SLAM DUNK(irk) and the BareBacharach Sex Tape

I’ve being following Christopher Nolan’s work since Memento, though arguably I should have been following him since Following, but if you follow someone for too long they may have you arrested; and I very much doubt Mr Nolan would follow me to the gallows. Anyway, he has come a long way since his debut grainy low budget black and white film Following, which I heard he used £10,000 of his own money and shot it over the course of several weekends with his friends. That’s the difference between him and me, he creates art of a weekend and I dwell in my own filth using the latest Snapchat filter to make me look like a deranged goat.

following still

Nineteen years on the auteur blockbuster writer and director along with his brother Jonathan Nolan have created some of the best films in recent memory. It’s nice to get excited and watch a Summer Blockbuster that doesn’t leave me walking out of the cinema wishing I’d spent the last two hours carving at my face with a blunt knife. Note to self *take a knife to the next Michael Bay film. On the contrary, I do love Michael Bay just not his latest Transformers offerings. I heard my little cousin sat watching a packet of Hula Hoops, a Ken doll and a dismantled Xbox splash about in a washing machine for three hours thinking it was Transformers: The Last Knight. She wasn’t happy when her mum put the dishwasher on and filled it with bandages the next day for The Mummy.

I watched the 70mm IMAX version of Dunkirk the other week and was in complete awe from the opening second to the last. Thank the Lord for Nolan and his 70mm club including Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. I was getting tired of watching Burt Bacharach’s sex tape in 3D.

BareBacharch will look better in Panavision.
BareBacharch will look better in Panavision.
BareBacharch will look better in Panavision.

The 70mm scenes in Dunkirk were gorgeous, from Mark Rylance and crew aboard the Moonstone to Kenneth Branagh’s piercing blue eyes staring out across the ocean as hope comes to the beaches of Dunkirk. This was probably my favourite shot in the film as his face expressed everything that needed to be conveyed. This happened throughout, with Dunkirk being one of Nolan’s shortest scripts of recent times, roughly about 70 pages and coming in at 1hr 40 there was no need for a dialogue-heavy script. Think the silent era of cinema and war films like Battleship Potemkin where you relied on the eyes and face to tell the story, as is evident here with the soldiers’ fears and horrors written all over their faces (not literally, he did that with Memento).

dunkirk

Thankfully Hans Zimmer’s music score incorporated Christopher Nolan’s pocket watch so I could keep track of the time and make sure I wouldn’t miss my doctor’s appointment. The constant ticking only heightened the tension and suspense, along with looming German soldiers teetering on the outskirts of every frame. It felt like I was watching a Hitchcock film but with the Rothschild’s gardening budget. The sound design was phenomenal, the recreation of the hellish sound of Stuka dive bombers through a 30-gallon steel drum was piercingly loud and harrowing. Used as a psychological weapon against the soldiers, Christopher Nolan places the audience amidst the impending doom, as the planes do the dance of death above while raining down death below. As there are no Stuka planes or recorded sounds the sound department would have had to create the sound from accounts at the time, and apparently survivors who have seen the film have claimed it was exceptionally accurate.

Dunkirk is a masterclass of modern cinema, using all the tools and talents from every department to create an exceptionally visceral and sobering account of the mass evacuation at Dunkirk. This should go beyond cinema and be added to the school curriculum, instead of making us watch Bruce Almighty every term while the teachers liaise in an Eyes Wide Shut holiday party. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to load up my microwave with sand and a handful of paper aeroplanes and sit back and watch Dunkirk again.

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