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Interview : Mark Rylance from Dunkirk

Drew Turney

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At the end of our interview with Mark Rylance in LA, Moviehole.net tells him it’s good to see him on screens again, and the 57-year-old Oscar winner seems genuinely pleased to hear it.

It’s hard to remember he’s the same man who was lying on the floor of a filthy flat in Britain getting the unsexiest oral pleasuring on film from Australian actress Kerry Fox in 2001’s “Intimacy”, but soon after, Rylance hightailed it back to the world of theatre, staying there and aging gracefully into a performer of depth and stillness before finally being tempted back to screens alongside Sean Penn in the underwhelming “The Gunman”.

But Rylance was just getting warmed up. Following that was two collaborations with Steven Spielberg, “Bridge of Spies” (which won him 2015’s Best Actor Oscar) and “The BFG”, and next up is another popcorn-fuelled entry for the director playing the mysterious overseer of the VR world OASIS in “Ready Player One’.

But first, he’s an acting powerhouse in a story with an artful dearth of acting and dialogue as Mr Dawson, a civilian pleasure boat owner sent to France to rescue the stranded soldiers of Dunkirk.

You’ve worked for two of the biggest directors we have now, Steven Spielberg and Chris Nolan. Compare them for us.

Mostly just age, you know. They are at a different place in their career, Steven is a little more fascinated and tempted by modern technology, by motion capture and all the incredible advances of that but both of them are interested in what is film compared to television.

Film needs to offer a sensation that brings you out of your house into a but they both have fought very hard to protect Kodak and protect film as something different than digital capture and I think they’re right.

They’re both very interested in stories. Steven said to me when he falls in love with a story he wants everyone to fall in love with it, so he’s very keen that the story is very clear and there’s nothing to stop anyone getting into the story. It’s very simple and clear and straightforward.

Chris has more of an interest in a story having moments of confusion that then come to clarity so there are moments when you don’t quite know what’s happening. I like both of those methods of storytelling but that’s the main difference between the two of them.

All Chris’ movies are concerned in some way with time. How attractive was that to you when you read it in the script?

That is really interesting and a really crucial thing when making a film. Unlike the theater, you don’t have any time to build up a relationship with the people, you’ve got to work with a whole bunch of people who you’ve never met before and coordinate and in this film there’s an enormous amount of different skills so it is very important to focus only on what you are responsible for, only your job.

It’s crucial that you focus on what you’re doing and not worry about trying to do other peoples’ jobs for them and likewise, we get no influence on the whole story. We’re a very small part. It seems like we’re a bigger part because we’re used to publicise films but actually actors have a minimal part in film.

Did you do any research or find any resources to help you with the character of pleasure craft Captain Dawson?

I was able to find that at the Imperial War Museum. English people are so warlike we have a museum about our warlike nature. I don’t know if there’s a football hooliganism museum but there will be one day. They had wonderful tape recordings of a lot of the men like Mr Dawson who went to France and that was fascinating, I didn’t realise how little they knew and how their expectations were way off mark compared to what happened.

Tell us about the character of Mr Dawson and the choices he faces.

My cousin was part of the fire brigade who went into the tower that burnt down in London [Grenfell Tower] and he sent me a couple of reports that the firemen had written about being in that smoke-filled staircase with the building on fire early in the morning.

They were told to go to the 14th floor, getting up to the 11th floor, being full of smoke and meeting an old couple who were choking to death and telling them there is another couple who need to be rescued and their own oxygen running out and having to think ‘what do I do?’ and deciding to take the old couple down rather than go forward.

The rescue services in all our countries face these kinds of decisions everyday. Ambulance drivers, firemen, policemen, so I think the fact that Chris has made the film very much about time, that each party has a different period in time and then has given each group crucial decisions, the boys on the beach and the commanders on the platform, the guys up in the air, it’s really a story about how people make decisions under that kind of incredible pressure, and decisions that mean someone is going to die so someone else lives. Those must be the hardest decisions you would ever have to make in your life.

Ever been in a situation like that?

I feel like I would have wiped that from my mind if I was in that situation, but I cannot think of one, not that intense. I have been very lucky in my life.

Did you watch any war movies in preparation?

I watched an old Robert Mitchum movie, I tend to always watch Robert Mitchum movies before I make any movie just to remind myself how it can be done. Nominally he’s a commander on a destroyer – “The Enemy Below” or something, it’s called – I like watching the way he makes internal decisions, just how relaxed he is.

The dialogue was so sparse and the characterisations so low key, as actors are you always tempted to go bigger and give more?

Thee is always the temptation to do more.

Especially for an Oscar winner.

That’s an interesting question. You do get lots of foolish thoughts in your mind at times. If you’ve been successful there’s the foolish thought that you somehow have more expectation, that people expect you to do something whereas if you’ve had a failure it’s easy to push off from that if you’ve been heavily criticised so you can never have thoughts around ‘crap I’m not good enough’.

Mostly the thought ‘I’m crap, I’m not good enough’ overwhelms any other thoughts anyway. You can get into an illusion that you have further to fall, but truly an illusion.

Did the experience of working on the film teach you anything you didn’t known about the story?

I didn’t know the whole thing about who to rescue, the issue of the French or the English, that sense of conflict. Visiting Dunkirk it was a little apparent there was a memory that the French had been left behind. We hadn’t rescued a lot of them. We focused on trying to get as many Englishmen back to defend England as quick as possible.

How has being an actor changed since you were young?

I don’t remember being so discerning. If I was discerning I though Scorsese was great, I thought I will never have a chance to work with those people. It’s lovely to hear young actors say they want to work with quality, you don’t just want to be in film to be a film star, you want to work with quality people,

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Caffeinated Clint’s Ten Favourite Films of 2018

And also his least favourite films of the year!

Caffeinated Clint

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I don’t know that it was a great year for movies – in fact, most of the films I’d been anticipating bit me like a leech on the testicle – but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t some tasty meat in between the pellets. For every “Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom” there was a “Blackkklansman”, and for every [Insert Amy Schumer Movie Title] Here there was “Boy Erased”. Studios stuck to the recent norm of putting style over substance when it came to their tentpoles, leaving so many of the hotly anticipated and unyieldingly-promoted fare from the likes of chafing disappointments, but those major independent labels and artistic auteurs more than made up for any bugs in the system, smearing MacAfee virus removal all over the marquee with their distinct, diverse and surprisingly unique offerings.

The year’s biggest surprise  – if only because it was a project that had been simmering away for the better part of fifteen years, losing director after director, leads after leads – was undoubtedly “A Star is Born”, which not only introduced audiences to ‘up and coming’ actress Lady Gaga, whose name will now be firmly cemented in cinema as much as it’s been in music, but also tyro director Bradley Cooper, who took on a discarded Eastwood project and put his own unique and powerful spin on it. Sure, it’s a story we’d seen time and time again (in fact, this is the fourth version of “A Star is Born”), but it was the chemistry of the leads, those dynamite performances, and the emotion carved into the libretto that kept critics and audiences hooked.

Like Cooper, freshman director Joel Edgerton also hit it out of the park this year with his turn behind the camera – “Boy Erased”. What a film that was. Just sublime. Powerful stuff.

On the no-surprise front, the always-dependable “Mission : Impossible” franchise continued to impress – is it the only series that actually improves as it goes on!? – just as much as its headline act, Tom Cruise, does with the most entertaining, most skilled blockbuster of the year “Fallout”. Featuring a killer turn from Henry Cavill as its hulking villain, eye-popping stunts and action sequences, and endless reminders why Tom Cruise is still the most bankable box-office star of our times, sixth time was the charm for the now 22-year-old movie franchise.

If one genre had the monopoly on the ‘best of’ list this year it was the family category, with everything from Paramount’s “Bumblebee”, Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, and Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” all topping most live-action fare when it comes to sheer storytelling, allure and uniqueness. Seems the computer maketh some awesome filmeth!

Also very solid, the superhero movie fare of 2018 – sure, there were the fun, enjoyable time-passers like “Deadpool 2” and “Aquaman” but at the top end of the scale were some truly magnificent pieces, like the ground-breaking and exceedingly breathtaking “Black Panther” from Marvel.

Bearing in mind I’m still to catch up with quite a few movies that have made most Top Ten lists (including “If Beale Street Could Talk”, “Green Book”, “Suspiria” and “First Reformed”) here are my top ten favourite movies of 2018 :

 

A Star is Born

Mission : Impossible  – Fallout

Boy Erased

Blackkklansman

A Quiet Place

Black Panther

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Avengers : Infinity War

Game Night

The Incredibles 2

 

Runners-Up : Annihilation, Bumblebee, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse, Ant-Man & The Wasp

 

And, for me, these were the least enjoyable films of the year…

 

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Super Troopers 2

Holmes & Watson

I Feel Pretty

Truth or Dare

Oceans 8

Skyscraper

Gotti

The Predator

Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom

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Apparently Sinbad stars in the new Aladdin?

Don’t worry, he’ll be a Man in Blue come summer 2019

Caffeinated Clint

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The Fresh Prince of Blue Heir.

Disney have unveiled a first look at Will Smith’s Genie from the upcoming live-action (in case you haven’t heard, that’s the latest thing Disney have dampened their undies for lately) ‘Aladdin’, and I gotta tell you, it is absolutely beautiful to see such full those hearts at Christmastime… as evident in social media responses.

For the record, and if it helps with the eye chafing, the character will be ‘blue’ in the finished film. Mike Lowery said it himself. In other words, the movie is going to be the shizzle. All it needs is a blue genie, after all. Right!?

Some other pics from the upcoming flick are below, but first, a new photo from Disney’s upcoming “Lion King” adaptation – here’s Mufasa.

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We’ve got your first look at Deadwood the movie!

First pics feature Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant; executive producer talks storyline

Caffeinated Clint

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Sayin’ questions in that tone and pointin’ your finger at me will get you told to **** yourself.

Christmas comes early for “Deadwood” fans with the first pics from the long-awaited film version – releasing – hitting the online distraction service today.

There’s Ian McShane, hardly aged a day, looking as devilish as ever as saloon owner Al Swearingen, and also our first look at a slightly older but even slightly more distinguished Seth Bullock, now a U.S Marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant.

Also returning from the HBO series : Molly Parker (Alma Ellsworth), Paula Malcomson (Trixie), John Hawkes (Sol Star), Anna Gunn (Martha Bullock), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter), Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran), Robin Weigert (“Calamity” Jane Canary), William Sanderson (E.B. Farnum), Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs) and Gerald McRaney (George Hearst).

They’ve been yakking about a movie version of “Deadwood” for quite some time – in fact, near as soon as the show was cancelled, at the conclusion of its third season. It’s taken a number of years to get together, largely because of cast scheduling, but the photos above prove it’s finally a reality.

”Tim was pretty tough. I will say he really dug in — in a good way, not a stubborn way — with good thoughts on where to take his character and the story and kept pushing on that, and they were helpful thoughts in terms of getting the script where it needed to be”, the film’s EP Carolyn Straus tells EW.

Series creator David Milch scripted the film, which airs sometime next year. It will reportedly be about time taking it’s toll on people.

“If you ask David, it’s about the passage of time”, says Straus. “The toll of time on people. It’s mellowed some people and hardened others. And it’s about the town’s maturing and becoming part of the Union and what that event sets in motion, in a very personal way for the people that it brings in town and what ensues. The toll of time has not just struck Deadwood and the characters but all the people making it as well, you get to see the faces of people 12 years later. And it was really profound. Actors were crying at the table read — not necessarily from the script but the emotion of being back and doing something we all loved doing so much. You normally have a great experience and then it’s over. You don’t normally get the chance to do this in life. It was kind of a gift.”

Swearingen has endured a lot since we last saw him, says Straus.

”The time has taken its greatest toll on Swearengen. He’s the person who really drove so much of the life of the town and there’s a sense of that power waning somewhat, and what ensues of that is a big part of the story.”

There was originally talk of two “Deadwood” movies – which Milch had said would wrap up the storylines left dangling after the series annulment – but at this stage, even if we only get the one, it’s one more than I think most of us assumed we’d ever get.

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