Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

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Fiery Angel
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#101 Post by Fiery Angel » Fri Aug 11, 2023 8:31 pm

Monterey Jack wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2023 10:21 pm
flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2023 1:32 am
The music is incredible.
The music made me feel like this by the end:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgJZ28RuJaw

I think there had to have been less than ten minutes' worth of footage in the movie without the score screaming at the audience, and it was maddening.
if someone told me that the musical score is actually longer than the movie I would believe that

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Monterey Jack
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#102 Post by Monterey Jack » Fri Aug 11, 2023 11:07 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2023 6:58 pm
I think it would be interesting if Nolan somehow limited or did away with music entirely in his next film, some of the things he did with sound (particularly in the editing) achieved some of the same things Zimmer banged about with on the Batman movies and Inception, but its the feet stomping in the auditorium.
This is what I hate about Nolan's use of "music" in his films...it becomes SO intertwined with the already deafening sound design - and is so relentless - that it drains tension from the scenes, rather than adding to it. He blankets his movies with so much music it's like watching a trailer for 180 minutes. Especially for a talky drama like Oppenheimer, couldn't he have let the actual DIALOGUE handle the dramatic load? I literally find it hard to hear the dialogue at times in his movies. Even in the Golden Age of Hollywood (when you had syrupy Max Steiner strings poured over the movies like ketchup), you didn't have the music constantly fighting to be heard over an already overly busy 5.1 sound mix, and composers like Steiner, Rozsa and the like knew when the shut the hell up and let the acting speak for itself. It's a constant blight on Nolan's work.

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#103 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Aug 13, 2023 1:04 am

James Woods is listed as an executive producer on this, a kind of further proof at how good Nolan is at bringing out names you might not necessarily associate with modern anything really.

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domino harvey
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#104 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 13, 2023 1:12 am

He gave Nolan’s producer a copy of the bio at the behest of the rights holder, an MIT grad and friend of Woods

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tolbs1010
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#105 Post by tolbs1010 » Sun Aug 13, 2023 10:55 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Jan 04, 2022 11:13 pm
Josh Hartnett is Nolan's career rescue casting this time out
Actor whom I never liked much who is surprisingly good in this: Josh Hartnett

Actor whom I never liked much who is unsurprisingly not good in this: Casey Affleck (mumble mumble, voice crack, mumble)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#106 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Aug 14, 2023 12:00 am

Since Affleck is known to give pretty realistic performances, I fail to see the criticism in his characters' voices mumbling and cracking outside of a clearly-manipulated, practiced range, compared to his peers - though I'm sure there are decent criticisms to be made outside of that curious one. He definitely stands out amongst the actors here, but I think for very different reasons in breathing authentic life into the sea of exaggerated roles. Hartnett is great too though, so to each their own

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#107 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 14, 2023 1:22 am

I remember Hartnett as a boring actor with a droning voice. So while I knew it had to be him in Oppenheimer, I kept second guessing myself because it just didn't feel or really sound like him. Very good performance.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#108 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Aug 14, 2023 1:32 am

While the rest of us were processing the impact of that final shot, my theatre buddy turned to me and, shocked, exclaimed, “That was Josh Hartnett?!” once his name popped up on the casting credits crawl - goes to show how even a physically recognizable actor can be disguised around one’s impression of them

beamish14
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#109 Post by beamish14 » Mon Aug 14, 2023 1:55 am

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2023 1:12 am
He gave Nolan’s producer a copy of the bio at the behest of the rights holder, an MIT grad and friend of Woods

Interesting. I wasn’t even sure it was the same James Woods. It’s always interesting to see who ends up with a producing credit due to purchasing someone’s life story rights or developing something similar decades earlier. I still want to know how Richard Dreyfuss ended up with an executive producer credit on Robert Redford’s Quiz Show

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#110 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Aug 16, 2023 7:48 am

Oliver Stone had some interesting praise for this. Especially in admitting that he couldn’t find his way to its essence I can imagine how much more hamfisted and frankly more upsetting he would have taken to especially the man's personal life. An entire Oliver Stone movie plays out in his face when he is being read the false accusations of his allegiances. I don’t mean this in any insincere way it’s maybe some of the most incredible acting I’ve seen in one performance in quite awhile.

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#111 Post by pianocrash » Wed Aug 16, 2023 8:49 am

beamish14 wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2023 1:55 am
I still want to know how Richard Dreyfuss ended up with an executive producer credit on Robert Redford’s Quiz Show
Dreyfuss had a producing partner in Judith James, whom he worked with for years, and, sadly, passed away this year. As for the direct connection, Dreyfuss seemed to have his heels in the Buena Vista camp (Stakeout, in 1987, & it's sequel, Another Stakeout in 1993), so it would only be logical to assume he had a hand in easing Quiz Show into development (it was flipped to Disney in 1992 after a deal with Columbia/Tri-Star fell through, which was also shepherded by Barry Levinson, who directed him in Tin Men in 1986/7 for Touchstone & distributed by Buena Vista). Somewhere there is probably a podcast that will truly answer the question, but until that time.....

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swo17
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#112 Post by swo17 » Sun Aug 20, 2023 2:42 am

This got me in the mood for other films about nuclear fallout. A couple things I thought I'd share:

1. I finally got around to Chernobyl, which is very engaging if you can accept the way they deal with the language gap, but which works especially well as a kind of spiritual sequel to Oppenheimer, illustrating exactly why the world isn't ready for this kind of power. I had no idea how big of a deal the Chernobyl incident was, or especially how much bigger of a deal it could have been if not for the tremendous efforts of countless people, all of whom were knowingly cutting years off their lives to do so. It's also crazy to me that so soon after this happened, The Simpsons was regularly making jokes out of Homer ineptly serving as a nuclear safety inspector.

I was particularly eager to move this series up the queue once I saw that Jessie Buckley was first billed on IMDb (which is a little misleading--she's in every episode but there are several other characters that feature much more prominently). But if you aren't bothered by technicalities like "minutes of screen time" you might be interested to know that Barry Keoghan is also in this! And with two of the bigger leads, the series might also work as a kind of sequel to Breaking the Waves. Hear me out here:
spoilers for bothShow
Image
Considering that Emily Watson's Ulana is the one character that was fictionalized to stand in for the benevolent work of numerous real-life scientists, it's almost like she's an angel guiding the work along. Almost. I'm aware this idea is preposterous.
2. I was already familiar with The China Syndrome (which famously came out less than two weeks before the Three Mile Island incident) but was amused to learn that after its release, Jane Fonda campaigned hard against nuclear power, and publicly sparred with none other than Edward Teller (Benny Safdie's character in Oppenheimer). For instance:
Teller wrote:On May 7, a few weeks after the accident at Three-Mile Island, I was in Washington. I was there to refute some of that propaganda that Ralph Nader, Jane Fonda and their kind are spewing to the news media in their attempt to frighten people away from nuclear power. I am 71 years old, and I was working 20 hours a day. The strain was too much. The next day, I suffered a heart attack. You might say that I was the only one whose health was affected by that reactor near Harrisburg. No, that would be wrong. It was not the reactor. It was Jane Fonda. Reactors are not dangerous. I was the only victim of Three-Mile Island.

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Maltic
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#113 Post by Maltic » Sun Aug 20, 2023 3:36 pm

Classic Teller :)

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#114 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Aug 21, 2023 1:13 am

Wasn’t he an inspiration for Dr. Strangelove?

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Maltic
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#115 Post by Maltic » Mon Aug 21, 2023 1:51 am

As a Jew who had left Germany in 1933?

I guess he did have a prosthetic foot.

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#116 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Oct 08, 2023 8:57 am

I’m reading a book written by a former producer of 60 Minutes, and the chapter about Mike Wallace’s 1987 piece with Teller (described as a very difficult interview) was called “Interviewing Dr. Strangelove”.

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#117 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Nov 24, 2023 11:26 am

Watched a third time, with dad, yesterday. Had his cataracts operated on and I think this is the only other movie he’s watched since, along with one of his favorites,The Dirty Dozen. I can tell he’s gonna think on this one as he is the last Thanksgiving movie we watched together, The Irishman. Just so happens he’s reading the book I gifted him that Christmas. I won’t make this too maudlin but my film school began watching R-rated movies sitting on the floor next to him. Not all, there was a lot of Disney and kids stuff mandatory with my generation then with the advent of VHS and cable,

With all that in mind I think once upon a time Clint Eastwood would have made a perfect Oppenheimer in the 80’s possibly. In this post-viewing haze along with what I plan to finish up on in Letterboxd today, I thought of in addition to some of the performances mentioned, Keir Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Eastwood in some early moments of Unforgiven in terms of facial expressions. It’s elsewhere in Damon’s performance a bit, which I kind of hope gets the Supporting nod RDJ seems to be all but assured of at this point. Maybe both get nominated.

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Matt
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Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#118 Post by Matt » Thu Dec 07, 2023 1:18 am

Despite my best intentions of seeing this at an IMAX theater, that never happened for me, so I waited for a physical media release (a much better option for me than my in-town theater). I was not quite expecting 3 hours of bombs going off, but I was also not expecting what is essentially a 3-hour courtroom drama. A very propulsive, tautly edited courtroom drama, but still. I was put in mind not of Nolan’s other films but of Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg—a film I actually quite like that deals with broadly similar themes of moral culpability and the longterm consequences of WWII.

I am extremely impressed by the technical aspects of the film (did you know all those cool atomic and cosmic special effects were done photographically, not with CGI) and with the performances. But the script itself, while structured beautifully, is somewhat inelegant, especially in the first third, in ostentatiously drawing attention to all the historical personages I remember from high science classes. (“Hey, it’s Niels Bohr!”) And the stacked casting doesn’t help. (“Hey, it’s Kenneth Branagh as Niels Bohr!”) The latter issue significantly contributes to its…Kramerian qualities, as does the moral and philosophical weight and seriousness of the subject.

Again, I don’t use Stanley Kramer as a pejorative here, though comparison with him does inherently hold a certain connotation. But I prefer the Nolan who sets up an elaborate Rube Goldberg device of a narrative and then sets it off (Inception, Tenet) to one making “important” films. But I applaud him using his clout to take the risks he takes.

I did appreciate its clear disdain for certain figures and certain decisions so casually made. The scene where the officials are ticking off the potential Japanese target cities like a grocery list literally nauseated me. I can’t imagine an explicit depiction of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be an improvement over this kind of nuanced indictment, and such a depiction wouldn’t be about Oppenheimer. As Gary Oldman once said, they don’t care who made the bomb, they care who dropped it. Much better dramatically to show Oppenheimer’s imagined version during the large public lecture in the last third. The real story has already been told and shown much better than it could be addressed here.


Also, is it possible this got a special sound mix for the home video version? I noticed none of the problems with inaudible dialogue that a couple of people above noticed and which have been present in Nolan’s last few films. It was a very balanced mix, and I didn’t have to ride the volume button on my remote or turn on subtitles as with Tenet.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#119 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Dec 07, 2023 7:49 am

Matt wrote:Also, is it possible this got a special sound mix for the home video version? I noticed none of the problems with inaudible dialogue that a couple of people above noticed and which have been present in Nolan’s last few films. It was a very balanced mix, and I didn’t have to ride the volume button on my remote or turn on subtitles as with Tenet.
I saw a Q&A with Nolan where he described the lengthy process of tweaking and adjusting this IMax movie so that it also worked for home video. I'd be very surprised if that didn't also include the sound mix.

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#120 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Dec 07, 2023 4:34 pm

The more I reflect on this, the more I think it's a fine movie at doing what it's clearly trying to do on the surface, but an excellent examination of (a high-stakes example of) a type of personality rarely given a starring role in a blockbuster. Nolan elides direct engagement with it (partly why the titular character remains an enigma, which would be an impressive Best Actor win for Murphy, since his performance is the kind that invites yet challenges the audience to bring their own emotions rather than feed them, a dynamic Paul Schrader lauds in ARP's doc) but the cumulative impact is an assessment of the assets and defects of the middle-road 'grey' mindset and approach to significant activity. This works in friction with not just the traditional biopic hero's posture, but the wider zeitgeist populated by loud, polarized, extremist voices (who either are infuriated at or endorse the perceived static of men in power like Oppenheimer, whether due to indifference or multidirected and thus thinly-spread poly-passions). Nolan could easily have championed a particular side, but per usual he's focused on the emotional highs and lows of spectacle and struggle in life, and remains apolitical while demanding we address all politics.. with poly-passion. Maybe it's Nolan's most self-reflexive film - a thinker, yet deeply emotional and sensitive artist who is grappling with the consequences of our blind spots and the type of approach to life that creates them. It's a lot easier to show how a radical leftist or right-wing jingoist copes with these impairments, but it's more interesting to lyrically detail this process from a man who is cultured, has tested out many interests, yet never committed to any with supreme consciousness. That would render him vulnerable, yet he still leads operations of forward thinking and action in commitment to ideas, which is a vulnerability he understands and can comfortably engage with. It's all about the contradictions of man - and offers just as much credence to the sociopolitical unknowability and empathy for the healthily-applied defense mechanisms that demanded he stay present and focused without consideration for the future, as it does hold the objective and subjective senses of accountability bare to engage with in hindsight. There's something about the gray approach that's admirable and open, yet cowardly and closed, and registers a lot with this writer - who is passionate about many things but is guilty of complacency and detachment from strong-willed action in long form. I think it's a much more fascinating movie when looking at it through that lens

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#121 Post by John Cope » Fri Dec 08, 2023 4:37 am

Watching this again on video only confirms the magnitude of its greatness. And what is so great about it? I've actually contemplated that now for a long time, prompted in large part by its tremendous success. How to account for that? How to account for the tremendous commercial success of a film that is so heavily about abstruse subjects and so heavily freighted with and centered on dialogue scenes in closed rooms as well as being partially in black and white and three hours long? Of course the easiest thing to say is that the ostensible primary subject of the making of The Bomb and its immediate aftermath is more than enough to explain such interest but I don't think so, not given how overwhelming that interest is and how quantitatively small a portion of the film's actual running time is devoted to sensational and explicit depictions of it. It would be heartening to think that there's just that much of a readymade audience for a film like this but I doubt that even though I do think that an overlapping coalition of audience types (i.e. history buffs, Nolan fans, those drawn in by the prospect of epic cinema, etc.) does account for a lot of this. But not all and that's key as what may be the source of compelling interest for everyone, Nolan's innovatory design and technique, is also, afaic, the real source of the movie's greatness and power.

As has been noted endlessly (including by me before) the obvious aggressive style of the movie does compel interest but I think it has far greater responsibility for that than has really been acknowledged. I remember critics glibly commenting on what they took to be an intrusive score and sound design, for instance, remarking on how it may work well in scenes of tightening tension leading up to the Trinity detonation but that, uh, we don't need it poured on everywhere over everything, thanks, like in simple seeming scenes of men talking around a dining table. Well, no, actually I think you do need it applied that way as that's part of the structural strategy and indicative of the film's breakthrough aesthetic. It's as though few could accept that idea that this wasn't just a misjudgment on Nolan's part and indeed it might be intrinsically fundamental to the film's unique power in treating not just its central seeming subject but all spiraling out from it or back into it from either direction.

But, if anything, the home video experience, so carefully adjusted itself, drives that home and reveals the extent of the significance of Nolan's technique. The video version maintains the impact and specific inflection of the IMAX scenes and single images, sprinkled throughout and not immediately discernible as systematically applied, with the video image shifting from widescreen to a towering full frame as those changes warrant. What this does is not just replicate that experience to the extent possible in a home theater setting but also contributes more fully and clearly to that all encompassing, fully integrated design or structural strategy. In some ways it represents or reflects Nolan's self-acknowledged uniquely fluctuating conception of the film as going back and forth between scenes of subjective experience (written in the first person in the script) and those meant to represent a more objective reality. Of course, as I said, this is only a partial approximation of an analogy as such a clear differentiated schematic is not clearly adhered to or reflected by the fluctuations of the IMAX imagery. So what that means then is that it functions slightly differently, in a way that radiates out from that basic conceptual premise and gives you an idea of the film's multi-directionality and multi-dimensionality. On top of that, it's also a compounding of the formal strategy in so far as that strategy takes into account not just the propulsive power of the music for endless forward momentum but how it is entirely interlaced with other specific formal elements that are congruent and add to an overall effect: the rhythm of the editing, the intercutting between scenes and sequences, the pitch of the performances maintained throughout, the dense blocks of dialogue moved through or confronted like formal pillars in an architectural assembly; all of these then in full concert with one another. What this does too is highlight those moments in which we get a break from it; sudden silence, for example, as meaningful punctuation.

Beyond that, what Nolan's aesthetic technique also quite brilliantly highlights is the thematic subjects as well. The relentless pace of that style with the aggressive cutting and the propulsive score ends up making all epic and significantly meaningful, every possible tangential seeming detail, in the build up to the fabled central test scene and away from it on the other side: the abstract, the subjective, the personal, the political, the practical, the ethical fallout, the metaphysical implications; as Oppenheimer himself says here, he is not limiting himself to any specific dogma.

And all of this, in turn, is what the film is really about at its core: the transitional state of being between pure abstraction, the purely theoretical, and a manifested material reality. The specific instantiation of the nuclear bomb, its advent and detonation, is only the most expressive and clear example of this realization. The shifting modes of IMAX reflect not so much a direct correlation with the subjective/objective binary Nolan establishes elsewhere but rather reflects those poles of transitional state between grand vision, grand narrative, abstract metaphysical totality and manifested reality in all its singularity and particularity. The particulars of the drama then stand out to us as particulars, almost to the degree of academic demonstration which seems fitting; this even accounts for incongruous seeming moments such as when Einstein just happens to be walking across the street to deliver some pertinent dialogue to Oppy. Nolan isn't interested in the plausibility of such moments, such concerns are purely perfunctory to him, even as he considers the profound seriousness of the film's ideas and maps out a more all encompassing reality. This is masterful and full on pop cinematic manipulation in which the manipulative element or device of manipulation is critically significant and as much what the film is abut as any of what it depicts. The figure of Oppenheimer is exceptional here formally speaking as central axis for realizing the most from the structural and formal conceit; the reassertion of theory over its specific actualization is in his desire to be (as RDJ's Strauss says) associated with Trinity rather than Hiroshima. By the end, and more than ever, the film seems about the captured flow of distinct but transitory states and a pall of inevitability hangs over it all.

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Re: Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)

#122 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Dec 09, 2023 9:51 am

swo17 wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2023 2:42 am
1. I finally got around to Chernobyl, which is very engaging if you can accept the way they deal with the language gap,
I didn’t think it was a problem, intuitively understanding that the intent was to make this incident something more relatable to an audience on the other side of the world from Russia.

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