Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

The Set of 400: #6 – My Favorite Magic Trick

Today! Because sometimes you turn to a man you don’t fully understand –

The Dark Knight (2008)

Directed by Christopher Nolan (x4)

Starring Christian Bale (x2), Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman (x5), Michael Caine (x7), Morgan Freeman (x5), Eric Roberts, Melinda McGraw, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Jai White, Tiny Lister (x3), William Fichter, Cillian Murphy (x3), David Dastmalchian, Ron Dean (x2), Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell (x2), Monique Gabriela Curnen, Keith Kupferer

If you had told me after Batman Begins that the Christopher Nolan films would eclipse the Burton ones in my personal evaluation, I would’ve said you’d gone goofy (because that’s an actual phrase I’m likely to use, rest assured). But this quickly became my prime example of the first movie in a series functioning more as a prequel than an original film. To even classify The Dark Knight as a sequel would mean to ascribe more qualities and value to Begins than it deserves. I know some people love it, and it’s fine, I guess, but only once The Dark Knight burst into existence. Otherwise, it’s just sort of sepia douchebaggery and table setting and Katie Holmes.

Meh

But the stars also aligned just right for Dark Knight in a lot of personal respects, too. As I’ve frequently mentioned, I moved to Chicago in June of 2008, and we’d just begun our first box office pool (I had Iron Man, which opened to kick off May), so movies were very much at the forefront of everything that year. It didn’t hurt that it was an extraordinarily big summer for films – what with Indiana Jones 4, the beginning of the MCU, Wall-E, Tropic Thunder, The Incredible Hulk, and the first Joker feature in nearly thirty years (plus, er, Speed Racer). But above all else – The Dark Knight is the most Chicago of movies, with virtually every outdoor scene filmed here in the big town. While they avoid showing the full skyline, or the Wrigley building, it’s so obviously Chicago as to be impossible to hide. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #34 – My Favorite Origami Paris

Today! Because you’re waiting for a train, a train that’ll take you far away –

Inception (2010)

Directed by Christopher Nolan (x3)

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio (x6), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (x3), Ellen Page, Tom Hardy (x2), Marion Cotillard (x3), Michael Caine (x6), Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy (x2), Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite (x2), Lukas Haas (x3), Dileep Rao

The two greatest summer moviegoing spectacles of the last twenty years both came from the same director, within two years of each other. And this was the second – a head-trippy, effects masterpiece tackling concepts of love, loyalty, aging, and family, and high powered explosives, crashing trains, and weightless fisticuffs. Inception is so spectacularly high concept that it doesn’t seem like much would’ve needed to happen to derail this film into nonsense and self-parody, but in the capable hands of Christopher Nolan – the greatest popcorn movie director this side of Spielberg – it delivers marvelously.

I realize denigrating Nolan as a “popcorn” director is hugely unfair, but even Spielberg eventually got the retroactive credit he deserved for his crowd pleasing efforts (once he made dour war pictures and the like, because apparently that’s the path one needs to take for respect). No doubt in the next 8 to 10 years Nolan will make the somber, awards-sweeping masterpiece that’ll have to be mentioned alongside his Batman movies and Memento and Inception – hell, it was almost Dunkirk – but for now we can content ourselves with the knowledge that we’re living through one of the greatest stretches of cinematic bombast from a hugely talented auteur in history. And as great as his other films are, will he ever manage to creatively top Inception? Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #139 – My Favorite Reckoning

Today! Because I was his friend. And it will be a very long time before someone inspires us the way he did. I believed in Harvey Dent –

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan (x2)

Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman (x4), Michael Caine (x5), Morgan Freeman (x2), Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Aidan Gillen, Liam Neeson (x3), Juno Temple, William Devane (x2), Cillian Murphy, Tom Conti, Alon Aboutboul, Nestor Carbonell, Thomas Lennon (x4), Joey King

I think it’s safe to say that, even with The Avengers that summer, The Dark Knight Rises was the most anticipated movie of 2012. Just go by the sheer numbers – there had never been a sequel to a movie that grossed as much as The Dark Knight at that point, so financially, expectations were all over the place. TDK had more than doubled Batman Begins at the box office, but upon Heath Ledger’s death whatever had been planned for TDKR went out the window. It was like season three of The Sopranos – everyone was excited to see where it would go, even if the original gameplan had to be scrapped on the fly. The first trailers were cool, and like TDK they premiered the opening IMAX sequences months early, before…Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol maybe? Something in the winter of 2011. And it was awesome, with all its “Tell me about Bane! Why does he where the mask?” coming from the man who would be Littlefinger.

Bad judge of the opposition!

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The Set of 400: #347 – My Favorite Tattoo Clues

Today! Because we all lie to ourselves to be happy –

Memento (2000)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Stephen Tobolowsky (x3), Thomas Lennon (x2), Mark Boone Junior, Callum Keith Rennie, Jorja Fox

A singularly great film, Memento bestowed on the world the inestimable gift of Christopher Nolan – the closest thing to Spielberg since Spielberg, but operating with a decidedly adult bent in his giant feature films. From its twisty, complex screenplay to the wildly inventive, imaginative direction, to the whole story unfolding with increased tension suspense backwards through the plot – there really has never been anything else quite like it. As much as I might enjoy some other Nolan films more, and think one or two to be legitimately better, he is unlikely to make anything more technically impressive than Memento. Okay, Dunkirk is pretty stunning as well. Nolan is a master of the first order, is what I’m saying.

Saving Private Ryan wishes it was Dunkirk

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