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I really liked Pop Star - Never Stop Never Stopping, and last night I was in the mood to watch Andy Samberg being an idiot again. I'd never heard of Hot Rod before, but I think I had a great time?

Obviously a big part of what they were doing was spoofing 80s movies like Rad (1986), which I used to rent from the video store over and over as a kid, so I was onboard for that. But the jokes were so much more over the top and bizarre than I was expecting; I think at this point I'm used to Samberg (and the Lonely Island, but mostly him) being the accomplished, lovable doofus of Pop Star and Brooklyn 99, but it was wild to see him in this much rougher, messier, even more experimental thing, where the jokes are so outlandish that maybe a third of them don't land - but when they do, they're frequently really, really funny.

Also it takes place in this weird non-era that I think puts it in the same universe as It Follows??

I dunno man, just wondering whether other people have seen this movie and what they thought about it. Is this a cult classic that I've never really seen people talking about? Or just a weird, forgotten movie that deserves better? I'm definitely going to watch it again at some point. I liked it. Just whoa.

2.2k

Among the complaints leveled at Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, I frequently see objections that the beach looked too sparse and wasn't crowded or chaotic enough, and that it didn't look like 300K soldiers together at once. I've seen this come up in /r/movies comment threads a lot.

While it's perfectly fair to dislike Dunkirk for any number of reasons, this complaint has always bugged me simply for the fact that the evacuation at Dunkirk, while certainly crowded, never actually "looked" quite like 300K soldiers all in one place at the same time. In fact, this specific aspect of the film, I would argue, is one that Nolan generally got right. I thought a little more historical context might help address what I think is a somewhat unfair complaint.

Yes, roughly 340,000 souls were rescued from the beaches at Dunkirk. However, some facts to consider:

  • The evacuation took nine days from start to finish
  • Most days fewer than 50,000 soldiers were evacuated, though there were a couple days where the totals surpassed 60,000
  • The evacuation zone actually encompassed something like ten miles. If you look at a map, the Allied defensive perimeter ran all the way up the coast to Ostend. About a third of the evacuations came from the beaches
  • The entire time the evacuation was under way, British and, especially, French forces were simultaneously fighting the ongoing Battle of Dunkirk, basically a rearguard action to delay the German forces and buy time for the evacuation. This would have involved thousands of soldiers that ended up evacuated and tallied in the 340K number, but who weren't on the beach at the start.
  • British forces steadily filtered into the town and didn't get safely behind the perimeter until days after the first troops had been evacuated. And the French fought up until the last day when 26K were evacuated from their ranks.

So when you put all this together, the situation was much more fluid than one might imagine, with an enormous number of people lined up as depicted in the movie, but spread over a large geographic area (including in the rubble of the town and in the dunes) over extended periods of time. This meant that you would have spots that were crowded, but also many spots that felt sparse and isolated, or that had long stretches of empty beach.

For example, take a look at a Google image search. You can see a real mix, with plenty of desolate white beach visible.

If you want footage:

Now one might argue that, even if the film is actually pretty historically accurate as films go, it's not Nolan's job to give a history lesson but rather to capture a certain essence of the event, and show scale and chaos (even if it means departing from reality) as Joe Wright did with his famous tracking shot in Atonement. I can understand this; at the same time, though, making a bigger show of scale wouldn't have been true to the soldier's individual, personal experience, which is the story Nolan wanted to tell. We're aware of the scale of Dunkirk because we can look back and know what ultimately transpired, but the average soldier stuck in the midst of it would only have had uncertainty, isolation, the dread of waiting, wandering around, periodic scattering during air attacks, etc. They wouldn't necessarily have been boxed into a crowd like at a football game. So not only was Nolan's more sparse or desolate approach historically accurate - it was also truer to the psychological experience of many an "average" soldier.

If you want a really terrific historical treatment of these events, check out Walter Lord's The Miracle of Dunkirk.

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