Monday, June 20, 2011

The Nolan Effect

Watching Nolan’s movie is a grand de tour in every factual sense. Each of them offers an unique opportunity to study characters with varied psychology under different circumstances. Starting from young man’s fixation of following strangers to a person suffering from short term memory loss or even a heist forged within multiple layer of dreams; there is hardly any resemblance between any of these stories except the fact they all entraps our mind into the alternate world of possibilities.

Following (1998)

Curiosity is perhaps a foreseeable trait in us mortal beings. Nolan’s Following takes a note of this attribute & presents us with an intelligent thriller. Prying develops into a voyeuristic obsession when Bill (Jeremy Theobald), an unemployed young writer starts following strangers across London hoping to get idea on his un-finished novel. Soon he meets Cobb (Alex Haw), a charismatic stranger who turns out to be a thief with unique skill of persuasion. On taking interest in Cobb’s way of work Bill ventures into a sinister world where he falls for a blonde (Lucy Russell), unaware of the impending danger. Even though it was shot in crisp black & white format, the engrossing tale will keep you hooked till the very end. The very style of filming has been non-linear giving us details in parts. Its ending brings the story to a complete & fitting cycle.

Memento (2000)

Following worked as the stepping stone before Nolan filmed Memento in a grand fashion which turned out to be a major success & certainly one of the best mind blenders till date.

Who could ever picture a story so intricate possible on a man suffering from short term memory. Memento starts with a shocking murder based on retribution & back tracks through time to reveal the reason for the shocking finale. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), an insurance claim investigator remembered everything till his beloved wife was brutally raped & murdered. On a failed attempt of rescuing he suffers a severe blow from one of the assailant which leads to his condition of short term memory loss. Since then he finds it difficult to create fresh memories. To survive the trauma he devices a new technique of remembering by tattooing vital clues on his body, making notes on paper scraps & taking polaroid snaps of people he meets. In his quest for finding his wife’s killers he gets aid from a mysterious bartender named Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) who seems to have her own motive & an undercover police officer going with alias Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) whose over affability seemed questionable. As Leonard pieces together the complex jigsaw of manipulation & betrayal you will be shocked with the final outcome. With brilliant write-up from Jonathan Nolan Memento proves to be a startling thriller.

Insomnia (2002)

Although Insomnia being a remake of ’97 Norwegian movie Nolan still achieved to make it a competent psychological thriller. Starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank the movie centers two LAPD detectives, Will Dormer & Hap Eckhart who travels to Alaska for investigating a homicide case of a teenage girl. While trying to lure the suspect into trap, Dormer’s partner dies due to miscalculated judgment. From there on a baffling mind game starts between Dormer & the suspect who seems to know the actual cause of death of Dormer’s partner. The story ensues on how Dormer deals with the blackmailing as well as insomnia due to Alaska’s everlasting daylight system. Insomnia is an admirable character driven thriller with great cinematography by Wally Pfister.

Batman Begins (2005)

No one has ever taken super-hero based movies seriously until Batman Begins. Perhaps batman is the only figure in the DC World whose journey started in the alley of darkness.

A tormented soul with tragic past roving through the Gotham City, putting terror into the hearts of the criminal fraternity. Staying true to the origin of the cape crusader Nolan takes us deep into the world of Bruce Wayne’s fractured life & his reason to fight injustice under the hood of nameless vigilante. Even with limited time each characters like Alfred (Michael Caine), detective Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) got enough space to evolve thus bringing depth into the story. If you are familiar with graphic novel you will find traces of genesis from the novel Batman: Year One. Christian Bale as the cape crusader proved to the rightful choice in Nolan’s version. Armed with great special effects & high tech weaponry; Batman Begins is genuinely gripping & emotional. 

Every great magic consists of three parts or acts.
The first part is called the Pledge, the magician shows you something ordinary, a deck of cards, a bird or a man…he shows you this object…perhaps he asks you to inspect it…to see that it is, indeed, real. Yeah, unaltered, normal. But of course, it probably isn’t.
The second act is called the Turn, the magician takes the ordinary something & makes it do something extraordinary.
Now, you are looking for the secret, but you won’t find it…because, of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really wanna know. You want to be fooled.
But you wouldn’t clap yet… because making something disappear isn’t enough. You have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act. The hardest part; the part we call the Prestige ~ Cutter

The Prestige (2006)

Compared to Nolan’s other work The Prestige is the most under-rated. With brilliant cast this movie offers an electrifying, suspense packed thriller until the very end. The story centers two aspiring magicians whose friendship turns to a deadly rivalry which starts affecting their personal life & that of their families. This is not just simply a movie on illusion; it has so many metamorphic aspects. Nolan has taken various human behavioral aspects like love, obsession, sacrifice & blended them seamlessly within the characters who takes us through the fascinating maze of deception. The study of human relations has never been so beautifully explored. Christian Bale & Hugh Jackman’s brilliant performance made the look & feel of the script so memorable. Movies like these are a kind of rarity & rekindles our interest to visit theaters. Once you watch Prestige you will never forget.

The Dark Knight (2008)

No story of batman is complete without his arch rival Joker. Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker has immortalized one of the best screen play villain in modern times. The Dark Knight portrays the conflict of two unique personalities whose methods are world apart.

Nolan does not waste time in explaining the origins of the cape crusader as the foundation was aptly set in Batman Begins. He introduces us to Harvey Dent, charismatic district attorney whose transition to Two Face is one of the most compelling tragic moments in the history of graphic novels. Though the rise of Harvey Dent & his aftermath has been well explored in the Jeph Loeb’s graphic novel The Long Halloween, Nolan’s interpretation is quite original & refreshing. Aaron Eckhart hammered the role of Harvey Dent/Two Face to perfection. Once again we see Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) reprising the role of the cape crusader in his continuing war on crime & injustice. Teaming with Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) & district attorney Harvey (Aaron Eckhart), they set out to destroy the organized crime of the Gotham once & for all. When everything looked tamed they soon find themselves vulnerable to the new criminal architect the Joker (Heath Ledger) who plunges Gotham into anarchy. Apart from brilliant performance from the supporting cast the musical score set by Hans Zimmer & James Howard is just unforgettable. The Dark Knight truly serves as the Holy Grail to all the batman fans & movie fanatics.

Inception (2010)

In the time of remakes, Christopher Nolan brings forth something so original it’s hard to evade. Inception is a perfect mind buster which requires attention for apt construal. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a specialist in heist business for corporate espionage. However his work involves stealing information by getting inside victim’s dream when their mind is most vulnerable. During one such assignment when the dreamer becomes aware of Cobb’s intension, entire mission gets jeopardized. Impressed by Cobb’s trade he is offered a new assignment for redemption. Instead of stealing he needs to plant an idea in one business tycoon’s mind which would bring repercussion into the real world. As Cobb prepares to do the impossible a dangerous enemy seems to endanger the prospect of success. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming. How you receive Inception depends entirely on personal level of understanding. Multiple viewings provide something new. The action sequences are amazing accelerated by Zimmer’s pulsating score.

Movies like Inception is one of its kind & such movies gives us assurance for the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.

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