CRITICS DECLARE ‘DUNKIRK’ A MASTERPIECE & OSCAR CONTENDER 133

Christopher Nolan’s new film Dunkirk doesn’t go on general release until Friday, but after the review embargo was lifted yesterday, scores of critics have finally been allowed to share their immensely positive thoughts, with several praising, among others, One Direction star Harry Styles who makes his acting debut in the film.

Daniel Krupa of IGN said:

“Dunkirk is ambitious, monumental filmmaking, to say the least, but director Christopher Nolan handles it all masterfully, delivering an unconventional and stunning war movie. The cast of unknowns are compelling, with Harry Styles handed some of the more dramatic scenes which he handles with skill beyond his experience. He can definitely act.  The whole movie is breathtaking to look at, in fact, with every frame artfully constructed. Seeing it on IMAX is unquestionably the best way to watch it, with approximately 75% of footage filmed to suit the format; it creates a towering and overwhelming experience. Nolan and an outstanding cast of both young unknowns and veterans are able to depict not only the overwhelming, inhuman forces in play but the power of small acts of decency and bravery.”

Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Nashawaty gave Dunkirk an A, stating:

“Nolan has for all intents and purposes conjured the British response to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. If you can imagine that film’s kinetic, nerve-wracking 29-minute opening D-Day invasion stretched out to feature length, this is what it would look like. It’s a towering achievement. Shot in 65 mm and IMAX film, Dunkirk is a totally immersive experience. For two hours, all of your senses are taken over. Layered on top of it all is Hans Zimmer’s propulsive score. Zimmer, an A-list composer who has provided some of the more bombastic scores to the past decade’s biggest blockbusters, has dialed down the orchestral shock and awe here and has gone for something more harrowing and unrelenting (in a good way). It’s a full-body sensory experience that sweeps you up in its thrall and places you directly into the fog of war. It leaves you emotionally exhausted by the time the end credits roll. This is visceral, big-budget filmmaking that can be called Art. It’s also, hands down, the best motion picture of the year so far.”

Amanda Keats from Live For Films wrote:

“Dunkirk is relentless from start to finish, demanding your full attention and never letting go. The cast are all (yes, all) completely engrossing. You care about each and every one. You feel their pain and desperation throughout and you just hope against hope that they’ll make it home. Relative newcomer Fionn Whitehead carries the film with apparent ease, connecting audiences with one man’s story in a film about so many thousands of men. Dunkirk is absolutely breathtaking cinema. Literally, I think I forgot to breathe. Every scene, every frame is immersive, powerful and vivid. A visual masterpiece. Stunning.”

The Guardian gave the film a 5* rating, with Peter Bradshaw commenting:

“This is a powerful, superbly crafted film with a story to tell, avoiding war porn in favour of something desolate and apocalyptic, a beachscape of shame, littered with soldiers zombified with defeat, a grimly male world with hardly any women on screen.  It is Nolan’s best film so far. It also has Hans Zimmer’s best musical score: an eerie, keening, groaning accompaniment to a nightmare, switching finally to quasi-Elgar variations for the deliverance itself. Zimmer creates a continuous pantonal lament, which imitates the dive bomber scream and queasy turning of the tides, and it works in counterpoint to the deafening artillery and machine-gun fire that pretty much took the fillings out of my teeth and sent them in a shrapnel fusillade all over the cinema auditorium. Christopher Nolan might have found some inspiration from the Dunkirk scene in Joe Wright’s 2007 movie Atonement, but otherwise he brings his own colossal and very distinctive confidence to this story. It’s a visceral piece of film-making.

IndieWire‘s David Ehrlich also gave it an A, writing:

“Dunkirk is a stunning work of raw spectacle that searches for order in the midst of chaos. It’s the most contradictory film that Christopher Nolan has ever made, and — not incidentally — also the best. Dunkirk is a movie without a proper beginning or an end, without supporting characters or side-plots or any other kind of periphery. It’s a movie that’s told from the middle, that expands from the inside out until the spectacle of it all is so immense that it blots out everything beyond the tick tick tick of the terror at hand. Few movies have so palpably conveyed the sheer isolation of fear, and the extent to which history is often made by people who are just trying to survive it — few movies have so vividly illustrated that one man can only do as much for his country as a country can do for one of its men. But Nolan, by stressing that grim truth to its breaking point, returns from the fray with a commanding testament to a simple idea: We may die alone, but we live together.”

Empire‘s Nick De Semlyen gave the film five stars and said:

“Effectively one enormous, stunningly rendered and thunderously intense set-piece stretched to feature-length, Dunkirk thrusts you into a pressure cooker and slams the lid on. Dunkirk is first and foremost a mood-piece, and a hugely effective one. It doesn’t hurt that Hans Zimmer is on ferocious form, his score by turns throbbing like a heart and ticking like an angry stopwatch, so nerve-wracking that at times it feels like an additional enemy front. The phrase “Dunkirk spirit” was coined following the events of May 1940, and Dunkirk captures it in spades. A spare, propulsive, ever-intensifying combat thriller, Nolan’s history lesson is both a rousing celebration of solidarity and the tensest beach-set film since Jaws.”

Charles Bramesco of Polygon commented:

“In the parlance of college radio DJs, Dunkirk is all killer and no filler. Nolan ditches the foreplay and drops the audience into the action, then refuses to allow a single moment to get settled. (If you let it, Hans Zimmer’s relentless score will seize control of your heartbeat and forcibly quicken your pulse as danger spikes and ebbs.) Nolan keeps the intensity high by concentrating on the incidental survival challenge s that war leaves behind. In all three prongs of the film, the highest highs come when soldiers are simply trying not to drown…even if it didn’t stand head and shoulders apart from its handsomely financed multiplex neighbors like a bronze monument next to a green plastic army man, Dunkirk would still be a towering achievement.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy wrote:

Dunkirk is an impressionist masterpiece. Nolan, who wrote the script himself, presents the brutal truth of the situation with lashing, pitiless directness. All of Nolan’s films are intensely visual, but it’s fair to say that Dunkirk is especially so, given the sparseness, and strict functionality, of the dialogue. This is not a war film of inspirational speeches, digressions about loved ones back home or hopes for the future. No, it’s all about the here and now and matters at hand under conditions that demand both endless waiting and split-second responses. Hans Zimmer enormously strengthens the film with a work that equally incorporates both sound and music to extraordinary effect.”

Robbie Collin of The Telegraph also gave the film 5 stars, noting:

“Christopher Nolan’s astonishing new film, a retelling of the Allied evacuation of occupied France in 1940, is a work of heart-hammering intensity and grandeur that demands to be seen on the best and biggest screen within reach. You could describe Dunkirk as a silent film at heart – and the superb Hans Zimmer score, battering, surging, metronomically counting off the seconds, is such a constant presence it’s more or less an accompaniment. Stephen Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, that double-bill of masterpieces from 1998, rewrote the rules of engagement between cinema and war, and changed the way many of us think about both. Dunkirk is as unlike those films as they are each other, but all three fall into a tradition of capturing real, enormous horrors at intimate quarters that can be traced as far back as Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). That task – perhaps more than any other in cinema – takes a filmmaker at the peak of their powers. This is the work of one.”

Variety‘s Kristopher Tapley said:

“The film, a riveting account of the defense and evacuation of British and Allied forces on the shores of Dunkirk, France during the Second World War, might well be Nolan’s masterpiece…if Nolan doesn’t finally land a notice from his filmmaker colleagues in the Academy’s directors branch, something is…amiss. Fionn Whitehead makes a solid anchor as an English soldier trying desperately to evacuate, and Tom Hardy is enigmatic as an unflappable fighter pilot, a sort of guardian angel in the skies. But Rylance adds something else entirely. Dunkirk arrives as the first slam-dunk Oscar contender of 2017. It’s one of the great entries in a well-worn genre that has never, ever seen anything quite like it.”

Lindsey Bahr of The Associated Press wrote:

“Dunkirk is not a typical war movie. There are no brothers in arms, no flashbacks to simpler times and pretty wives and girlfriends left behind…there’s no talk of Hitler, or Germans or battlefields or trauma or mothers. In fact, there’s hardly any talk at all, or, for that matter, even any characters in the traditional sense. But don’t be mistaken: Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” is a stone cold masterpiece. It’s a stunningly immersive survival film told in 106 thrillingly realized minutes. Nolan finds suspense at every angle, and ramps up the tension with the help of Zimmer’s ticking score. As many filmmakers experiment with the small screen, Nolan has only gone bigger and bolder with his commitment to film and IMAX. What a case “Dunkirk” is for the movie theater. Not only that, “Dunkirk” is far and away the best film of the year, and Nolan’s finest too. See it big and then see it again.”

A few lucky people have also seen the movie ahead and their reactions to the film have been as positive as those from the critics. You can see what they thought via tweets below.

 

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REVIEW: FALL OUT BOY PLUS GUESTS – MANCHESTER ARENA 29/03/18 37

Opening for a band as much loved as Fall Out Boy are is never particularly easy, but with considerable flair and a lot of sparkle, opening act MAX, although currently largely unknown to UK music fans, does his best to warm up the fast-filling arena with a set filled with songs that showcase his impressive vocal range and his rather fancy dance moves that could be considered ‘stolen’ from the likes of Michael Jackson. His US smash hit “Lights Down Low” is perhaps the best received song he performs, and as time goes on, the crowd do become more receptive to his calls for them to clap or sing along. Come the end of his set, MAX, with another thank you to everyone who has come out in time to see him, exits the stage to warm, although not considerably loud applause.

Second support Against The Current fare much better and almost bounce their way on stage with an energy that doesn’t let up until the second they leave. There’s an air of Paramore’s Hayley Williams about front-woman Chrissy Costanza and her powerful voice, perhaps showcased best via “Gravity”, easily soars through the air of the vast venue, captivating and entertaining those watching the band on stage. With a new album due out later this year, there are likely to be big things ahead for the trio from Poughkeepsie.

As the lights go down for the third time, a countdown appears on the big screens and as the clock ticks down, the screams and cheers of the now packed arena proceed to get louder and louder, reaching almost ear-piercing volume when Fall Out Boy make their first appearance, and kick things off with “The Phoenix”, complete with on-stage pyro. From there, it’s a case of them blasting out hit after hit, with Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz marching from one side of the stage to the other, working, as they always have, in harmony with one another, and encouraging the crowd to dance and jump.

“Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” results in the venue almost vibrating from the sound of 12,000+ people singing along to the chorus at the top of their voices, while the catwalk that splits the arena floor in two sees plenty of use from all band members aside (obviously) from drummer Andy Hurley, who parade their way down it, instruments or microphone in hand.

Taking a seat at a grand piano, Stump shows off just how good his vocal range is with a performance of “Save Rock and Roll,” during which he covers both his own role in the song as well as that of Elton John. It’s a far cry from the EDM, heavier sound to the song that most fans are used to, but it works, and goes down a treat.

While most performers tend to stick only to playing a main stage, the band then proceed to delight those seated at the back of the arena by appearing on a two-part B stage, which raises the quartet high into the air, putting Patrick and Pete in particular at almost eye level with those ‘up in the gods.’ Renditions of “Dance, Dance” and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” work the crowd up into a frenzy, and the cheering which follows lasts until the band leave the B-stage and make their way back to the main one.

With the show quickly drawing to a close, the band maintain the high energy momentum they’re so well known for with “I Don’t Care”, soon followed by fan-favourite “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race”, while “Church” also makes its live debut. The four song encore which follows a few minutes later begins with “Uma Thurman”, but it’s the middle two tracks, “Thriller” and “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” that see the venue once again come alive, shaking with the force of those both in the seats and on the floor singing and dancing along. Closer “Saturday” meanwhile sees Pete get really up close and personal with the fans as, making his way down the catwalk, and laying his bass guitar aside, he reaches out to them as they sing – practically scream – the final few notes, just as confetti explodes from the ceiling all around them.

With such a vast catalogue of hits and an army of dedicated fans, there was little doubt tonight’s Fall Out Boy show was going to be anything less than great, and judging by the grins on the faces of the thousands in attendance as they made their way to the exits, it certainly was just that.

 

 

TAMI STRONACH REFLECTS ON ‘THE NEVER ENDING STORY’ & TELLS ALL ABOUT HER NEW PROJECTS 43

Catapulted to fame in the 1980’s thanks to her role as the Childlike Empress in The Never Ending Story, Tami Stronach is a name few film fans of a certain era have ever, or will likely ever forget. Having recently launched several exciting new projects, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Tami to find out how the Childlike role impacted her life and career, which one venue she’d most like to perform in and what’s left to tick off her bucket list.

TITL: How does it feel to know that The Never Ending Story is still as well loved now as it was back upon its original release?

Tami Stronach: It’s incredible. Obviously I am surprised by the staying power, very pleasantly. I don’t think any of us could have anticipated it. I think the story, which was translated from Michael Ende’s book, has these really powerful messages. All the whimsey and magical characters add to it, but underneath all of it, there really is a depth to the story. For me the film is about valuing the child within us…In really dark times, it is really our ability to imagine our way forward that is going to save us. Historically, I think that is always true. The people who can vision a better future and vision a way forward manage to see doors and openings that the rest of us don’t.

TITL: What do you think it is about TNES that makes it so timelessly appealing?

TS: This notion that in each of us resides the power to imagine a better world, a kinder world that we can actually manifest if we believe in our vision enough. That is a powerful message and I think it is one we all need to hear so we don’t give in to apathy.

TITL: Do you have any favourite memories from your time on set/with the cast and crew?

TS: I spent a lot of time with the make-up artists and puppet designers in beer gardens when we were not working. They were really fun adults to hang out with – creative and warm. I learned how to flip coasters and do all kinds of tricks because obviously I wasn’t drinking beer.

TITL: How did landing the role of the Childlike Empress ultimately impact your career? Would it be fair to say that the role is and was your career defining moment?

TS: It definitely is what I am best known for since film has the capacity to reach such wide audience and its very fun to be part of something that means so much to so many people. I view The Never Ending Story as a wonderful defining doorway into what would become a lifelong commitment to a career in the arts. Any opportunity I get to be creative is something I will jump at and I’m happy to do that across a lot of different platforms, dance, choreography, theater, music, puppetry, audio recording–in a small theater or in a massive one–on camera or off.

TITL: You’ve never truly ‘left’ Hollywood having then gone on to do dance and theater work in NYC, but you’re back now, having launched the Paper Canoe Company, which specialises in family friendly work. Where did the concept for it come from and what’s the ultimate aim?

TS: Paper Canoe was something that I founded with my husband after my daughter was born. We wanted to come back to family entertainment because we saw first-hand how impactful stories were to shaping our daughter’s worldview. Also it was something we could do as a team–pool our collective experiences in the arts and make stories that would be meaningful to our daughter, her friends and beyond.

TITL: You’ve also got several other projects in the pipeline including a series of collaborations with indie folk/rock artists in Williamsburg, which marks your first ‘return’ to music since your ‘Faerie Queen’ album in the 80’s. How and why did you decide/feel that now was the right time to work on the music side of your career some more?

TS: After 20 years of being a choreographer in contemporary dance it feels slightly mad to just dive into all this new terrain – but having a kid is a great chance to relive some of your childhood. I’m actually going back to my roots with singing and it is really fun. This project is about how music can be a unique kind of storytelling. No one is making narrative albums any more. You’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to make singles because everyone is streaming and shuffling playlists etc. But I’ve never been so into following the rules of what you are ‘supposed’ to do. Greg and Jake and I dreamed this. And we’re doing it. Beanstalk Jack has won a couple of awards. We’re really proud of it.

TITL: With so many projects ongoing and in the pipeline, how to you find the time to prepare and be part of them all? Do you try and plan as much of each day as you can or are you more of a ‘let’s wake up and see where the day takes me’ kind of woman? 

TS: You have to prioritize what project you will focus on when. I tend to set a goal for a three month block of time and then evaluate where to go next. It’s a lot of juggling for sure but it keeps things interesting which I like.

TITL: What can you tell me about the live theatrical experience you’re hoping to unveil later this year? Are you excited about getting back on stage and performing the new material/production to audiences and how far and wide would you like the experience to go in terms of locations and venues?

TS: I love performing for live audiences and I’m looking forward to finding out how to build some visual support for the musical numbers for shows in the NY area. But to be honest, I’m actually focusing more on digital content right now…making a video, recording an audio book, turning Light into a podcast….maybe even creating a short film.

TITL: If you could perform in one venue anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

TS: It would be BAM Harvey. There is something so magical about that theater. Whenever I go there I feel overwhelmed with excitement even if the show I saw in the space wasn’t my cup of tea. Some spaces just make us feel awe – this is one of them. It’s both majestic and rustic…Sometimes architecture has a way of holding a group of people that just encourages everyone to feel connected. Theater at its best is aiming for that same connection.

TITL: Given that you were thrust into the spotlight at a time when social media and the digital entertainment era was still just a dream, how do you feel about social media and the impact it has on the entertainment industry as a whole? Is it something you use much of or are you more traditional in the ways you prefer to interact with people?

TS: Like everything powerful, there are two sides to the coin. I think that on the one hand, social media has allowed people to connect in unprecedented ways that I really value. I met my press agent Clint on twitter, and have made some other great friendships there. Now there really is an opportunity to have more of a direct exchange with people who you are really curious about following.

On the flip side, I think some issues are genuinely complex and can’t be thoughtfully or productively discussed in soundbites, and there is also a temptation to be more cruel in a format where you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of how your actions are affecting someone else were they right in front of you. I worry about a world where we are looking to oversimplify everything and the cost of that. If social media can be used as a tool to bring people together so that there is genuine engagement and face to face time as a by-product of that exchange then I think we are heading in the right direction.

TITL: What advice would you give to those actors/actresses and performers who are just starting out and hoping to emulate the careers of their idols? Is there one piece of advice you were once given that you still reflect on today?

TS: I think it’s important to pursue your passions but to allow space for your career to unfold in ways that you may not have anticipated. There is a balance between being determined and rigorous and being interested in and open to unexpected avenues.

TITL: Finally then, having already achieved so much, are there any other plans and ambitions you want to fulfil? What’s left to tick off on your personal and professional bucket lists?

TS: One of the values I inherited from my mother was to prioritize growing and learning. There is always a sense that if you were fulfilled and interested, that was the most important thing above how much money the project garnered or how many people liked it. Of course those external accolades matter and can be a useful benchmark in terms of making sure what you are making is relevant to other people. I do think it’s challenging to stick to your own sense of purpose and to live an authentic life if the things you value are less mainstream.

What excites me in the industry right now is how good TV is getting. Netflix shows, HBO shows, and all the streaming content coming down the pipe has transformed kinds of storytelling we can expect from those platforms. I’m also excited to see more women producers and writers and generally new voices cropping up in the industry which are escaping formula and offering us some really exciting shows. After having been out of the commercial acting game for so long, I’d love to do another big film or two at this stage of my life and tick that off my bucket list. But more importantly, I hope I’m lucky enough to keep being creative on a daily basis and inspiring and encouraging others to be creative as well.

You can find out more about the Paper Canoe Company by visiting the website and to keep up to date with Tami Stronach, you can follow her on Twitter.