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Dunkirk

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Director Christoper Nolan lets us experience ‘Dunkirk’ by means of three storylines: one on land, one in the air, and one on the sea. With dialogue being minimal, it is all about the combination of visuals and Hans Zimmer’s nerve-wracking score to tell the story. And that works very well.

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The Duellists

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Ridley Scott’s debut as director is a historical drama, based on a Joseph Conrad story, set in the time of Napoleon. An impetuous hussar lieutenant Feraud (played by Harvey Keitel) stabs the son of an influential mayor in a duel, and another lieutenant d’Hubert (played by Keith Carradine) is sent to arrest him. Keitel’s character, rather than returning to barracks, challenges his arresting officer to a duel instead, though both survive the encounter.

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Their Finest

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Catrin Cole (played by Gemma Arterton) appears married to a handsome but struggling artist/painter Ellis Cole (Jack Huston), and against his wishes decides to get a job in order to shore up the couple’s frail finances. She is hired as a writer to help the established writing team. Catrin is sent to investigate a potentially stirring tale of a pair of twin sisters who take their drink father’s boat to Dunkirk to help in the rescue, and concludes that, despite some serious issues, the material may make a flagship propaganda film.

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Anthropoid

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Reinhard Heydrich was Hitler’s third highest ranking officer, who had earned himself nicknames such as the Butcher of Prague and the Blond Beast. The Czech government was in exile in London at the time, and they sanctioned Operation Anthropoid: to assassinate this animal in Human Form.

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (7/10)

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‘Directed by Michael Bay’ has sort of become synonymous with sexy visuals of violent action, cheap thrills and/or mega explosions. This movie has those elements, but it’s trying to be more as well.

The story is well-known as it was reported extensively by global media at the time: the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and a nearby secret CIA compound (which clearly wasn’t quite ‘secret’ enough…).

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Eye in the Sky (9/10)

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“Eye in the Sky” is not the first film to tackle the moral issues associated with drone warfare – “Good Kill” was one, “Unmanned” another, but it is the best so far. Helen Mirren plays a British colonel leading a complex military operation involving Somalian terrorists. The operation unfolds unexpectedly and she has to decide what to do next under the all too watchful eyes of her immediate boss (Alan Rickman) and a cast of meddling politicians, all anxious to cover their own backsides and avoid taking morally complex decisions at all costs.

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American Sniper (6/10)

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The real story of Chris Kyle, US Navy Seal and sniper, is remarkable. He was credited with 160 kills in the Iraq War, more than any sniper in US military history. In Clint Eastwood’s depiction this is a man with strong moral convictions, who believes he is defending his country and shows no regret as he skilfully picks off militant after militant who present a threat to his colleagues.

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The Water Diviner (4/10)

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Now how best to describe this directorial debut of Russell Crowe… A pretentious hotchpotch or a melodramatic mishmash?

Connor (Crowe) is the water diviner, an Australian farmer with the gift to find things deep under the soil. At his farm, he uses this rare skill to find water in drought-stricken Victoria. When his three sons join the battle of Gallipoli in 1919 they die amongst thousands of other ANZAC soldiers. Guilted into action by his wife, Connor travels to Turkey to use his special skill to find the bodies of his sons so he can bring them home for a proper burial.

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Fury (6/10)

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Fury is visually very impressive. Technically speaking, the cinematography, editing and soundstage are excellent, and seeing this on a big 4K screen with 7.1 surround is fantastic. Lots of pin sharp scenes whilst the thumping of shells is all around you.

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’71 (7/10)

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Jack O’Connel is the strong lead in ’71. He plays a British soldier, Gary, expecting to be stationed in Germany, but instead his unit ends up ‘helping’ in Belfast. Early in his deployment he accidentally gets separated from and then abandonded by his unit in a Belfast ghetto, leaving him to find a way to survive amongst ‘the Troubles’.

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