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Payne’s Picks

By Sarah Payne

Movies coming out

Dunkirk – July 21st – Director Christopher Nolan rarely disappoints. You may know him as the director of the last few Batman installments, and his last film, Interstellar, was released in 2014. Nolan wrote and directed Dunkirk, a film that tells the true story of Operation Dynamo, a plan to rescue 300,000 Allied troops from the Nazis during World War II. He’s given very little away about the film, which stars Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, and – my favorite – Tom Hardy. However, he told Premiere magazine that the film tells the story from three distinct perspectives – from the land, sea, and air. “For the soldiers embarked in the conflict, the events took place on different temporalities. On land, some stayed one week stuck on the beach. On the water, the events lasted a maximum day; and if you were flying to Dunkirk, the British spitfires would carry an hour of fuel,” he said. Nolan also shared that there is very little dialogue in the film; instead he focused on portraying each soldier’s unique experience.

Movie reviews

A Quiet Passion – Do you ever get a craving to see a movie by yourself in the middle of the week? This happened to me last month when I spontaneously decided to see A Quiet Passion at the Avon Cinema in Providence. I knew none of my friends would be interested in an Emily Dickinson biopic, so I thought it would be a nice weeknight escape. However, what most frustrated me about this film is the fact that it is a film. All the actors, especially Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson, seem to be under the impression that they are on a stage, in a play. They overact as one would in front of an audience that doesn’t have the luxury of reading expression up close on screen. Lines are shouted for effect. Even the simplistic setting of the film in Dickinson’s bedroom would be better suited for the stage. Beyond the horrendous acting and dialogue, Emily Dickinson’s story itself is quite boring. As a professional writer and English nerd, I appreciate Dickinson’s work, but that doesn’t mean I want to watch her sad, lonely life on film. Unfortunately, A Quiet Passion offers nothing new about Dickinson’s life, running a painful 126 minutes.

Wonder Woman – If you’ve been following my column for the last few years, you know that I’m pretty picky when it comes to superhero movies. In fact, the only one I really get excited about is Batman because I don’t have to suspend disbelief. He doesn’t have superpowers; he’s rich. I was willing to branch out for Wonder Woman, though, because I was excited to see a strong, female lead (played by Gal Gadot). And for the first half of the film, it’s entertaining to enter Princess Diana’s universe – an Amazon island ruled by female warriors. I also love the chemistry between Princess Diana and Captain Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine). Diana is strong-willed, but naïve when it comes to the realities of World War I. Meanwhile, Trevor is in awe of her strength and helps her navigate cultural norms in London (like being fully clothed and not wielding a sword in public). The film does run a bit long, though, and the last hour is a never-ending battle scene. It’s a disappointing way to close a story that takes so much time to build the relationship between Diana and Trevor. But I’m biased. I’d much rather watch a love story than two superheroes battling each other.

Alien: Covenant – Creepy synthetic androids? Check. Unknown planet? Check. Terrifying alien parasites? Check. For diehard fans of the Alien series, director Ridley Scott returns for Alien: Covenant, which checks all the boxes as a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and as a tribute to the original Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver. A fun surprise for me was seeing Danny McBride play a small part in the film. He’s a hilarious comedian and adds some much-needed levity to the more serious scenes. Katherine Waterston is also excellent, filling the role of the strong, female lead typical of the Alien series.