Dunkirk (2017)

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Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cllian Murphy, Tom Hardy

How many times can Chris outdo himself?

Life can deal you such cruel hands. I am the biggest Christopher Nolan fan so I’ve been excitedly awaiting Dunkirk ever since it was announced three years ago. I’ve been avoiding every trailer and every clip in fear of needless spoilers and have been savouring every review since its release. Now, almost one month after its release I have finally been able to see it! If it was any old film then I would’ve seen it on the day of its release, however this is a Christopher Nolan movie which means that it has to be seen on the biggest screen possible to get the full effect.

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So I took a trip up to London to catch Dunkirk on the BFI Imax, the biggest screen in England and I can safely say that it was worth the wait. Dunkirk is quite possibly the greatest cinema experience I have ever had, or at least the best since Interstellar which created similar immersive intensity in IMAX. But even without the gargantuan screen and crystal clear sound, Christopher Nolan has created not just the greatest war film ever but one of the greatest films of any genre. It is truly a one of a kind film, breaking all kinds of war movie conventions and doing things that have never been attempted in any film before it. Extraordinarily, Nolan has outdone himself once again.

Dunkirk is the equivalent of a cinematic pressure-cooker. From the moment the film begins, it’s put on high heat and it barely lets up for its entire 100 minute running time. The opening scene is sensational. We watch as a tragically young soldier picks up a leaflet depicting how British troops are surrounded by Germans. There’s an instant atmosphere of dread and panic which only intensifies when the first bullet explodes out of nowhere. We’re used to guns firing all the time in films. This is the first time the sound of a bullet has sent shivers up my spine. The noise is so loud and so sharp that I found myself jolting in my seat and for the first time in a war film, feeling the same sense of fear the soldiers on screen are feeling.

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The weight of the situation really hits hard. The idea that these people could die at any moment feels Earth-shatteringly real. This is largely down to Christopher Nolan’s directing which tries to squeeze as much realness and tension as possible out of everything. Long takes are used as well as very few CGI effects. The images feel so real that you almost forget that you’re watching something that was staged. There’s a moment near the beginning when a German plane flies over the troops and the roar of the engine matched with the fear in the soldier’s faces and the over-powering dreadful score make it one of the most terrifying scenes I have ever seen on film. When the bombs hit, it’s utterly devastating.

Unlike most war films, there isn’t a conventional or linear plot. There is no main character or much dialogue at all, instead the film is more interested in capturing the entire event of the Dunkirk evacuation. The main focus is on a story which presents a week of soldiers trying to survive on Dunkirk but there is also a more talky story which sees Mark Rylance taking his little boat out to Dunkirk to pick up some stranded troops as well as an almost dialogue-free story where Tom Hardy (face-covered again) has a go at shooting down enemy planes. It could have been messy but in the hands of Nolan these stories are expertly weaved and executed to perfection.

Unsurprisingly many audiences haven’t quite taken to the film. Average moviegoers expecting an ordinary film with characters you can root for are going to be disappointed. Dunkirk is pure cinema and is something that cannot be described or put into words, it’s something you simply have to experience and feel. It’s the reason why I love films and why I go to the cinema, to be taken on a journey. This is why I’m a fan of directors like David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick whose works consistently provide an immersive escapism into another world. Dunkirk is exactly this. It’s a film which sweeps you along with it and completely immerses you in the world of the film.

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Whatever you look for in a film though, you can’t deny the technical mastery of Dunkirk. I mean no hyperbole when I say that Dunkirk features some of the most spectacular images I have ever seen in a film. Planes sweeping over oceans, thousands upon thousands of soldiers lining up on a dark beach, ships sinking and engulfing people in water. These are some of the most breath-taking and indelible visuals I have ever come across. However, there are also quieter moments which haunt my mind. An older soldier throwing himself into the ocean and a heart-breaking final montage which ends each story on a spine-tingling powerful note are just as spectacular as the monumental set-pieces.

Hans Zimmer also deserves a mention for providing yet again another remarkable score. Music always plays a big part in Nolan films, but in Dunkirk the music almost becomes another character. It’s often dark and brooding but also serves to ratchet up the tension with a constant ticking which adds to the nail-biting intensity. At times of relief though, it’s uplifting and gave me perhaps the biggest chills I’ve ever had whilst watching a movie.

Dunkirk is more than just a film; it’s a work of art. I can’t think of a more intense movie experience than this. By the time the film ended I felt shaken and adjusting to reality outside of the cinema was difficult. This is the first war film to actually drop you in the middle of the war. It’s definitely worth going to see on IMAX for the full experience, but it’s just as unmissable on your teeny weenie TV at home. Hopefully the Academy will now finally recognise Nolan for the incredible talent that he is after Interstellar was cruelly snubbed. Dunkirk is truly extraordinary.

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Top 10 Scenes In Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan’s latest space epic is probably the best film he’s ever done in my opinion. It gets quite a bit criticism thanks to the daring final act which requires some suspension of disbelief, which is rather similar to The Prestige. If you’re willing to go along with it though, you’re in for a thrilling finale which will have you reaching for the tissues. For me, Interstellar is one of those rare flawless films. I was monstrously excited to see it and even booked a seat at the UK’s biggest IMAX screen in London to see it and even though my expectations were astronomical, it still surpassed them. At 170 minutes long it gives itself plenty of time to pack in a load of memorable scenes. The following list is an Interstellar-styled countdown of my favourite scenes from this marvellous film. There are loads and loads of hideous spoilers here, so if you’re one of those weird people who read lists on films they haven’t even seen yet, you have been warned.

10) In the wormhole

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If you were lucky enough to see Interstellar in IMAX then I won’t need to remind you how earth-shattering this scene felt! The whole building rocked and you felt as if you were going through some psychedelic super portal. Don’t worry if you didn’t see it in IMAX though. This scene (and the whole film, in fact) is just as stunning on your big TV and surround speakers at home. Just make sure that the neighbours are out!

9) Drone chase

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This delightful little scene feels like something from a Steven Spielberg film, only with less CGI. In fact, this showcases just how much more involving scenes like this are when they’re filmed for real. If you’re going to film a car chasing a drone through a cornfield then do it for real for gawds sake! Hans Zimmer’s electrifying score does a lot for the scene too. It’s an early moment which hints at the insane adventures our hero is about to go on and also beautifully outlines the heart-warming bond between Cooper and Murph which is the heart of the entire film.

8) “Do not go gentle into that good night”

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The first use of the do not go gentle poem is probably the most powerful. I think it is a perhaps a little too over-used and having Michael Caine repeat it on his death bed is overboard. Nevertheless, it is a great poem and an interesting one to use. I just think every element in this scene is perfect. I love the image of the Endurance out in space as Michael Caine reads the poem out. There’s also the hair-raising use again of Hans Zimmer’s score (you’re going to be hearing me say that a lot on this list!) as it creeps up louder and louder in a foreboding manner. I remember seeing this for the first time and feeling so excited about where this journey was going to take us.

7) Mann down

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A lot of people don’t like the Mann character because they hate Matt Damon. Personally, I’m not fussed about Matt Damon and don’t really see the big fuss surrounding his appearance in Interstellar. Anywho, the revelation that Dr. Mann is in fact evil surprised me. The entire fight scene had me on the edge of my seat as we’re all rooting for Matthew to win. When his helmet cracks though we’re left wondering if he will win. It’s a thrilling sequence which only becomes more thrilling when we see an explosion and everyone scurrying to their respective spaceship in order to reach the Endurance first. After this sequence comes arguably the most exhilarating spectacle in the entire film.

6) Tidal wave

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Visually, this is probably the most impressive part in Interstellar. It’s an exhilarating sequence from the moment we touch down on the water planet as we’re acutely aware that every single second counts. Anne Hathaway and the other bloke plod off to collect some data whilst Matthew gets agitated at the amount of time they’re taking. Suddenly, those mountains in the background get closer and closer to reveal themselves as waves! It’s an eye-popping moment and things get all the more thrilling as lovable TARS rushes off to save Anne just in the nick of time as the spacecraft rides the wave. It’s a set-piece, but who cares when it’s this good?

5) Behind the bookshelf

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So far we’ve had a lot of action scenes, but for me it’s the more emotional scenes which make Interstellar as powerful as it is. This scene concerns Cooper who’s fallen down the rabbit hole and into the mysterious tesseract. When I first saw the movie I was incredibly confused as to what was going on, however the whole concept thrilled me. I can see why it doesn’t quite work for some people, but for me it’s perfect. Cooper has been filled with regret for the whole film at the thought of not seeing his family again and here he is behind Murph’s bookshelf and screaming her name. It’s such a powerful and painfully sad scene. The sequence in the Tesseract goes on for quite a while, but the whole time it’s just exhilarating. Hans Zimmer’s score definitely carries a lot of the power here too.

4) Leaving Murph

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This is the scene which pulls at my heartstrings the most (tied with my number one spot) and I don’t even have a daughter! It’s just so emotional and a lot of it is down to the superb performances by Matthew and Mackenzie. When you think of Interstellar, you might think of its epic scale and adrenaline-charged set-pieces, but it’s the powerful human element which is the heart of the film. Goodbyes are never easy, but Murph’s reaction makes it even harder. When Cooper says, “Don’t let me leave like this, Murph!” my heart breaks a little and tears start to form in my eyes. I’d like to point out that I hardly ever get teary in films, in fact I can count the ones I do on my fingers (Dancer in the Dark, Amour, Brotherhood, Life is Beautiful, Requiem for a Dream and now this one) and they all feature one scene where I get emotional. Interstellar has several scenes where I tear up. It’s also terribly sad to see Cooper drive away in tears and even peeking under the blanket to see if Murph’s hiding there again. Once again, in this scene Hans Zimmer’s score is shattering.

3) Docking

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I have to be honest. When I first saw Interstellar, this docking scene didn’t stand out for me. It wasn’t until I went around reading everyone’s opinions on the film around the interweb that I found out that this docking scene was so cherished. I think the reason why I didn’t take it in the first time around was that I wasn’t entirely sure what Cooper was trying to do. Everything happens so fast with Mann blowing himself to smithereens (I LOVE the use of silence here) and the Endurance being in jeopardy. So when I saw the film for a second time on blu-ray, I paid particular attention to this scene and can now see why it’s so talked about. Even Interstellar’s biggest critics admit to this scene being masterful. It’s just so spectacular with the Endurance spinning out of control and Cooper hopelessly trying to dock. You know he’s going to succeed, yet it still remains incredibly tense. This is probably my favourite use of Hans Zimmer’s score too. The organ is just so loud and commanding here!

2) Reunion

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It might be a little controversial to have this scene so far up on my list, but it’s my list OKAY!? Many people find this part unsatisfying because it all seems too contrived and sentimental to end in this way. However, I’ll never forget seeing this scene for the first time and just being so overwhelmed. I was not expecting Interstellar to touch me in places like this (that sounds wrong) and this part really pulled at my tear ducts. I’m getting a little teary now just writing this! I don’t find it contrived at all, in fact I think it’s essential that the film ended this way. If you’re still not satisfied then you can always go with the plausible theory that everything from the tesseract onwards is Coop’s dying delusions. After all Matt Damon did say that our children are the last people we see before we die, didn’t he? Either way it’s just such a powerful scene and also quite tragic that Cooper basically missed the majority of his daughter’s life. The fact that Ellen Burstyn is playing Murph is just the cherry on top of an already spectacular cake. She’s a bloody legend.

1 ) Messages from home

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This scene succeeds in so many ways. Not only is the concept mind-melting, but the emotional impact is so so high. Out of all the emotional scenes in Interstellar, this is the scene that probably hits me the hardest. Cooper goes away for an hour and goes back to find that he’s missed decades of his children’s lives. It’s just extraordinary to see years of messages with his son marrying and having a child. Hans Zimmer’s score is once again blaring away over it all in the most delicious manner and crucially goes silent when Murph finally appears to deliver that heart-breaking monologue about her father promising to go back to her. When it cuts back to Cooper absolutely sobbing his heart out, that’s when I almost lose it. It’s just a perfectly crafted little scene which I can’t fault. The performances are also incredible here from Matthew, Casey and Jessica. Faultless.

So there you have it! It’s strange that in a film filled to the brim with spectacular set-pieces and very special effects, most of my favourite scenes are in fact purely stripped back and character-based. Yes, the tidal wave is jaw-dropping and the black hole is probably the best CGI effect in movie history, however they don’t have the power to move you like Matthew Mcconaughey watching a video on a tatty TV screen. My sister refuses to watch Interstellar because she doesn’t like space stuff or actiony stuff, which I think is tragic. If only she could watch and see that Interstellar isn’t much of an action science fiction film at all! Space is a mere backdrop. Interstellar is really an epic family drama about a father longing to be with his daughter who’s light years away from his reach. It really is a masterpiece. Please let me know your favourite scenes in the comments below!

Top 10 Scenes In The Dark Knight Trilogy

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I’d like to begin by saying that I am not a superhero or comic book fan. In fact, I’ve never read a comic book in my life other than an old Beano book when I was about seven years old. I even put off seeing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight for years because I was convinced that Batman was for “kids”. How wrong I was. It wasn’t until I started getting into Christopher Nolan films that I decided to give Batman Begins a try and needless to say I was blown away. You can’t imagine how bowled over I was when I then watched The Dark Knight in blu-ray for the first time. Seeing The Dark Knight Rises on the big screen was just a whole new level bliss.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is my favourite trilogy of all time. I believe that The Dark Knight and its sequel are two of the greatest films ever made. They’re pure art and are already iconic pieces of cinema that will surely stand the test of time. I once (famously, I might add) described The Dark Knight trilogy as being akin to a perfect three-course meal. Batman Begins is the starter, a nice little warm-up which gets you excited for bigger things to come. The Dark Knight is the main course, arguably the best part of the meal. It’s the meatiest and tastiest part which leaves you completely satisfied. The Dark Knight Rises is the dessert. It’s just as good as the main course, but in a completely different way. Depending on your taste, it could even surpass it as it rounds everything off to perfection.

I am in fact one of those rare people who think that The Dark Knight Rises surpasses The Dark Knight, ever so slightly due to its atmosphere of dread and sheer scale and ambition. This trilogy is so much more than ‘superhero movies’. They’re individual pieces of art and contain some of the best filmmaking I’ve seen. There are so many incredible scenes, so unfortunately some real crackers won’t feature in my. I myself don’t even agree with this list so I’d love to hear your comments. Without further ado, let’s delve into Christopher Nolan’s nightmarish world of Gotham city.

10) Tumbler Tumble

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This is the first time we really see the tumbler in full action. The bat mobile has been completely reinvented, so that it is no longer a suave sports car, but a military tank. And it makes sense! It’s truly breath-taking to see it swoop across rooftops, speed down motorways and outrun police cars. What makes it all the more tense and exciting is that Bruce Wayne’s fancy woman is in the passenger seat at death’s door, so we know that he’s got to get to his cave fast! It’s an exhilarating scene and just a taste of even bigger things to come…

9) Bank heist

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The opening to The Dark Knight immediately tells you that this film is going to be a departure from the friendlier (but still dark) Batman Begins. In fact, this doesn’t feel like a family friendly superhero film at all! And that’s because it isn’t. This is a beautifully made crime/noirish sequence which feels more like a scene from Michael Mann’s, Heat than a 12A rated Batman film. Those who own the blu-ray will also confirm to you that it looks mesmerising. The opening shot never fails to literally take my breath away as we’re introduced to a frighteningly real world which looks like you could almost fall into it. All the gun fire feels unusually raw and real too, which is a good thing in my books. And of course, who could forget that introduction to Heath Ledger’s, Joker as he says those haunting words, “Whatever kills you makes you… Stranger.” This is a stonkingly good opener!

8) Batman Vs Joker

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I don’t know what it is about this scene, but there’s something about it which I find quite thrilling. There’s a spectacular set-up where we see that the building is full of the joker’s men, hostages and the joker himself, whose whereabouts have been unknown to Batman until now. It’s a set-up not dissimilar to a videogame and it’s heart-stopping to witness! What makes these action sequences feel so intense is that Christopher Nolan tries to use as little CGI as possible and shoot with few quick-cuts so we can actually see what is going on. The final showdown between Batman and the joker is also pretty spectacular. There’s something quite epic about a skinny man in a purple suit beating Batman to a pulp. I also love the way the camera spins as the joker is left hanging. It shows that the closer to death he is, the more unhinged be gets. Wonderful. I’d also like to include the boat scene in this which I really admire. Tense and powerful.

7) A silent guardian

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I never fail to get chills during Jim Gordon’s flawless final words. After a very intense and frightening scene where Harvey-now-the-deranged-two-face-Dent almost blows a hole in the head of Gordon’s son. Batman heroically takes the bullet and plunges the damaged Dent to his death. He then runs off like a thief into the night alongside Hans Zimmer’s grand score and Gordon’s speech before rapidly cutting to black. It’s a fantastic moment and so well written by the Nolan brothers. Some may find the speech contrived, but I see it as something theatrical and grand in scale. I also love the lighting here.

6) Plane Heist

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Some may disagree, but I think the introduction to Bane is even better than the Joker’s intro! What a stroke of genius to have a villain the complete opposite of the Joker, a cold, calculating and hulking figure who is actually a match for Batman! This whole scene is exhilaratingly filmed. The gorgeous scenery and insane special effects make it all the more intense to watch. There’s also some fantastic music here as well which elevates everything. You also can’t help but admire the stunt work here and the way Nolan directs is just flawless as he gets right in on the action with no shaky cam or manic quick cuts! This just goes to show how powerful Bane is and how he always has the upper hand. I also absolutely love his voice. You’d expect him to have the voice of a bull frog, but instead it’s like Shaun Connery on acid. Tom Hardy did almost the impossible, and made us forget about Heath Ledger’s electrifying performance. Whilst Bane still doesn’t reach those heights, he’s still a bloody excellent villain in his own rights. Christopher Nolan himself announced the other day that this was his favourite scene from his entire career!

5) Stadium woes

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This is the moment when we realise that Bane really means business. What would normally be the big finale to a superhero film occurs barely halfway through. It’s the moment where the hero usually comes to stop the villain just before he carries out his evil plan, but not here. The Nolan brothers clearly don’t care for convention and their films are all the more better for it. Bane wins and we’re all surprised. After this moment there’s a fantastic atmosphere of dread where everything seems hopeless and huge in scale. The stadium explosion itself is incredibly well shot. After hearing Hans Zimmer’s masterful, menacing score there’s suddenly silence with just the voice of a innocent child singing and the looming image of Bane in a brilliant coat making his way to the stadium entrance. To top it all off Tom Hardy (apparently) improvises the haunting line, “It’s a lovely, lovely voice” before blowing the stadium to shreds. It’s magnificent to watch, as is seeing all the bridges blow up. Most directors would shoot this from every angle possible in a series of quick cuts, but Nolan only uses one or two shots to really capture the reality of what’s going on. And it really works.

4) Bane’s prison speech

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Bane makes many powerful speeches in the film, but this is probably my favourite. Bane has won and has proudly put himself up as a vicious dictator. He shatters the reputation of “hero” Harvey Dent by reading Gordon’s real speech and liberates the criminals of Gotham by blowing a hole in the prison wall. To top it all off he goes on to explain his plans for Gotham, including blowing it to smithereens. This really shows off the incredible writing skills of the Nolan brothers. They really know how to get inside a character and make them endlessly quotable. I also don’t think that they get enough credit for what they did with some of the Joker’s lines.

3) The bomb

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Christopher Nolan really did end the trilogy with a bang. I’ll never forget seeing this bomb chase scene in the cinema. My heart was racing and chills covered my spine. It was so intense to watch, it’s a feeling I’ve not had since watching Black Swan for the first time. The whole scene is flawlessly done. The music, the directing, the special effects, the sheer emotion. Perhaps it’s because the film is so unpredictable that you don’t know what’s going to happen! Everything seems so hopeless. Alas, Batman gets blown to pieces and saves Gotham, almost like Jesus atoning for everyone’s sins. Or does he live? I also love the scene where Gordon realises that Batman is Bruce Wayne. It’s all so powerful and emotional. Especially when Alfred’s crying his eyes out at the funeral. Oh, and here’s some trivia that you might not know. The bomb actually ticks down in real time! This also subconsciously adds to the intensity.

2) Interrogation

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The iconic interrogation scene features some of the best acting and writing ever committed to film. You can feel Batman’s reeling anger as he brutally beats the Joker. It’s like he actually wants to kill him! But the more angry Batman gets, the more amused the Joker is. He just smiles more with every punch. This is really tremendous acting from Heath Ledger and it’s also the scene where the Nolan brothers give the Joker his most iconic lines such as, “Does it depress you commissioner… To realise just how alone you really are.” The directing here also really captures the emotional intensity of everything. To top it all off, there’s Zimmer’s menacing high-pitched score for the Joker playing over which ratchets up the tension a couple of notches. There’s also that breathtaking moment afterwards where Batman has to save either Harvey or Rachael. If it was any other superhero movie, then Batman would find some sort of way to save both unharmed. But this is Christopher Nolan, and he really hits home when he decides to blow up Rachael. This makes finding the Joker, much more of a revenge quest for Batman.

1) Tunnel chase

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Most will probably disagree with me here, but for me, this is probably where the trilogy hits its highest point. This scene really shows how much of a talent Christopher Nolan is as a director. He shoots everything for real and uses extremely little CGI, which makes the action feel real. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie any more, it’s like you’re actually there and it’s heart-stopping to watch. The Joker rolls up in his comically graphitized truck with a bazooka, trying to blow up the prison van which Harvey’s in and it’s frightening to watch because it just feels so real! The stunts here are just incredible to watch as Batman’s new motorbike feels like it’s going to pop out of the screen. Everything’s going on here: a helicopter crashes, the tumbler dies, Batman crashes through a window, the Joker steals a huge lorry and Batman finally turns it over in spectacular style. But things only get more epic when the Joker crawls out of the wreckage and toys with Batman’s “one rule”. It’s hair-raising to see Batman rocket towards the hapless Joker as he shouts, “HIT ME! HIT ME!” The whole sequence is damn near perfection. I truly believe that it’s quite simply one of the greatest action sequences ever filmed. It just feels so powerful, intense and real.

So there’s my list. I know, I know. Your favourite scene isn’t in there, right? Well to be quite honest with you if I did a 20 greatest scenes, I would still miss something out. I would’ve loved to have included the stock market scene, Batman and Bane’s first fight, Alfred’s leaving and the scene where the Joker makes an appearance at the party. There are just too many great scenes to admire in this awe-some trilogy. What are your favourites?

Ranking Christopher Nolan’s Films

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Director CHRIS NOLAN during the filming of Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action thriller "THE DARK KNIGHT RISES", a Warner Bros. Pictures release.  TM and © DC Comics

Christopher Nolan is one of my favourite ever directors. It bemuses my twin sister because she knows that I’m mostly into strange films that aren’t popular with the masses. She sees Christopher Nolan films as conventional, Hollywood, boring, action-packed blockbusters. Hollywood and action-packed they may be, but conventional and boring they are not. Christopher Nolan manages to bring the intimacy of an arthouse film to epic scopes. He creates characters that you can care about and feel totally involved with, which often makes for intense and compulsive viewing. With several of Christopher Nolan’s films in my top 10 of all time, I’ve decided to give ‘em all a rank.

9. Following

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It’s funny because all of my top favourite directors have all done a debut feature length film in black and white on a monstrously small budget (Eraserhead by David Lynch and Pi by Darren Aronofosky being the other two). Christopher Nolan’s debut took over a year to shoot because everyone involved had full-time jobs and could only afford to shoot 15 minutes or so at a time on weekends. The result is a tightly plotted and snappy film which certainly shows great promise. It is a little forgettable compared to his other films, but the twist is good and there are worse ways to spend 70 minutes.

Best line: “You take it away… to show them what they had.”

My rating: 7/10

8. Insomnia

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The only film Christopher hasn’t totally written himself. He did do a whole re-write but didn’t credit himself because he’s not up his arse. It’s a fairly standard serial-killer thriller but the acting and directing make it above average. Al Pacino is fantastic as the cop with a dodgy moral compass, but it’s the sinister late Robin Williams who steals the show as the psycho toying with Al. There are lots of little nods to Twin Peaks (which I love) and it’s full of brilliant sequences such as the log chase and climatic finale. This is the definition of a solid thriller which uses conventions to its advantage. It’s the film which got Christopher the Batman Begins gig.

Best line: A good cop can’t sleep because he’s missing a piece of the puzzle. And a bad cop can’t sleep because his conscience won’t let him.”

My rating: 8/10

7. Batman Begins

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It took me ages to sit and watch Batman Begins. It was the first Christopher Nolan film I watched and I was reluctant because I’m not into superhero films at all. However, by the time Batman Begins finished I was left hungry for me. It’s a brilliantly dark film for adults. Thankfully, Chris himself isn’t a giant comic book fan like his bro, so he manages to bring it to a level so that everyone can enjoy. In fact, his entire trilogy feels more like epic crime sagas than superhero films. Batman Begins is by far the worst of the three, but that’s only because the other two are up to an insanely high standard. You can see Christopher finding his footing with shooting action, a lot of the action scenes are wobbly and poorly shot, but it’s the characters he brings to the focus and it’s all the better for it. That tumbler chase is frigging brilliant though!

Best line: “It’s not who I am underneath… but what I do that defines me.”

My rating: 9/10

6. Memento

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It takes a seriously amazingly director for me to put a film like Memento in sixth place. For any other director, a film like Memento would be their magnum opus. Some do believe that it is Christopher Nolan’s best film, but I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion and I just prefer the other film’s he’s done. That’s not to say that Memento isn’t a masterpiece because it is! The first time I saw it I was blown away by just how clever and intricate it all was. It keeps you glued to the screen and trying to work out the giant puzzle in your head. I don’t think it’s as watchable as the others on the list, as part of the fun is working out where the hell it’s going. If the shocking twist ending doesn’t have your jaw dropping, then you’ve not been watching close enough.

Best line: “Remember Sammy Jenkins”

My rating: 10/10

5. The Prestige

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Talking of watching closely, are you watching closely? The haunting final words of the magical masterpiece that is The Prestige. For me, this is the film where Chris finds his distinctive style which we see today. Right from the opening Michael Caine monologue you know you’re watching a Nolan film. It’s a gripping and ingenious yarn about two warring magicians. It quickly becomes about obsession and the desire to be the best as Angier tragically takes his bows below the stage. I love how our sympathies shift between the two magicians. At first we’re cheering Hugh Jackman on, but by the end we begin to loathe him. The final double twist will once again have your jaw on the floor. Try not to watch too many Chris Nolan films in one day because you’ll have no jaw left!

Best line: “Abracadabra”

My rating: 10/10

4. The Dark Knight

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After shooting The Prestige, Chris had a sudden thought. Why not shoot a mega-budget blockbuster like a smaller budget film? The result is an intimacy and intensity which is lost in most Hollywood blockbusters. Take the scene where the Joker crashes the party for example, the camera is handheld and follows the Joker around almost in one entire shot. Put that together with Heath’s legendary performance and you’ve got one hell of power. The Dark Knight took the world by storm, breaking all kinds of records and basically creating this superhero movie boom we see today. No other comic book film holds a candle to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy though. This film is pretty much perfection and I can’t praise it enough. It’s deliciously dark and gripping to an almost dizzying level. It’s also very unpredictable and doesn’t stick to the standard superhero tropes. With so many incredible scenes to choose from, I’d probably choose the heart-pounding tunnel chase as my favourite.

Best line: “Come on hit me… HIT ME!”

My rating: 10/10

3. The Dark Knight Rises

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It’s a controversial decision to put Rises over its predecessor, but I stick by it. I’ll never forget when I stumbled out of the theater with my bladder fit for bursting, convinced that I’d just seen one of the very best films ever! You can read my whole lengthy defence on The Dark Knight Rises elsewhere so I won’t go too much into it. It’s a sweeping epic with incredible set-pieces which builds to a shatteringly intense and emotional climax. Bane is a brilliant villain and Tom Hardy brings a monstrous presence to the role. The action sequences are amongst the best ever committed to film and the film also has a massive heart and soul to create a truly involving spectacle.

Best line: “That’s a lovely, lovely voice.”

My rating: 10/10

2. Inception

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Once we enter the dream world heist in Inception the film becomes a non-stop thrill ride. It’s the ultimate intelligent blockbuster. It has the complexities of Memento with the spectacular set-pieces of The Dark Knight. It took Chris years to write and Warner Brothers gave him the budget to make it after the insane success of The Dark Knight and it was another deal which paid off massively. Inception is a mind-bending experience and full of incredible special effects. Where else can you watch a fist fight in a spinning hallway? Inception also has a massive heart as it’s all about a man trying to get back to his kids. There are many emotional moments, but the montage of Cobb and Mal growing old in Limbo is the one that touches me the most. The very end scene set to Hans Zimmer’s Time is simply mesmerising.

Best line: “What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea.”

My rating: 10/10

1. Interstellar

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Some see Interstellar as misfire from Christopher Nolan. An exciting space odyssey until the clumsy final act which swaps hard science for fantasy. Whilst, I can see where some folk are coming from, I disagree entirely. Interstellar is a complete and utter masterpiece of sight and sound. It has an absolutely massive spectacle and scope, yet at its heart it’s a supremely touching drama about a man longing to be with his daughter again. I never cry in films (well, maybe once or twice) but there are three separate moments in Interstellar where I almost shed tears. It’s such a powerful, intense and dizzying film which touches my heart. It also has possibly my favourite ever score from any film ever! Hans Zimmer is at the top of his game here, blasting an organ through our ear holes. It’s full of so many amazing scenes: Leaving Murph, wave planet, messages from home, docking, the entire final 40 minutes etc. I simply adore it and think it’s the best film Christopher Nolan has done thus far.

Best line: “Because my Dad promised me.”

My rating: 10/10

 

So then agree or disagree? Let me know your fave Chrissy Nolan films in the comments 😛

Why does everyone hate The Dark Knight Rises?

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This will contain several major spoilers so if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight trilogy yet, then A) What are you doing with your life? B) Don’t read on.

In the words of Ledger’s Joker, let’s wind the clocks back. Let’s wind them back to the time when The Dark Knight Rises hit cinemas for the first time. The anticipation was huge thanks to the incredible success of The Dark Knight. We had months of sensational trailers and it finally came to our big screens! The reviews were overwhelmingly positive from critics and audiences alike. They called it an ambitious, spectacular and very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. No one said that it was better than The Dark Knight, but no one expected it to be. Bane was hailed as a brilliant villain, although not as interesting as The Joker, but who is?

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So why on Earth is everyone slagging it off now? It’s been called the worst film Christopher Nolan has ever done and one of the worst superhero movies ever. People endlessly pick holes with the plot, with the biggest question being “how did Bruce Wayne get to Gotham in time?” and Bane is slagged off as a limp villain thanks to the surprise ending and Tom Hardy’s peculiar voice. However, I whole-heartedly disagree with all these points. When I first saw The Dark Knight Rises on the big screen I felt elated. It was the most intense movie experience I had had since Black Swan and to me it was as close to flawless as a film can get. I still believe that, and I even prefer Rises over The Dark Knight.

To me the trilogy is like a three course meal. Batman Begins is the soupy starter. This is proper high-class soup which satisfies your taste and gets you all warmed up for the main course. The Dark Knight is the main course and is arguably the best part of the meal. It’s big, meaty and blows the starter out of the water. It’s completely satisfying and leaves you wanting to experience it all over again. The Dark Knight Rises is the desert. It’s as good as the starter, but in a completely different way. It’s also the perfect way to end the meal, leaving a sweet taste in your mouth. To me, The Dark Knight trilogy is the best trilogy ever made.

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It might be worth pointing out that I’m generally not a fan of superhero films. I watched X-Men: First Class the other month and just did not understand the appeal of it at all. So perhaps The Dark Knight Rises is a bit of a disappointment to superhero fans. After all, Christopher Nolan’s vision is dark and realistic. It feels more like an adult crime/thriller than a piece of family entertainment. Batman does also take a back seat in Rises, and the story becomes much more about Bruce Wayne. This doesn’t bother me at all, I absolutely love the long build-up of Bruce Wayne slowly bringing his alter-ego out of the closet (not in a gay way) as it makes you feel the weight of the suit. The idea of Batman’s biggest threat coming at a time when he’s at his weakest is incredibly appealing.

Talking of enemies… Bane gets a lot of stick for some reason. Personally, I love what Tom Hardy does with the voice. It’s strange, unconventional and a little bit creepy. In fact, the scenes where Bane has a monologue are the best scenes in the film as there’s a kind of hypnotic quality to them. I think it’s brilliant to have a villain who is a complete contrast to The Joker. Bane is not only physically superior, but he’s a match for Bruce’s intelligence too. He’s a man with a plan, as opposed to The Joker who was just  blowing up stuff for a laugh. Furthermore, Bane manages to do what The Joker never did. Halfway through the film my jaw was on the floor because I was watching a superhero film where the villain wins! There’s a fantastic atmosphere of dread and hopelessness throughout the film because Bane beats Batman and destroys most of Gotham.

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Some say that the twist sucks because it reveals Bane as some lovesick puppy and not the badass mastermind he’s been made out to be. However, this just makes me appreciate the Nolan brother’s writing even more. They haven’t just created a cardboard cutout villain, they’ve created a real character who runs much deeper than he first appears. In regards to the much mocked death scene, yes it is a little underwhelming but let’s not forget what Liam Neeson said in Batman Begins, “Death does not wait for you to be ready! Death is not considerate or fair!” All of the deaths in The Dark Knight trilogy follow this rule, so why should supervillain Bane be treated any differently?

People also tend to bang on about various plot holes, but all of them can be explained if you use your imagination a bit. How did Bruce get back to Gotham? It’s never stated where the pit is, he’s a renowned billionaire so he could’ve easily flew over or summoned his new fancy Bat plane. Who’s to say that he ever returned at all? Perhaps the entire finale is one big wishful thought. I know it’s unusual for a blockbuster to make you think, but this is Christopher Nolan. He has somehow managed to bring the intimacy and intelligence of art-house/indie cinema to multi-million blockbusters so not everything is going to be spelled out to the audience.

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People seem to be so hung up on these plot holes that they forget just how extraordinary the film is. Christopher Nolan’s direction is superb. The majority of action scenes nowadays are filmed from every angle with quick-cuts and a frantic shake to make sure that the audience can’t see what’s going on. The entire last half hour of The Expendables is one big fiery blur because the directing is just appalling! Even Christopher Nolan fell for this with some of the action sequences in Batman Begins. Thankfully he’s learnt from his mistakes and is now the master of shooting action. He only films from one or two angles so that we can really get involved with what’s going on. It’s so much more intense, and it also helps that it’s all done for real with little CGI.

The plane heist is a seriously spectacular opening and it’s filmed with a fantastic sense of scale which leaves you breathless. I can’t help but get chills when Bane says, “Oh yes, the fire rises” and Hans Zimmer’s epic score kicks in as we see Bane completely hijack the plane. Talking of the score, Bane’s chant is one of Hans’ best. When the film’s over it’s still ringing in your head and it’s the perfect musical embodiment of Bane. It’s loud and threatening. Hans Zimmer always does his best scores when working with Christopher Nolan. His latest score in Interstellar is probably the best he’s ever done, which is saying a lot.

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Rises is also the most emotional of the trilogy. The finale is very intense and certainly sets your pulse racing. There’s definitely a sense that Batman won’t save Gotham, thanks to how unpredictable the film is throughout. I also love the much-debated ending which plays on the idea of dreams and again leaves it up to the viewer to answer. Some of the best scenes in the film aren’t just the eye-popping ones such as the stadium blowing up, but the smaller ones too. Michael Caine’s goodbye for example is incredibly powerful and one of the best scenes in the film. Rises really does soar during its exhilarating action scenes though.

So there you have it! The Dark Knight Rises isn’t just a good film, it’s a downright mesmerising one. It’s superb in every department including: directing, writing, acting, editing and music. It has a grand sense of scale, yet it also crucially cares about its ensemble of characters. The film has a lot of heart to spare too and injects a lot of emotion. Can we please lay off it now? It’s as close to flawless as a film can be. A film that’s almost three hours in length is bound to have a few problems, but the problems here are so minor they’re not worth mentioning. Besides there’s so much more good about it than bad, so let’s enjoy it.

Interstellar (2014)

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Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Ellen Burstyn

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Today children I shall be talking about Interstellar. But before I do, I think I better give you a little context, just to show how high my expectations were for this film. I love Christopher Nolan. I am a Nolanite, or Nolanoid, or whatever people who like Christopher Nolan are called. I’ve seen every film of his (apart from Following) and I’ve given five of them a 10/10 which is a score I hand out rarely. It confuses me when people slag him off because he’s clearly the best writer/director to be working on mainstream blockbuster films since Steven Spielberg, only I think that his films are much better than Steven’s.

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The great thing with Chris is that he has an ambition when he’s making a film and he isn’t afraid to go ‘big’. His films are only so thrilling because of the intimacy he creates between the audience and the characters. As soon as I heard Christopher Nolan’s next film was a sci-fi film called, Interstellar, I was excited. I was so excited that I only treated myself to one viewing of the teaser trailer and first trailer. It was enough, I was sold and I didn’t want to see any other trailer, because I wanted to know and see as little as possible.

I decided that Interstellar needed to be seen in IMAX, so I booked my ticket to see Interstellar on the biggest screen in the UK. Even though the film had garnered some mixed reviews (I was hoping for full-on rave ones, like when The Dark Knight and Inception came out) I still put my trust into Christopher to deliver me something extraordinary. I don’t know if it’s the gigantic screen talking, but Interstellar absolutely delivered.

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This was the best experience I’ve ever had at the cinema. The screen was so so huge and immersive. The sound shook the seats because it was so loud. It made the experience incredibly intense and by the end of it, I felt like I had been for a little trip out in space. I’m not sure if this will translate quite so well on your TV screen at home, however the film is unmissable whatever you choose to see it on. Whilst a lot of the film does rely on extraordinary visuals and heart-stopping set-pieces, at its heart it’s an intimate family drama which suggests that your children are your one and only important universe.

I was absolutely sucked into the film from the moment it started. The stuff before Matthew goes into space is probably some of the best stuff in the film. We learn so much about Coop and he becomes a worthy character to invest three hours into (three hours which fly by, I might add). There’s a strong focus on the relationship between Coop and his daughter, and it’s this relationship which drives the film right up to, and including, its jaw-dropping conclusion. The first hour is also quite funny too, which was a nice surprise as Nolan doesn’t normally dabble in too much humour.

There’s a really emotional scene where Coop wants to say goodbye to his daughter, who he doesn’t know when he’s going to see again, before his space travels. It’s beautifully acted by both Matthew McConaughey and child actor, Mackenzie Foy and is at the powerful centre of the whole film. After this the film adopts an entirely new setting. Literally. We’re blasted off into space and the fun really begins. The less you know about the space scenes, the better, as it’s a lot of fun to try and work out just where the film is going!

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Suffice to say that Interstellar is jam-packed with eye-popping visuals and intense thrills which dwarf last year’s Gravity into a speck of space dust by comparison. Speaking of Gravity, do you remember when it came out last year and it got a load of rave reviews from the critics, but really it was just a beautifully made fairground ride? Well, why hasn’t Interstellar received those rave reviews? Not only is Interstellar thrilling and marvellously directed, but it also has a terrific screenplay which is not only intelligent, but heartfelt and emotive.

With The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher proved that he could direct on a big scale and Interstellar is his biggest yet. He has an ambition which most directors lack and instead of kicking him down for it, we should be nurturing it! Interstellar presents us with new and exciting ideas which colossally blow other mainstream films out of the water. The action is also elevated to unreachable new heights thanks to Hans Zimmer’s astonishing score. It’s a haunting piece of music that will be ringing in your head for hours after the film has finished. He’s left the big drums and strings behind and re-invented himself with a bizarre church organ which perfectly matches the dark atmosphere of the film.

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A lot of people have expressed a strong disliking to the final 40 minutes of Interstellar. I can see why as up until then the film is more or less possible to understand. It’s complex, but it’s still easy enough to follow. However, Christopher completely rips up the rule book and Interstellar goes seriously barmy in the last 40 minutes. Personally, I loved the third act and it just goes to show the sheer creativity and ambition which Christopher Nolan has going inside his head. I found it all very interesting both on a visual and intellectual level. I don’t understand it all, but I have my theories and I’m sure that there will be a mountain of theories cropping up on the interweb.

Interstellar is a truly remarkable experience. It boasts awesome ideas and visuals, but it never forgets its heart. I’m a tough cookie to make cry, but I’m not going to lie (ooh poetry!) there were three occasions when I had tears filling up in my eyes. There are some astonishingly powerful and moving scenes in there which reminds me why I go to the cinema. I don’t just want crazy visuals and excitement, I want to be moved and I want to be invested in characters so that I care what happens to them at the end. Interstellar more than achieves that.

I’ll need to give it another watch to work out where I’d put it on Christopher Nolan’s mesmerising filmography, but he hasn’t let me down. I hope that Interstellar is seen as a sci-fi classic in years to come because it really does deserve that accolade.

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100 Greatest Movie Moments

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Movies are essentially made up of moments. Below are some of my favourites. Now, some are there for different reasons, some make me laugh, some make me cry, some scare me or disturb me and some just hold a certain emotional power. They are in no order (although the last 20 would be my top favourites) so don’t have a go at me for putting Hocus Pocus above American Beauty! It was a surprisingly easy list to make. The scary thing is that I could probably do another 100 more because there are so many movie moments I just love. As to avoid spoilers, I haven’t said what films these scenes come from. Please let me know if you’re desperately looking for what film a scene is from and I shall tell you. So without further ado (hopefully all the images have loaded for you) let’s delve into my twisted world.

100. May’s creation moves

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99. The power of love

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98. Randy’s last jump

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97. Sara’s eaten by her own fridge

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96. Patsey’s whipped

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95. Candieland shootout

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94. Betty auditions

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93. Do the locomotion

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92. “One day more…”

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91. Kevin Specey’s final monologue

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90. A casual trip to the skies and back again

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89. Monica Bellucci gets raped for 10 minutes straight!

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88. Ulrich Mühe breaks down for 10 minutes straight!

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87. Laura Dern’s clown face

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86. The scariest movie moment ever!

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85. “Give me the bat.”

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84. “Call it.”

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83. Chainsaw ballet

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82. Travis goes mental

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81. Isabelle Adjani goes mental

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80. “The dark knight…”

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79. “Abracadabra.”

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78. Norman in drag

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77. You talkin’ to me?

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76. 360 degree taxi slash

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75. Teddy’s tragic flashback

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74. The last shot

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73. Sister Mary Clarence pats a dog

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72. “Detective… DETECTIVE!”

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71. Penthouse reveal

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70. Margaret White goes barmy

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69. Drew Barrymore screams

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68. Swimming pool saga

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67. “BASTARD FROM A BASKET!”

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66. Lighthouse woes

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65. Head cases

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64. Girl/thing in the loft

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63. Lawnmower man

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62. Foetal position

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61. Wrong place and wrong time

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60. Shock suicide

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59. George’s story

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58. Polish poem

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57. “Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

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56. “A candy coloured clown they call a sandman.”

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55. “Those were dummies!”

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54. Laura dies

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53. “Silencio…”

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52. Nina’s swansong

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51. “You mean, all this time we could’ve been friends?”

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50. George and Peppy’s last dance

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49. John Merrick dies

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48. Beatrix Vs. Elle

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47. Tragedy in the mist

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46. Time destroys everything

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45. Hannibal escapes

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44. Selma’s last song

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43. The bells toll

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42. “I’ve abandoned my child!”

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41. “Game over!”

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40. “In heaven, everything is fine…”

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39. Adam meets the cowboy

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38. Mrs Doubtfire cooks

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37. Table saw kill

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36. “At last… My arm is complete again.”

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35. The hunchback

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34. Kagutaba lives!

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33. “I loved you”

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32. Erica stabs

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31. Hans Landa hunts after a glass of milk

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30. Winkie’s Diner

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29. Batman atones

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28. Lucie’s memories

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27. Intense dinner

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26. Intense dinner

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25. Intense dinner

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24. Opening montage

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23. The world ends

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22. Bat brutality

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21. Satan’s house

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20. “WHO’S IN MY HOUSE!!”

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19. Nothing is left

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18. The world’s most gruelling exorcism

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17. Hallway hammer brawl

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16. “HELLOOO!”

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15. The ancient ones rise

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14. Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother takes a shower

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13. “DON’T FUCKING LOOK AT ME!”

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12. Kitchen fight

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11. Rock-a-bye-baby…

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10. Chainsaw chase

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9. Cobb comes home

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8. “Lovely lovely voice…”

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7. “Llorando”

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6. “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!”

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5. Tunnel chase

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4. “Keep doubting”

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3. Bride Vs. Crazy 88

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2. Sweeney’s tragic end

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1. “I was perfect”

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