Agatha Christie, 20th-century’s master crime novelist, is the highest-selling novelist of all time.
With 2-billion books sold, she’s behind only the Bible and Shakespeare.
But a quick survey of my inner and outer circles would either show that people in general just don’t read anymore or that pop-culture — in America — has room for Sherlock Holmes but not for Hercule Poirot, Christie’s master sleuth who’s appeared in 33 of her novels and a set of films, cinema and television, the last being 2013’s Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case with David Suchet ending a 24-year turn as the detective for the United Kingdom’s ITV.
Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in Murder on the Orient Express, a movie with a stacked ensemble cast featuring the likes of Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Willem Defoe, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. It could have done no less — watch any crime procedural on television, and you can spot the master criminal just by the guest appearance.
The battle and escape at Dunkirk was a defining point during the first stages of World War II — it ultimately rallied the British who were at one point considering a conditional surrender to Germany. The safe return of 330,000 British and allied soldiers with the help of civilian forces spurred a counterpoint to Germany’s blitzkrieg that was pushing its way through Europe with relative ease.
But the movie is a collection of parables that uses the event as a backdrop to explore the paradigm of human existence. Compressing time and space, Dunkirk is a microcosm of chaos, beauty, and the circle of human life.
The movie opens with a literal bang as German soldiers open fire on Allied troops who have, so far, maintained an uneasy and untenable position with their backs to the French oceanside in Dunkirk. A few hundred-thousand troops wait on the beach as, one by one, ships pick up the wounded first.