Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

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domino harvey
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Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:45 am


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Bumstead
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#2 Post by Bumstead » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:00 am

Bruno Delbonnel is a phenomenal cinematographer, but his reliance on diffusion filters makes digital look even more digital. This is especially true for a period film that could have benefited from being shot on celluloid. This one looks like an expensive History Channel special, to be honest.

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Foam
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#3 Post by Foam » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:22 pm

I love Atonement and like Hanna, but Wright's visual style has developed into something really cartoonish--close to Gilliam or Besson almost. And it doesn't really seem to fit with this, like it didn't fit with Anna Karenina.

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knives
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#4 Post by knives » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:27 pm

I thought the aesthetic of Anna Karenina actually was the main thing making it into a great film.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:42 pm

Foam wrote:I love Atonement and like Hanna, but Wright's visual style has developed into something really cartoonish--close to Gilliam or Besson almost. And it doesn't really seem to fit with this, like it didn't fit with Anna Karenina.
Agreed - I'm starting to wonder if he has something as great as Atonement or Hanna left in him, seems to be headed in a very Tom Hooperish direction with regard to his choice of material, in particular - one of those filmmakers whose work only lands if they aren't making a rote adaptation or misguided prestige project. This sadly seems to be the latter based on that trailer.

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Fiery Angel
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#6 Post by Fiery Angel » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:25 pm

Wright obviously wants to be an Oscar-winning director like Hooper.

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Big Ben
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#7 Post by Big Ben » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:30 pm

I recall another Churchill film that also released recently too. So yeah. But I agree with the other sentiments here. It looks like it was made with Oscar in mind.

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domino harvey
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#8 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:34 pm

Of course it was. Could still be good. Or not, based on this trailer

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#9 Post by aox » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:09 pm

I'll basically watch anything with Gary Oldman.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#10 Post by Finch » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:58 pm

Between this and Dunkirk, it feels like a massive appeal to British nostalgia and the yearning for a time when Britain was still "great". Pass the sickbag.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#11 Post by MongooseCmr » Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:13 pm

Isn't that the same sentiment behind every BBC/PBS syndicated period piece?

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#12 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:55 pm

Finch wrote:Between this and Dunkirk, it feels like a massive appeal to British nostalgia and the yearning for a time when Britain was still "great". Pass the sickbag.
How does Dunkirk feel this way?

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#13 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:52 pm

Darkest Hour is one of the most claustrophobic experiences I've ever had in a theater. Nearly every scene is cramped and constricted in tunnels, elevators, closet offices - even larger spaces like the floor of Parliament or the streets of London are crammed with bodies busily gesturing or running in slow motion. I suppose this is meant to convey the ever-tightening military and political bind Churchill finds himself in militarily and politically, but it's surely not intentional that Gary Oldman's lead performance (a certainty to be Best Actor nominated and a likely winner given the chatter as the credits ran) suffocates everything else when he's on the screen. I actually thought Mendehlson gave the more balanced, nuanced performance as the King trying to balance both reining in and supporting his Prime Minister. Simultaneously and jarringly contrasted with its more oppressive elements, Wright's direction (and score, especially) sets a tone far too jaunty and unserious for a film about the titular most perilous time in the UK's and the world's history.

To get extratextual, I also couldn't ignore how hagiographic the film is about a man complicated enough that even ardent defenders have to address his obvious failings. The only deviation in the script's interest in telling us the familiar story about Churchill the orator and resolute defender of Britain is that it also wants us to know... just how cute and charming he was! No hint of anything that would inform his imperial/colonial attitudes, hatred for Gandhi, his inclination to terror bomb Axis civilians, or any of the other character shadings and complications that could have made this a far better and more interesting film.

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Big Ben
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Re: The Films of 2017

#14 Post by Big Ben » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:26 pm

Darkest Hour is the first title I've seen in 2018 (It was released last month but my theater is my theater.) that takes it's name literally. And by literally I mean this film is dark. Devoid of literal light. For whatever reason Joe Wright chose to "light" this film only when he felt it necessary to highlight just enough in some scenes so we could see what was going on. And then it's only half of Oldman's face in a long shot with the King of England sitting deadass in darkness on the opposite end of the table. Gary Oldman is great though regardless of how Churchill is perceived now. I'd imagine he'll be tough to beat come awards time (Oscars I mean.)

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#15 Post by aox » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:34 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Finch wrote:Between this and Dunkirk, it feels like a massive appeal to British nostalgia and the yearning for a time when Britain was still "great". Pass the sickbag.
How does Dunkirk feel this way?
I'm not saying I agree with Finch's point; however, I don't understand you questioning his opinion in the sense that the entire film shows the British people (i.e. civilians) coming together to save their homeland and ultimately succeeding in extracting their army from foreign soil.

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Big Ben
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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#16 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:07 pm

Nolan is left leaning at least by American standards. He was a campaign donor for Obama and was seen at the Anti-Trump Women's March. So the sentiment anyone has been picked up is one you've reached for unless he's deep undercover for Nigel Farage and is fooling us all.

But even Darkest Hour makes note of Churchill's failures (Although most certainly not to the degree they could have.). This film is more about how Churchill's actions got those men out of Dunkirk and prevented Edward Wood from making the UK sign a treaty with Nazi Germany (Which would have been pretty awful yeah?). Past that we can argue about politics until the cows come home but I don't think Joe Wright made this for the Auld Lang Syne crowd even if it doesn't go all in on Churchhill.

The human brain doesn't process probability well and this is why people go out of there way to "prove" something that has no basis in reality (And my statement there isn't an attack. Every single one of us has this problem.). World War II was a monstrous time and recreating events from that doesn't equate to unabashed praise for a time gone by.

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Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#17 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:30 pm

aox wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:
Finch wrote:Between this and Dunkirk, it feels like a massive appeal to British nostalgia and the yearning for a time when Britain was still "great". Pass the sickbag.
How does Dunkirk feel this way?
I'm not saying I agree with Finch's point; however, I don't understand you questioning his opinion in the sense that the entire film shows the British people (i.e. civilians) coming together to save their homeland and ultimately succeeding in extracting their army from foreign soil.
The film hadn't been released at the time and I was wondering where he'd got his impression from. The trailer, unlike Darkest Hour's, didn't reveal a whole lot.

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Re: The Films of 2017

#18 Post by movielocke » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:50 am

Big Ben wrote:Darkest Hour is the first title I've seen in 2018 (It was released last month but my theater is my theater.) that takes it's name literally. And by literally I mean this film is dark. Devoid of literal light. For whatever reason Joe Wright chose to "light" this film only when he felt it necessary to highlight just enough in some scenes so we could see what was going on. And then it's only half of Oldman's face in a long shot with the King of England sitting deadass in darkness on the opposite end of the table. Gary Oldman is great though regardless of how Churchill is perceived now. I'd imagine he'll be tough to beat come awards time (Oscars I mean.)
If you saw it in a theatre/multiplex, that sounds like they left the 3D lens on, thus cutting the overall brightness of the image. It's not a bright film, but it isn't incompetently lit. There are some nice expressionistic bits, where just the cutout of Churchill in an elevator is exposed, but nothing as bad as you describe for dialogue scenes.

I really enjoyed the film overall, I was a bit bummed that there is no Lindemann around, and that it's more "legend of" churchill than a more nuanced portrait might find, but I suppose we have to be satisfied with several mentions of gallipolli in increasingly disapproving tones.

Oldman is fantastic, and the editing of the film is outstanding, as I was actually stunned two hours had passed. My overall reaction is one of disappointment, because it felt like the film had found a new gear and I wanted more story than the breath we get here.

I suppose it is heavily influenced by Spielberg's Lincoln, in that regard, in choosing to focus on just one crucial narrative that occurs in a fairly limited timeframe, it is a good way to approach dramatizing a biographical subject by condensing their ethos into one core parable, but it also is a little frustrating possibly because in the age of long form television we expect more from biopics. On the other hand, this neo approach to biopics makes me want someone to make a traditional biopic as good as Ray, for example.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#19 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:21 am

I was quite surprised when I found out this was a Joe Wright film. I don't really like his stuff, but he has a slightly more theatrical and imaginative quality at least. This sounded like a real Tom Hooper type, meat and drink biopic of a revered wartime leader.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#20 Post by Apperson » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:48 am

Unfortunately it's also written by Anthony McCarten, the hack who also wrote The Theory of Everything from 2014, and I could definitely tell as I was watching.

Gary Oldman is great in the role however bait-y it may seem, and Bruno Delbonnel makes the film fun to watch for it's cinematography, the first shot of Oldman's Churchill is a quick glimpse of him blowing out a match before the room is bathed in window-light; However, it's kind of a Delbonnel greatest hits if your familiar with his other work, and Joe Wright might be the most self-conscious prestige director working today with seeminly needless trick shots and camera movements (I'm sure Pan would do a number on anyone's confidence though), is way too reliant on the anticipation of important historical moments, and the film spends enough time on cliches of Important Historical Figure Biopics (i.e long suffering but supportive wife, a gaggle of antagonistic politicians, crowd-pleasing theatrics with the public away from the boardrooms, a character getting a codename from random office objects) to make you roll your eyes through the back of your skull.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#21 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:38 am

Apperson wrote:Unfortunately it's also written by Anthony McCarten, the hack who also wrote The Theory of Everything from 2014, and I could definitely tell as I was watching.
What do you mean...exactly? I mean it's perfectly okay to dislike something but neither of these films strike me as being anything other than standard biopic fair with great lead performances. This film surely could have dived into Churchill's many failings but I don't think that was at any point intended to be the focus despite being mentioned in passing?

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#22 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:42 pm

I haven’t seen Theory of Everything, but nothing in a 2017 movie made me roll my eyes harder than that subway scene in Darkest Hour.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#23 Post by javi82 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:48 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:I haven’t seen Theory of Everything, but nothing in a 2017 movie made me roll my eyes harder than that subway scene in Darkest Hour.
The subway scene ruined the whole film for me. It just pissed away whatever credibility the film had built.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#24 Post by senseabove » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:26 pm

Was visiting with family last week and got roped into seeing this. Tried talking my no-R-rated-movies family into seeing The Greatest Showman (because Michelle Williams) or The Post, but alas. I went with very low expectations, just because I generally dislike biopics of the "famous actor does transformative impersonation" variety, but despite a middling to treacly and at times propagandist "pro patria mori" script, I actually enjoyed it well enough (though I can't say I'm eager to see it again, nor does it really make me want to seek out more of the director's work). It's certainly clever, and well-made for the most part, but as others have said, its cleverness felt jarringly unsuitable to the material, almost Amelie-ish in how over-the-top it was:
SpoilerShow
the landscape pan to the face, the repeated pullback supercrane shots, the little boy's hand-as-iris, the through-the-typewriter shot
. When its cleverness is more subtle, it is quite well-made; I liked its use use of natural vs artificial light in the sequence where
SpoilerShow
Churchill is dictating to Leighton, and she begins to cry and explains that she's bewildered by the dribbles of information they're getting. They're in a dark library of sorts, shutters closed, and Churchill walks over to the window, opening the shutter a crack. With a medium two-shot, Churchhill is standing in middle depth, looking left, out of frame and out the window, with the "natural" light spilling over him, while Leighton is closer up against the frame, full forward, in soft, indoor, artificial light. Then he ushers her downstairs, explains the direness of the situation, and we get a jarring, brief, contextless shot of just her eyes widening in full, overblown natural light (which is a little on-the-nose, but at least it's something worked into the chain of the metaphor). Following the subsequent attack and failure of his initial plan, next we see Churchill in the dim library again, sulking in the same position Leighton was (full forward, though much deeper in the frame). He then appears to muster the urge to continue, and we cut to a tight profile shot while someone (a butler?) walks in to open the same shutter he was looking out before, flooding the room with natural light
. It's a clever little bit of directing, and made me really wish he didn't feel the need to be so heavy-handed with the special effects and trick shots, e.g. the "Churchill in a small, bright square surrounded by darkness" trope got irritatingly on-the-nose.

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Re: Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)

#25 Post by domino harvey » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:56 pm

javi82 wrote:
DarkImbecile wrote:I haven’t seen Theory of Everything, but nothing in a 2017 movie made me roll my eyes harder than that subway scene in Darkest Hour.
The subway scene ruined the whole film for me. It just pissed away whatever credibility the film had built.
Real talk: This is the best scene of the film, and one of the best moments in cinema from 2017. Why? Because it utterly forgoes credibility and gives us a distillation of hero worship into an imagined ideal interaction with The People that relays as well as any Hollywood fluff from the peak years of the studio system the power of myth in public perception of how we see those in heroic public profile. In this regard Darkest Hour is a tremendously unhip film ripe to be shit on by uber-woke “experts” who hate and/or dismiss WWII movies out of hand (unless they’re action flicks, I guess), because it believes in the power of myth. The film gives us Lily James as the requisite designated audience surrogate, but I’m not sure there’s anyone here apart from Oldman who doesn’t serve that role. This is nowhere near as ambitious or cogent in its insights as Jackie, but there’s a similar unquestioned assumption the film operates on regarding the importance of the central figure that less successful recent Oscar-nommed biopics lack— the Theory of Everything and the Imitation Game have no ambition beyond dead-eyed magazine article reporting made visual on film; Darkest Hour gives us verve and confidence in its central figure, ignoring or sidelining any valid criticisms because they fall out of the purview of the central idea here, which is Churchill himself. Boo hoo if that stops you from recognizing the film’s effectiveness at giving us a look at a historical figure solely via how he's seen in the public eye, whose behavior in interior circles so closely matches what we’d expect and know from his public life that it doesn't even seem discernible in distinction and therefore never raises above the median surface-level common knowledge-- it reinforces the dominant and prevailing narrative at all costs. Why must that automatically be a bad thing? This is a superior portrait of a man who regardless of other failings did indeed keep Britain intact against staggering odds, and its unapologetic approach to its subject creates an unexpectedly radical final product far removed from the modern cynicism and winking irony that derail so many other recent biopics of similar aims/ilk.

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