Tenet (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2020) – A CIA operative takes on a mission of international espionage, only to find it unfolding beyond real time.
Christopher Nolan loves toying with time. Linear narratives, it appears, do not interest him.
In Memento, his amnesiac character lives out his mystery in both forward and reverse chronology. With Inception, his measurement of years varies with every layer of the dream world. Interstellar has Nolan going deeper, working with theoretical physicist Kip Thorne to firm up the science of his wormholes.
Tenet seems a natural extension of that same obsessive exploration. His new film yet again tinkers with the written rules of time by introducing head-spinning unknowns. With Kip Thorne back by his side, the pair boldly questions, what if we could invert everything around us? What if we could walk through our world as it moves backwards in time?
Dunkirk (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2017) – During the second World War, the Allies managed an extraordinary evacuation of over 300,000 troops against all odds.
Visually and aurally spectacular, Dunkirk documents the resolve of humanity in dire times, and presents the futility of war in harrowing honesty.
Heroes never set out to be heroes. They do what they believe is right, and expect nothing in return. Some die needlessly, others sacrifice without choice. Most leave no names and stories behind. Those who survive, are plagued with guilt over those who did not.
Dunkirk depicts this ruthless reality of war in its powerful tribute to many forgotten men and deeds in history. In a daring move, writer-director Christopher Nolan dilutes character backstories, subverting expectations of the genre. Yet such minimal dramatisation feels true to the crowd of 300,000 trapped during the Battle of Dunkirk.
After all, these young men are in many ways faceless on the battlefield. Their lives come to a standstill in wartime, when they lose their self-identity and fight in the name of their country. Bound to the present moment, we are made to realise how survival is all that matters, no matter whose.
Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2014) – A team of astronauts travels through a wormhole, seeking a new inhabitable planet.
Interstellar balances science and narrative in an affecting story on the human condition, atop entrancing cinematic visuals.
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has stood the test of time, its visuals as spectacular as they had been in 1968. The movie’s influence remains prevalent in modern cinema. Add Interstellar to the list, but do not mistake it as a copy. Christopher Nolan’s own space venture begins from a rather different place, somewhere a little less lonely and more intimate in familial terms.
In the future on a dying Earth, former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and scientist Brand (Anne Hathaway) set off towards a wormhole in search of a new inhabitable planet. But the uncertain mission to ensure the human race’s survival comes with a great cost: leaving their loved ones behind.
The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2012) – A new menace threatens to destroy long-standing peace in Gotham, necessitating the return of its silent protector.
Every great magic trick comprises three acts, the third its hardest. Though weaker than its predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises brings the trilogy to a fitting and satisfying conclusion.
Following the critical failure of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Darren Aronofsky’s Year One sounded like a promising fresh slate. If only the project had not fallen through. For years, the Gotham hero seemed destined to recede far beyond the depth of his Batcave.
Then it finally began, a little over seven years ago. Director Christopher Nolan shifts the superhero genre into the different direction it deserves. His darker take finds its place in the gritty corners of our real world. Veering away from the hero-versus-villain model, Batman Begins stems from a little-seen story of how Bruce Wayne came to don the cape.
We watch his ideals form, grounded by his traumatic childhood, vengeance-fuelled determination and the people who made him the man that he is. As writer David S. Goyer puts it, the delve into the vigilante’s origins gets the audience “to care about Bruce Wayne and not even care or not if he’s in the costume”.
Inception is Christopher Nolan’s first original screenplay since his debut Following. His latest science fiction venture draws fascination from the elusive concept of entering lucid dreams.
Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb, a skilled thief who specialises in extracting secrets from his victims’ subconscious. His new mission sees him trespass into the dreams of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to plant notions in the young heir’s head, with help from the best in the espionage business.
This highly original premise allows Nolan to envision a whole new world, bending not only the mind but rules of science. It makes for a highly complex puzzle that may not be easy to grasp, but that very nature is what makes for a compelling watch.
Layers fall upon layers with admirable ease in a tale of both beauty on the surface and underlying ingenuity. What could have easily ended up as a muddle is instead, an impressive display of masterful storytelling.
Director Christopher Nolan executes a complex idea perfectly, balancing blockbuster heist action with an intelligent narrative. Like what Quentin Tarantino once said about himself, Christopher Nolan does not believe that the audience is lower than him.
So he gives us the rare opportunity to delve deep into his wondrous world and engage in the intrigue of its notions. Its sheer magnitude awes, but Inception is more than a yarn of twists. At its core, the story is closer to heart with thematic exploration of guilt, romance, and redemption.
Trapped by past misgivings, Cobb’s reluctance to let go endangers the team’s mission and lives. Dicaprio captures every thread of his inner turmoil. Turning in an equally emotional performance is his mark Robert, whose material fulfilment lacks from a lacking relationship with his father.
The rest of the cast does not lack in staying power despite less prominence. Their strong performances confidently back Nolan’s immense ambition. No doubt many years in the making, Inception is a beautiful dream realised. Diving into the subconscious workings of the human mind has never been as grand as one of his best works to date.