Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan – 2017) A-

On an IMAX screen this looks formidable and all-immersive as we follow three timelines leading up to the evacuations of British soldiers from Dunkirk during the early years of WWII. It opens with a spectacular shot of pamphlets falling from the sky letting the soldiers know that they are surrounded. That’s all we need to know. It ends with another great shot of a plane gently gliding and landing on a beach…yes this was made for a huge screen and it is worth it. We have a soldier on the beach, a fighter pilot providing some air cover in amazing dogfights and a small boat with a father and his son heading to help with the evacuations. War really sucks and we feel it in every moment here. Dialogue is sparse and the plot is very simple. The Germans bomb the beach, sink the ships from the air and from u-boats and there seems to be no way off.

Lion (Garth Davis – 2016) B

We meet a lot of people in this emotional and sweet true story but it really is about one person and his search for himself. Good performances and good pacing serve the story very well. He was 5 or 6 when he was lost in Calcutta and by various miracles and luck he managed to not get nabbed by the seedy underbelly of that place. He ended up in an orphanage and soon after adopted by a very nice Australian couple. As an adult Saroo has these memories of a brother and a mother in a poor distant Indian village. He keeps telling himself that he is Australian but the memories keep seeping through and he spirals into depression. It’s not that he does not care for his mom and dad but it’s like an itch that needs scratching really bad. To go back, to try and find that place whose name he cannot even remember correctly.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates – 1973) B+

He has no friends. Robert Mitchum plays Eddie perfectly as a chameleon who is trying to survive and who is the ultimate example of a guy who know his audience. He is a small time criminal selling guns to the mob for bank heists. He is also trying to stay out of jail since he has a hearing coming up and needs favor with a Boston detective who can help him out. He strong arms the guy who gets him the guns, shows respect to the guy who is robbing banks and pleads with the detective that he will get him information to collar someone for something hoping that would help. It’s a film about this one guy and those who are using him or being used by him. It’s a cool 70s film with good performances and sparse film-work (in a good way). what we learn ultimately is that there are a lot of circles of people around Eddie and they all want something. That cannot end well.

The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – 2006) A

When we watch a movie part of the experience is a sense of voyeurism. If it’s a good one we get involved in the story, we start caring. We want to know what will happen to the characters and develop an emotional connection. It’s the power of good movies. What happens when the subjects of observation are real people instead of characters from a script? One might get even more attached. In this gem of a film set in East Berlin in the years before the wall was brought down we meet a government agent who is exactly in this predicament. He is a Stasi agent who is very good at his job, bugging and spying on citizens suspected of crimes against the ruling party. When he is tasked with bugging the apartment of a playwright and his actress girlfriend he slowly becomes involved in what is happening. His ideology is challenged by characters he starts caring about. Corruption and injustice that he was previously blind to becomes more unnerving. The film is perfectly plotted and acted. It gives us a clear picture of the sad and tragic world that was East Germany all wrapped up in the story of one man and his decisions between right and wrong.