House Logo
Explore categories +

The Dark Knight (#110 of 31)

The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked
The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked

There’s an engimatic quality to the role of Christopher Nolan in the current filmmaking landscape, and one that stands apart from the fact that his films so often court ambiguity with explicit intent. From the Russian-nesting-doll antics of Inception to the magicians-as-filmmakers commentary of The Prestige, Nolan’s ambition within the realm of big-budget, broad audience spectacle is comparable to the likes of few. Among those, James Cameron comes to mind, and now Nolan joins the Avatar director with his own film about interplanetary travel, the logical next step for a filmmaker so concerned with world-building, literal and otherwise. Looking back at his work thus far, what emerges—apart from his obsession with identity, reality, community, and obsession itself—is an artist who, heedless of his own shortcomings, is intent on challenging himself, a quality that salvages and even inverts a great many of his otherwise pedestrian choices. One suspects that this is an artist still in his pupa stage, and one is also fearful that the near-unanimous praise heaped upon his work since his breakout hit, Memento, will only serve to keep him there. To wit, his latest film, Dunkirk, employs the kind of chronology-bending antics that epitomize Memento and Inception. Rob Humanick
 

Summer of ‘89: Batman

Comments Comments (...)

Summer of ‘89: <em>Batman</em>
Summer of ‘89: <em>Batman</em>

Returning to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman in light of Christopher Nolan’s recent, remarkably successful Batman trilogy turns out to be quite a fascinating experience—though, surprisingly, as much for their convergences in vision as for their divergences. Certainly, the stylistic differences are almost blindingly obvious: Burton the playfully macabre merry prankster, Nolan the deeply serious philosopher. And yet, both visions unmistakably flow from the same unsettling bedrocks: a world drowning in moral rot, one in which a self-appointed hero who takes the form of a human bat is, at heart, as deeply disturbed as the more overtly screwed-up villains he takes it upon himself to defeat. It’s just that these two artists view these characters and this physical and emotional world through different lenses.

The contrast is immediately apparent in the music. In stark contrast to James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer’s loudly generic bombast for the Nolan films, Burton opens his Batman with the operatic strains of Danny Elfman’s full-orchestra heroism, slyly suggesting the unabashedly heroic way Batman sees himself. After its opening-credit sequence, during which Roger Pratt’s camera roams around what is eventually revealed to be a metal Bat-Signal, Burton establishes his vision of Gotham City: an unabashedly surreal environment that owes more to the dystopian sci-fi visions of Metropolis and Blade Runner than to any of the notions of noir-ish realism that underpins Nolan’s films. Then there are the differing acting styles, with Burton’s actors generally eschewing the internal brooding that Nolan’s performers exhibit in favor of archetypal broadness. This style doesn’t just extend to Jack Nicholson’s galvanizing hamminess as the Joker, but also trickles down to its supporting players (William Hootkins’s wearily deep-voiced Lt. Eckhardt, Robert Wuhl’s enthusiastically pushy journalist, and so on).

Box Office Rap The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the No-3D Karma

Comments Comments (...)

Box Office Rap: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the No-3D Karma
Box Office Rap: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the No-3D Karma

When a film is set to make the exorbitant amount of money that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire surely will this coming weekend, further lamenting the woes of global capital via cultural products will undoubtedly find little purchase among fans ready to see Katniss and Peeta unwillingly do battle yet again for (and against) the Capitol. Nevertheless, take note of Thelma Adams’s review, which details how “The Hunger Games has become a victim of its own success, co-opted by Hollywood, a rebel not without a cause, a money minter.” Adams’s attention to film-as-product engages a discussion of economics too often omitted from film reviews, especially when a film’s “call to arms” doubles as a “call to more ticket sales.”

This week, a more essential nerdist box-office question emerges: Can Catching Fire top the $207.4 million opening weekend of The Avengers without the support of 3D showings? And true to the spirit of this franchise, it’s only appropriate to evaluate the competitors in relation to this new, Francis Lawrence-directed entry. To recap, The Avengers opened on May 4, 2012 in 4,349 theaters (still the widest North American opening of all time) in IMAX 3D, regular 3D, and regular 2D, with a 40% 3D share, a number that helps to explain how the $169.2 million record previously held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could be so bracingly shattered. Earlier this year, Iron Man 3 took the second-highest opening with $174.1 million, with a similar 3D share as The Avengers. Much like Warner Bros. with The Dark Knight films, though, Lionsgate has elected not to dabble with 3D in hopes that the film’s quality will be all the pull needed to get audiences into theaters; it’s a decision that, while certainly forgoing the surcharge on each 3D ticket, retains a degree of integrity on the part of the studio, which isn’t trying to milk consumers for every last penny in their pockets.

One Month Later: Catching Up with RogerEbert.com Editor-in-Chief Matt Zoller Seitz

Comments Comments (...)

One Month Later: Catching Up with RogerEbert.com Editor-in-Chief Matt Zoller Seitz
One Month Later: Catching Up with RogerEbert.com Editor-in-Chief Matt Zoller Seitz

Around these parts, we’re pretty partial to Matt Zoller Seitz, the pop-culture-obsessed multihyphenate who founded The House Next Door, and either mentored or befriended a great number of House and Slant writers before moving on to develop sites like Press Play and become TV critic for New York magazine. But even for those without any Seitz biases, chances are it’s hard not to admire the guy’s pluck. On July 4, it will have been one month to the day since news officially broke that Seitz had been named editor-in-chief of RogerEbert.com. Of course, despite the massive loss we all suffered when Ebert passed, this job quickly seemed among the most coveted in all of entertainment journalism. And yet, it presented quite an intimidating challenge too. Though both Seitz and Ebert’s widow, RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert, have stressed that, naturally, no one could ever replace Roger, Seitz has accepted a torch-pass from someone who was rather inarguably the most popular film critic ever, and whose revered position is one of the hardest acts to follow in the history of the profession. But despite the hubbub, hurdles, and pressure that could unnerve even the steeliest pro, Seitz appears to have seized his role with grace and, indeed, guts, which is to say nothing of his recent championing of what might be the most widely-reviled flick of the year.

15 Famous Oscar Snubs

Comments Comments (...)

15 Famous Oscar Snubs
15 Famous Oscar Snubs

No Kathryn Bigelow?! No Ben Affleck?! Yesterday’s Oscar nominations brought their fair share of shocking snubs, but it certainly wasn’t the first time the Academy stuck it to likely contenders. Looking back over Academy Awards history, there are many dumbfounding, surprising omissions to be found—realizations that underscore the belief that Oscar nods hardly indicate long-term quality. Be them unforgivable or just bewildering, we’ve selected 15 snubs that no doubt had people talking…heatedly.

15 Famous Movie Psychopaths

Comments Comments (...)

15 Famous Movie Psychopaths
15 Famous Movie Psychopaths

In Bruges badass Martin McDonagh returns this weekend with Seven Psychopaths, the sophomore feature from the Irish multihyphenate and a good source for onscreen nutjobs. Colin Farrell leads the cast of not-quite-sane characters, who include two dognappers played by Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken. Still, we’re thinking this new septet of psychos has nothing on the filmic crazies that have come before, particularly the lot we’ve assembled for this list. You could repeatedly scour cinema history and return with a new batch of lunatics every time. For now, here are 15 that linger strongly in the memory, a rogues gallery that runs the gamut from clingy patient to schizo serviceman.

Oscar Prospects: The Dark Knight Rises

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar Prospects: The Dark Knight Rises
Oscar Prospects: The Dark Knight Rises

For those who thought 2012 would be the year in which the Academy made amends to Christopher Nolan, that auteur of urban spectacle whom many believe has twice been robbed of a directing nod, a certain mad gunman likely dashed those already slim hopes. Before James Eagan Holmes opened fire in a Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises, ultimately leaving 12 viewers dead, there might have been a chance for Nolan’s trilogy capper to at least crack the Best Picture shortlist, if not shuffle him into the running for Best Director. It wouldn’t have been the first time Oscar voters rallied around a beloved hopeful, anointing his latest work as a way to honor all of his recent output (which, it should be noted, has made gajillions of dollars for the industry). But many will probably prefer to make a statement with abstention, celebrating films that don’t stoke the fire of the whole too-much-violence-in-cinema argument. It’s absurd that a freak incident, albeit tragic, is causing such drastic Hollywood ripple effects (like the re-cuttingof the upcoming Gangster Squad), and it’s a bit of a shame that, on top of all else, such a nasty PR mess had to befall the folks at Warner Bros. But all that says nothing of the movie’s disappointing stance as the weakest of Nolan’s Batman epics. Even if there’d been no bloodshed beyond what appears on screen, The Dark Knight Rises likely wouldn’t have reached its expectations as a reparative honoree, making up for the 2008 Best Pic snub that allegedly revived the 10-wide field.

Poster Lab: Seven Psychopaths

Comments Comments (...)

Poster Lab: <em>Seven Psychopaths</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Seven Psychopaths</em>

No, it’s not just you—the poster for Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths looks awfully familiar, despite the blinding neon green it uses to lasso your attention. Not long ago, you saw a markedly similar lineup of badass characters, glaring out at you from the one-sheet for Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. Like that memorable image, which put Brad Pitt front and center in a stylish hat, the new ad features one guy in the contrasting gleam of a leather jacket, and another in a heavy coat that highlights his exasperated, straight-man’s shrugged shoulders. But it’s more than just single file and fashion that unites these two posters. Seven Psychopaths follows Snatch’s lead so fully that it even opts to spike its plot—and, subsequently, advertising—with a little dog too. Instead of Pitt’s leashed, squeak-toy-swallowing pooch, there’s a wee, fluffy Shih Tzu, whose ironic cuteness speaks to McDonagh’s light-black tone, and who reportedly serves as the movie’s MacGuffin. However fun it may be to eye up a row of attractive rogues, it’s a tad disheartening that this Irish maestro’s latest had to plainly mirror a cult British production, as if there’s only one way to sell Euro crime comedies.

Critical Distance: The Dark Knight Rises

Comments Comments (...)

Critical Distance: <em>The Dark Knight Rises</em>
Critical Distance: <em>The Dark Knight Rises</em>

Due in part to the late Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker, The Dark Knight’s huge box-office performance cemented writer-director Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the Batman legend as a zeitgeist-defining spectacle. The three films in his Batman trilogy have aroused a wide range of responses, spanning such topics as the director’s aesthetic approach, the self-consciously realistic tone of the films, and even their political underpinnings. In fact, the bounty of critical conjecture and fan praise that followed The Dark Knight was in many ways more important than the film itself, which has become an indirect measure of success in our current age of blockbusters.