Category Archives: Reviews

Nolan’s Dunkirk: A Populist Misrepresentation?

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So I went to see Dunkirk last night, and I was not all that blown away, if I’m honest. It’s probably fair to say I was unimpressed. In general overview, I felt it was over-sentimentalised, overly white, and not in any way representative of what was in real life a genuinely amazing story. So I’m going to make myself really unpopular here, because I gather everyone else loved it, but these, to my mind, were the key issues…

First criticism: Scale.
Dunkirk was a MASSIVE operation. The film never really seemed to get to grips with the scale of the actual Dunkirk. There should have been hundreds of thousands on the beach, there should have been around 800 small vessels coming to take them off, there should have been far more planes – the RAF flew over two and a half thousand fighter sorties and around a thousand bombing raids/reconnaissance flights during the evacuation, downing 262 enemy aircraft. They were further away keeping the Luftwaffe off the troops on the beach, which is why they later came in for some undeserved criticism of not having given enough support. I just felt that the film really never gave us that sense of the huge numbers involved. It just didn’t. And it could have done. And it never explained the infantry moans about the RAF – if they had genuinely only sent three planes (as it appeared in the film) then that would have been definite cause for complaint!

Second criticism: Whitewash.
The real Dunkirk evacuation was heavily populated with both French and British colonial forces. We see none of that in the film. Where were the four mule companies of the Indian Army Service Corps who were evacuated with the troops at Dunkirk and performed an incredible important role in the supply chain? Where were the 65% of the French troops from West African countries such as Morocco? Where were the Africans and Asians who represented around a quarter of the crew of most merchant shipping coming to the rescue? You’d be forgiven for thinking after watching Nolan’s version of Dunkirk that the war was entirely fought by white men. For the record, it very much wasn’t.

Third criticism? Harry Styles.
Really? Just, really? I can’t really be bothered to break this one down. Well done, Harry; you can say some lines and didn’t disgrace yourself. You’ve got no business being a relatively major character in what purported to be a serious film. Please leave it to the professionals next time or go and do something funny with Guy Ritchie.

Well that’s it. Bring on the hate.

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Some TV recommendations from a confirmed couch potato…

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Here are a few obscure but great TV offerings from Netflix and Amazon I would like to recommend (in no particular order):

1. Glitch (Netflix) – seven people crawl out of their graves in perfect health, but how? And why? This goes down some interesting dramatic roads and the season end will definitely leave you wishing for a second season, although no news on whether that is happening yet. A brilliant, imaginative series that left many unanswered questions and really deserves a follow up.
2. The OA (Netflix) – I liked this, but it’s a marmite thing apparently – either you find Brit Marling’s stuff thought-provoking or you find it utterly self-indulgent. Myself, I like the fact that she always offers at least two possibilities for the truth in her writing. Her stories (if you like them) have a tendency to stay with you long after you finish watching them. I don’t anticipate a second season for this – I think that the end was the end. And in my view, a thoroughly satisfying one.
3. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Netflix) – Lovers of the Douglas Adams books may initially find this a bit of an aberration, given that it is a follow up story which completely rewrites the back story of the main character and adds a whole new dimension which will not necessarily be welcomed by purists. If you forget the book and treat this as more of a paean to the original than a continuance, it’s entertaining and watchable, with likeable characters and a fun storyline. I don’t think Douglas Adams would have totally disapproved.
4. Westworld (Amazon) – On probably good advice, I didn’t rewatch the film before watching this because I imagine it would look pretty dated now and I prefer to remember it as being sinister and terrifying. This re-imagines the world of the live action western theme park populated by robots in a brilliant and thought-provoking way, with all the modern day fascinations about AI and consciousness of self to bring it entirely up to date. Utterly engrossing, although somewhat violent at times, as would be expected.
5. Designated Survivor (Netflix) – I absolutely loved this. Kiefer Sutherland as a mild-mannered and unambitious politician was unexpected but utterly convincing, and the tensions just continue to mount in this unlikely but enormously watchable tale of America on its knees, being accidentally (or not) run by the recently sacked Secretary for Housing. It has some of the pace of 24, but without the relentless violence. I very much look forward to a second season – I pretty much guarantee there will be one for this.
6. The 3% – an odd but engrossing tale from Mexico of a future where society is divided into the lucky 3%, who live in the lap of luxury, and everyone else, who live in a kind of giant, ungoverned favela. However, in this world, everyone has one chance to join the 3% through a series of tests in their 21st year. It’s a bit like the Hunger Games meets the Krypton Factor, with subtitles, but much better than that makes it sound! I enjoyed it and there a few twists that you might find unexpected. If you don’t mind subtitles, give this a watch. I never say no to a dystopian fantasy, and this one is definitely worth a look.
7. Goliath (Amazon) – top marks for this! Billy Bob Thornton is utterly mesmerising as a washed up, alcoholic ambulance chaser, once head of very successful law firm, persuaded to take on a seemingly unwinnable case against all his better judgement. The opposition is his own old firm, now an International mega-monster, and hence the Goliath of the title. Intriguing, brilliant and highly recommended. If this was in any kind of order, this would be somewhere at the top.

Right – well that will give you something to do if you’re bored. Have fun! 🙂