All posts by Love Your Films

Christopher Nolan Starts The Oscar Race With A Bang In Dunkirk

War movies are as old in the history of film as westerns and comedies. Like all genres the better technology has gotten the more realistic they have become, from Howard Hughes Hells Angels to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, the aim has always been to due justice to what the men and women of war have gone through. The goal of putting the audience right in the middle of battle has always been the first priority. When Saving Private Ryan was released almost twenty years ago, it was rumored then WWII veterans experienced shell shock from viewing and its realistic portrayal. I keep mentioning Private Ryan because it has been the benchmark that has been set when telling the story of WWII and war films in general.

In the last 15 years Christopher Nolan has risen to be one of if not the best filmmaker over that period of time. From his breakout indie film Memento to his colossal Dark Knight trilogy, he has continued to wow audiences and those same audiences have anticipated his films with great fervor. Nolan’s fans have been eagerly awaiting his latest film Dunkirk and his entrance into the war film category.

I confess I wasn’t familiar, other than by name, of the Dunkirk battle of WWII if you can call it a battle. I attribute my ignorance of Dunkirk to the fact that it took place before the U.S. was pulled into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is most likely than in school and among American filmmakers this isn’t the most known or discussed battles. Dunkirk occurred when German forces had the allied troops made up of the British and French and forced to the shore of the English Channel where they were trapped and all but awaiting to be slaughtered.

The British navy deployed a minimal amount of destroyers that proved unsuccessful due to the German planes using the large target of the massive ships to drop aerial bombs and sink them. Soldiers and commanders were at a loss as how to escape the dire situation. Ultimately the British government requisitioned any citizen with a personal boat to sail across the channel to rescue as many soldiers as possible providing a smaller target for the German planes and the ability to go right up to the shore to pick them up.

One aspect of the film I quickly noticed of the film is that it has no lead character to move the story along. Instead there is the following of three small groups involved. One of these groups is the small amount of British Air Force planes dog fighting the German planes trying to provide enough relief to make escape possible. The next group is two extremely young soldiers willing to do anything to get out of the situation. Third is a father and son along with the sons friend using their small family boat to do their part to help in the rescue.

There is no better way to express the greatness of Dunkirk other than to say it’s a perfect film. With no lag in the story and pace of the movie it flows in a flawless way. The intensity is nonstop from the opening scene through to the end. I couldn’t look away from the screen for a moment having been so transfixed to every beautiful shot and angles Nolan used. The story of Dunkirk is the star of the film without question it is truly a telling of the horrors of war that anyone who has been involved in can most likely be proud to have told.

At the conclusion of the movie you will almost feel as you have been holding your breath for the entire two hours. Dunkirk has captured the fear and uncertainty that soldiers no doubt feel and go through with such authenticity that you are nearly brought to tears. No film I have ever scene has had such a gut shot of the aspects that war rains down on all those involved since the aforementioned Saving Private Ryan. Dunkirk has now done what Private Ryan did almost twenty years ago and it has set the benchmark for all war films to come. A bold statement was in my head immediately after and I was driving home, Dunkirk is a superior movie to Saving Private Ryan. That isn’t to take anything away from Private Ryan but there is not one bad or off moment in the film. The Oscar buzz has quickly started and in my opinion the discussion of best picture is over. I can’t fathom another movie this year coming close to doing what Dunkirk has done. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen, but I find it very unlikely. For all the wonderful movies Christoper Nolan has made, Dunkirk is his masterpiece and its unmistakable to anyone who experiences it.

 

Saying Goodbye To The Career Of Daniel Day-Lewis

It was announced this week that Daniel Day-Lewis will be retiring from acting following the release of his next film. With a film career that has had him working steadily for more than 35 years, DDL has become one of the most respected and acclaimed actors over that period. DDL has amassed five best leading actor Oscar nominations and three wins (the most leading actor wins for a male ever) seven Golden Globe nominations with two wins and six BAFTA nominations with four wins. His dedication to his craft and roles have become things of legend. His depth of knowledge of each character and preparation is most likely second to none. What makes almost all his performances so wonderful is that he has never taken a role for any selfish reason such as money or to receive top billing or to even keep himself relevant. He has no fear as an actor. No fear of failure or in his abilities. He is willing to go several years in between films so that he can work on something he actually believes in. He has been coveted by every top-tier director on the planet and has never disappointed any of them.

I’ve decided to create a list of his top performances in honor of the closing of one of the greatest acting careers ever amassed. With nothing to be ashamed of in his resume (unlike some other heralded actors such as Pacino, Nicholson and Di Nero), it is not a list to be taken lightly but here is my best effort at it.

The Last Of The Mohicans (1992)

Based on James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel about the French and Indian War, DDL teamed up with Michael Mann to play Nathaniel Poe the adopted half white Mohican. The dying tribe is soon thrust into the middle of the war of which they want no part to rescue the daughters of a British colonel. It is with Mohicans that DDL’s stories of commitment and never breaking character would begin. He learned to live on the land and woodwork with primitively with the tools of the time to aid him. This was his first taste of big budget Hollywood, and to the cinematic world, he did not disappoint.

In The Name Of The Father (1993)

Lewis garnered his second Oscar nomination playing Gerry Conlon, an Irishman living in London who was falsely convicted of an IRA bombing along with his father along with others. Conlon spent fifteen years in prison trying to prove his innocence with the aid of a British attorney. DDL being of half Irish stock himself felt a closeness and need to tell this story and did so spectacularly. He turned down the lead role in Philadelphia to make this deeply personal film. Tom Hanks took the role in Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and won his first of two consecutive Academy Awards. Had DDL taken the role instead of Hanks we could very well be talking about four leading actor Oscars (or if Hanks had not taken the role).

My Left Foot (1989)

The career of Lewis hit its highest level for the first time in 1989 when he won his first nomination and Oscar playing Christy Brown, an artist born with cerebral palsy who learned to paint and write with his only functioning limb. The physical abilities and what would become a theme in his performances, his commitment to the role would make the cinematic world stand up and take notice and be in awe of him which would not go away.

Lincoln (2012)

Teaming up for the first time with Steven Spielberg, DDL won his third Oscar playing possibly the most revered figure in American history, Abraham Lincoln. We were treated to such a performance that brought to life this figure in a way no one ever had. The former Ed president had been portrayed by a myriad of fine actors in the past but never had the authenticity felt as genuine than when he played him. It felt like the closest thing to watching film of the actual Lincoln, of which there is none. Aside from the physical aspects of Lincoln we were given a peek into Lincoln’s mind and thoughts and struggles. Once again his commitment would shine through in such a way that left the audience transfixed to the screen.

Gangs Of New York (2002)

Teaming up with a fellow Hollywood icon in Martin Scorsese to tell the story of the birth of the world’s melting pot, New York City. Lewis once again played a historical figure when he played William Cutting better known as Bill The Butcher who was known as the leader of a highly corrupted city who controlled all crime and criminals in the famed five points area. Fighting the politicians of the city’s corrupt Tammany Hall, a young Irishman gains Bill’s trust to exact revenge for killing his father years earlier. DDL was so committed to the role of Cutting that when he became ill on set, he refused certain blankets because they weren’t available in the period of his character. He would speak with a New York accent on and off set and never stopped being the butcher.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece about an unscrupulous oil tycoon at the turn of the century is, in my opinion, DDL’s finest hour. His creation of the character Daniel Plainview and all aspects of his personality is marvelous. The depth of the character leaves the audience in awe and makes you completely forget that it’s even acting that is being watched. The film itself is a work of brilliance, but it is nothing without Lewis in front of the camera it is HIS brilliance that makes it brilliant. It is performances like this that have left so many cinephiles extremely sad at the fact that there will be no more from him at all.

Wonder Woman Shows Women Can Dominate The Superhero World Just As Well As Any Man

With another summer comes another barrage of superhero movies to fill the summer blockbuster lineups. I have often been openly critical of superhero movies and the saturation to the market. For example, we are on the cusp of the second reboot of Spiderman in the last 15 years. Marvel comics have been largely the comic book company pouring out movie after movie with a small smattering of DC movies trying to get their foothold in the market. 2013’s Man Of Steel was the beginning of DC’s charge at Marvel and the beginning of the eventual Justice League movie. Last year we got a bit of a deeper taste with Bateman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Both movies seemed to just miss with fans and critics, unlike their Marvel counterparts which are adored by fans and have been reviewed in a relatively positive light by critics. Putting all that aside, DC has not been swayed and has continued ahead with their lavish plans and massive schedule of films.

This leads us to their latest effort throwing us into the Amazon world of Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot made her debut of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the aforementioned, Batman Vs. Superman. There has been quite a bit of buzz since then considering everyone knew this was to be the next DC film leading up to Justice League. For many of us, just the mention of Wonder Woman conjures up images of Lynda Carter spinning into her suit and bouncing bullets off her wrist cuffs. These images may soon be replaced with the new ultimate imaging of the character.

Director Patty Jenkins who is best known for directing Charlize Theron in her Oscar-winning performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster, was given the task to helm the story of the most powerful woman in the galaxy. In the world where feminism is at as big of fever pitch as it has been in many many years, this was a challenging and delicate task that needed a woman’s touch. Jenkins stood up and embraced the challenge with every bit of energy she has, and it shows.

The film she set out to make is the origin story of Wonder Woman and through her first foray into the civilized world. Diana Prince is learning to hone her skills when a World War I pilot, played by Chris Pine, crashes near her tribe and the Great War is soon brought to their village. After a battle ensues and the pilot is saved from the Germans with the aid of her people, soon Diana goes with the pilot into the modern world of 1918 and discovers a much larger sinister force at play behind the war and one who knows of Diana and all her skills. Diana is now set to save the world for the first of many times.

Wonder Woman has been praised by fans, critics and women everywhere as the blockbuster movie that finally shows how much ass women can kick. Not only quickly becoming the film for the feminist this year, but also the movie that may have DC finally one up Marvel depending on the success of Spiderman: Homecoming. Regardless of the final numbers ad outcome, Wonder Woman has shown that DC is still very capable of competing in the superhero movie market. The correct formula seems to have driven Wonder Woman in the right direction and has left fans dying for more from the queen of the amazon.

10 Years Since We Said Goodbye To TV’s Ultimate “Family”

June 10th marks the ten year anniversary of the final episode of The Sopranos. The hit show from HBO broke every kind of mold and barrier ever laid out by television shows before it. The pilot was taped exactly 20 years ago despite the fact that the series didn’t air until two years later. The Sopranos changed things for everyone on the show and changed the way everyone watched television shows afterward.

The world that everyone was sucked into on that day in 1999 left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Mafia and gangster stories have been a hot topic since the invention of moving pictures. In one episode of the show, there is a discussion about the representation of Italian Americans and their relation to organized crime. One of the characters mentions that mafia and gangster pictures are considered American classics with the likes of films like The Godfather leading the way. This is a very true statement and what The Sopranos did was drive home the reality of that world with full force.

The Sopranos could easily make an argument for the most perfectly set up television drama in history. There are a small group of shows as perfectly cast as The Sopranos; I would include shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men where every actor was paired perfectly with their character. With those shows mentioned, it was The Sopranos that blazed a trail for shows to approach the line of what had been considered acceptable for audiences and take a giant leap over that line.

Leading the way was the shows “Boss” Tony Soprano and the engine behind that character was the brilliant James Gandolfini. Gandolfini IS and always will be Tony Soprano and this in no way should take away from his acting abilities or be looked down upon as a typecast. The fact is there is no one else who could portray that character and show his layers better than he did. It is a testament to his acting abilities and is the kind of legacy every actor wishes they could leave.

Every leading man needs his leading lady, and no one represents NY/NJ women from that life better than Edie Falco. The teaming of these two brought dynamic to the show that gave it yet another level to its depth. Their troubles and quarrels were so real that they could leave you chilled, but their deep love through all of it was unmistakable.

One other aspect of the show that leaked its way into everyday society was the aspect of therapy and dealing with depression. Even though the show debuted in 1999, the act of taking anti-depressants was still seen as taboo in many circles then. The show created a type of open dialogue about this topic and showed how someone who is seen as mentally and physically untouchable could even need help. Prozac went from the drug everyone knew but didn’t take to the drug Tony Soprano was on and not that big of a deal. That’s not to say that dealing with depression and its medication wouldn’t have become as acceptable as it is now WITHOUT the show, but it did begin a discussion in a way people were more comfortable with.

So it’s been ten years since the world said goodbye to Tony Soprano and his family and in a few days, it will have been four years since we said goodbye to James Gandolfini and all the moments and memories he gave us in his magnificent and all too short career. In this age of binge watching shows and new shows being dropped in full seasons, maybe next time you aren’t sure what to binge on next you go back and spend time with the family that changed it all.

Life Has Nothing Original To Offer Sci-Fi-Fi Fans

When it comes to alien sci-fi films, there isn’t much that hasn’t already been done. This is especially true after 1979 when Ridley Scott completely turned alien films on their head when he expertly mixed horror and aliens in one movie. Everything since then has had elements of Scott’s Alien in it.

The key to telling one of these stories is coming at it with a fresh outlook or, making it appear fresh. It’s very rare that a movie like last year’s Arrival comes along and does something completely new with the story of alien discovery. The movies all seem to be a cheap knockoff of Alien or E.T.

Earlier this year Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds starred in Life which kind of came and went with a whimper in the theaters and wasn’t built up as much of anything of substance for the two stars. It is the story of a space exploration crew who has found a living organism on Mars and is bringing it back to earth. This is the first alien ever discovered, so their return is eagerly awaited. Things go seriously wrong when the single cell organism rapidly begins to grow by destroying the nearest living thing around it. The crew is soon held hostage while attempting to either contain or destroy the life form.

As I stated before many alien or extraterrestrial films are just a retold and regurgitated version of the 1979 classic. Life is no different despite its many attempts to be its own film it follows very similar plot lines. The one difference I noticed is that the crew is in a constant state of zero gravity which gives it a more realistic feel. The development of the creature from microscopic to full fledged being and a deadly monster is also a bit of a deviation. With all of this said, it’s not a bad film by any means. But there is nothing new or groundbreaking here either; the film is just an entertainment piece for those that enjoy this genre. A positive to be taken away is that it isn’t a long film, so it doesn’t give itself time to trip over itself. It moves quickly and smoothly which makes it an enjoyable experience, but if you are a stickler for originality and a massive Alien franchise fan, it may be best to steer clear of this one.

Roger Moore Leaves The Most Extensive James Bond Legacy

James Bond is without a doubt one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. The film series is the longest running and consistently successful film franchises of all time and while Sean Connery will always represent the quintessential Bond, for many generations of fans Roger Moore will be the most recognizable as the famed 007. Moore played Bond 7 times over a span of 12 years which is the most for both in the history of the franchise. Despite his popularity as Bond his films have often been criticized for being too campy and never having the allure of the Connery films, but for many he IS James Bond.

Moore had big shoes to fill when he took over the franchise from Connery who had returned for one final film after George Lazenby only managed to last for one film. Moore had a great ability not to let criticism and the comparisons affect him even when Mr. Connery himself was critical of his performances. To Connery, he was just a TV star and not a true Bond, but as time would go on, we would discover that Connery has never really approved of anyone that has come after him.

Roger Moore would go on to make some of the Bond fans favorite Bond films like, Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun, Moonraker and the Spy Who Loved Me. Along with being the world’s most famous spy, the theme songs for many of his films would also be huge mainstream hits with the likes of Paul McCartney and Carly Simon.

Throughout his entire tenure as Bond and for years beyond up until his death today, May 23, 2017, he would be as classy and debonair as the man he will always be remembered for portraying. He was always available to the next actor for any advice they needed to make the role their own. He was the ideal British actor of the highest order. While he will always be remembered by most as Bond (and that’s a pretty good legacy to leave), he was much more than that, including his television career as The Saint which would also be turned into a movie starring Val Kilmer.

The James Bond family lost one of its giants today, and he is the first actor in the Eon Productions series who played Bond to pass away. His passing is without a doubt the third biggest loss the franchise has had after the iconic Ian Fleming and producer Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli who brought Ian Fleming’s imagination to life. Fans without a doubt are mourning the loss along with remembering the thrills he gave everyone. Thank you 007.

The Whirlwind Life And Career Of Robert Downey Jr.

The life and career of Robert Downey Jr. is more of a roller coaster than any movie he’s ever made. His well-documented legal and addiction troubles nearly derailed an acting career that was skyrocketing complete with an Oscar nomination, a season on SNL and being the lead alongside superstars like Mel Gibson all by the time he was 27. His decent into a life of addiction and prison time almost became more well known than any movie he had ever made. There are four movies that are the most pivotal movies in his life and career all for very different reasons. I’m going to break them down in chronological order and why they are so important in the life and career of Robert Downey Jr.

Before I lay out the list, there are a few films I should mention first that were also important films for Downey but not as game changing. The film Air America was one of the first where he was truly a marquee star. It was a buddy comedy with Mel Gibson who was hitting his peak of fame. The second film was Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas. This movie was one of the first where everyone thought he was really starting to turn the corner. His performance was highly praised, but he was still a few years away from sobriety and the fact that he wasn’t sober overshadowed his performance. Third and fourth came back to back with Tropic Thunder which earned him his second Academy Award nomination and he was the all the talk of the awards that night despite the fact that he didn’t come home with a statue. He was now famously 5 years sober and clearly at the top of his acting talents and showing how truly great he really was. The fourth was Sherlock Holmes which earned him the golden globe and provided the opportunity for his peers to celebrate him and his new life and serious commitment to his career. It was an emotional yet very deserved moment.

1. Less Than Zero (1987)

Less Than Zero was the first time he was billed with Jr. attached to his name and the beginning of some of the legendary party stories for RDJ. He has been quoted as saying this was the first time his drug and alcohol use spilled over into the production and not just during his downtime. Director Marek Kanievska told him and his costar Andrew McCarthy (who battled his own addiction problems) to go out and party to get into character. This direction probably wasn’t the reason his abuses took such a foothold but more than likely they sped things up. The film was panned by critics and even the author of the source material book of the same name. It has since gained more appreciation in the 30 years since its release, but its foreshadowing can’t be ignored.

2. Chaplin (1992)

RDJ blew the doors off his portrayal of the legendary screen icon and gave Downey his first Oscar nomination, and it was well earned. Despite all his faults, he was able to completely transform himself. It would also turn out to be one of the last films for a long time that wouldn’t be plagued by his own demons. Most critics and fans looked at Chaplin as the movie that showed what RDJ could have been.

3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

2003 is the year Downey got sober and finally stayed sober for which he credits his current wife and her support for him. Downey came to realize he couldn’t go anywhere other than prison or the grave and he has famously said that he is allergic to drugs and alcohol, he always breaks out into handcuffs. It would still be 2 years before he would make an impact and headline a major motion picture and prove to people he was more committed to his career than to ruining it. The buddy picture that was written and directed by the writer of the massive hit Lethal Weapon had RDJ star alongside Val Kilmer and proved to be a highly underrated movie and showed Downey’s comedic brilliance.

4. Iron Man (2008)

The superhero resurgence and current domination can be traced to one film, Iron Man. The juggernaut of Marvel Comics becoming kings of the box office is where it is because RDJ WAS Tony Stark. Every embodiment of that character is deep inside him, and he OWNED it. He had been sober for 5 years and was still busting his butt to prove to be people his commitment to acting. He became the biggest star in the world with this movie and solidified himself as 100 percent back in the game. It is wonderful to know that there is a whole generation of movie fans that will only know him at this point in his career. It is forever in his film contracts that he has to provide insurance for the films in the case he was ever to relapse, and his salary is held until the film is complete. He will always have to fight his demons and in a sense will always be paying for his past but thankfully all movie fans he convinced us all that he is back.