TL;DR – A look at the side of WW2 that does not get shown often, which is full of moments that overwhelm you but also full of awkwardness.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
If there is one conflict that has been extensively explored on screen, it is World War Two. Indeed in 2017, we got three different films that explored Dunkirk. Even with all of this coverage, there are still aspects of WWII that have not received the same attention. One of those aspects is the Chinese front which is where our film is set. It started years before the main war and went on to the very end, but we don’t explore it nearly enough. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to change this, and a film backed by the juggernauts of Tencent and Alibaba.
So to set the scene, we open with the collapse of the front lines of the National Revolutionary Army during The Battle of Shanghai. With the Imperial Japanese Army taking the outskirt town of Dachang the city has been lost. However, there is still hope in the retreat. The Revolutionary Army decides to leave a small contingent of troops behind at Sihang Warehouse led by Colonel Xie Jinyuan (Du Chun). They aim to stall the Imperial Army long enough to allow for the retreat of the rest of the army. The second aim is to be an example to the Western powers that have not yet picked a side. This is because the Warehouse is situated right next to the International Settlement in Shanghai, so for one brief moment, the whole world is focused on them. Now because this is a film based on a real event, we will be discussing parts of the plot in a little more depth than we usually would, so please be careful as there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
There are those moments in life where we get to see the full depths of human cruelty and few moments have exemplified it more than the Holocaust. It was a moment where human depravity was industrialised and weaponised in the endeavour to exterminate an entire race. Today we explore a film that deals with the aftermath and trauma through the eyes of the children that survived it.
So to set the scene, we open in on a bus full of children as they make their way through the British countryside at night. The bus is full of children refugees rescued from Holocaust camps. One thousand children brought from the camps to Brittan and 300 of them came to Calgarth Estate on the shores of Lake Windermere. As they arrive, there is a real fear that they have swapped one camp of despair for another. Their families are likely all dead, and all of them have suffered travesties that make every dog a threat and food something you hide when you can. They only have funding for four months to help them with their trauma, which is not enough time given everything they had gone through.
TL;DR – A beautifully realised look at the world of British politics on the onset of WW2, but it loses some of its impact with an unclear portrayal of its central protagonist.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – No
Well, today we are looking at our third Dunkirk related film in the last year. Dunkirk (see review) looked at the retreat on the ground, sea, and air, Their Finest (see review) looked at how Britain used the retreat to mobilise the populace, and now Darkest Hour looks at the politics behind it all. Today we are exploring the rise of Winston Churchill from being an outsider of the political spectrum to a wartime ruler facing the might of Hitler and his European blitzkrieg. So in today’s review, we are going to look at the acting and how it captured that moment in time.
TL;DR – A harrowing look at a moment in our past that we need to deal with if we want to avoid repeating our mistakes.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This year after watching the simply amazing Okja (review) and Train to Busan, a film that redefines a genre and one I really need to write something on, I decided to try and get out and see more Korean cinema. Now, unfortunately, it can be a bit difficult to find here in Australia, but thankfully a cinema near me does get some of the new releases from Asia from time to time. So today I continued my exploration of Korean cinema with the fascinating The Battleship Island. So what is the film about? Well how far would you go to protect your daughter from the world around her, what would you do break a revolutionary leader out prison, how far would you go to exploit the people under you to make a quick buck? These are some of the questions The Battleship Island tries to answer.
TL;DR – Beautiful and haunting, spectacular yet emotional, a must see film.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Wow, just wow, I had high expectations walking in to see Dunkirk because I have always enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s films, to this day I think Inception would fit squarely in my Top 10 films of all time. Indeed, even when I don’t like a particular Nolan film like Interstellar, they are still technically brilliant. But nothing prepared me for Dunkirk, and now I know I am writing this after just seeing it, and that in time things might change, but as I sit here, I can’t help but feel that this is Nolan’s best film to date.
TL;DR – Where Their Finest excels is in creating the world of WW2 United Kingdom and what it was like to make a film during this time, but it is held back a bit is in its slightly clunky script.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
It is at the depths of WW2, Hitler is on the move everywhere, the allies have been forced to retreat from France, London is under almost daily bombings during the Blitz, and the USA is refusing to get involved, it is the darkest of times. However, it is also a time of great change both within society and also within the film industry, with pressures to boost moral but also the need to engage with women in a way that they have never done before. Within this complicated setting, we have the Ministry of Information who is trying to make a film about the Dunkirk evacuation, the biggest military retreat in history yet also a great source of national pride as the whole country mobilised to save the troops from the approaching German Army. This is a great setting for a film, it deals with a lot of issues that feel very much of the time yet still relevant today, but can it maintain your interest for the whole film, well that’s what we are going to look at today.
TL;DR – Hacksaw Ridge might be one of the best war movies I have ever seen, stunning visuals, a strong cast and emotive storytelling, I highly recommend going to see Hacksaw Ridge
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
So here we are in 2016, the Cubs are doing well at baseball, England voted to leave the European Union, and I’m talking about a Mel Gibson directed film which may just be my film of the year … ok at this point we all just have to agree that 2016 has been a really weird year. But strange as it may be, nothing can take away from the power that is Hacksaw Ridge, it is a stunning film, but also a really emotional film, and all of that comes down to the amazing power of the cast, the work of Mel Gibson with direction, and the rest of the crew in producing such a powerful film.