Saturday, September 29, 2012

Director Review: Christopher Nolan

Introduction: For several weeks now I have been trying to figure out how to write my Dark Knight Rises review. I had a lot to say but it was so broad and really dealt with how it tied with the series as a whole. Then I thought what if I wrote about the whole trilogy? But that would take way too much time out of my busy schedule (ie sleeping). So why not a review of Christopher Nolan's work as a whole? It'll be like thoughts on who he is and his work. Truth be told, I love the man's work. I admire his use of film and traditional special effects as well as how he plays around with themes. Some people may not like him but I don't give a sh*t. Let's start with Memento!

Memento: Memento is a great place to start when it comes to Christopher Nolan as it show cases his use of nonlinear storytelling and various themes. The story is rather simple: a widow searches for his wife's killer. He's not a "hero," mind you, he is simply a man driven by grief and vengeance, BUT he has anterograde amnesia. This means he can't create new memories after an event that created the amnesia, in this case, the death of his wife. Thus he leaves notes and mementos (Oh! Oh! I get it!) that will lead him to the killer. If you think that was interesting wait until you hear the way this story is told! The movie starts at the end and rewinds while also having a chronological approach that in the end collides both stories. It's f*cking brilliant and flows seamlessly. 

Insomnia: A 93% on Rotten Tomatoes? Seriously? This is that Christopher Nolan movie you can skip. It's just not memorable. It's about 2 FBI agents looking for a killer. One FBI agent accidentally kills his partner and the guilt gives him insomnia (Oh! Oh! I get it!). Meanwhile, Internal Affairs is investigating him and the killer is blackmailing him. You might be thinking "If it's not memorable then how did you remember all that?" Easy, I didn't. I had to go to Wikipedia.

Batman Begins: Oh yeah! Batman territory! This film is about how Batman begins (Oh! Oh! I get it!) in regards to his battle with fear. It's a great film that really rides the line between fantasy and realism. The thing that really struck me with it is how the film's story relies on the comic books. Normally, comic book movies just make up their own damn plot but this series tries to be faithful while at the same time trying to form it's own universe that's creatively controlled by Nolan himself with darkness and realism. He builds upon the strong foundation of Batman and makes him something new yet old at the same time. This film also started the reboot/dark-and-gritty fad that we see with everything ever...

The Prestige: Gawd, I love this movie! It's a great nonlinear story with no protagonists and heavy themes of obsession and duality. See the story involves a magician in prison for killing another magician and he's actually reading the murdered magician's diary about the murdered magician reading the incarcerated magician's diary. That may sound confusing as f*ck, but it works extremely well. Both magicians are obsessed with magic and vengeance and this is mirrored with the rivalry between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. This is also a film where you realize that Christopher Nolan can pull out some amazing performances. This talent was glimpsed at in Insomnia but it really shows here with David Bowie. This film is just a pleasure to watch and when you see the twist, also known as a prestige (Oh! Oh! I get it!), you'll be like OH SNAP!!!

The Dark Knight: Holy bat signal, this movie was awesome! 2 out of 2! This film is about the Dark Knight (Oh! Oh! I get it!) and his struggle against terrorism. But even more than that it's about a terrorist trying to prove that everyone is crazy. It's about a man battling the corruption of a corrupt city as it's new DA. It's about a cop trying to protect his family. It's about a billionaire trying to live a normal life. It's about how we want a White Knight to show us that we can do good things by the book and how what we need is someone willing to dirty their hands and carry an enormous weight on his shoulders. This blew me away as it passed the realm of fantasy and at some point becomes real. The Joker is a haunting villain who gives me chills. The pacing might leave you exhausted, but this film just thrills you.

Inception: I'm baffled. No, not by the movie. The movie was f*cking awesome. I'm baffled by the audience reaction to it. Critics stated how they feared that average movie goers wouldn't "get it" but then I saw the movie and was amazed by how simple it was. What wasn't there to "get"? It was a story about a grieving widower coming to terms with the loss of his wife. It was very emotional and really gave the movie a lot of weight. Not only that but it was a bank heist film that actually was very similar to Ocean's 11 (thief does one last job by gathering a group of specialists and a fish-out-of-water character for exposition only for his ex-wife to show up randomly) with the exception of the twist being that it's all in the target's mind and instead of being an extraction of goods it's an inception (Oh! Oh! I get it!). But even then people say Dreamscape and Matrix did this first. No, they f*cking didn't. Neither were bank heist films plus Dreamscape is about a psychic using his powers to get laid and the Matrix is about terrorists killing a bunch of real people inside a computer game. Inception was a fantastically crafted film. The imagery and message were spectacular and I just love this movie

The Dark Knight Rises: Finally, the finale to this trilogy finalizes itself. My reaction? Meh.The first half of this story shows us how the Dark Knight rises (Oh! Oh! I get it!), the second half shows us how the Dark Knight rises (Really? Ok, I get it), and then the epilogue shows us how the Dark Knight rises (I F*CKING GET IT!!!). This odd structure causes the movie to feel a little disjointed and more like 2 films crammed together. A way to remedy this would have been to have the introduction be Batman returning to his temporary underground lair after the Two-Face fiasco only for Bane to be there waiting there for him explaining how he freed the Joker and all of his insane accomplices from Arkham  to wear him down. Bane breaks his back and the film shows Batman struggling with rebuilding his mind and body. Wouldn't that have been awesome!? But nope. Instead we have a finale that shows stuff that would have never happened in Nolan's real and gritty Batman, Bane once again being dumbed down to henchman, a twist that only diminishes the story, and a Robin character that was completely pointless. I enjoyed this movie as more of a movie then any other Christopher Nolan project, but I like him more when he strives to make a film, not a movie.

Conclusion: Some people have said that Christopher Nolan is the next Stanley Kubrick...bullsh*t. Nolan is a better writer and didn't torture his cast. Plus they are completely different people! Notice how the names don't match. Nolan has a real passion for film and he respects it like few directors have. I think this was why Inception was such an amazing film because it was really a glimpse into his mind and is one of the best examples of a director movie. His style is distinct and different and isn't that what makes a good movie good?