Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s first solo outing as a scriptwriter does not disappoint. It contains his signature visual style which is always so exciting to watch and suits this story very well. All the actors are on top form, there’s some great twists and turns and use of music and storytelling and yeah – enjoyable stuff.
It Comes At Night. If you like your films fully explained, wrapped up, and all round happy affairs then this probably isn’t the film for you. The ending produced many a moron in the audience to cry out in anger and disbelief. The titular ‘It’ is never really pinned down, their use of gas masks seems a little sporadic, and it is generally depressing as hell. It is, however, a thoroughly atmospheric and claustrophobic world created here by filmmaker Trey Edward Shults and it is continuously intriguing and generally great.
Spider-Man: Homecoming. Controversially, I think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 beats this for me. Not that this is not a very good superhero movie. Tom Holland is great casting and was introduced very well in The Aveng– I mean Captain America 3. This rebooted franchise is firmly woven into the fabric of the bigger Marvel picture but (while I like the character) Tony Stark is thankfully not overused. It is also very funny, with some exciting, well constructed action scenes and an enjoyable baddie in Michael Keaton’s Vulture (all the more when having Birdman in mind).
War for the Planet of the Apes. Rise was a good solid film, but it was Dawn that really blew me away. War, however, felt underwhelming overall. Perhaps this pattern of reactions shows a very obvious correlation with what my expectations were, who knows. Anyway, War: the CGI of the apes in this film is astounding and I’m sure they will hold up longer than the average. CGI elsewhere within the film was less impressive – not awful, but it all felt a bit much – which is, by no means, a unique feature of modern Hollywood films. Story-wise, though, it just never grabbed me. I think a re-watch of the trilogy is in order at some point, so that I can give a fully final opinion on the matter.
The Beguiled. Sofia Coppola’s remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood-led keeps the great core story – of an injured Yankee soldier sheltered in a Southern girl’s school during the American civil war – but improves upon it dramatically. The original is a good solid film, but Coppola makes the script tighter and makes you feel as if you know every character at least a little bit (unlike the 1971 version). It removes the zooming cameras instilling some beautiful cinematography throughout, is much better acted and she cuts out the awful internal dialogues and gratuitous lesbian sex dream, making it a much more subtle affair. Perhaps she should have kept the black slave character, it added some depth to the time period in the original and the novel, but the film does not suffer from this overall.
Dunkirk. Going into a film that is being hailed as a filmmaker’s best, when I already like most of his work very much, was always going to be difficult. I opted for IMAX. It warranted it, I guessed. And the film is good. Very good. Intense and immersive and reasonably original. One big issue I had was struggling to hear the dialogue – can’t quite pin down if this was a problem with the screening or the film. Some people have had the same problem, others have not – but either way, I suppose this took me out of the film more than would have been advisable.
One of the things I love about Nolan is that he uses practical effects as much as possible – in this film, though, it proved problematic. The fact that there were supposed to be 400,000 British soldiers on that beach was laughable – either use CGI, employ a fuck load more extras, or don’t do so many wide shots. The issues were similar when it came to the quantity of ships and planes. While the film felt epic in technique, the fight it was depicting seemed far from it. Also, while I like a good fractured timeline in my cinema, this one didn’t seem like it was done for any particular purpose but to add some needless confusion. It also never felt anchored to a particular thread or character, it felt a bit all over the place. Perhaps the main character was Dunkirk itself? And at times, it felt surprisingly jingoistic.
I do think that I will warm to this more on repeated viewings, especially if I can hear the dialogue next time. And it is a great great film is so many ways. It looks beautiful, the sound design (bar the dialogue issue) is incredible, and the relentless nature of it all was almost painful (in a good way). But, for now, in my opinion, it is Nolan’s eighth best film. I am open to that changing once I see it again. But we’ll see.