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Christopher Nolan

Dunkirk (2017)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST: Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan

REVIEW:

With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has switched gears into a genre he’s never explored before, the war film, with a docudrama depiction of the Dunkirk evacuation (named after the French town where it took place), where 300,000 British soldiers with their backs against the sea were rescued by an armada of civilian volunteers, including fishing boats and private yachts, in what became known as “the miracle of Dunkirk” (despite being a retreat, the mass rescue was so unlikely that Winston Churchill himself cautioned the celebratory mood by stating that “wars are not won by evacuations”).   Perhaps partly because it focuses on an Allied retreat, perhaps partly because no Americans were involved (Dunkirk took place over a year before the United States entered the war), the Dunkirk evacuation hasn’t gotten much Hollywood attention; the only high-profile film I can recall even touching on it is Atonement, and that only in one sequence.  For the venerable writer-director, Dunkirk showcases his often-cited greatest strengths and weaknesses perhaps more starkly than ever before; a technically virtuoso filmmaking accomplishment but emotionally cold.  Dunkirk may strongly appeal to WWII buffs, but its appeal to mainstream audiences is in doubt. Continue reading

Interstellar (2014)

interstellarDIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, Wes Bentley, David Gyasi, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Ellen Burstyn, David Oyelowo, Bill Irwin (voice)

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Christopher Nolan has never shied away from a challenge or been content with generic, and Interstellar is his most ambitious project yet, surpassing his resurrection of the Batman film franchise and the mind-bending contortions of Inception to combine powerful human drama with a rigorous attempt at making a “hard” science fiction film that takes a serious examination of the rules and physics involved in a way Hollywood seldom attempts.  If Nolan’s reach sometimes exceeds his grasp, the passion and grandeur he has thrown into this project makes comparatively minor flaws forgivable.  Interstellar is not a perfect motion picture–far from it, in fact–but it is by turns hopeful and heartbreaking, simultaneously paying tribute to the spirit of exploration and the cold, silent, deadly realities of space. Continue reading

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman

REVIEW:

WARNING: WHILE I HAVE ASPIRED TO AVOID OUTRIGHT “SPOILERS”, THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Along with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers earlier this summer (and to a lesser extent, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man films before it), Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has redefined the possibilities of what to expect from a “comic book superhero movie” and raised the bar to a level that future entries in the genre will be hard-pressed to equal, let alone surpass.  Continue reading

Inception (2010)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite

REVIEW:

Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige) reportedly spent ten years writing his screenplay for Inception. Watching the film, one can see how it might have taken so long. Some will no doubt find Inception confusing. It definitely is not a movie where you can take a trip to the restroom, and requires a commitment of close attention and concentration, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Continue reading

The Dark Knight (2008)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

With Batman Begins, his 2005 reboot of the Batman film franchise, hailed as bringing the Caped Crusader back to the screen better than ever, Christopher Nolan had the green light to proceed with the highly-anticipated sequel that came to be called The Dark Knight. For most fans, Nolan’s return to Gotham City was worth the three year wait. Batman Begins returned Batman to respectability; The Dark Knight takes this capital and runs with it, crafting what is easily the most ambitious and adult-oriented comic book superhero movie ever made. As entertaining as the likes of X-Men and Spider-Man might be, The Dark Knight is on a whole other level. Continue reading

The Prestige (2006)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo

REVIEW:

Director Christopher Nolan and his brother, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, share not only obvious intelligence, but a fondness for complex plotlines. Continue reading

Batman Begins (2005)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe

REVIEW:

Batman is both one of DC Comics’ most recognizable and popular characters and one of the most cinematically ill-used. Originally conceived as a brooding figure on the line between hero and vigilante, the original seriousness was completely abandoned first by the campy 1960s television series starring Adam West, and then by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s series of feature films in the late ’80s and ’90s. These movies started out over-the-top and ended up downright cartoonish. The entire original conception of the character had virtually been abandoned, and as the films grew ever more patently ridiculous, even fans had had enough. Batman looked dead in the water. Then British director Christopher Nolan, coming off the thrillers Memento and Insomnia, and screenwriter David S. Goyer took on the task of resurrecting Batman, not as a continuation of the previous lackluster film series, but as a totally new narrative showing us something we’d never seen detailed onscreen before- the origins of the superhero. Continue reading

Insomnia (2002)

insomniaDIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan, Maura Tierney, Jonathan Jackson

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL ASPECTS OF THE PLOT

In hindsight, after such impressive entries on Christopher Nolan’s filmography as The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Inceptionand InterstellarInsomnia feels low-key and even slight, lacking the grandiose ambition the British director would later become known for.  Ranked alongside his later efforts (Insomnia was only his third film after little-seen indie Following and the critically acclaimed mind-bender Memento), it’s one of his least memorable films, but a “lesser” Christopher Nolan film is still a taut and intriguing murder/psychological thriller worth viewing. Continue reading

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