The Honorable “Dunkirk”

Dunkirk (2017), written and directed by Christopher Nolan, presents war in Europe within the broadness, or openness, of time—and even within a relatively brief duration of time.  Three time periods meet, in all of which men are warring and struggling to survive; all demand endurance.

How credible some of the details in the film are I don’t know, but an enthralling and exciting enterprise this is.  Although it contains more heroism than (British) patriotism, patriotism is there.  So are great surprises and little mysteries, as when a charitable old man compliments the British soldiers but never makes eye contact with them.  And when two of the soldiers quickly haul a wounded grunt on a stretcher a strikingly long way to a seabound ship, where, as it turns out, the grunt is in greater danger than he was before.

Unlike other war movies today, Dunkirk never becomes even slightly boring until, I’d say, the last 15 minutes.  But, as well, it is gratifying to see that it bounces back a bit before those minutes are over.

“Three Women,” Dreamy

Cover of "3 Women - Criterion Collection&...

Cover of 3 Women – Criterion Collection

Director Robert Altman had “a succession of dreams” and afterwards based one of his movies—Three Women (1977)—on these dreams.  Hence the film, though linear, is profoundly weird.

It is the story of Millie Lammoreaux (Shelley Duvall) and Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek)—as well as a nonverbal painter named Willie (Janice Rule)—who work at a rehab center with mineral baths for the elderly.  Millie is talkative, but very few people listen to her (funny, this); which easily leads us to infer that social interaction in the film amounts to almost nothing.  And yet, ironically, the shy Pinky quasi-worships Millie, seeing a certain perfection in her.  And there is nothing sexual in this—Pinky, like Millie, likes men—but . . . a question must be asked:  Is Pinky a psychotic who actually wants Millie’s personality for herself?

The film never indicates that someone is dreaming this dreamlike story.  Is it reality, then?  Is it a work of art simply meant to resemble a dream—in other words, a work that is only about itself?  Three Women is unceasingly perplexing.  There are fine performances from Spacek and Duvall, though.  The former is suitably eccentric and beautifully nuanced.  With her diffident, little-girl face, the latter is oddly beguiling, improvising nicely.  For improvisation is certainly here—but what about a raison d’etre?

On The Old Movie, “Dillinger”

Dillinger (1945 film)

Dillinger (1945 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a useless prelude here in which a movie audience watches newsreel about John Dillinger the gangster before Dillinger’s father shuffles out on the stage to deliver his own information about the man.  It actually promises to be boring.

The prelude belongs to the 1945 Dillinger, which isn’t boring, starring a very limited Lawrence Tierney as the ever-active bank robber and murderer.  The screenplay by Philip Yordan is intermittently dopey—the movie, in point of fact, is near-trash—but not without heat and punch.  Max Nosseck (who?) directed with only modest ability, notwithstanding he gives us a nifty scene where Dillinger, after having a tooth pulled, wakes up from the anesthesia only to be nabbed by waiting police officers.

I’m glad I saw Dillinger, but I can’t value it much. . .  Speaking of very limited acting, Anne Jeffreys plays Dillinger’s love interest, and is one of the most beautiful blondes in American cinema.

 

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