Tom Hardy

Dunkirk (2017)

War is hell. Absolute hell.

And that is exactly what Christopher Nolan has chosen to portray in his latest venture, Dunkirk. However, unlike Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge with their glorious actions sequences, Dunkirk rather takes on a subdued approach to the war.

Christopher Nolan is an absolute visionary of a director, with his back catalogue including Interstellar, The Prestige and the Batman trilogy. It’s an absolute change of pace from showing the quest to leave the planet, to the evacuation of Dunkirk, a key point during the Second World War for the British forces.

What’s always been interesting in Nolan’s filmmaking is that he shows a diverse range of how to tell a story from Momento to The Prestige. He chooses to have Dunkirk shown in a linear method with three intersecting stories from the air, the sea and the ground. And that is where we find Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) running the streets of Dunkirk eluding German fire as ‘We Surround You’ flyers cascade around him in one tense sequence.

And the tension doesn’t stop there. For the entirety of the film, the tension never takes it foot off the pedal. The constant changing of the tempo between the land, the sea and the air was crucial to keep the tension at boiling point throughout Dunkirk.

Christopher Nolan also manages to convincingly display glimpses into the hellishness of war, channelled mostly through Cillian Murphy’s shell-shocked soldier and his apprehension to continue heading into battle. But also the recognition from the civilian perspective, as Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and his father, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), share a nuanced nod to not disclose information to the shell-shocked soldier aboard.

The narrative choice is possibly one of the most interesting choices, but it is key for the tension to be kept at a high level. But what is more interesting there is a certain absence of a traditional protagonist held within the film, but rather having The Mole, The Sea and The Air being characters within their own right and having characters placed throughout.

Normally Christopher Nolan allows the screen to be drenched in the characters, giving them time to be invested in, but the narrative method doesn’t allow this as time became a key factor in each of the segments. But there comes in the brilliance of the cast behind Nolan’s Dunkirk. Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh managing to exhibit the perfect amount of emotion that is needed regardless of how bleak the situation is and regardless of the screen time, especially when Home arrives.

Long-standing music collaborator Hans Zimmer chose to intertwine his score with occasional ticking, giving that reminder time is incredibly precious in these situations. This motif is carried throughout the three segments, as Farrier (Tom Hardy) keeps a close eye on the time to gauge his fuel.

Dunkirk is an incredible piece of filmmaking and Christopher Nolan showed a wonderful skill of narrative structure as the film progressed through it’s 100+ minute runtime and the motif use of time. The cast gave unbelievable performances, especially for the screen time each member received. It is potentially the tensest I’ve been in a cinema when watching a film and it was incredible.

Without the need to show the explicit war sequences, Christopher Nolan managed to give Dunkirk an incredible feel for the war by the incredibly loud action sequences from the get-go. By having the air sequences shot incredibly close to the nose was great and incredibly effective for what was needed on the screen. Overall, there’s little to dislike with Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan continues his incredible visionary filmmaking and remains one of the best directors in the business today.

Advertisements

The Revenant (2016)

Hot off a successful award season, The Revenant is slowly winding down it’s impressive six-week run and I managed to get in a watch. (albeit late to the party I know, but still)

Leonardo Dicaprio in the run up to this film was tipped to finally take home that famed Best Actor Oscar. DiCaprio gives a rather excellent performance as Hugh Glass, a man well travelled in rural America, that at the time is being discovered and pillaged by a groups of American and French pelt hunters.

Emmanuel Lubezki, who previously worked with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on Birdman, is responsible for the jaw-dropping, vast beautiful picturesque backdrops of America. However, it’s not just the backdrops that are fantastic, the camera work is dizzyingly close to the action and downright immersive, especially from the first scene onwards. Inarritu has managed to continue his fantastic use of camera work from Birdman, and making film seem like one big tracking shot and fully intoxicating camerawork throughout the film. (But in the good way)

revenant2015

Often with these big picturesque and fancy films, it’s let down by the characters, or the story. With The Revenant it’s not the case, both keep up the high level of filmmaking and enjoyment with the central characters revolving around Hugh Glass (Leo), Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Henry (Domnhall Gleeson) and Bridger (Will Poulter). Naturally Leo takes center stage with Tom Hardy playing the adversary, but the supporting cast comprised of Poulter and Gleeson ups the ante and enjoyment level.

My only issue with the story comes with the pacing of the film. After the whirlwind start to the film, and the bear attack, the films pace slows dramatically. Between this and final act (if you could call it that) the films pace is slow and could have done with shaving off. However, this doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment because as Glass wanders the rural American landscape, the shots and scenes are enchanting and a pleasure to watch on-screen.

tom_hardy_91447

I thought the music was a massive success in this film, as the diegetic sound is simply outstanding. The creaking of the trees was the most evoking sound throughout the film as Glass spends nights in the woods recuperating and all that can be heard is the creaking of the trees, enhancing the mood of the film and immersive tactic employed by Inárritu.

As with the fantastic sound, acting and story, the effects were incredible, but admittedly, it was gruesome. I won’t divulge too many details on this, as it could ruin the storyline, but Glass’ bear attack wounds, the horse scene and the whirlwind opening scene all showcase this fantastic use of effects and the very brutality of these effects throughout the film.

anatomy_of_a_scene_-_the_revenant_-_2

Inárritu has created a fantastic piece of filmmaking and throughly enjoyable. That being said, it isn’t exactly the perfect piece of film, but it’s not far from it as it has everything. An intriguing backstory from Fitzgerald and Glass, the evoking and immersive sound and of course a film rife with action completed with the stunning backdrops and scenes with the help of Lubezski.

If the film could’ve been shaved off by anywhere around half hour the film would’ve made me settle more instead of me looking at my watch half way through the run time. The film was worthy of the Oscars it won though, including Best Actor, but I cannot comment on Best Picture as I’ve not seen Spotlight. All this being said, I’m rather glad I caught this at the cinema because it was such a good cinema experience to watch unfold, with the intriguing and mysterious character, the creative and incredible effects and the immersive action scenes.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

George Miller has returned to his post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland for the fourth time, but for the first time since 1985 after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Now if you’re unfamiliar with Miller’s first instalments of the series, the basis of the films are an ex-cop Max Rockatansky who seeks vengeance for his family who were murdered.

Mad Max: Fury Road however, is different, I’d say Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is leading the charge in Miller’s action-packed adrenaline-fuelled showpiece. Now with this film being the fourth in the Mad Max series, having a previous knowledge of these films is not strictly necessary, but knowing he’s a vengeful man, that all forms of civilisation have collapsed and gangs rampage throughout the wasteland.

Possibly my favourite scene in the film.

Possibly my favourite scene in the film.

Max (Tom Hardy) is captured in the film by a group of Immortan Joe’s Warboys and becomes a blood donor for the very sick Nux (Nicholas Hoult) or as Nux calls Max, bloodbag. Immortan Joe in a bid to get more guzzling (fuel) and bullets, sends out a war party led by Furiosa driving the war rig. They go off track shortly which leads to Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) discovering that Furiosa has taken his five wives, or breeders as they are known as to Joe, to chase after them. This is where the fun starts.

It’d be fair to say this is where the excitement happens and it’s largely non-stop aside from a few scenes here and there. Firstly it’s the battle for the war rig as Furiosa drives straight into a sandstorm (That Max somehow survives on the back of Nux’s car). Then comes the excitement of the canyon bikers and the war rig doing battle. What essentially happens is a constant battle for the wives between Immortan Joe and Furiosa/Max. But what they’re battling for rings through as Furiosa seeks redemption for what happened in her childhood and the wives wanting hope rather than being ‘things’, as they painted on the room wall ‘We are not things’.

Imperator Joe

The mass spectacle in the film is something that is simply jaw-dropping but rather enjoyable. The action sequences are simply incredible and none of them are tiring, or even slightly the same. Admittedly, there are many explosions, but in the way they are filmed was just exhilarating to watch unfold.

Coupled with the music that was involved, a variety to say the least, was simply fantastic and worked perfectly with the film. The war drums blended into the background when the war parties grew closer, to the guy shredding on guitar constantly (he must’ve been knackered) but then the overlaying orchestral music worked perfectly with what was being unleashed on the screen.

Now it’s not often that I mention cinematography or costume/make-up design in films, because it’s just something I’ve never been wowed by, but George Miller’s team was simply fantastic. The cold harsh blue over the marshland was simply fantastic. But the design that went into the cars, the make up, the costumes was just outstanding and an absolute joy making the film even more compelling to watch unfold.

My favourite character I must admit was the rather intriguing Nux. A follower to the death of Immortan Joe and led by the promise that he’ll be carried into the gates of Valhalla by Joe himself is enough the send Nux on the most insane mission. But when he fails. That when things get interesting, as a character who wants nothing more than to welcomed into Valhalla discovers life outside of the war parties and even develops affection.

One of the war parties Furiosa had to fight off.

One of the war parties Furiosa had to fight off.

Alas, everything cannot be perfect in the film. Unfortunately, the actual story is where the film falls flat. Everything else was really enjoyable, the acting, the action sequences and so on so forth. But the story was just a bit naff.  I don’t want to spoil it, just don’t expect the biggest plot twist to evolve.

Overall, this is an excellent film and definitely worth the hype and praise that it’s been receiving recently. George Miller wanted to create this ride of a lifetime at the cinema that he used to experience himself and I believe that is exactly what he’s done. The film is exciting, fast-paced and of course (as I’ve mentioned) an absolute joy to watch. The characters themselves are excellent, even though Max is a man of few words, Furiosa leads the charge helped along with Joe’s wives, mainly Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) as Joe’s favourite, probably helped by her being pregnant. This mixed into the intoxicating rhythm by the war drums and Miller’s excellent use of orchestral music makes this an excellent picture and one worth watching. (In the cinema if you can)

“Oh, what a lovely day”

9/10

My Top Films From 2012

I realise this should have been posted before the end of 2012, but oh well. I was going to go see Life of Pi on New Year’s Eve, but I ended up working and what not, so unfortunately it will not be included.

It was a good year for films, with the beginning of The Hobbit being unveiled, to the continuation of the James Bond saga and the capping off the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Of course, actually choosing my favourite film from the past year is difficult. For one, I cannot remember all the new films that I have seen, and also many great films did come out. There were many great films that came out, but I thought I could narrow it down to a top five.

Number 5: 21 Jump Street

For me, 21 Jump Street was good. I enjoyed it. Coming from knowing no knowledge about the original television series, so I cannot tell whether or not it was anything reminiscent of the old series, all I know is that Johnny Depp, who was in the original series, cameos in this film. The enjoyment came from the laughs provided, in particular the chicken lorry that blows up, after a series of gas trucks and other stuff not exploding. It was refreshing seeing Channing Tatum appear in a comedy role and not be a pretty boy that he appears to do, Magic Mike, need I say more? Either way, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make that classic role, the brains and the beauty. And they do it really well, becoming brothers, in more ways than one. If you like films that have those funny consequences, then this film is one for you, the two out of favour, rookie cops are sent undercover to a high school to break up a drug ring. You expect laughs and consequences and that’s precisely what you get. Can’t fault it, aside from the ending as it opens up on to a possible sequel, which I believe wouldn’t work, or would just be terrible.

Number 4: Moonrise Kingdom

I found it tough to place this film fourth, as I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan and have loved every single one of his films. For some reason, when I watch his films, I know what to expect, but I don’t know what to expect at the same time. Moonrise Kingdom includes an all star cast of Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray to name a few! It’s just an excellent film, that I thoroughly enjoyed, in which we experience two children who decide to run away after falling for each other. Of course it being a Wes Anderson film is has a very nostalgic feel generally, as well as being set in the 1960s of course, coupled with the acting abilities of this cast, it makes one excellent film for 2012, and would definitely be in my top 5. It could be one of my favourite Wes Anderson films.

Number 3: Prometheus

Prometheus, visually, was the superior film for me. Some of the shots that were included astounded me. It was simply immersing me in a whole new world. Michael Fassbender was fantastic in this film as David. However, the story progression left many frustrated as ‘answers’ so to speak are not given. But if it gives Ridley Scott the chance to leave us in awe at this whole new world, I would enjoy that. A lot. Set as a prequel to the Alien series, two doctors find a constellation in which a moon could be hospitable. They believe this could be our origin and go searching for it funded by Weyland Coorporation, they find something, but obviously I don’t want to ruin it. For the visual spectacle that has made the sci-fi genre stronger recently, this film is top dog. Unfortunately the only thing making this film a top five for me is the visual spectacle put on show. Only David (Fassbender) stand out massively in an acting role for me as he is brilliant. He perfects the role of being a robot that is meant to be a human, but obviously as you can tell there is something peculiar about David throughout the film.

Number 2: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Being a massive Lord of the Rings fan, this film was always going to be in here somewhere, but I decided not to have it top, even though this film is absolutely fantastic. Only due to reading the book before hand did I pick up a few errors, but then again I cannot be too critical as there this is the usual case. For one, I loved the ending of the The Hobbit and thought it fantastic. Freeman was also fantastic as Bilbo. I am certainly excited to see the next part, however I can only imagine a few areas will be left out due to the amount of the story they have to cover within the second film. Alas, I believe that Lord of the Rings fans will only be able to bear with The Hobbit, as it is long and in some parts slow and I can imagine if you didn’t like Lord of the Rings trilogy, you wouldn’t like The Hobbit. The sequence in which the dwarfs are singing about Erebor sent shivers down my spine as that was just a fantastic scene as well as the scene with The Pale Orc and the tree. The second part has been nicely set up and I cannot wait for it.

Number 1: The Dark Knight Rises

Someone asked me what my top film was, and it was between The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises. When they said I could only watch one, I have to choose The Dark Knight rises as I will never tire of the brilliant sequences and Bane’s terrifying character. It is the end of the trilogy by Christopher Nolan and it is a spectacular one. Admittedly, it’s not the greatest ending and neither is it to the trilogy as majority of people will say The Dark Knight is a better film. I am impartial as I really enjoy all three films for their different aspects. The opening scene in The Dark Knight Rises however is one of the greatest things I have seen. Of course, there are some annoyances but that is of course natural to the films. My big annoyance was Bane being killed off so simply and there was no reference to him afterwards. Granted it was Talia’s grand scheme of things, but still, he was really badass. The ending was not brilliant due to the open questions left in place, such as how did Bruce Wayne really survive, will Joesph Gordon Levitt take over as Batman, or become Nightwing? What will happen to Gotham now? It was quite frustrating to say the least, but the most well-rounded film I believe after the great visual displays, exciting action scenes, a shock – albeit not a great one, but a shock nonetheless – and great acting displays by Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Gary Oldman and also Anne Hathaway.

Well, they are my top films. I’ve made a kind of pact with myself to see as many films as I can that come out this forthcoming year, although I’ve already got my heart set on few, such as Lincoln, Life of Pi (I know it came out last year, but I’ve got to see that), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Gangster Squad, Only God Forgives and Man of Steel – This list is near endless. So I’m going to try and get a post out for every one of them. I can see a different take on Fairy Tales can be a theme for next year, as Jack The Giant Killer has popped up and Snow White and the Huntsman last year. We shall see on that one.

A mention for The Avengers, as many people enjoyed it and what not. I did not. I just found it a reason to make money as Superheroes were making money at the box office at the time. The last half hour of The Avengers and Dark of the Moon were very similar and it just annoyed me as they are two totally different films. For me, it just lacked on a whole massively and could have been improved in various degrees.

Thank you for reading, I would love to know what you think of my selections and whether you agree, or disagree with them. All feedback is welcomed!