Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dunkirk IMAX review

There's an expression, "live to fight another day." Throughout history, armies have retreated or "strategically redeployed" and survived to fight another day. It is a viable tactic. Look at our American history. George Washington at New York. Now comes a British tale of retreat. It is director and writer Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk.

It's 1940, World War II. Nazi Germany has routed the British and French. What's left of their troops are now surrounded in a French seaside town called Dunkirk. If the British army is destroyed, it's over for the allies and Nazi Germany dominates Europe and perhaps wins the war. The United States at that time has not entered the war. The allies must escape across the English Channel or be destroyed.

Nolan's film follows three arenas of the battle of Dunkirk. First, we meet an English private named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) who is seen literally running for his life through streets to the beach. Then there is Dawson. (Mark Rylance) He's an English civilian with a motorized yacht. With his son and a teenage friend, they take off for Dunkirk to help rescue soldiers trapped on the beach. The third part of the battle followed is in the air. A squadron of RAF Spitfires is deployed to protect the evacuation of troops. One of the pilots is Farrier. (Tom Hardy) Other actors Kenneth Branagh and James D'Arcy play British officers and provide exposition.

The movie tells the tale of the three in a non-linear fashion, i.e. the story threads intertwine. It also makes the conscious decision to keep its characters somewhat nameless. You won't hear a lot of other soldiers calling each other by their names. Perhaps, that's to demonstrate that the battle was a group effort of the British to prevail.

Performances are all excellent. Fionn Whitehead's Tommy is a scared soldier trying to survive as he's constantly bombed or fired upon. Mark Rylance shows us what the "stiff upper lip" of the English is all about. He's all about his mission to rescue soldiers in the face of trauma of war. I'm a fan of Tom Hardy. (Star Trek: Nemesis). His performance is handicapped by the fact that he must wear a flight mask during most of the movie. Hardy's brilliance is to show his emotions of desperation and determination without seeing three quarters of his face. You get it from his eyes, forehead, and body movement. And listen carefully. There's Michael Caine as one of the pilots. It's honoring Caine's appearance in The Battle of Britain. (1969)

Christopher Nolan has made a taut and riveting film about survival. Dunkirk is more about the individual stories than about big armies facing off with each other. You won't get huge shots of CGI ships and troops. What Nolan does show is that death comes from a faceless Nazi army. He accurately depicts German Stuka dive bombers with their shrill air sirens. When you see and hear them coming at the English soldiers, even being a filmgoer in the theater one is terrified. And that's the point of a Stuka's siren. Not only does it announce the coming of death, it also terrorizes and demoralizes surviving troops. While watching this movie, I never assumed that a character in the movie will live.

Dunkirk is a movie that looks gorgeous and epic on the screen. Fist, Nolan loves shooting on film versus digital video. I am not a disciple of either but film does have more warmth perhaps due to the imperfections whereas video tends to capture more detail. Anyway, Dunkirk radiates that warmth. And by not cramming the screen with thousands of CGI troops and ships, Nolan gives the picture wide open spaces.

There are minor flaws in Dunkirk. For the most part, Nolan stays away from sappy sentimentality, he does engage in a moment of Hollywood hype. I'm talking about a scene where a RAF pilot attacks a Stuka while gliding. Another thing is the overlapping story threads tend to interrupt each other.

Nolan tasks Hans Zimmer to compose the score. Zimmer who has worked on Nolan films (Inception, Interstellar etc.) before. He has a style that emphasizes atmosphere over melody. For the most part, Zimmer's dissonant score for Dunkirk works. This is a reflection of twentieth century conflict versus nineteenth century romanticism. But then he overdoes it with strange instrument combinations such as using electric stings, pulsating rhythms, dissonance and turning up the volume to disturbing levels. It can be overkill.

As far as seeing this movie in regular IMAX, let me point out that Nolan shot Dunkirk with 65 mm IMAX film. (Video belwo.) It was released in regular IMAX or what I call for my viewing digital IMAX. Nolan's preferred viewing is 70 mm film and IMAX film. (Variety)

Good luck finding a theater with a 70 mm projector. According to the article only about 125 exist nationwide. You see movie theaters have moved away from using projectors that use film to ones that use digital hard drives. So you are more than likely going to see Dunkirk on a digital print or regular IMAX, i.e. not IMAX Film. I do recommend IMAX regardless of version. IMAX always gives you better resolution. Add to that the gigantic screen. What you get with Dunkirk is a feeling as if you are there. You are present in a living painting. This is especially prevalent with the first person flying scenes.

Dunkirk is a stunning epic. Scary and thrilling. I can only hope that Christopher Nolan follows it up with a Battle of Britain movie. The grade is A.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Star Trek: Discovery trailer

Here's the Star Trek: Discovery TV show trailer. Star Trek belongs on TV. Let's hope it's true to Gene Roddenberry's vision. I love Alexander Courage's Trek fanfare at the end.

Trump wants Obamacare to fail which will cause people to suffer

Yesterday, conservative President Trump said, "We just let Obamacare fail... We're not going to own it, I'm not going to own it." (at the 25 second mark of the video below)

Now it's my turn. Hey Trump, "Bleep you. You piece of bleep." Millions of people will suffer and thousands will die if Obamacare fails. There are millions of people who depend on the healthcare provided by Obamacare. Trump you are a sadistic, selfish man.

Oh, by the way Obamacare is not a failure. Listen to Senator Cory Booker. (D-NJ) (Video below at 2 minute mark.) People with pre-existing conditions are covered. People are not suffering from bankruptuies because their medical bills are covered. More people are covered now than before. Yes, it's not perfect. But it can be tweeked and fixed. Booker calls Trump's comments sinister.

Sen. Bernie Sanders says letting Obamacare fail will cause people to suffer. He also wants a public option as a fix. He also argues for an eventual single payer plan. Video.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stephen Colbert on the people who were at the Trump Jr.-Russian meeting

It's Russia week at Late Night with Stephen Colbert. He's going to show footage from his trip to Russia. Check out the opening monologue about Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russians. And if you're curious here's the list of the eight people in the meeting courtesy of Vox. Funny stuff.

Conservative Republicans really don't care about your healthcare

Well, conservative President Trump let the cat out of the bag. He tweeted that conservative Republicans should just repeal Obamacare without any replacement plan. He's not the only conservative that wants to do that. Furthermore, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price yearns for bad old days of pre-Obama care. It is obvious that repealing without a plan will leave much more people without healthcare than the 22 million under the current proposed 'healthcare' plan. How many thousands of people will die because conservative Republicans believe government assisted healthcare is some form of evil welfare?

To show how much the blond, orange skin billionaire cares about you. He wants Obamacare to fail and thus hurt more people so he can score a political victory.

I have always argued that conservative Republicans hate government assisted healthcare plans because this goes back to their god, Ronald Reagan who thought it was evil. Conservative Republicans don't care about the people. They want to move money from the working people to the big rich. That's why the House plan has those gigantic tax cuts. If the conservatives really cared they would take private insurance out or the picture and pass a single payer plan. To them, it's help corporations and the big rich first. Trickle down just the way Reagan liked it.

But the people have spoken. Through protest. They have defeated the conservative Senate "healthcare" plan. Rachel Maddows documents the voices of the people who oppose the conservative Republicans plans to kick people off healthcare. They include the voices of children.

Keep fighting people. Viva La Resistance.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The people in the Trump Campaign's meeting with the Russians

Here's Rachel Maddow's piece on the people who were present at the meeting between the Russians and the Trump Campaign. And yes, Rachel is correct. Don't believe the Trump people as they've been disassembling the truth every day.

Who is the Russian lawyer in the Trump Jr. meeting and why do Russians really want to allow Americans to adopt their orphans

Julia Ioffe of the Atlantic has done an excellent profile of the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. She's at the center of the June 2016 meeting with Trump Jr. where he wanted to get dirt on Hilary Clinton from the Russian government. Here's Ioffe's article. Note she has Kremlin connections and sides with conservative American views. She has also advocated the repeal of the Magnitsky Act. Trump Jr initially indicated that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children.

So, note this. When a Russian comes here to try to end the ban on adoptions of Russian children by American couples, there's a catch. The ban was implemented by Russian president Vladimir Putin in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act which imposed sanctions on Putin's oligarch buddies for the death of Putin critic, Sergei Magnitisky. So, any Russian here is likely going to advocate the repeal of the sanctions and of course, do Putin's bidding.