What I Want To See From Christopher Nolan

In light of the recent "news" about the writer/director of 'The Dark Knight' trilogy, 'Inception' and most recently 'Interstellar', Christopher Nolan's next project - which really is not exactly news, as all we know about it is the date (21st of July, 2017), but it gives me a reason to finally start writing an editorial I have been meaning to do for a while now. Here are a couple of things I want to see Mr.Nolan do/improve upon with his next film.

I do not think it needs to be said that Christopher Nolan is one of the most influential and popular directors of the 21st century. His films have gone from critically praised to even more critically praised and have even been the seed to multiple different styles that other films are trying to ape off that is still being felt today. 'The Dark Knight' trilogy influenced the entire landscape of comic book movies and even films beyond that genre. The 'Inception' horns could be heard in multiple different blockbusters from 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' to 'World War Z'. It is safe to say that this is a very influential filmmaker who has reached such a high status that even the mention of WHEN his next film is coming out is enough for all the movie related websites in the world to talk about it. Remember; we do not even know what it is about, who is in it (probably Michael Caine) or what kind of film it is going to be. Sure we can theorize that it is probably going to be another blockbuster considering the release date but still, who knows? By the way before I begin, I just have to stress that I am a fan of the guy. I do not think he has ever directed a bad film and most of the times when he does they end up in my top 10 of the year. He is a very good filmmaker that dares to take risks which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of filmmakers working on Hollywood today. This is also not a "Top 10" list. Sure there are some things I would like to see more than others but I will not rank them based on how important I believe they are. It is just a regular list of what I want to see in the future of one of the best filmmakers currently working in Hollywood. So now that I have gotten that out of the way, it is time to get to the actual list;

There is no denying that Nolan movies have a lot of dialogue in them, but this is not a point about the actual writing of these scenes (I will get to that later on). This is about the way most of them are shot. In my opinion it feels sometimes that Chris becomes a bit of a sloppy shooter when it comes to these scenes as a lot of them just becomes simple shot-reverse-shot conversations. There are basically three camera angles involved in a Chris Nolan dialogue sequence. A shot of a character, a shot of the other character and a wide shot of them both. Now there is nothing really wrong with this film technique - it just becomes a bit stale and redundant for a filmmaker who relies so heavily on dialogue in order to move the plot forward. Now you may think, "can you really do much more in a scene were just two characters are talking to each other?" and to that I say; Yes. Yes you can. Quite a lot can be told to the audience visually just through the way the shot is composited. So much about the characters, the story and the setting can be told just through the framing and the blocking and I hope Nolan realizes this and dedicate a little more than just the most basic filmmaking principles to his dialogue scenes.

This is a smaller point and not really a "flaw" I have noticed in his films but it is worth mentioning. Michael Caine has definitely become a staple of Nolan's films as he has played a part in every film he has made since 'Batman Begins' (the number of films is currently at six) and while it is great to see two great talents teaming up like this - I do start to wish that Michael Caine would one day be the actual leading character. In 'Batman Begins' and the rest of the Batman movies he of course played Alfred and he also played significant characters in 'The Prestige' and 'Interstellar' (he was only in a couple of scenes in 'Inception') but he has never actually played the MAIN character and I think it is time for this to happen. Especially for an actor (and I am sorry for going in this direction) who is 82 years old and may not be around for much longer. Michael Caine is one of the greatest actors we have and it would be a shame to not use him beyond side characters.

Ever since 'The Dark Knight', Christopher Nolan's films have been getting noticeably bigger and bigger. 'The Dark Knight Rises' was such a huge epic - and yet 'Interstellar' makes it almost look small in comparison. There is no doubt that he has directed some of the most largest and ambitious spectacles in recent memory - but I would be lying if I said I did not miss the smaller psychological thrillers he made back in the day. The last one was the excellent film 'The Prestige' which came out in 2006 and this is the genre I feel he belongs in. 'Memento' is still being regarded as his best film for a lot of movie buffs (for good reasons) and lets not forget that 'Insomnia' has some of Nolan's best scenes he has ever directed. As much as I love 'The Dark Knight' trilogy and 'Inception', it is definitely time for him to scale back a bit and show that he is not only going to make these big spectacles for the rest of his career.

What has become a very recognizable staple of Nolan's recent blockbusters is the incredibly loud soundtrack that Hans Zimmer composes for them. While it definitely worked in 'Inception' I do feel like the obnoxiously loud score in a lot of scenes in 'Interstellar' just became air-bleedingly annoying at times. Did we really need the giant bombastic score when Coop and his children are driving towards the space probe in the first act? Some of my favorite scenes in 'Memento' and 'The Prestige' were the quieter moments and I wish he would get back to shooting more of those. No, I am not saying he should drop Hans Zimmer as that guy is one of the best composers currently working. I am saying he should diminish the way he uses Hans. The scores I find myself re-listening too the most in his soundtracks are the quieter ones, there is no need for every single movie to be a loud and bombastic thing.

Going back to the dialogue scenes. One of the more negative points a lot of critics made about 'Interstellar' was the constant exposition the characters were spouting through the dialogue. Every time it happened seemed to grind the flow of the movie to a halt just because the movie felt it needed to prove that what is happening on a scientific level is actually possible instead of letting the quality of these characters and the story distract the audience from asking these questions. A lot of times you find his characters standing still talking about the importance of what they are about to do or what is happening rather than actually talking like normal people and this has been something that has occurred in multiple Nolan films. Probably half of 'Inception' is the characters explaining what the hell it is they are doing. Just like my first point on the way he shoots dialogue scenes, the way he writes them also needs improvement because he constantly feels the need to explain everything that is happening rather than let the weight of it come to the audience organically. Remember all of those heavy speeches that Alfred had in 'The Dark Knight' that he could not possibly have come up with on the fly like that? There really was no need for a lot of them as they could have been told just through the visuals of what is happening in the story.

This of course excludes the characters from 'The Dark Knight' trilogy. I am talking about the characters in movies like 'Interstellar' and 'Inception'. Yes the actors are great, but why are the characters they are playing quite so forgettable and lacking? Well that again is mostly due to the fact that a lot of emphasis is being put on the exposition in the dialogue rather than the characters talking like human beings. Yes, you get some excellent and quotable lines but you rarely get to feel like you truly know these people. Especially not since they are usually given rather "dull" and uninspired names like Cooper, Cobb, Eames, Ariadne, Brand, Donald, Murph, Arthur etc... I have got to be honest, I had to look up the names of the characters in 'Interstellar' a part from Cooper and Murph because there was nothing in the film that made me remember any of their names. Basically I want to see more focus put on the characters in Nolan's upcoming movies. We do not need to see scenes, upon scenes, upon scenes of characters explaining the heft of what is going on, what we need is to know WHO these people are and develop them further. One of the final scenes in 'Interstellar' should have been one of the most emotional and powerful scenes ever put to film and yet it falls short because the film spent so much of its running time explaining why it all makes sense and not enough on why we should care about the characters inhabiting it. So many of McConaughey's lines in 'Interstellar' could be put in the trailer as they are just motivational and sentimental nonsense that does not make him come across like a real person. Whenever Chris Nolan manages to write an interesting and memorable character - we might actually start to refer to that character by his or her name instead of the actor playing him/her.

So there we go. That is my list of things I would like to see from Christopher Nolan in the future. None of this takes away from the fact that he is still one of the best filmmakers currently working and seeing his films is always going to be an event no matter the outcome. He has made some of my favorite movies of all-time so naturally just the mention of an upcoming film will get me excited. No, 'Interstellar' was not exactly what I was hoping for but it is still a very good movie nonetheless. I just feel that if he is going to continue expanding his career in Hollywood he is going to have to improve in certain aspects and set a good example for the future of cinema. I really hope he is aware of just how big of a name he has become at this point - not just around movie buffs, but in average moviegoers too. I mean, my freaking mother knows who he is and loves his movies (her favorite being 'Batman Begins'). His work has transcended his name from being just the unknown guy behind the camera - to being THE reason people watch his movies. If you watch his 'Interstellar' panel on Comic-Con you will notice that up on the stage you have Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey. You would probably also notice that all the questions from the audience who attended the panel were only to Nolan even though McConaughey was one of the biggest actors of the past year. His popularity is insane so lets see him use this and improve on his storytelling and exceed the already insanely high bar he has set for himself.


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