Archives For Christopher Nolan

As you may or may not know, there’s a new Batman film in theatres. It’s a little thing called The Dark Knight Rises, directed by one Christopher Nolan. Well, I saw the film, and I thought it would be nice to talk about it, and so here it comes, the next episode of The justAtadcast.

On the show this week I’ve got two friends from Los Angeles, Jason Eaken and Brett Merryman. I actually know them first as fellow fans of the great Filmspotting podcast, and they were gracious enough to come on and wax rhapsodic about The Dark Knight Rises with me. The episode is a little long, about 100 minutes. Don’t expect most episodes to be this long, but we felt the movie warranted the lengthy discussion. Normally I’d also include an index, but this week we decided to go fairly free-form, starting with our impressions of Nolan and his take on Batman, and then getting into the meat of The Dark Knight Rises. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the podcast.

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I think the biggest story in the online film world this week, outside of the forthcoming release of The Dark Knight Rises, was probably the vitriolic response that a number of critics got from Rotten Tomatoes users to their less than 100% positive reviews of that film. There’s been plenty of writing on the subject of Batman fans’ reactions to those reviews, and the whole story is wrapped up nicely by Matt Singer over at Criticwire. Some have said that these responses, which have included horrible misogynistic comments and death threats, are the result of some sort of insanity specific to Batman and Nolan fans. I don’t take this view, maybe because I consider myself a huge fan of Nolan’s work and his Batman films, and I also consider myself a fairly reasonable person.

I don’t think it’s fair to single out Batman fans. We saw the same sort of thing happen to several critics who dared to point out the flaws of The Avengers before that film came out. You know what? I kind of sympathize with those terrible fans. I kind of get where they’re coming from. I love Nolan’s work and I love his take on Batman. I look at The Dark Knight Rises, which I haven’t yet seen, and I do very much want to enjoy it. I want it to be great. When I see a negative reaction to the film from a critic, I don’t want to believe them. I don’t want them to be right. I consider their opinion, and even if it’s just for a moment I forget that it’s an opinion and my mind assumes they must be wrong. It’s a silly thing, but I get the impulse. It’s not that I know they’re wrong, or that they can even be wrong, but that I just don’t want to believe I might end up agreeing with them.

Given, then, that I somewhat sympathize with these so-called fans, why then am I not so vitriolic? Well, I think the answer lies partly outside the fans themselves, and at the online, fan-centred, movie news industry and blogs. It’s us. We created the monsters. Click to read more.

A bit of a weird week for me. I didn’t blog as much as I should have, and some weird and stupid things happened. I did manage to watch some movies, though, and I’ve been getting excited about a certain movie. As the date approaches, I’m becoming slightly obsessed with The Dark Knight Rises. I can’t help myself. I love Nolan. I love his two Batman films. I can’t wait for that midnight IMAX screening.

This is also a rare week where almost all the movies I saw, I saw with other people. I will often watch something at home on my own, or by myself at the cinema, but this week I only watched one movie in solitude. I’ve got to say, watching movies with friends and family was kind of nice. I should probably try to do it more often. Anyway, enough of my babbling, here’s what I watched this week: Click to read more.

Insight Into Blockbuster Filmmaking

I found the above picture on Reddit today and it made me laugh. After all the fancy storyboards and pre-viz and careful planning, sometimes the best way to figure out how a stunt is going to go is to just use some miniatures and move them around with your hands. I mean, look at that! That there is Christopher Nolan, one of the biggest directors in the world, planning a stunt for The Dark Knight Rises, one of the biggest and most expensive movies yet made, wearing a suit and essentially playing with hot wheels.

It reminds me of the South Park episode, ‘Imaginationland’, where the military enlists help from filmmakers to get ideas for how to solve their dilemma. Michael Bay shows up and his ideas aren’t ideas at all. They’re basically just ideas for special effects and stunt sequences, and he describes them with all the “woosh”es and “bang”s and “blammo”s of a five year-old playing with his toys. That was sort of a knock against Bay, but when you think about it, what’s wrong with bring that into the process at least a little? It’s physical and uses the imagination, and combined with Nolan’s use of as many practical stunts as possible, it can make for some pretty thrilling cinema.

The Summer Hype Cycle is quickly shifting over from The Amazing Spider-Man to the true juggernaut of July, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. As such, I’d like to look back at the previous film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight. Specifically, I’d like to talk about how that film’s true strength lies in its nonsensical plotting. In most cases, a plot that falls apart under any kind of closer examination is a serious problem, but Nolan subverts that, building it into the characters and the themes.

Where the plot all falls apart is with the Joker. Not the portrayal of his character, which is memorable and amazing, but specifically how he relates to the plot. The only thing that makes sense about the Joker is his motivation, and even his motivations are weirdly unmotivated. Christopher Nolan has described his Joker as being like the shark from Jaws. He’s a force that cuts through the film with little explanation; there only to bring chaos. The Dark Knight is all about chaos and the various responses people have to chaos. The plotting of the film reflects that. Click to read more.

Last night, I finally re-watched Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, the long-in-post-production film, shot in 2005, released in late 2011. I ‘d seen the film here in Toronto when it was released for exactly one week in the Fall. I fell in love with what I saw, ultimately naming the film my #2 of 2011, a ranking I’m still extremely comfortable with. Interestingly, before I saw the film I was aware of its tortured history, in which the Lonergan was unable to get it down to the contractually obligated 150 minutes maximum running time. This had led to years of edits and re-edits and fighting back and forth and litigation that is still ongoing. What I remember at the time was a beautiful film that had some idiosyncratic cuts, but also some areas where it truly felt like chunks of story were missing. I’d remarked at the time that it felt like a longer movie cut down to size, but my main takeaway was that I could’ve spent far longer in the world Lonergan had created. The movie was 150 minutes, but I’d just as easily have sat through a 4-hour cut of the film or longer.

The version of Margaret I saw last night is a nearly 3-hour cut available on the upcoming DVD. It’s not clear that this is a true “director’s cut” because it’s only officially referred to as and “extended cut.” It’s quite possible that while Lonergan put this cut together and approves of it, there is a still longer version out there that he’d be even happier with. Or not. Who knows. Directors can be fickle. Importantly, at roughly thirty minutes longer, the extended version of Margaret doesn’t feel any longer. In fact, in some ways it feels quicker, smoother and better paced than it did back in the Fall. Subplots that were previously dropped in confusing fashion are now transitioned out of in a more delicate way. The story has a flow, a more natural progression. It’s not just a case of the longer version being better because it adds more detail, but because it actually ends up feeling like a tighter film, and without feeling any longer. I said that I would gladly watch four hours of Margaret and the same remains true. It’s a breezy three hours.

All this got me thinking about long films. Click to read more.

Hollywood has become obsessed with the franchise. Sure, there were always sequels, and there have been plenty of series that went on for way more movies than anyone ever wanted, but lately it’s become a way of doing business. It’s impossible to get money for a big-budget spectacle unless the plan is to kickstart a potential series of money-making sequels. I’m tired of it. Sequels can be good, but this idea that every movie is nothing more than a product meant to set up the next movie that’s nothing more than a product to set up the next movie, etc, is extremely frustrating.

As evidenced by the ending of Prometheus—which I will not spoil except to say it purposely leaves things in such a way as to tie in with the Alien series and set up a sequel—all this process does is hamper the movie at hand. Prometheus has plenty of problems outside of the ending—the characters aren’t perfectly drawn, the dialogue is sometimes too oblique, the plot often moves purely for the sake of moving—but no problem is more frustrating than the final ten minutes in which the film is more focused on dealing out the cards for a sequel than creating a truly satisfying conclusion. That it happens at the very end of the movie leaves an unfortunate taste in my mouth, which does a disservice to all the things I enjoyed about the movie before its ending. The movie isn’t ruined by the ending, but it’s certainly brought down a peg or two. Sadly, this is the case with many films these days. Click to read more.

Last week I completely forgot about this column. Well… Not completely. I remembered it at the last minute when I had to leave the house soon. Oops. Too late. The column didn’t happen, and I’ve felt pretty bad about it all week. Well! Here I am to correct my mistake. I’ve got a new ‘Attack the Blog’ which essentially covers two weeks of collected blog links. So, here goes! Click to see the links.

David Fincher, What Now?

December 20, 2011 — 9 Comments

A lot of films are coming out this week. Too many. One of the most highly anticipated of these upcoming releases is David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a film which, to be honest, most people wouldn’t be all that excited about if it wasn’t for the name attached. Fincher is one of the very best directors working today, and seeing him return to serial killer drama, even if it’s a remake, is certainly something worth getting excited about. I very much liked the film, though I do think it suffers from certain problems derived from the source material. (You can read my review of the film over at Sound on Sight .) Now that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is finally coming out, I think it’s time to see what we can look forward to from Fincher in the near future, as well as take stock of his success as a director. Click to read more