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Review of 'Dunkirk': "What a waste of $20"

Dunkirk (Warner Bros.)

DUNKIRK (2017)

Score: A

Rated with an intense PG -- 107 minutes

After sitting through one of the most powerful "grab you by the neck and never let you go" war films -- my euphoric mood from watching this intense Christopher Nolan masterpiece came to a sudden and grinding halt. As we were exiting the auditorium, just above me, I heard three millennial women all complain loudly in unison: "What a waste of $20."

Pardon the pun, but I was shell-shocked! All I could think of as a response was -- "If today's younger generation knew as much about world history as they know about smart phones, tablets, and computers, it would be a very different world."

The disaster of Dunkirk -- the one that actually happened, serves to reinforce the great adage of George Santayana -- "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

I was so upset by their remark that I actually went up to two strangers who had just left the theater and shared what I had heard. Their reply: "Not so shocking. It would be a much different America today if we all would study our history. Unfortunately, they just don't have a clue!"

Not since Stanley Kubrick's remarkable 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) has there been such a film quite like this one. Only a handful of the soldiers are actually given names. There really is no one star of this film, so it is hard to connect with just one or two characters. You connect with them all. It's deeply philosophical.

There are three different stories all interwoven at the same time. One on the ground. One on the sea. One in the air. The first unfolds over a week. The second in a single day. The third in an hour. It's deeply challenging.

So, you really have to pay attention. The real "stars" of this film include Nolan's crew for cinematographer Hoyt Van Hoytema, for production designer Nathan Crowley, for editor Lee Smith, and for composer Hans Zimmer. All four and Mr. Nolan are destined for Oscar nominations.

You should see DUNKIRK in IMAX with state of the art sound. The film is shot with both Imax and 65 mm cameras. Remember, this is a Christopher Nolan vision. And it is his most personal project in what has already been a remarkable career.

Somehow DUNKIRK becomes an intimate epic, telling the story of what happened to 400,000 British and Allied troops trapped in the French coastal town of Dunkirk over a period from May 26 - June 4, 1940. If you love cinema and appreciate history, this is one for the film history books. If you stay for the credits you will read that much of the film was actually shot on and over the Dunkirk beach. It is my understanding that of the hundreds of small vessels that came to rescue the troops, a dozen of the real boats appear in the film!

The cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy.

GIRLS TRIP (2017)

Score: A

Rated R for "Raunchy" -- 122 minutes

"With so much joy, the audience could not stop laughing"

While all of my Las Vegas film critics this week were reviewing the 3D sci-fi flick VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS, this critic sat alone in the press screening row for GIRLS TRIP. Sometimes, the early Hollywood buzz is a pretty good measure of what might be one of the worst films of the year; another Hollywood buzz might say, “the summer’s word-of-mouth comedy sensation." I went with the latter and I am glad that I did. Rotten Tomatoes is reporting a poor 58-percent for VALERIAN while reporting an 88-percent for GIRLS TRIP (as compared to a 91-percent for DUNKIRK.) All three films open Friday, July 21.

GIRLS TRIP is not only funny, but it is hilarious. When was the last time you saw a movie when the funny lines never stopped? The laughter was so extended that you could not hear the next lines of the script. This is not a movie for children. The humor is truly blue. And those who are not prepared for this kind of humor may very well be offended and walk out. But for those who attended last week's screening, most are still laughing.

The trip brings with the long delayed reunion of four Black women -- the"Flossy Posse". The place is New Orleans. The event is the "Essence Fest".

Remember the name of newcomer Tiffany Haddish. She all but steals this film. She is joined by three accomplished co-stars: Queen Latifah, Kate Walsh, and Jada Pinkett Smith. Other cast members include Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, and Kofi Sirboe. The film is directed by Malcolm D. Lee. The screenplay is written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver and is based on a story by Erica Rivinoja with Barris and Oliver.

As we grow older, we change as we experience life. We are no longer in college. We have married. Some have divorced. We have different careers. The question remains, "Can we have it all?" Will we remain loyal and true to ourselves?

I just don't think we will see a funnier and sweeter comedy during 2017.

PREVIEW OF COMMING ATTRACTIONS

"A blistering blend of sleek action, gritty sexuality, and dazzling style"

On board next week is ATOMIC BLONDE starring Charlize Theron. This is a summer action-thriller. The film, as described in the press notes, says, "Follows MI6's most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors. Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission." Full review coming next week.

Looking ahead to what's coming this summer? Bob Fisher has the blockbuster box office guide to this summer's movie season!

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