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Entries in Atonement (7)

Sunday
Mar312019

Review: The Aftermath

Please welcome guest contributor J.B.

When I saw The Aftermath, the latest from Testament of Youth director James Kent, starring Kiera Knightley, Jason Clarke and Alexander Skarsgård, last weekend, I was seated next to an older man with a notepad who I assumed was a journalist. I chatted briefly with him before the film started, and when the lights went up and the credits began to roll, I asked him what he thought. His response: “I interviewed her [Knightley] when she did Atonement with James McAvoy. She was so good in that.”

That's a pretty fair takeaway from The Aftermath, which casts Knightley as Rachel, a bereaved military wife recently arrived in Hamburg in 1946 to join her estranged husband, Lewis (Jason Clarke), an officer in the British Army tasked with overseeing the rebuilding of the war-torn city and ferreting out any remaining Nazi-sympathizers...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec102018

Beauty vs Beast: Saving Private Shakespeare

Jason Adams from MNPP here, serenading us "Beauty vs Beast" style - tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of John Madden's Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love, aka the Oscar win that broke every straight boy's heart. Don't believe me? Go find one and mention how Saving Private Ryan was robbed and watch the fire and fury rise in their pupils. (I really shouldn't make fun, seeing as they got their revenge in 2005.) But the contest of 1998 films is always a good one to stir up arguments excuse me conversation, and since that's what we're here for...

 

PREVIOUSLY Although of Saoirse love is strong it wasn't enough to tackle the one-two punch of The Green Dress and Briony being a little snitch-monster, and so Keira Knightley's Cecelia took top honors in our Atonement poll last week, with about 3/4s of the vote. Said par:

"In fairness to Briony, i'd do a lot worse if somebody got between me and the housekeeper's son. But I voted for Cecilia cause, damn, that girl had some bad luck."

Monday
Dec032018

Beauty vs Beast: Saoirse and Her Sisters

Jason from MNPP here with another round of "Beauty vs Beast" for you people. This weekend Mary Queen of Scots hits theaters and I'm sure you'll hear more about it here being, you know, a movie starring two impressive young actresses being impressive once again - one of those actresses, the one called Saoirse, well she's spent 11 straight years now impressing us, and today we're looking back at the place that started, i.e. with Joe Wright's Atonement. Saoirse should face down female relatives more often - her "cousin" Queen Elizabeth, her mother Laurie Metcalf, her sister Keira Knightley... it works out well for her.

 

PREVIOUSLY We tackled the parental figures of Moonlight last week (they could both use a good tackling, honestly) and y'all clearly thought the Oscars got it right, giving Mahershala Ali almost 70% of you vote. Said AlexD:

 

"Performance wise they're hand in hand for me. Both superb, both brilliantly adding depth and emotion to their characters. Ali shines all the dark and less flattering qualities of a character with whom we mostly sympathize on screen, while Harris humanizes a character with whom we don't (on screen)."

Friday
Mar182016

Posterized: Saoirse Ronan

Since we forgot to celebrate Saint Patricks Day and since Brooklyn is fresh on DVD, let's talk everyone's favorite current Irish lass! Saoirse Ronan is only 21 years old (she turns 22 next month) but she's already logged over a decade of work having started as a child in a Irish television series called "The Clinic". Her first movie role was as Michelle Pfeiffer's daughter in the romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman shot in 2005 though it took along time to emerge due to behind the scenes studio and distribution dramas. Her breakthrough Oscar-nominated performance in Atonement (2007) quickly followed. She's now ascended to a real movie star with her warm engaging film-carrying work in Brooklyn (2015).

Let's repeat a bit of Oscar trivia since it's quite impressive and important: Saoirse Ronan (nominated at 13 and 21) is only the 4th child star in history to received an Oscar nomination before and after turning 18. The very short list includes only the icons Jodie Foster (first nominated at 14), Natalie Wood (first nominated at 17) and Sal Mineo. (first nominated at 17) so that's astonishingly good company for Saoirse! (If you count "special" non competitive Oscars you can include Judy Garland, too, who received a "juvenile" statue for The Wizard of Oz when she was 17.) Most child stars peak when they're children, you see, but Saoirse is surely just getting started. 

How many of her films have you seen? (all posters after the jump)

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar152016

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Atonement (2007)

Briony's eyes. Every shot is telling, this one directly, confrontationally to the camera.

Stupendous. It's stupendous, darling."

That's Mother Tallis's review of her precocious daughter Briony's (Saoirse Ronan) very serious new play at the beginning of Atonement (2007). It's also any sensible person's reaction to this amazing motion picture. Seeing it again (I hadn't seen it since 2007) was close to overwhelming. Praise be to Director Joe Wright and Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey because this thing hasn't aged a single day. If anything it's become more beautiful with the passage of time, a neat trick since memory is one of its great subjects. It's superbly acted (particularly by James McAvoy in what is certainly his most moving performance), and features a veritable parade of emblematic, gorgeous, and thrillingly visceral images for this exercize of ours. What to even choose: Cecilia wet and haughty at the fountain; The lovers, already "characters" in future novelists Briony's mind erotically pressed against books in the library (my runner up for Best Shot); that amazing tracking shot at Dunkirk which pulls us out of the story (sort of) just long enough to stingingly remind us that War doesn't care about Individual Characters and Their Arcs -- it's ready to soil everything; any closeup of Briony whether she's imaginatively confused (Saoirse Ronan), guilt-ridden shellshocked (Romola Garai), or, wide-eyed with the fraternal twins of truth and fiction (Vanessa Redgrave); and of course anything and everything involving Keira Knightley in the green dress, the dress that should've won Jacqueline Durran the Oscar in a landslide.

Here are the choices from our Best Shot Club, open to anyone who wants to join after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov122014

Threads: Summer garb from "Atonement"

Andrew here, taking up the mantle for newish series “Threads” while Nathaniel's in LA. Each Wednesday we’ll fixate on one specific costume.

This week, to distract from the flurry of snow that some parts of the U.S. might be experiencing let's go summer. To be honest, I'm mostly using this as an excuse to talk about Keira Knightley since 2014 has been a great year for her and she may well hog the red carpet soon. She's probably the best of the cinematic clothes-horses  right now. It helps that three of her most significant characters were dressed by the excellent Jacqueline Durran. Durran does not work as much as Sandy Powell or Colleen Atwood, but when she does she's simply oustanding.

I’m sure when you hear Atonement  and costume design your mind immediately goes that lush green dress. Why wouldn’t it? I remember the majority of the push for Jacqueline's Oscar campaign in 2007 was around that gown. As lovely as it was, though, it's not the costume I find most impressive in Atonement. For that, look to the understated blouse and skirt Cecilia spends the first 15 minutes wearing.

The simplicity and detail is such a great example of Durran’s ability to triumph with the simple just as with the grandiose. It’s such an effective get-up for Cecilia. The large buttons on the skirt and that unusual pocket placement, the blouse that looks thin enough to deal with the heat. The flowers point to the season but they're not too busy or finicky to seem out of place on Cecilia. It's detailed enough to betray her wealth, but not too ornate to make her seem ostentatious. Particularly obsession worthy is the unusual print on the skirt; the designs should clash, but they miraculously don't.

Like everything in Atonement it photographs beautifully. She strips of the outfit soon enough, though, in that fateful fountain meeting. To reveal, beneath it, a matching slip. I've always wondered if the tan coloured slip was a Jacqueline Durran original, too...

Previously on "Threads":
The Book of Life; Snowpiercer