Bitty Ruminations 86 – Dunkirk

Posted on July 20, 2017

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I have a strange relationship with Christopher Nolan’s films. The last one I liked unabashedly, adored 100%, is The Prestige, which is the perfect “Nolan movie” in every way. It has his trademark gimmickry, but this gotcha-ness is folded beautifully into the story, which demands that gimmickry. I mean, it’s about seeing something you only think you’re seeing.

Subsequently, Nolan has applied this kind of narrative to increasingly bloated films, and his real talents have gotten buried under layers of exposition and themes that these films just can’t support. He’s like a cuddly dog who let go of his favourite toy. (You know this, of course, after the 745th appearance of “Do not go gently…” In Interstellar.)

And yet, even these films I’ve found fascinating on some level. There’s always something that Nolan does. He thinks big, touchingly so. His filmmaking isn’t as pure and elegant as Spielberg’s (this comparison comes about because he’s the Spielberg of this era), but even these lesser films I keep coming back to, because he does that “density” thing so well. His films are so packed with stuff that the bloat and the redundant dialogue cannot keep you away from unpacking… more stuff.

All of which is to say I am really pumped about Dunkirk, whose running time is a reassuring less-than-two hours. I’ve heard it’s one set piece after another — that’s something Nolan does better than anyone else today. Can’t wait.

PS: Here’s what I wrote about Inception.

PPS: And Interstellar.

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