Joshua Chong, Senior Arts & Culture Editor
Christopher Nolan did to film what Stephen Sondheim did to theatre. Epic in scope yet forthright in its intentions, Nolan’s Dunkirk revolutionizes the over-beaten mould of the traditional war drama and creates the genre’s first-ever “concept film”. Like Sondheim, who first introduced the “concept musical” to the mainstage with Company, which traded in a traditional plot for an avant-garde narrative structure that evokes certain themes and ideas, 1917 examines the Allied force’s Dunkirk evacuation through three different timelines and plotlines: from the ground, the air, and the sea. It could have easily turned out to be a cloy gimmick, but Nolan is careful to ensure that the concept is there to serve a purpose: offer an intimate, fly-on-the-wall glance at one of the greatest miracles in military history. That’s not to say that 1917 is void of bombast and spectacle — of which there are many shots of fiery explosions and incandescent crashes. But those moments are secondary to the portraits of hope, loss, and bravery that are woven throughout the film.
Mank (2020) | Netflix
Vikram Nijhawan, Arts & Culture Staff Writer
David Fincher tells the story of the creation of one of cinema’s most iconic works, Citizen Kane, highlighting the journey of the film’s little-known co-writer, Herman J. Mankiewicz. Mank’s first script was written by the director’s late father, the journalist-turned-screenwriter Jack Fincher. In this manner, he parallels the figure of Mankiewicz himself. This is not just a biopic set in old-school Hollywood, but also a profound work of metafiction that forces us to question the meaning of authorship, and the blurred boundaries between constructed narratives and reality. Fincher conveys this on multiple levels: from the father-son duo crafting the actual film, to Mankiewicz competing with legendary Citizen Kane creator Orson Welles within the fictional portrayal. The film functions as a time capsule for classic cinema, from the black-and-white aesthetic to fuzzy acoustic quality; however, Fincher also includes plenty of winks to his modern audience through sleek stylistic choices. Gary Oldman holds this entire production together, delivering a poignant performance in the titular role. The end result is a multi-layered, thought-provoking inquiry into the writer’s journey, which ultimately reminds us of the power of storytelling.
Little Women (2019) | Netflix
Aamyneh Mecklai, Arts & Culture Staff Writer
This film refreshes the coming-of-age tale that revolves around the much treasured March sisters. Its incredible cast — Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep — make the film a contemporary watch that is still true to its 19th century genesis. This film will bring you relentless laughter and grudging tears, but most importantly, a comforting warmth as you watch four independent girls venture into the world. Beautiful costumes, Yorick LeSaux’s warm and intimate cinematography, coupled with its grandiose production design made the film all the more wonderful to watch. But Little Women isn’t just a romantic motion picture: it celebrates love, ambition, and independence. Directed by Greta Gerwig, this film positions the novel for the next generation of little women. Chronicling the lives of four girls that are different in their likes, temperaments, and ambitions, this unforgettable film has a spirit of its own and makes for a warm and comforting watch.