tarantino dunkirk

The denizens of Film Twitter aren’t the only folks out there ranking their best movies of the last decade. Quentin Tarantino decided to get in on the action as well, stopping by The Ringer’s Rewatchables podcast to sing the praises of Christopher Nolan‘s Dunkirk. Tarantino says that Nolan’s World War II epic is his number two movie of the decade – a revelation that seems to even surprise Tarantino himself.

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1917 Sam Mendes interview

1917‘s seemingly death-defying camera work from master cinematographer (and recent Oscar winner) Roger Deakins is extraordinary as it moves through varying terrains in the guise of a single take, with no place to hide lights (he’s working in natural light most of the time). The result is a powerful antiwar statement couched in a tense and emotionally gripping work, as the camera seems to hover around the action as both a ghostly observer and a character in the trenches with the film’s leads.

1917 comes courtesy of director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall, Revolutionary Road) and his co-writer (and rising talent) Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the Penny Dreadful veteran who has also co-written Edgar Wright’s next movie, the horror-thriller Last Night in Soho/Film spoke with Mendes and Wilson-Cairns in Chicago recently to discuss the intricate process of mapping out the geographic journey of the movie’s two lead actors and how that impacted every other phase of the production, the emotional immediacy of making a film appear to occur in real time, and why the project was a deeply personal one for Mendes.
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1917 interview actors

The World War I epic 1917 is so much more than the sum of its single-take gimmick. The film is the story of two brave Lance Corporals — Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, from Blinded by the Light and Game of Thrones) and Schofield (George MacKay, of Captain Fantastic and Ophelia), who make an arduous and tense trek across what is supposed to be one active battlefield after another. The two young British soldiers are asked to deliver a message to the front line of a battle that is expected to launch the following morning. The message is meant to stop the 1,600 troops from charging into a trap that will result in the massacre of most of the men, one of whom is Blake’s brother. Along their journey, the pair stumble upon what is essentially the totality of the war experience at the time — when men with guns on horses were just beginning to be replaced by massively destructive tanks. As a result, the film gets more unbearably immediate with each passing minute.

This outstanding technical and heartfelt achievement comes courtesy of director/co-writer Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall, Revolutionary Road), who rehearsed both the geographic and emotional beats more like a stage play than a film where editing can be used to hide mistakes or combine the best parts of multiple takes. But by constructing 1917 to look like a single take, many of his directing tools were stripped away, leaving only the performances to carry the weight of this devastating story.

/Film spoke with stars Chapman and MacKay in Chicago recently to discuss how they made personal connections to a World War I story, the months-long rehearsal process that was required to pull off the single-take appearance of the film, and remembering the emotional heart of the story as well as their choreographed movement.
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1917 interview krysty wilson-cairns

1917 is a masterful piece of craftsmanship. Sam Mendes‘ one-shot epic takes a forward-thinking approach to its depiction of World War I, which is an almost apocalyptic vision. It’s a rare vision, too, in which the camerawork and technique are noticeable yet don’t detract from the experience. To write the ambitious war movie, Mendes called Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was a writer on the Mendes-produced Penny Dreadful and recently co-wrote Edgar Wright’s next film, Last Night in Soho.

Over the last few years, Mendes and Wilson-Cairns collaborated and wrote a handful of scripts together, but for one reason or another, they never became movies. After what they’ve accomplished with 1917, we can only imagine what they could’ve done together sooner. They aimed high and didn’t miss their target on this one. Recently, Wilson-Cairns told us about the earliest ideas for 1917, influential war poetry, and the advantages of writing a one-shot movie. [Warning: this Q&A contains spoilers.]

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1917 trailer final

1917 is a war movie unlike any you’ve seen before. Sam Mendes‘ World War I saga unfolds as if it’s one very long, unbroken shot. It’s not, of course, but Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins found a way to make it work, and work considerably well. Now there’s one final 1917 trailer to set you up for what Mendes and company have in store. Watch it below.

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1917 featurette new

Ready for a deep-dive into 1917, the latest film from Sam Mendes? A new, unusually long featurette goes behind-the-scenes of the World War I epic, with Mendes talking about the origins of the movie, and cinematographer Roger Deakins delving into how he pulled off the film’s impressive “one-shot” set-up. Watch the 1917 featurette below.

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1917 review

Not since Mad Max: Fury Road has a film so fully embraced the “motion” part of motion pictures. Sam Mendes‘ jaw-dropping, nerve-jangling World War I epic 1917 is designed to look like one extremely long take from start to finish, resulting in a film that almost never sits still. The clock is ticking, and the narrative thrusts the characters forward as if a strong wind is at their backs.

One-take movies are nothing new, and 1917 ran a serious risk of being gimmicky. But Mendes, working with master cinematographer Roger Deakins, uses the single-take concept to fully enhance the narrative. Best of all, the film underscores its technical prowess with a raw, emotional story that finds beauty struggling to push through all the muck and mire. In 1917, war is hell, but it’s a hell you can find your way back from as long as you remember your humanity.

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cgi james dean

Finding Jack directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh believed they had struck gold. Unable to find the perfect actor for a role in their Vietnam War drama, they decided to use cutting edge technology to resurrect one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, James Dean. Using digital technology, the co-directors would cast a CGI James Dean in a major supporting role in their adaptation of the novel by Gareth Crocker. Then, the backlash started to roll in: It’s a dishonor to Dean’s legacy, cinematic sacrilege, critics cried. And Ernst and Golykh were somehow baffled.

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midway review

In 2001, Michael Bay unleashed Pearl Harbor, a big, dumb, corny, effects-driven war epic about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the battles that followed. Featuring a lifeless romantic subplot and an exhausting runtime, it’s not what anyone would consider to be a good movie. But watching Midway, the new catastrophe from disaster movie maven Roland Emmerich that covers similar material, one finds themselves pining for the nuance of Bayhem. For all his flaws, Michael Bay at least knows how to stage a scene with human characters interacting (sometimes). The same can’t be said for Emmerich.

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finding jack

Today in terrible ideas: James Dean will return from the grave to star in the new movie Finding Jack. Dean, who died in 1955, will be brought back to life via CGI in the Vietnam War action-drama. Directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh say they have the approval of Dean’s family to perform this digital necromancy, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, the filmmakers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

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