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Darkest Hour – 2017 Joe Wright
- There are really two stories here: Wright and Oldman–
- For Oldman it’s a massive triumph. He completely disappears as Winston Churchill and, instantly, puts himself above other actors who have played him (Finney, Spall, Gleeson, Burton, Hoskins). Oldman is praised more often than Wright by the critics. Oldman is, truly, one of the great screen chameleons playing and disappearing into roles (this is the school of Paul Muni rather than the movie star (Wayne, McQueen, Tom Cruise) that forces their own personality on the character). Oldman plays Sid Vicious and Oswald). It’s a particularly good companion piece with Sid & Nancy as Oldman came in as the actor so authentic in his portrayal you couldn’t understand what he was saying and he’s the same way here with his grimaces and mutterings. Other heavyweight performances that come to mind are PSH in Capote and Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln portraying larger than life figures with such precision, power and authenticity. Those two actors won best actor their year.
- For Wright it’s a return to form after the disastrous Pan. It’s nowhere near as good as pride and prejudice and we’re a decade removed from his greatest film, Atonement, but it’s directed with real energy. Anyone who calls it a stodgy biopic wasn’t paying enough attention to Wright
- There are 2-3 slow overhead (going up) crane/tracking shots. They are computer enhanced (which is too bad) so I don’t really admire the craftsmanship but I do admire the formal element of the reoccurring shot.
- Wright’s camera is often rolling
- There is a clear preoccupation of Wright’s camera with the typewriter—certainly that reminds me of atonement.
- Reoccurring shot of the stands of the parliament floor
- It’s manipulative but I fell for that subway scene of Churchill interacting with the common people hook, line and sinker
- It’s a different film, but in 2017 it still is a bit in the shadow (where it belongs by evaluative artistic comparisons) with Nolan’s gargantuan masterpiece also on the topic of Dunkirk
- Speaking of Dunkirk, Atonement’s greatest shot is of the shoreline—that wonderful long-take
- Recommend but on the high side towards a HR