Welcome to yet another edition of What I’ve Been Watching. Now, most of you know that when it comes to TV my life has been dominated by the Peaky Blinders. However, I’ve also made it a point to catch up on some of the films I’d been wanting to watch. All of these films had elements to them that were really well executed, but out of all four films, Dunkirk was the one that hit the high note in terms of its overall production. Here is a summary of all the films I’ve been watching this winter.
Dunkirk was one of biggest films of 2017 and with good reason. It’s a perfect mix of suspense and anticipation. With a mix of veteran actors and rising stars, Dunkirk is a fantastic story of survival. Dunkirk is not an event that gets much attention when we look at World War II, but it’s one that demonstrates the sheer resilience of the soldiers and civilians involved in this effort to save the ally troops. Now, this is not a dialogue-heavy film. In fact, the first 30 minutes of the film barely featured any dialogue. This film is an example of showing rather than telling and the tension built from cinematography and the incredible soundtrack heightens the stakes from the opening sequence until it’s conclusion. It would be easy to spotlight the veteran actors in this film. With names like Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Kenneth Branagh, there is no shortage of star power in this film. However, it is important to note that their presence doe not takes away from the fantastic performance from our core cast of rising stars. As a whole, Dunkirk truly felt like a collaborative effort as they take this overlooked moment in history and drive home the sheer resilience in survival from everyone involved at Dunkirk.
Following its success at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Calibre is a slow burn gripping thriller. The plot is relatively simple as we have two childhood friends embark on a weekend hunting trip to the Scottish Highlands, but the consequences of this trip are disastrous and lead our main characters, Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Martin McCann) down a hole that, much as they try, they can’t climb out of. Lowden and McCann shine as our respective leads. Their characters are flawed and through them, we explore the limits of friendship and the clawing sensation of guilt. Calibre is subtle in its execution, building a gut-wrenching sense of unease as the consequences of this trip rears its head. For anyone looking for a Saturday night thriller, this is the film for you.
In the Heart of the Sea
In the Heart of the Sea tells us the story of the events that inspired novelist Herman Melville’s most famous novel, Moby Dick. Focusing on the Nantucket whaling company, the heart of the story follows an expedition that takes a disastrous turn, leading to this stranded crew’s desperate search for survival. It’s not just a tale of man vs whale, as it also explores the tension among the crew and the lengths they’re willing to take to ensure their survival. On paper, this film sounds like a treat, however, while this film has moments of quality, the film barely scratches the surface of the complexities of these themes. Perhaps the most striking element of this film is in its physicality as we literally witness the decaying status of the crew as hunger and dehydration take both body and mind. It’s clear what the film was trying to say, but it’s execution lacked in depth.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Arguably one of the most notable Studio Ghibli films, Howl’s Moving Castle captures that striking and quirky quality that makes these films so memorable. It has a childlike sense of wonder but also has a maturity to it that enrichens this tale of magic, youth, war, and love. Our ensemble of characters are made up of eccentric individuals, all of whom appear to have some link to our notorious wizard, Howl. Sophie takes center stage in this tale as the wicked witch transforms her into a 90-year-old woman. It’s in Sophie that we explore the complex burden of youth. There is no straightforward narrative to this film, and it is full of wacky and entertaining twists, but with the stunning artwork, a beautiful score, and a slew of memorable character, it is easy to see why Howl’s Moving Castle is a favourite to many.
Have you seen any of these films?
What have you been watching?