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Archive for the ‘Gary Oldman: MASTER ACTOR’ Category

Darkest Hour

10 Feb

Darkest Hour – directed by Joe Wright. Bio/Docudrama. 125 minutes Color 2017.
★★★★★
The Story: Distrusted, disliked on both sides of Parliament, Churchill is made PM and must face them and Hitler’s overrun of western Europe and the ambush of the French and British armies at Dunkirk.
~
The character takes over the actor and, since the character is Winston Churchill, the character takes over everything. But as the purpose of every other character is to squeeze Churchill into a thinner man, the drama consists in Churchill’s temptation to let them do it.

It is a dark hour indeed when a human tempts himself with his own ethical demolition. What Churchill stood for was the expansion of himself into economic security, based on feats of derring-do with prodigies of eloquence to make them known, both before and after. At this he was brilliant.

The question was, was he an honest man? He cared about his country, but did he care about his countrymen? Born in Blenheim palace as grandson to the Duke of Marlborough, did he even know his countrymen? One of the most effective scenes in the picture puts him in contact with them. And one of its most effective strands is his relation to his young female private secretary.

How come Gary Oldman was ever for a moment considered for this role I shall never hope to know. But the question slips from consideration as his Churchill faces the whopper crises of the spring of 1940. Whatever Oldman does here as an actor – and we all know that he is capable of plenty – I hand full credit to him and to his implacable makeup for allowing me to become lost in Churchill’s doings.

I lived through this era. I remember Churchill. I remember picking up the phone when I was 8 and finding Randolph Churchill on the other end, for my father syndicated his journalism. I lived through Dunkirk, for my people were English, and every scrap of news hit home in our household. I read Churchill’s histories of the War later.

But I never knew the key personal crisis he faced from within his war cabinet and from within himself as it seemed he must treat for peace with Hitler who had swallowed Hitler whole and was about to dine on England.

Will Hitler be invited to dinner? So, here I see Churchill collapse into doubt. Collapse. Churchill, a larger even than his own life personality in our world, a living cartoon of himself, is seen human, even by himself.

I like the movie. I liked the depth of its drama and beauty of its filming and the spot-on of its costumes – for I remember the period and what we wore.

But all that is set aside in my personal-biography interest. I was doing what I was doing here, while Churchill was doing what he was doing there. Now I get to put them together.

 

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

20 Jul

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises – directed by Christopher Nolan. Comic Book Action Adventure. Batman wants to retire. but no; the forces of virtue and of evil must be met. 164 minutes Color 2012.

★★★★★

A tragic aura dogs the claws of Batman, or at least dogs the velvet slippers of Bruce Wayne, and it’s fragrance imbues all who come in contact with him, from Michael Caine, who plays his loyal godsbody all the way to Anne Hathaway who plays the Catlady, a sort of second story jewel thief whose wit almost cuts through the sorrows of our hero, valiantly played by Christian Bale. Hathaway supplies the only comic relief of this piece and the actress is brilliant at it; one sighs with relief whenever her impudent self appears before us. As to the rest of the cast, they are the best actors in the world. Gary Oldman as the chief of police with a dark secret of his own; Tom Hardy as the heaviest heavy in all hell; Marion Cotillard as the billionairess out to save the day; Morgan Freeman as the keeper of the flame of Bruce Wayne’s fortune and dangerously advanced experiments. Then we have Matthew Modine as the cocky cowardly cop and Liam Neeson who is the cause of it all and Joseph Gordon-Levitt terrific as Batman’s volunteer helper. And the reason all is well with the acting is that the script is tops, with many diversions and excursions, examinations, and analyses, blasts and bombs and a flying bat jalopy and leaps and bounds, and so many long corridors of interest and imagination that one is lost, until the story finds one again at the end, the ends, the loose ends. I shall spoil nothing by saying that the obvious difference from this and all other Batman movies, aside from the superiority of the script, is that the big branagan at the end, and lots that lead up to is, is shot in full daylight. Batman was ordinarily a nocturne, wasn’t it? The Dark Knight operated only in The Dark Night? Because? Because why? Because he was a bat!

 

 

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy

02 Jan

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy — directed by Tomas Alfredson. Spy Suspense. There is a Russian spy secreted in British Intelligence, but which of the four suspects is it? 127 minutes Color 2011.

* * * * *

You gaze as into an aquarium, and past your eyes many strange things pass, among which one of four identical fish may be poisonous. One is riveted by the strange slow movement of things back and forth before one and by the subterranean places one visits. This particular aquarium stretches from London to Paris to Budapest to Istanbul. Among the hunters and protectors of the poisonous fish is the premier English actor Gary Oldman, playing a man of great reserve, watchfulness, and respect. The barest response. The civillest tone. And a pair of glasses that hide everything or nothing, screening a face as closed as a shell. He is supported by a cast, which is as exquisite and apt as he is, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds (although his character needs to be given more play), John Hurt, Kathy Burke, David Dencik, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbactch. As we move through this aqueous stillness, we are held by the deliberation of the scenes, places, tones, which float the vessel of suspense entirely, for we too know nothing. We too haven’t a clue. So we surrender to that ignorance of the truth upon which suspense is built, if we participate in what is being done to us visually. We wait for it to be announced, not to be fooled but to be revealed as co-agents of the crime. Clearly the director is master hand. Clearly the editor Dino Johnsâter and the photographer Hoyte Van Hoytema are master hands, as are the set designers and art directors and composer. The medium they deliver us into is the jell of suspense itself, so we are not vexed by red herrings but prompted by them. The piece is drawn from John le Carré’s novel set in the cold war, and the movie strikes into the very center of the dirty heart of war, whose mindset is a bureaucratic tenement. We have here the drab underpinnings of espionage, so dandified up in the James Bond movies of fond memory. The film is a gem, a masterpiece, not to be missed or dismissed. Brilliant on every level of execution and a very high entertainment indeed.

 

 
 
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