Christopher Nolan

Tenet – Christopher Nolan (2020)

  • action

Nolan made a 007-type movie with a super agent, a Bond-girl and an arch villain who wants to destroy the world. Of course he had to come up with a ‘mind-blowing’ theme as well.

So we have bad guys who found a way to manipulate time. This seems mostly in order to make the final scenes in which two times are shown simultaneously allowing Nolan to present pretty far-out CGI which in some ways are as awe-inspiring as in “Inception” (2010).

To get to this, Nolan had to come up with a way too complex theory to explain how that last scene can come to be. Throw in another complex story about how the bad guy makes his money and how he means to end the word and you not only have a vague concept, but a downright hard-to-follow film. At times I got a bit of a “Primer” (2004) feeling. Things may just have gotten a wee bit too complex.

For the rest you can expect some over-the-top action with plane crashes to get to a painting, shootouts, fistfights, romance and everything that you expect from a 007. The film makes an amusing circle towards the end that does make that I want to see this film again some time to see if I can make more sense of the complex story.

Good, entertaining, but after a first watch, a bit too much.

The Dark Knight Rises – Christopher Nolan (2012)

Last week I was checking how/if I could watch titles on my wish list. I checked if Netflix already had Nolan’s latest (“Tenet”) and I was suggested the present title. I do not even know if I knew that Nolan made two “Dark Knight” films.

Reading back my review of the other “Dark Knight” film, I was amused by it. Less I can say about “The Dark Knight Rises” though…

Bruce Wayne is old(er) and retired. Quite some people seem to know that he was Batman. Events in Gotham (of course) make Wayne return to his former ‘status’.

We have a very unlikely story with the villain, both his past and his plans for Gotham (mostly the reasons for it). In a bit of a James Bond type of bad guy who wants to ruin the world story with some references to Wayne’s history, a fairly nice, gloomy film unfolds. Too bad that there are boring sentimentalist and moralist scenes and the all-too-human Bruce Wayne is a bit tiring too.

The film is alright, but I do not like the drama much. Towards the end, things get weaker and weaker and what remains is but a pomp Hollywood disaster movie.

Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan (2017)

  • war

I did not expect to receive this film so quickly from my DVD rental. I have the feeling it is just out of the cinemas. Nolan made some of the best films I know, but war films are not my genre, so I had no haste in seeing “Dunkirk”, but here it was.

“Dunkirk” is a good and pressing film about a small part of World War II. The British decide to evacuate soldiers from a small, French harbor. While thousands of soldiers are waiting for the ships, the Germans come in with fighter planes to throw their bombs.

Nolan managed well to give an idea of the tension. A droning, minimalistic soundtrack. He also managed well to give an idea of the drama on a larger scale, but several personal stories are interwoven to give the viewer characters to identify with, adding to the drama.

Indeed a good film. Not much like previous films of Nolan and war-films remain not my genre, but this is a film to get a glimpse of the atrocities of war.

Interstellar * Christopher Nolan (2014)

Just back from seeing “Interstellar”. An impressive film! Perhaps I should better wait a bit before writing the review. On the other hand, why not just when I am still full of it?

At the opening titles I noticed that it took two Nolans two write this story, but the two also worked together on “Memento“, “The Prestige” and two Batman films. What you first hear about the new Nolan is how complex it is. Actually I think it is not more complex than “Inception” and having seen that film a couple of times the story is original, but not hard to follow. “Interstellar” shows an earth of which expiration date has run out and NASA is secretly trying to find a way to save the human kind on another planet. The search involves a worm-hole that seekers are sent through to find an inhabitable planet. The concept of the worm-hole allowed Nolan to play with the concept of time, since the gravity of the worm-hole also affects time. Also time is seen as a dimension and added to this is a fifth dimension.

The first three quarters you will hear a lot of scientific theories about gravity, time, worm-holes, etc. Then in the last quarter the film takes the turn that probably leaves a lot of people clueless. I must say that here the film becomes both brilliantly found, but also rather forced in complexity and not entirely credible. Yet, the story makes a wonderfull circle that may not be completely unexpected, but well done.

There is quite a bit of drama in the film. The cold, scientific facts are balanced heavily by human emotions of the love of a father for his children, the drama of loosing a loved one, lies and the like. There are quite some tear-jerking scenes that actually work.

All in all “Interstellar” is an impressive film and certainly a worthy follow-up for “Inception”. Contrary to “Inception” there is no necessity to see this film on the big screen (however some scenes will look better), but I do recommend to put this title somewhere high up your wish-list when you like space spectacle and especially when you like the work of Christopher Nolan.

Inception * Christopher Nolan (2010)

I noticed the posters for this film (that just premiered in the Netherlands) downtown, but Leonardo DiCaprio, the tagline “of the creators of The Dark Knight” or the poster that looks like an action movie did not really catch my attention. Then my girlfriend noticed that the director is Christopher Nolan. I do not immediately think of Nolan when I hear “of the creators of The Dark Knight“. Visitors of these pages of course think of “Following” and “Memento” when hearing the name of Nolan. When I think of it, Nolan is not really my favourite director with two Batman’s, the mediocre “The Prestige” and a remake of “Insomnia” that may be good, but unnecesary (the original was great enough). In my case he got enough credit with “Insomnia” for me to keep watching his films and in the general case it seems that “The Dark Knight” has earned Nolan enough credit of financers to be able make a big-budget of his own liking. When I write this, Inception gets a 9.3 out of 10 from almost 60.000 voters on IMdB! Now things start to get interesting!
Contrary to “Insomnia” there is no mystery about the story. That story is, in fact, given away in all reviews and announcements. Let me remain with saying that when the Kaufman brothers had written the story of “The Matrix” the result might have been something like “Inception”. Imagine a story as weird as that of “Being John Malkovich” poured over the earlier mentioned, and already not too straightforward in story, “The Matrix” and you have an idea of what to expect. I must say that “The Matrix” is better worked out in details, but “Inception” is impressive in its basic simplicity that is worked towards a few extremes with amazing filmographic (and psychological?) experiments. Just as in the last Matrix, there is a lot of focus on impressive action with top-notch techniques, completely ear-shattering in a 1200 watts Imax theatre by the way. Like I said, the story is not hard to follow and might not be the ultimate filmscript, but Nolan managed to create that uncanny “Matrix” atmosphere and the suggestion that the story may be more complex afterall. All in all a maybe bit too spectactular film, but a very, very good one.

Batman Begins * Christopher Nolan (2005)

When I said that I had been to “The Dark Knight” a friend lend me “Batman Begins”. It seems that Nolan plans for a trilogy giving the complete story of Batman, so in a way these series stand loose from previous Batman films, or perhaps the trilogy completes them. As the title suggest, this film shows how Bruce Wayne became Batman. We see his youth, parents, where he was trained, where he gets his gadgets, etc. Not very interesting in my opinion. If you want to portray a superhero, portray a superhero, don’t reduce him to a normal person. The film is not boring, but the first part is not too exciting either. Just as in “The Dark Knight”, there are some ‘yea, right – moments’, but there is also some nice action.
I think I might watch the old Batman films some time, I think that will be more of my liking than this.

The Dark Knight * Christopher Nolan * 2008

The Dark KnightIt is not like I am a bit Batman fan, in fact, I probably saw only one of them and I don’t think that it was the Tim Burton one (which I have to see if it were only for the director). But, we wanted to go to the cinema and this film was the only ‘possibly’ at a time that was still possible. The film just premiered this week in the Netherlands, so I was surprised it was not sold out. Inspite of what Christian Bale (who plays Batman) says, this is just another action film. Not a bad one though. I don’t know if the same goes for the other films, but there is quite a lot of attention for the privat life of Bruce Wane who is pictured as ‘just human’. Contrary to what you often hear, I think there is not too much focus on The Joker, whose person is less worked out than that of Batman and a few other characters in the film. The Joker -by the way- looks quite a bit like The Crow in the first film. A strange idea that both actors didn’t live to see their films premiere. Anyway, I won’t have to say much about the story, since it’s probably the same as that of every other Batman film. The Joker makes manace, Wane Bruce is a rich civilian who with the help of some technicians fights crime in Gotham City and of course he faces The Joker. This all results in a moder action film spectacle with a lot of special effects, but unfortunatly the spectacle seems to have come before credibility for Nolan. The film is very entertaining, but has a bit too many “yeah right” moments. The stages, camera work and especially the acting of Heath Ledger (yes it is true) are very good and the big screen adds something to the extreme heights that Batman likes to conquer, so I was not disappointed about this Hollywood blockbuster.
-3-

Memento * Christopher Nolan * 2000

A brilliant movie about a guy who has been in a terrible accident in which he lost both his short-term memory and his girlfriend. Because of the lack of his memory, he makes pictures of important things he encounters on the search for the murderers of his girlfriend. Clues are written on papers and important clues tattood on his body. “Memento” is magnificently told backwards, adding to the disability of the main character. You will see a scene and when it ends, you will get the scene of what happened before what you just saw. It sure takes the whole movie to figure it out and even afterwards you will have to discuss it with people to fully comprehend “Memento”. The great atmosphere, shooting in black and white, the disturbing images of Guy Pearce with his body full of texts and the idea that things are entirely different from what the main character things, make this movie one of the best that I saw in the last year.

Insomnia * Christopher Nolan (2001)

This new film of Christopher Nolan (Following and Memento) has been long awaited. Quite a strange story with the release here. It ‘premiered’ in the Netherlands on the filmfestival Vlissingen, but the official premiere would be a month later. In the meantime it played in Vlissingen and one other city. Now it plays in only three. This is strange, because Memento did well and there are some nice names on the list here, Al Pacino to name the best-known.

Insomnia is a re-make of a film with the same name from Erik Skjoldbjærg from Norway (1997). I have seen this one a long time ago, at least, I think so, because the whole time I had the idea that I already saw the film and this isn’t really possible, so I suppose I have seen the Norse version.

Besides that I find the fact of the remake quite cheap of a man who wrote the brilliant script of Memento himself, Insomnia isn’t as good as it’s predessor. Insomnia is nice -though- but totally different. It is a thriller about an LA-cop who is sent to Alaska to solve a murder. The first 45 minutes remind a lot of Twin Peaks. The atmosphere is strange, there is a brilliant cop coming to a small town solving a murder. Because it is always light, Will Dormer suffers from insomnia and he gets strange ‘visions’. Further he has got internal affairs on his back searching for a mistake of his. His partner seems to want to cooperate and either by mistake or on purpose Dormer shoots him in an exiting scene when a bunch of cops are chasing the killer in the fog.

Anyway, Insomnia is a nice film for an American audience who don’t like films in another language. Further it is virtually the same as the original and not really a good follow-up for Memento. Still a very nice film though!

Following * Christopher Nolan * 1998

It has been a while since I saw this one, but recently it was shown on TV and why not write a review about this wonderfull film? “Following” is made my Christopher Nolan who also made the brilliant “Memento”. It made earlier and this is quite clear, since it is a bit more primitive and not as brilliant.

Anyway, “Following” is still a wonderfull film. It is about a guy (Jeremy Theobald) who starts to follow people out of boredom and to form characters for his writings. When he started to follow Cobb (Alex Haw) this last immediately saw him through and starts a conversation. Cobb turns out to be a burglar, mostly for fun. Going through people’s personal things and trying to make them feel uncomfortable. The two men are going to brake into places together, but “the young man” falls back into his old habbit of following people and eventually he gets involved with a woman who’s house they broke in.
That is as much of the story that I will tell, otherwise there is no use in seeing it anymore. Just as with “Memento” it is best to not know much about the story when you see it.

The film is shot in black and white and totally cut-up and the scenes reassembled all the way through eachother. Therefor you will have different scenes from every possible time in the story, slowly being able to understand/see what the story really it. Of course this is done a lot nowadays, but in 1998 it was still quite original. The way of filming, acting, stages, etc. are all quite minimal which adds to the atmosphere of the film.

“Following” sure isn’t a “Memento” yet, but a good step on the way.