Let me clarify a few things at the beginning of this review. First, the star-rating in this review will most probably change over time. Secondly, Dunkirk is directed by Christopher Nolan, and keeping this aspect in consideration, I will not think of it as a war film; its point of measure – at least artistically and critically – will be Nolan’s filmmaking tilts. Thirdly, yes, the arguments I make may not really make much sense to many; like Nolan, who makes his films works of personal whims, I hold the right to form an opinion on those same parallel lines.
With this declaration out of the way, let me attest in all fairness that Dunkirk may well be a minor masterpiece of cinema. Nolan, as writer and director, takes an uncommon catastrophic historical event – the Dunkirk Operation, where civilians with boats helped evacuate British and French battalions cornered on the seaside town called Dunkirk – and makes it a motion picture with a façade of linear narrative.
Dunkirk unfolds in three sections: The Mole (not the animal, though being Nolan, there is wordplay involved), where the troops are stranded on the beach without military support – this story unfolds in a weeks’ time; The Sea, in which everyday people rally to Winston Churchill’s call to help them – the section, spans one day’s duration; and The Air, a one-hour period where three Royal Air Force pilots fly off to support the operation.
The last bit stars Tom Hardy, who like the rest of the film’s cast, is not referred to by name in the film and does not have much in the dialogue department. Nolan also keeps him strapped in a Spitfire’s cockpit behind a pilot’s mask and helmet, limiting him to variation of close-up shots and a few grunts.
With 75 per cent of his face covered in flight gear, Hardy’s character (named Farrier in the closing credits), is the epitome of what old-time South Asian film directors demanded of their actors: to act with their eyes. It’s not like Hardy had any choice in the matter.
The three time-frames converge much later in the film and I doubt if the audience may be able to distinguish their relevance.
Do I fault Nolan for making such a decision? I don’t think so. His narrative – and thankfully in the film, his edit – are airtight.
Filming Dunkirk in Panavision 65 and IMAX 65mm cameras (they are literally, beasts; very difficult to lug around on set), the frame’s vista is huge and dimensional. Coupled with real extras, vehicles and props (the film hired or refabricated real relics of the era, including planes and boats for authenticity), Dunkirk feels tangible.
The film doesn’t indulge in much dialogue, nor do you really get to know your characters, or if the director even has the classic (and the justifiably limiting) three act story structure in his narrative. But for once, you agree with most – if not all – of his decisions, and hold absolute judgement for later sessions. •
It is with unflinching belief, I attest, that the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise is one of cinemas best reincarnation of a previously hailed landmark movie. I would even go as far as to label the current franchise a landmark motion picture, both individually and as a set of films.
Years ago, like most people, I was floored by the end of the original Planet of the Apes (1968), and somewhat disappointed by its sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), where – spoiler alert – the Earth actually dies after an atomic bomb is set-off.
Three sequels followed: Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1971-73), where two Apes – Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter)– using the rocket from the second film, unknowingly travel back in time after the events of the first film.
Both Escape and Conquest create a time-paradox. The Apes evolutionary origin become a byproduct of looping time (the Apes were evolved to their talking states in all five films; it is in this state they arrive on Earth, creating an infinite loop that runs in circles). They also start a level-headed moral critique on racism.
The apes, initially accepted by us humans, are forced to become the enemy. Mankind fights them off, initially, becoming de-evolved in the process of war. By Conquest, the franchise had introduced Caesar (again played by McDowall), Cornelius’ son and the fabled leader of the primates.
In the rebooted franchise – which eschews the predictability and familiarity of 1968 and 1970 movies – we get to know Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) in his full human potential. He is an ape, yes, but every fibre of his being is in conflict.
In Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), he is born out of an experiment. By Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), he leads a revolution.
Today, in War for the Planet of the Apes, an epic film of action, morally relevant and cinematic drama and trivia, we see him culminating a journey. War sees Caesar desperate to save his family and community.
The film, written excellently by Mark Bomback and director Matt Reeves, changes a lot of conventions in its 2-hour 20-minute runtime. Initially, the film is about escape, survival and betrayal. Next is the journey, and finally it becomes a prison escape movie,complete with a classic militaristic score that echoes the feel of composer Elmer Bernstein’s works (War’s background score is by Michael Giacchino) and humour.
In fact, by the climax I could feel I was in the middle of The Great Escape (1963) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). By the epilogue, the filmharks of Biblical themes (The Ten Commandments (1956), comes to mind) I think Reeves felt the need to expand the film far from conventionality. Like Dunkirk, the three-act story structure – which becomes predictable because of its frequent use – is left out. Instead War functions are three individual episodes, tied in together. Each complete in its own right.
The film’s story is in favour of the simians, yes – however, when one least expects it, War, becomes a story of desperate ideals. Late in the film, Caesar has a conversation with a Colonel played by Woody Harrelson, which shifts the story’s landscape.
The Colonel, and his battalion, called the Alpha-Omega wants to kill apes and humans who may be infected by the second film’s virus. This is bad news, because the Colonel will not shy away from killing human civilians and children. For narrative stake, one such child, a barely teenage mute-girl called Nova, is in Caesar’s care. (Trivia buffs may find Nova’s name familiar: she was the human heroine played by actress Linda Harrison in Beneath and its prelude. Also: Colonel’s Alpha-Omega was the name of the bomb that killed Earth in Beneath the Planet of the Apes).
Caesar’s conflict increases – he is a kind soul, brought together by excellent, constantly evolving, computer graphics and ashrewd film-making team. Although this may be a culmination of sorts, the story still has excellent potential for expansion left. In fact, you want it – will it – to continue. •
Let me clarify a few things at the beginning of this review. ....Read Detail
The movie’s highlight is producer and actor Tom Hanks’....Read Detail