Dunkirk ★★★★

Nolan at his most precise, with a story perfectly calibrated to his strengths and another ambitious structural gambit. I need to see it again though to see if the emotions, already built into this survival tale, will register more along with the awe. Will just say now that I seem to prefer Nolan when he tackles something with ambition almost, or a bit, out of his reach, so that he inevitably needs to wring more naked, productively messy emotions more out of his premise (ending Batman's legacy on a big-scale scope in TDKR; finding deep-rooted emotions in Inception's multiple layers; throwing himself fully into sentimentality to ground the vastness of Interstellar).

Still a great flip side of Saving Private Ryan's opening scene; whereas SPR throws viewers right in the middle of a concentrated, bloody, chaotic war zone, Dunkirk's time-lapse structure puts us in the temporally disoriented minds of those waiting and struggling for ways out of battle. High-alert intensity seem to make events bleed into one another. Days pass by in what seem like minutes, and vice versa. New faces gone instantly, or familiar, can't-quite-place-it ones bob into view. And we are able to register the events more than in one or two instincts -- with questions about legacy and one's moral self -- only afterwards.

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