dunkirk

[Movie Review] ‘Dunkirk’ is 2017’s Most Pummeling Onslaught of Cinematic Skill

The sights and sounds of war. That’s what Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is all about. Forget character and forget telling individual stories–this movie wants to put the audience on the front lines of land, air and sea to deliver an experience. Make no mistake, Dunkirk is one of the most incredible and unique cinematic experiences you’re likely to experience–and while there are a number of prolific filmmakers, few operate with such technical skill quite like Nolan. 

The film tells the story of British forces trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk simultaneously awaiting rescue and intermittent air attacks at the hands of Nazi forces. Nolan’s focus is that of human resolve and wordless heroism. It is true, there are few characters you can attach yourself too, but that’s not the point. Dunkirk is a film you simply live as an audience member. In the grips of war, the British forces are constantly being bombed from the air as they await military boats to take them home–said boats are themselves under attack, so the soldiers are in a harrowing fight for survival. Dunkirk’s entirety pulls the audience from those breathless sequences to show intercutting sequences of a civilian boat headed to the beach to help save soldiers and the air forces en route to pick off the enemy planes attacking the boats. 

No time is wasted in what might be Nolan’s shortest film to date. We are quite literally dropped into the thick of the fight as bullets whizz by with shocking sonic effect through the speakers. Simply sitting in your chair Dunkirk will drag you through the hell of a period during WWII of great significance–one I was previously ignorant of–but conveys war in an immediate and frighteningly human way. The sheer number of people that are in harms way and how vulnerable they are should not be lost amongst the cinematic weight of the picturesque works of art that art composed to perfection through Nolan’s vision. 

Hans Zimmer’s score ticks away from the opening moments conveying the immediacy of the action happening on screen while the sound design pummels the audience in there seats as though they are themselves on the sands of Dunkirk or alongside Tom Hardy and the breathtaking dogfights. 

The lack of character development will play out subjectively viewer to viewer–some will find it a refreshing take on the war genre, others might feel disconnected to the characters and the life and death circumstances. Nolan’s presentation of war and heroism through relentless action is unconventional to say the least and it’s exciting to be witness to a filmmaker constantly pushing himself and the medium in unexpected ways. 

A few editing woes aside, Dunkirk may be one of the best if not the best Nolan film to date. Arguably just shy of perfection the images on display are unbelievably beautiful and the scope of Nolan’s undertaking has to be considered as close to masterpiece as any working filmmaker can accomplish on a blockbuster scale. 

Rating: A

Beer Recommendation: Prize Old Ale from George Gale & Company Ltd. — I wasn’t quite sure how to pair a war movie with beer, until I was struck with curiosity during one of the final scenes. The scene in question features bottles of beer being handed to characters on a train and at the time I didn’t think to pay much attention to the label nor did I have the forethought or means to zoom in on one. With the help of google and a friend with much better eyes than mine the beer was found!

George Gale’s Prize Old Ale is unfortunately not a beer I’ve had the pleasure of trying, but the brewery has a long history and if Beer Advocate ratings are any indication iterations of the beer are still in circulation (seemingly owned by Fuller’s Brewery now), but with a different look than in Nolan’s Dunkirk. The pictured bottle simulates the label you might see in the movie–or in set photos posted online (like the one below). Since I’ve not consumed the beer, I won’t try to muddle my way through flavor notes (Beer Advocate users can help you there) that vaguely relate to the movie or the experience. Instead, this recommendation comes as a minuscule Easter Egg in history, although should you be holding a bottle or have access you can certainly sit down and toast to the soldiers at the end as you both have endured some version of the Dunkirk experience. 



[Opinion] 2017 Summer Movie Predictions

You have in front of you the only summer movie prediction post guaranteed to get it all wrong. I’m not a Hollywood analyst out there tracking the interest of movie releases, nor am I an avid follower of the people that actually do that sort of thing. I’m just a dude who writes about beer and movie for fun that likes to swing wildly timely trends from time to time. 

Today, it’s ranking this summer’s (2017 for all you futuristic hobos slummin it on the net) movie releases in order of how well I think they’ll do at the box office–just the top ten though. If you read last year’s you already know how comically misinformed this is about it get. Now that we know the game though, let’s just get this over with so I can get back to my case of beer, shall we? 

(1) Spider-Man: Homecoming – With a trio of superhero tinged releases to pick from I am hedging my bets that people losing their sh*t at Spidey’s appearance in Civil War translates to big bucks this year. Or by the end of summer I’ll just go along ignoring how painfully wrong I always am and that’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks. I flip flopped this and number two around several times and I came down to putting this at the top as my Hail Mary. 

(2) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – This could go either way really with my top 2. Personally, I’d rather see this rake up at the box office (I’ve seen it and it’s very good). In the end, it’s my fondness for Chris Pratt and the first flick driving my good will seeing as how this flick is basically everything you loved about the first one except more of it. Plus….baby Groot.  

(3) Despicable Me 3 – I don’t like the Despicable Me movies. I don’t like the minions. Yet, if there’s one thing I know it’s that audiences don’t care what I like and that’s why I think this is gonna make some nice cash. And since I don’t win or lose anything for being wrong, man do I hope it tanks…so we can end this sh*t once and for all. Unless my daughter loves it, in which case I’ll throw my hat into the ring to write the next one which will be rejected for being too depressing and violent. 

(4) Transformers: The Last Knight – Another movie franchise I hate that’s bound for a massive payday. Let’s forget that I have positively reviewed more than one Transformers flick–memory is a nasty thing–these movies are terrible. They are pretty to look at, despite how incomprehensible the action is, but pretty nonetheless. Please, for the love of God can we get anyone besides Bay to direct one of these?!

(5) Wonder Woman – Batman V Superman was so freaking disappointing that I hope Wonder Woman slays critically–but part of me knows it won’t. All the signs point to it being another ho hum DC adaptation that has its cheerleaders, but will fail to impress at Marvel levels. Of course that doesn’t mean it won’t make money–Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad taught us that much. I just don’t think this will do AS well. 

(6) War For the Planet of the Apes – Let’s call this one wishful thinking. I love the new ‘of the Apes’ movies so much that I want this to wreck the box office and prove me wrong by being #1. However, I fear that even at #6 I’m being cautiously optimistic by a long shot. I definitely want a kick ass movie first, but success would be the cherry on top. 

(7) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – It’s been a while so maybe it’s been long enough for the demand for these movies to creep back up. That’s what I’m betting on here at least. If the newest Alice in Wonderland taught us anything it’s that Depp isn’t the draw he once was even doing his annoying dress up schtick. This one could be a bit of a risk as I could see this flopping real hard even if it is well reviewed. 

(8) Cars 3 – Cars 2 was such a dud I’m shocked to even be talking about this. However, this is Pixar and they know how to make money, so it’d be even more shocking to not see this make the top 10. Hell this might even be a case where I’m not being generous enough. 

(9) Baywatch – This one is a real reach for me. I have no idea what kind of cultural pull Baywatch has. It is also going to be a test to see what kind of draw Dwayne Johnson is outside of the Fast & Furious movies (Moana excluded). We know Zac Efron can’t quite do it (Bad Grandpa) so the success of this is going to hinge on how strong the jokes are which should drive the word of mouth combined with The Rock’s star power. 

(10) Dunkirk – The Chris Nolan fanboy in me not only wants this to rake in money, but be of stellar quality. Interstellar didn’t really do it for me, so I’m hoping for a return to Inception and The Dark Knight form. However, being a period piece and not quite of the typical summer blockbuster brand this could fall well outside the top 10. Plus, it’s a late summer flick that won’t have much time to compete with the real heavy hitters. 

**** Wild Cards ****

The Emoji Movie – Let’s face it, we all use them. Some begrungingly, some out of necessity–but we use them. There has to be a curiosity to see how this translates to film and being an animated kids flick it’s going to make money–how much is real tough to tell. Plus, who doesn’t want to see how the poop emoji is handled? If this one lands in the top 10, it’ll be near the middle of the pack and not be as successful as Despicable Me or Cars. 

Alien: Covenant – I just don’t know, man. Prometheus is still a much debated flick to the point that analyzing Alien’s popularity still seems to be “of a type”. Horror buffs are gonna be there with bells on and deal with the love or disappoint on a case by case basis. The masses just might not give a sh*t anymore. If and I mean this is a big if this sneaks into the top 10 it’ll be near the bottom knocking off Dunkirk but be slightly more successful than Baywatch. 

The Mummy – This movie looks awful. I’m not even behind the idea of a this new Universal monster universe reboot as action horror flicks. Maybe I’ll be wrong and it’ll be a fun little popcorn flick–in fact I hope that’s what it is–but simply having Tom Cruise attached does not guarentee box office gold. If this makes it on the list I again believe it’ll at or near the bottom of te lake. 

What do you think will be 2017’s box office winner?