Dunkirk

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This movie in essence is a movie from a certain point of view, in fact having now seen it and I was not really counting, the only troops, sailors and pilots for which we are told the story of is the English ones with a smattering of small amounts of French ones. We never actually see the Germans portrayed, well not in person at least. More an observance than a criticism. But if what I have said about that makes you think, should you go and see it. Yes you should, is the answer.

Even if your knowledge of the history of the Second World War is scant at best, there is probably a good chance that in saying ” Dunkirk”, that you may have a mental image forming in your head as I speak.

But just in case – here’s the history lesson. At this stage in the war in May 1940, Germany had advanced into and overtaken the troops of many countries in Europe . In entering France they trapped and encircled the allied troops to the beaches of Dunkirk.
The troops on the beach could nearly touch the shores of home, they were so close, but they were not home.

This is graphically displayed both on the land and sea as the troops try to seek a route home as they are harassed by the advancing Germans. The story also takes place above the heads of the troops as the Royal Air Force tries to prevent a greater loss of life happening beneath them.

There is of course a lot more to this story in the movie, but as I like to stay spoiler free if possible, I will just urge to go and see this movie. There is dialogue in this movie, but it is really the action that happens which tells the story, the pictures fill in the gaps that the dialogue leaves. As the movie is relatively short to tell this story, you are made feel like you are in the thick of the action for a good part of the time. It can make for an uncomfortable watch at times but don’t let that put you off on going to see it.

This is probably, if not the best movie that the director Christopher Nolan has made, well it’s certainly one of the better ones, will it become a modern classic – well only time will tell. There have been many classic and well made war movies in the past, so the bar has been set quite high.

It is an intense experience and watch, but a worthwhile one that honours those who took part in this historical event. Go see it, I feel you won’t be disappointed. In fact try and go to see it on the biggest screen you can, it deserves to be seen on that size of movie screen.

 

War For The Planet For The Apes

 

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A bit like Star Wars: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story earlier in the year this movie dovetails what came before but was actually made later than the movies that inspired them, if that makes sense.

The original movies back in the the late 60’s and early 70’s told a different tale, they were written in a time of seismic changes in America – the civil rights movement being just one of them. So restarting the franchise more recently was always going to be a more difficult sell, what was the story they wanted to tell. The filmmakers sought to outline the backstory of how it came to be. After the success of the first of the new movies, a second naturally followed and based on the success of that movie also, the current movie was pretty much a certainty and this is where we currently find ourselves with the same director from the previous movies – Matt Reeves.

Just a word before I start into the movie review proper – kudos should go to Andy Serkis for his continuing portrayal of Caesar, he has become so adept at the motion – capture special effects that you do not even question whether this is an ape or a man portraying an ape. He totally inhabits the part. He is not just a man in monkey suit so to speak.

After the showdown with Koba in the last movies, we are left in no doubt right  at the very start that the title of this movie says it all. There is a split in the ape camp, they are not all fighting the same side. Some of them who followed Koba have thrown their lot with an army of humans, itself a split in the human camp led by a chillingly portrayed Colonel (Woody Harrelson), those apes just want to survive and if that means fighting their own kind well so be it.

After this initial showdown, the Caesar camp have found themselves suffering losses both in terms of their numbers and personally. This causes Caesar to go on a quest. At times the portrayal feels more like we are watching a Western genre movie from times past, Caesar not only has to confront this Colonel but also darker forces, is he becoming the very thing he sought to drive out of the Ape camp. It is has become a battle for the planet and whoever wins will become the dominant species.

It is unusual that a series of movies of movies to stay consistently strong over the telling, more often than not there is usually a weak one in the numbers. It does help if you have seen what came before, but equally it is strong enough to stand as a stand-alone story, with some nods to the original series of movie, and a certain other war movie quest.
Apes Strong.

 

Spiderman:Homecoming

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Spiderman: Homecoming is our movie for review this week, and you are probably thinking why should I bother seeing this movie, haven’t we seen two other actors and 5 movies portray him before. What new story is there to tell and do we really need to see another origin story again. Thankfully the filmakers know that we have most likely seen at least one or two of these movies and their take is a little different.

Rather than Spiderman: Homecoming, a more accurate title might be Spiderman: The High School Years. You may remember that Spiderman popped up with some of the other Marvel Universe in Captain America: Civil War and this movie is not afraid to poke a little fun at his goody – goody image. Disinterested careers and gym teachers, no bother our Cap will step into the breach!! Anyway Tom Holland reprises his role from that movie here, his youthful exuberance is infectious.

Our Spidey wants in on being a full member of the Avengers, but Tony Stark (AKA – Iron Man) – Robert Downey Jr says “You are not quite ready kid” or words to that effect. So what’s this movie’s take on the story.

It appears while it’s quite nice that the Avengers keep saving the world, but boy do they leave some mess behind. That’s going to be a big clean up job for someone. Spiderman’s foe does not originally set out that way – an enterprising construction guy – played by Michael Keaton, otherwise more famous for playing another superhero in another universe. Well, he finds some alien technology in the rubble, post – Avengers battle and decides to exploit it. Fast forward a little and he doesn’t want to let anyone spoil his fun. He morphs into Vulture and Spiderman’s current foe has been born.

Going back to the start all be it from a slightly different angle, when this story has already been told is always a little risky, but I am happy to report that this take works and I won’t be surprised if they have another outing for your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger before too much longer. It has it’s faults for sure, show me a comic superhero – based movie that doesn’t but there is enough humour and action here for you to forgive that in the most part. Lots here for Marvel fans and first timers to enjoy.

P.s What about Aunt May!!

 

Baby Driver

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Even if we don’t always have our music headphones in, we from time to time have an internal soundtrack in our heads, a remembered song that we heard that day or from long ago by something we have seen that sparks a memory.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) on the other hand has a nearly forever rolling soundtrack playing in his head for reasons that are explained in the movie. He is a good driver, no rewind that he is a great driver but finds himself constantly under the thumb of a crime boss (Kevin Spacey).

The phone call is made and he is once again drawn into the world of crime as a professional getaway driver, this is his life. But he decides one day to stop into a diner and his whole outlook changes when he happens upon a waitress (Lily James), she makes him stop and question his life choices and he thinks outside his current narrow world view – maybe there is another life I am not living and I could live it with her.

Ah, if life were that simple, sadly it rarely is and the lady of his dreams gets drawn into the maelstrom of chaos following a heist gone badly wrong.

This must have been a really tough gig for whoever had to secure the music rights for this movie, as one song fades out almost immediately a new one fades in. This movie is best described as a soundtrack with bits of dialogue, crime and action weaved into it.

So now the question of the moment, did I enjoy the movie? I liked it but if I am being honest here, this year’s effort in The Fast And The Furious franchise did more for me.
You may however may feel differently and if a Bonnie & Clyde -esque caper is your thing then you will enjoy this movie.

The lead character in the movie likes to mix his music and I found myself on my trip home after the cinema riffing two songs together, so maybe the movie affected me more than I thought!!

 

 

Summer – A Filmic Desert?

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Maybe in part this current blog is caused by the very thing I am writing about. So, let me explain myself a little more clearly.

Now we all know that there a few tentpole movie blockbusters which hold up the metaphorical Summer tent of releases – sequels, prequels, remakes for the upteenth time and very heavy on the action movies, but what if these are not your bag so to speak. You can literally see the tumbleweed blowing through the abandoned ghost town.

It’s as regular as the seasons in fact, it’s blockbusters or nothing. Now some cinemas whose clientele do not really frequent these movies are required to be a little more creative and create seasons of multiple movies that evoke nostalgia in their audience and that help to bring the punters in.

But come the end of the summer, it’s like some biblical flood and before you know where you are, you find yourself having to make multiple choices at your local cinema as to what to see that week.

So, Hollywood this is a plea from a moviegoer please give us a little more choice in your Summer releases or spread out your releases more evenly, I need my regular weekly or fornightly new movie fix. Who knows I might even decide to cancel my Summer holiday plans!!

Whitney – Can I Be Me

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Before I start my review confession time here, at best I have a passing like for Whitney Houston’s songs – she was certainly an amazing singer. But musical taste wise she didn’t do it for me as they say. So if like me you are not a fan, why bother to go and see it. Well as it happens it’s more a snapshot of Whitney’s life rather than a straight out and out music documentary.

She had great talent, a loving church going family, so what caused Whitney’s life to spiral out of control leading to her untimely death. There were demons in Whitney life, even before she broke into the massive star that she became, she dabbled in drugs even before the end of her teens and this would haunt her right throughout her career.

There was also a complicated relationship between her best friend Robyn and her husband Bobby Brown. Robyn had stood up and protected Whitney many years before and as result they had an extremely strong bond. Enter Bobby Brown, Whitney had a deep love for him but he was trouble for her and Robyn did not like him at all and the feeling was mutual. Both competed for her affections which meant that Whitney was torn between her loyalty for her life – long friend and her love for her husband.

There was of course lots else in the mix that caused Whitney problems, but one of the most revealing interviews was with her former bodyguard, he tried to save her from herself but despite his best efforts ultimately he was not successful in preventing her death. As many previous stars have discovered to their cost, money and fame do not fix everything and can sometimes add to the speed of their passing. Like a moth getting too close to a flame, fame can burn you and badly.

Ultimately,we can sometimes imagine that the grass in greener on the other side of the fence so to speak. This documentary is a salutary lesson that we should embrace the small things in life and not always constantly strive for more. It’s turns out that we already have what many stars wish they could return to. “Can I Be Me” is a lifelong phrase that Whitney used many times throughout her life when she felt that others were trying to steer her down a different path, but had trouble always trying reach that goal. So Whitney fan or not this documentary is worth seeking out. A worthy film of the week.
She was a rare talent and it is deeply saddening that she is no longer with us. May She Rest In Peace.

My Cousin Rachel

 

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Every so often we have had our fill of indie, action or superhero movies and we think “Why not go do the more cultural route”. This also tends to happen when you really do not fancy what is showing at the movies that week and you can’t let the week pass without at least seeing one movie.

My Cousin Rachel was the movie of choice this week and is based on book written by Daphne De Maurier.

Philip (Sam Clafin) travels to Florence, upon arriving there he discovers his cousin Ambrose has died. With little to go on he builds up a belief that Rachel (Rachel Weisz) has caused his death. When she arrives back to England clothed from head to toe in black and quite grief stricken at Ambrose’s passing, his feelings soften towards her.

He starts to become obsessed by her and her beauty and finds himself falling in love with her.While he is out in polite society, people around him speak in hushed tones about Rachel or those closest to him warn him that she is not all she appears to be and has darker motives and may want his bequeathed estate for herself. Despite falling for her and changing his will, things take place which make him question himself. Is his initial suspicion of her correct? Are her motives pure?

Rachel Weisz is mesmerizing as the literary based Rachel and perfectly inhabits this part. Like Philip based on just a look, we too as viewers constantly question Rachel and whether she is all that she appears. If you like these type of literary adaptations then this is one that is worth checking out or even if you are not, why not go a different route at the movies this week.

Rachel is a mystery and I found myself constantly questioning her and her intentions, right up to the last frame. Even as the credits rolled, I still had a rather large question mark planted in my mind.

…. ????