Simon Stone’s The Dig features stellar performances, magic-hour photography, and some reoccurring overhead shot choices
Clearly Stone is an admirer of Malick- sun flares on the lens, the camera pushing through the blades of grass and shots at just the right time of day (magic hour)— this is the most sunshine I’ve seen in a British film- haha
Set in 1939—based on a true story of an archeological dig and find just as the outbreak of war against the Nazis looms— certainly the backdrop of war adds to the story’s immediacy
Stone goes to the overhead angle several times in his shot choice arsenal here—well done—in one scene Ralph Fiennes is nearly buried alive. Plus, the film is about the dig so it is key to get an aerial view of the site
A sublime stand-alone shot at the 39-minute mark as Carey Mulligan’s character gets her diagnosis – Stone’s camera remains at a distance in a medium-long shot obstructed by a window
Mulligan does good work here- and Fiennes is simply one of our finest actors over the last 30 years—he now has 18 films in the archives and the space between 2016’s Hail, Caesar! and The Dig is the longest quiet stretch of his career- but he seems poised to be an actor with 20-30 archiveable films including many career highlights that rank among the best work of that given year (even if this isn’t one of those)
The film does sort of stop being about Fiennes and shifts to the Lily James character—a weakness
I really enjoyed the motif of the low-flying spitfires reminding us of the WWII backdrop to this, and the threat of impending death. Also how it built to that great pay-off with the crashed plane, bringing the motif to its logical conclusion. Really lovely film here. I don’t think at this point last year you had two 2020 films for the archives.
@Declan- great call on the motif— and I think you’re right about 2020 vs. 2021 this yearly in the year. Quite often it is well into the spring before I have a few archiveable films– the change of HBO/Universal and Netflix.
Have you seen Let Them All Talk(2020) directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Meryl Steep?
@Malith- I have not
It isn’t on the level of Out of Sight and Traffic but still a very solid film. Lucas Hedges is in the cast as well.
Hey, what do you think of jim caviezel in the thin red line ??
This question has been asked, I believe, three times. On the Sean Penn page, it was answered by Drake:
“@Dukr– thanks for the comment and visit to the site- Jim Caviezel is fantastic. He’s not alone in that film, right? I think Sean Penn and Nick Nolte in particular are superb.”
I agree that he gives a very good quiet and contemplative performance, though I may slightly prefer Penn’s. I wonder if Caviezel’s character was inspired by Malick himself; both are introverted, intelligent men who admire nature.
I’m not certain which performance is better; both Penn and Caviezel are incredible. I love the film as it exists and would put it in my top 100 and probably top 50 as well but I can’t help but imagine how the Adrien Brody cut would’ve been since I like his performance relative to the extremely short amount of time he was in the movie.
I’m not sure I’d call Pvt. Witt (Caviezel) “intelligent” so to speak. He doesn’t come off to me as the brightest ray of sunshine in the world, but he is very reflective and contemplative.
You may be correct. It’s more his desire to learn and understand other cultures than any sort of academic intelligence that I was trying to describe.
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