Michael Caine

Dunkirk – Review #79

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dunkirk-poster.jpgChristopher Nolan is not a bad filmmaker. He has “it”. He knows the tricks of the trade and I don’t have to be the guy to tell you that his works have been very, very successful.’

And I can see why people who call him one of the greats of our time. Just according to me personally, his dedication in using actual practical effects is something I applaud at. Extras up to the thousands, using actual planes and ships from the actual evacuation, getting large scale remote controlled aircraft just so he can crash it into the English Channel? In a world of overwhelmingly use of CGI and less and less time and money spent on practical effects, the fact that Nolan has the credibility and leeway to have these actual things is something I really much appreciate. He’s able to bring out the best of everything and everyone.

So yeah, Christopher Nolan is not a bad filmmaker.

He is, however, boring as hell.

Let me explain. When I go into the cinemas to watch a movie, I expect to get sucked into the world that the director makes. I expect to get fully engrossed into the story, the characters, all that jazz. With Nolan’s directing style I just can’t get that absorption.

His directing style can be visualized with these series of words: shakeshakeshakeshakeshakestaticwideshotshakeshakeshakeshakeshakestaticcameraisattachedtosomethingshakeshakeshakeshakeshake

For ninety percent of the movie, the camera doesn’t rest. It has constant motion. Not shaky cam-he’s competent enough to not use that-but there’s shaking.

And the camera’s focus for the most part is pretty tight. Occasionally you’ll get the cool extra wide scenic shot, but for most of the people it’s usually focused on people’s faces.

Now, most people would say that he did this to show the intensive fear and creeping terror of the soldiers’ wait for escape, how hope just seems to be on the edge, and in that sense one would be right. However, here comes the common flaw of this method in this movie.

He uses it too damn much.

Little to no deviance, the one image that will be ingrained in your brain watching this is “shaking close up of man”. The fact that he lingers on this technique for so long, and with so little changes, that when it does change to a shot that in any other movie I would marvel at, the brain has been numbed to the point that it doesn’t register as epic as it should.

That is not to say that the shooting style is ineffective. Not at all. The movie did grab my attention all the way through. Problem is, the lack of shot changes mean that the tension of the scene isn’t elevated, taking the movie and subsequently the audience higher.

It’s like a car that’s constantly on 4th gear. At first you’ll feel the whoosh, the adrenaline. But by the time you’re at the 2nd hour mark it’s become the temporal reality. It doesn’t affect you as much.

Now, there’s other problems that this movie has, albeit smaller comparatively. The fumbling of the timelines really did confuse me for a bit, and when they finally merged together, my brain was still occupied in trying to piece it all together.

Also, there have been complaints that the sound on IMAX is way too loud. I’m inclined to agree, although I do not know if that’s because of my already settled worries, or if it really was just very loud. I will say that earphones are recommended though, just in case.

But all those aside, what frustrates me about this movie is that the rest of it is so good. As I said before, the practical effects are something I applaud at, but almost every other aspect of the movie is brilliant. The cast is absolutely astonishing, with amazing performances from everyone involved, even the ex-boybander Harry Styles. Music wise, Hans Zimmer has made a master-class of atmospheric music. The blaring horns and the violins, all a perfect fit for a film.

If not for Nolan’s style, this movie could’ve easily gotten my praise and admiration like it has gotten from so many people. It’s a great movie, but it could’ve been a modern day classic. Can you see how frustrating this is?

Dunkirk. The 8/10 that could’ve gotten so much better.

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The Italian Job (1969) – Review #26

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Because nothing says Italian like Mini Coopers.

The Italian Job (1969)The Italian Job is directed by Peter Collinson, and stars Britain’s own lovable Cockney superstar, Michael Caine. The plot centers around Crocker, a ‘jobber’ that just came out of prison. His friend Roger was able to think of the biggest ‘job’ that they could do, but he was killed by the Italian Mafia, and in his will hopes that Crocker would do the job. The rest of the film centers around the preparation of scheme, and the execution.

This is quite a quirky little film, what with the strange feeling of ‘aww-ness’ at seeing Minis performing a heist. Those little red, white and blue engines just make me feel fuzzy inside. Why? I have no idea. The whole film just screams ‘Patriotism’.

The acting is as good as it could get in a 1960’s British film. Michael Caine as the star gives us a good performance and occasional laugh. The rest of the crew though is sadly not that memorable. Noel Coward’s character was actually quite confusing to me. So, he’s in prison but every prisoner respects him, even the police? Quite strange.

The stunt driving in this film, for 1960’s standards, is incredible. We all know the ‘Cooper Chase’, and how it mixed action and comedy with superb stunt-work and British wit. The ‘Cooper Chase’ overshadows the rest of the driving in the film though, which is a shame, as they are very well executed too.

What drives this movie down though is the plot. The general story was set-up early on, but there are some loose threads. The side-story with the Italian Mafia goes nowhere, and as I said, most of the side characters are forgettable at best.

In conclusion, The Italian Job is a film of it’s time. I doubt anything like this would be made today. It’s representative of the Swingin’ Sixties and with slight showings of the British Counterculture. Take it for what it is: A quick 100 minute British adventure with Michael Caine.

That actually makes a pretty good sub-heading.