The Corner

At The Movies, Technology Isn’t Everything

There’s no surer way to be reminded of the formulaic nature of even good Hollywood filmmaking these days, and the dearth of original ideas, than to sit through several consecutive previews for similar films. Naturally, whenever you go to a movie these days, the studios ensure that you see…several consecutive previews for similar films.

On Saturday, I went to see Rogue One for the second time with my father and my son on the big IMAX screen. We were treated to an array of previews for upcoming action/sci-fi/fantasy/superhero films, some that will probably be better than others, but all of which looked pretty much alike when you run them together that quickly – Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Fast and Furious 8, the next Spider-Man movie, the next Transformers movie, the next Planet of the Apes movie. And wedged right in the middle was a heart-stopping 7-minute trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.

The Dunkirk trailer was unusually long and revealing, but what jumped off the screen even more than that, compared to the other trailers, was the low-tech nature of the action, which succeeded in accentuating the stakes for the characters. There were no robots, no superheroes, no amazing cars, no miraculous tricks, no action slowed down or speeded up to hyper-speed. The men on the beaches struggled with the simple act of navigating a man on a stretcher across a shattered dock. The ordinary Englishmen set out over high seas in a simple family fishing boat. The aerial combat was between rattletrap propeller planes; Nolan made sure you could hear the bolts straining and the wind rattling the cockpit and feel the terror of watching the propeller stall out in mid-air when the gas gauge got too low.

I have nothing against the magic of modern filmmaking of the sort in the Star Wars or Marvel Avenger films, and it may well be that Dunkirk is not as gripping a film as the trailer. But in a marketplace crowded with world-destroying robots and lasers, it was really remarkable to be reminded how powerful it can be to strip down onscreen action to its most primal elements, and how courageous were the men who went to the first truly mechanized war with what now seem like such primitive implements.

Dan McLaughlin is an attorney practicing securities and commercial litigation in New York City, and a contributing columnist at National Review Online.

Most Popular

White House

Trump and the ‘Racist Tweets’

What does “racist” even mean anymore? Racism is the headline on President Trump’s Sunday tweets -- the media-Democrat complex assiduously describes them as “racist tweets” as if that were a fact rather than a trope. I don’t think they were racist; I think they were abjectly stupid. Like many ... Read More
White House

The Trump Steamroller

As we settle into high summer and the period of maximum difficulty in finding anything to fill in hours of television news, especially 24/7 news television, two well-established political trends are emerging in this pre-electoral period: The president’s opponents continue to dig themselves into foxholes that ... Read More

Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar Is Completely Assimilated

Beto O’Rourke, the losing Texas Senate candidate who bootstrapped his way into becoming a losing presidential candidate, had a message for refugees who had come to America: Your new country is a hellhole. The former congressman told a roundtable of refugees and immigrants in Nashville, Tenn., last week: ... Read More

We All Wanted to Love the Women’s Soccer Team

For the first time in my life, I did not root for an American team. Whatever the sport, I have always rooted American. And if those who called in to my radio show were representative of my audience, many millions of Americans made the same sad choice. It takes a lot for people like me not to root for an ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift -- comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More