In Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan tells three inter-twined stories of differing lengths and at different speeds, showing how the terrors of war and heroic acts associated with it can exist on various time scales. There are instantaneous acts of heroism, the bread and butter of war films, but also more considered, lengthy heroics on day or week-long scales. Nolan ties them all together by interweaving all three timelines into three separate but related stories of the Battle of Dunkirk. This structure is the overwhelming brilliance of Dunkirk, but Nolan also manages to pack each story line with startling action film-making on land, sea, and air. The result is a masterwork of structure, pacing and storytelling, replete with themes of warfare, heroism, and the true meaning of victory.
The Revenant is a gorgeous slog. From the opening panorama to the final close-up, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s frontier survivalist epic confronts the viewer with this discord. This tension colors the film completely, elbowing out more nuanced analyses of character arcs or thematic material upon first glance. But to claim, as some critics have, that The Revenant is a pretty film devoid of meaning is an absurdity. The harrowing cinematic experience certainly offers visual splendor up front and is heavily fettered in a masochistic cloak, but underneath it all, the insights into the human condition are many and varied. Besides marveling at the strength of the human spirit or the futility of revenge, themes of spiritual rebirth, everlasting love, betrayal, racism, and even the importance of friendship and connection with another human being in this vast, cold world.
The Revenant has been anticipated since April of 2014, when Alejandro G. Iñárritu announced that he had started to work on the project with Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role. The story was to be based on a novel of the same name detailing the true events of a fur-trapper on the American frontier at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After the world saw the heights Iñárritu was capable of with Birdman, that anticipation skyrocketed, and we are fortunate to finally get a brief look at The Revenant with a haunting teaser trailer which revels in the mood of a dark, savage thriller. Watch the teaser below:
If you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago The Martian was moved up over two months for an October 2nd release. There, it will compete with the Robert Zemekis film The Walk and Brian Helgeland’s Legend, starring Tom Hardy (twice). And, while we’ve had a couple of different looks at The Walk (which I always want to call “The Wire” at first – I wonder if that will ever stop), we only got our first full look at Legend late last week with the first official US trailer, and it looks like October 2nd is shaping up to be a spectacular weekend for film fans. Have a viddy:
Have you ever seen a Mexican standoff fist fight – with two of the combatants chained together? Mad Max: Fury Road treats us to this scene during a lull in the action, as a way for the audience to catch our breath. This film is an absolute assault on the senses in the very best way possible, and when the credits finally rolled at the end, the reality shock was palpable. I felt as though I needed my mind to recover, to slowly remove itself from the astounding world of George Miller’s action masterpiece, which may be the best action film of the decade, if not the century.