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(First published on 7/21/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter)

Off to see Dunkirk tonight — in 70mm (more on that below) — and cannot wait. Beyond the obvious superhero movies, Christopher Nolan is one of the few remaining directors who makes films that demand to be seen in theaters — the bigger the better.

His films can be divisive — see: Interstellar, which I loved partially because of how he made it — but they’re always beautiful to look at. And what he does with sound is extremely under-appreciated.

Here’s hoping he makes a James Bond film one day. Happy Friday.

Update: Saw Dunkirk, excellent.

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Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ will be the biggest 70 mm release since 1992

Sam Adams:

As recently as two years ago, 70mm, which as the name implies is captured on a negative twice the width of traditional 35mm film, was nearly extinct. But the success of the 70mm “roadshow” of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight showed that audiences would turn out to see a movie in the analog version of high definition, and while some critics carped that a movie set largely inside a snowed-in roadhouse was a strange place to use a format traditionally employed for epics like Lawrence of Arabia, there’s no question that Nolan’s large-scale battle scenes fill the bill.

Cannot wait. Also useful: an infographic of the film size comparisons.

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16dunkrik1 facebookjumbo

Christopher Nolan’s Latest Time-Bending Feat? ‘Dunkirk’

Speaking of, here’s Cara Buckley on the making of the film:

He shelved the idea; he had a career to build, and the release of his breakthrough film, “Memento,” (2001), was nearly a decade away. To do “Dunkirk” properly on a vast scale, Mr. Nolan needed lots of Hollywood money. “For British people, it’s kind of sacred ground,” he said. “You have to do it right.” Happily, his films, especially the “Dark Knight” trilogy, went on to make a boatload for Warner Bros., and a few years ago, the studio agreed to back “Dunkirk,” too.

“We felt now was the time to capitalize on that trust and relationship,” Ms. Thomas, who has been a producer on all of Mr. Nolan’s feature films, said by phone. “It very much felt like the sum of everything we’ve learned in prior movies.”


Its running time is just one hour and 47 minutes, which makes it an hour leaner than “Interstellar,” and Mr. Nolan’s shortest film since “Following,” his 1998 feature debut. He wanted “Dunkirk” to be a tight, taut film that plunged into the action without preamble, like the third act of one of his previous films.

Mr. Nolan also did not want to make a typical war movie, and instead built it as a nail biter. To avoid alienating the audience, he also kept out nearly all traces of blood — “it’s not the button we wanted to push,” he said — landing a PG-13 rating even though, he said, the studio had given him the go-ahead to make an R-rated film. “We wanted an intensity not based on horror or gore. It’s an intensity based on rhythm, and accelerating tension, and overlapping suspense scenarios,” he said. “Dunkirk to me is one of the most suspenseful ticking-clock scenarios of all time.”


Christopher Nolan Says He Would Never Work With Netflix

Continuing on the theme… here’s Eric Kohn talking to Nolan about Netflix:

“Netflix has a bizarre aversion to supporting theatrical films,” Nolan said in an interview this week. “They have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released, which is obviously an untenable model for theatrical presentation. So they’re not even getting in the game, and I think they’re missing a huge opportunity.”

He pointed out that Amazon, which releases its movies in theaters before making them available on its platform, shouldn’t be lumped with Netflix for contributing this issue. “You can see that Amazon is very clearly happy to not make that same mistake,” he said. “The theaters have a 90-day window. It’s a perfectly usable model. It’s terrific.”

I still have to believe that Netflix will eventually change their stance — even if only slightly in the short term — on this. But it’s fascinating just how adamant they are. And:

He shrugged off the notion that TV was somehow supplanting movies in popular culture. “Ten years ago I’d get asked a lot of questions about the video game industry,” he said. “Like, is that going to kill movies or whatever? It’s a different thing. Now it’s VR. They’re just different things. I love television. It’s great. I love what my brother’s doing in TV, I love watching him work in that format. It’s just a completely different medium.”

I agree, but there are very real challenges going forward with that medium — in particular, the way it is distributed.

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20170708 stp001 0

Cameras are about to get a lot smaller

The Economist:

To mimic the image-making role of the optics in conventional cameras, the OPA manipulates incoming light using electrons. Dr Hajimiri compares the technique to peering through a straw while moving the far end swiftly across what is in front of you and recording how much light is in each strawful.

The fundamentals of camera optics are very divisive when it comes to this debate. This is how and why Apple has the camera “bump” on every iPhone. Might that change…

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17xp mirzakhani obit facebookjumbo

Maryam Mirzakhani, Only Woman to Win a Fields Medal, Dies at 40

Kenneth Chang’s obituary for Dr. Mirzakhani is full of inspirational points. A couple:

“You have to ignore low-hanging fruit, which is a little tricky,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s the best way of doing things, actually — you’re torturing yourself along the way.”


Dr. Mirzakhani often attacked her math research by doodling on vast pieces of paper sprawled on the floor with equations at the edges. Her daughter described it as “painting.”

“It is like being lost in a jungle,” Dr. Mirzakhani said, “and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out.”

Gone way, way, way too soon.

Giphy Break

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Image for post
Can’t wait.

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Speaking of crazy…

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Not only is Julia Roberts jumping to TV — technically her second announced show — she’s doing it with Amazon, for a show based on the Gimlet fictional podcast. Times have changed.

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Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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