Ok, here’s my crackpot theory for the week: Christopher Nolan is overrated. (Feel free to outline my shameful wrongness at the usual place below.)
I can’t deny his movies make heaping piles of money. And nor can I kid myself into supposing he’s, well, bad at what he does.
It’s just that I can’t for the life of me see how he’s the best movie-maker in town. The surest bet right now for wowing us at the local AMC… I don’t get it, is all – and am baffled why so many people do.
Momento gave me a headache. Insomnia I liked, but it was basically a solid remake of a foreign original. The Prestige was good, albeit far too silly to be so serious. Inception had some great moments, but was way too long and surely not as smart as it would like us all to think (one easy knock on Nolan: confusing ≠ smart). And the Dark Knight Batmans parts one, two, and three: yep, definitely glad I saw ’em all, but still a bit like being beaten up by a noisy bully for seven hours. Why so terribly gloomy, navel-gazing, and RELENTLESSLY LOUD?
Is it just me?
Or, maybe, does Nolan do the things he’s good at (mostly visceral, apt to make us go ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ a lot) so well that we look too kindly past an awful lot of rubbish?
Like plot holes every bit as big as his film’s insane budgets. And characters forever just showing up in the exact right place at the exact right time because, oops, something needs to happen. And character motivations that wilt under the slightest slither of scrutiny (why does Bane do what he does? Oh right, because he’s ‘crazy’ and what-not, yeah.) And these same characters saying VERY IMPORTANT things to each other, but scarcely ever anything charming, witty, or wry.
Like an unfortunate absence of interesting women (Batman went to bits over Maggie Gyllenhaal?! Really? I didn’t even remember she was in part two until part three reminded us.) And a soul-sapping surfeit of thudding music compelling us to recognize some heavy shit going down, don’t you know.
I’ll concede that Nolan rates the intelligence of his audience higher than a great many other Hollywood bigwigs do. But from I’m sitting his movies are almost never deft, funny, sexy, joyful, or welcoming. They’re often thrilling, yes. Only, too often at the expense of much else besides.
And just because his work is chockfull of hyperbole doesn’t mean we have to praise it in similar breathless terms. He’s miles better than a load of old toss – Michael Bay, McG, and so and so forth – but, come on people, that really isn’t saying much.
For my money, a list of better British directors still going strong starts with Paul Greengrass, Danny Boyle, Shane Meadows, and the ever-engrossing Mike Leigh. And compared against, say, a Spielberg in his prime, or even a Hitchcock off his game, the idea that Christopher Nolan is some sort of movie genius for the ages just seems kind of… daft.
Doesn’t say much ’bout the state of big summer blockbusters, does it?