This Is a Blog: Explained List: Murph!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Explained List: Murph!

#12 - Following

It’s just not fair to judge this feature against his others. It’s a marvel a small movie like this got made at all, and I’m thrilled it got noticed and we have the other movies on this list to enjoy. You can see Nolan’s fascinations here right from the start. It’s non-linear. It’s about two men in suits, and the woman is just kind of window dressing. There’s a guy named Cobb. The only thing I remember, though, is being bored to tears.

#11 - The Dark Knight Rises

A bad Nolan movie is still leaps and bounds better than most. It’s just hard to watch this movie without judging it against the films that came before. Nolan was going to make a bunch of great movies, and if this is what he had to do to get carte-blanche, power to him. If you’re gonna sell your soul, at least do it for a good reason. This movie, though, is just so bad. Top to bottom, so bad. From Bane’s ridiculous voice to that flaming bat on the bridge he had time to make despite a literal ticking clock to Blake’s birth name being… sigh… Robin, this film was clearly a project to just get done and move on. At least he tried to say something about class warfare, but ultimately, it was a completely empty piece of fluff. And for real, how the hell did his back get fixed? And he got to Gotham from the Middle East with no money? Okay, I’ll stop.

#10 - Interstellar

Playing with time is like crack to Nolan. I don’t just mean he’s hopelessly addicted to it, I mean sometimes he’s so obsessed with it, he can ignore everything else good in his life in service of playing with time. A black hole that means time passes differently on a planet and in orbit?!?!? We can glimpse the past and influence the future?!??! I’m imagining Nolan passed out on a Tennessee Williams porch fanning himself as he explores these concepts. I just wish filmmaking could put what he was thinking on screen because the stuff in the blackhole was clearly not laughably terrible in his head. In execution, it was hilarious.

#9 - Oppenheimer


#8 - Dunkirk

The end of Dunkirk is arguably the most virtuoso sequence in cinema history. He bends time, not because of some big conceit, but because it was the best way to tell the story. It makes you simultaneously go “what was i watching?” and “how the hell did i follow all that?” It only ranks this low because of the subject matter. I have never cared about a war movie. I appreciate this film a hell of a lot more than I enjoyed it.

#7 - Insomnia

I saw the Swedish original years ago, and I remember liking it but not really being engrossed by it. I only finally got around to Nolan’s re-make because I heard it wasn’t that good. I loved it. The characters are so deep, and the script does such a good job of balancing the moral complexity. The end even manages to do a 180 from the Swedish version without being hokey. Nolan allows the viewer to connect the final moral dots, which I really appreciated. The key to this film’s success is putting the feeling of insomnia on screen, and Nolan does it by doing what he does best: mixing arthouse cinema with popcorn moviemaking. 

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