Wednesday 19 July 2017

Some sciencey comedy and a highly anticipated film preview...

10th July - 16th July 2017

A slightly quieter week this one, but no less entertaining...

RI Summer Comedy Night

The first outing of the week with minus Mrs C but plus a colleague from work, (my regular RI attendee), for a slightly different type of event to the usual lectures, a science based comedy night.

The night was hosted by Simon Watt, most known for his Ugly Animal Preservation Society project, a book and comedy based science show where comedians argue for an 'ugly' endangered species to try and convince an audience to champion it.

Watt's between act routines were based around this concept and highlighted a few species which are of particular note for their appearance, his dry sense of humour perfectly matching with the nature of the material, and as a host he was enthusiastic and entertaining in getting the audience primed for each subsequent act.

The first act up was Timandra Harkness, a science presenter and writer, author of the book 'Big Data : Does Size Matter?', which concerns an entertaining approach to the evolution of data collection and recording, and how data is used for our benefit and to benefit those who wish to influence our lives and habits, such as search engines and online shops like Amazon.

Her personable attitude meant that the subject was never boring and always interesting whilst remaining humorous.

Next up was Rachel Weeley, a last minute addition to the line up, a former producer for the BBC she admirably stepped up with material concerning the various Mars missions, interjected with some anecdotes about her former job and her home life.

The final act was Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist and writer for the Guardian who focused on matters of the brain and it's idiosyncrasies. Culminating in a great punchline regarding some slides.

Overall it made for a refreshing spin on the usual comedy show and was a welcome alternative to the usual lecture based events, hopefully there'll be more.

'Dunkirk' Preview With Christopher Nolan Introduction

On Thursday night we headed to the BFI for a sold out preview of the much anticipated new Christopher Nolan film 'Dunkirk'.

Much has been made of the relatively short running time, (for a Nolan film), of 106 minutes, and whether this meant justice could be done to such a story in such a lean run time. Trust us the tension is ratcheted up so high and sustained for the entire movie any longer would be almost unbearable.

Firstly this is not a war movie in the traditional sense of the word, it concerns the evacuation of Dunkirk from the viewpoint of three key characters, a soldier named Tommy, (played by Fionn Whitehead), at the front line who is part of the 400,00 troops pushed back to the beaches by the enemy and awaiting evacuation back home; a civilian sailor Mr Dawson, (played by Mark Rylance), who is commandeered by the Navy along with hundreds of other boats to sail to Dunkirk and bring back some troops, joined by his teenage son and one of his school friends; and lastly Tom Hardy's RAF pilot who is trying to protect those on the beach from aerial attacks. All three story lines span different time scales, the soldier a week, the sailor a day and the pilot an hour.

As Nolan has shown in previous works, most notably 'Memento', his command of a story with complex interchangeable time lines is exemplary.

In his short introduction before the film he highlighted, along with his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas, the various challenges faced during filming, most notably with the choice to film in 70mm IMAX and the obstacles faced with using such large equipment to achieve the required shots. The dedication to recreating the aerial sequences practically as opposed to digitally meant innovations in lensing and mounting of the cameras, however the effort proves worthwhile as the claustrophobic feel and realistic viewpoints really ramped up the atmosphere.

Unlike a film such as 'Saving Private Ryan' the lack of blood and gore doesn't detract from the feeling of desperation and hopelessness during the various attacks and escape attempts, as this isn't a film concerned with the horrors of way as a whole, but exploring the individual situations faced by those who were actually there, individually represented here, but certainly not exclusive to a handful of characters but representative of the vast majority of those involved in the operations.

A few other familiar faces pop up, including Kenneth Branagh as a Navy commander, Cillian Murphy as an escaping soldier rescued from the sea and Harry Styles as a fellow soldier on the beach, (his debut here is actually really rather good), however the film's dialogue is quite sparse and used sparingly, the main dialogue of the film being Hans Zimmer's tension filled, stirring score which perfectly soundtracks the various set pieces without ever feeling like anything other than an a character in itself.

Also despite having a subtle patriotic vein running through the story, mainly due to the resilience of the characters, it never goes for a sickly sweet pomp and flag waving denouement.

A modern war film is always going to be compared to the classics which have preceded it, 'Saving Private Ryan' being the most notable example, however Nolan has wisely chosen a slightly different path and focus which is entirely rewarding in a different way but nonetheless as important and harrowing, playing like a taut thriller as much as a study of the horrors of the situation.

Nolan is a huge champion of filming on real film and there are showings around the country in IMAX and 70mm which is the perfect way to see this film as the textures and feel of film really suit the stunning cinematography.

Not to be missed.

Next week sees us catching some musical theatre, though not in the traditional sense of the word and a cinema classic. Until then, get inspired...

No comments:

Post a Comment