the forces, the defense of Britain and eventually the turn of fate and victory in the war. It was a key moment in the war. That was not enough to make of  Dunkirk a great movie.

With Inception Christopher Nolan ends a decade in his carrier marked by a series of movies which brought together the best in the traditional Hollywood cinema with intelligent scripts that explore the space beyond reality. His latest film is closer of all his precedent movies to the one that opened the decade and his first success – Memento that he made in 2000 – in being a challenge for the cinema viewers who are asked to do more than just relax and eat popcorn while the story runs for itself.  The sophisticated story of dreams control requires attention beyond the usual visual effects satisfaction granted to science-fiction blockbusters watchers.

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/

The idea that reality may be a controlled dream of ourselves or of some supernatural divinity, that the world is the subjective summation of thoughts and feelings of all living is not new in philosophy, literature or cinema. It gets however more and more attention lately, also due to the increased popularity of virtual reality computer programs and communication. The script of Inception plays well into the genre, with a team of dream controllers taking the apparently impossible mission of getting into the brain of a corporate shark heir in order to change his mind about the destiny of the corporation. The rather non-important pretext allows Nolan to develop a sophisticated web of action scenes in which reality, dreams, dreams in dreams, and yes, dreams in dreams in dreams play the most important role. All the structure is carefully build, and the logic seemed to me perfect during the viewing, and very well supported by visual effects as well as by the explanations given by the characters.

(video source hollywoodstreams)

Yet, this is not enough in my opinion to justify the super-hype created around this film although I agree there are not much better in view around this year, and especially not the #4 where it stands now in the IMDB all-time viewers preferences. With the narrative structure put aside we are left with a rather schematic set of characters, some of them incompletely developed despite the almost 2 and a half hour of duration, with a love story which we have seen too many times for us to be impressed despite Leo’s presence, and with a sometimes questionable choice of actors (Ellen Page?). For a film with such an innovative structure it is surprising how much stuff is borrowed from the typical Hollywood bag of tricks. Action scenes seem to clone a Bond film, and if the story pretext has any importance we never know actually how the intrigue ends but we are served with a very conventional and sentimental rosy style ending instead.On the good side Leonardo DiCaprio is better and better in each film he acts. As in Memento the idea of the movie is mind-blowing. None of them succeed in being the great film they aspire to be, Memento was too cool (in the negative sense, lacking human touch) and Inception is too conventional in the details of its execution. Both are however films to remember coming from a director who does not seem to know how to make forgettable movies which is certainly no little thing.

Detailed information, viewers and critics opinions (404 critic reviews to date!) can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/.