Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the Pantheon of the Punchable, Christopher Nolan must rank pretty high.

He has, let’s be frank, an impeccably Tory face.* With perhaps just a soupcon of New Lab thrown in.

I can’t look at it

without seeing it as a nightmare compound of the following:

But fundamentally…

*I’d certainly be interested in thinking about how particularly British Inception is.


Anonymous said...

The unimaginative, affectless casting, and unimaginative, affectless directing of the cast. He uses actors who have given incredible performances in the past, but you know they won't be in this. Heath Ledger? He was making it up as he went along in the tradition of great under-directed actors like Brando and Sellers (I've run out of ad libs, so today I'll be wearing a dress etc.)

Michael fucking Tory twat Caine - an 'institooshon' (in doffing your cap and doing ANYTHING for money. Even Sean Connery had a semblance of pride).

Leo DiCaprio not there because of his suitability, but cos Nolan thinks a 'real' (ie. American) film is a characterless melange of James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.

Every character, no matter what their job, nationality etc. talks like a management consultant -except women, who get all 'emotional' and are there to make you think of the children in all this beastliness.

The references to (bad) James Bond movies - only brits think Bond is 'cool' nowadays (any American I've met sees him as a running joke).

Not anything to do with Inception, but I reckon if you said 'Afro-American' to Nolan, his supposedly immense imagination would think of Morgan Freeman or a mugger in 80s gang wear.

Only British people still think films where people run up and down walls with two pistols are 'cutting edge'.

It looks like an advert. Nolan isn't the new Kubrick - he's the new Alan Parker. I'm sure you're aware of how any British director making it big in Hollywood since Thatcher always make films that look like adverts.

The idea that corporate oligarchies are sensual, groovy and exotic.

Ditto French women.

Being oh-so-dazzled by an 'idea' that anyone who read a comic or short sci-fi story before 1990-something would be familiar with. Americans demand a bit more from their lazy geekdom.

I can barely remember it - often the case with these posh boy epics (Lawrence of Arabia - a match going out and getting raped by Jose Ferrer - the other four hours? Ya got me... even though I've seen it a dozen times)

We know his type, stony faced and public-school confident - no-one says anything rude to them. They always have perfect manners and the personality of a gnat. The gangsters in Hollywood probably find him really 'intellectual' and 'classy'. he's dazzled by how rich Americans really are really fucking rich and call it 'dynamic'.

Anonymous said...

Also, practically all his films are rip-offs of Fritz Lang in one way or the other, but his Tory-boy philistinism thinks we the proles won't notice this, because all we're interested in is being Americans. As with Cameron, Clegg etc. there's enough dimwits to supporting this view.

Anonymous said...

Also, practically all his films are rip-offs of Fritz Lang in one way or the other, but his Tory-boy philistinism thinks we the proles won't notice this, because all we're interested in is being Americans. As with Cameron, Clegg etc. there's enough dimwits to supporting this view.

Anonymous said...

I disagreed before The Prestige, but the dirty old fogey has a point:

Anonymous said...

Another peculiarly British trait. I've found that the most interesting British films are frequently by foreign directors showing us how fucking weird we actually are - east European emigres, Lumet etc.

For some reason the biggest British names who go to Hollywood approach America with a barely-questioning awe of it's power, 'smartness' and gloss (not quite the case with continental emigres). Even Hitchcock pushed this to the point of camp comedy. Changing class/ideology dynamics has made this something of a sect since the 80s - Saatchi alumni like Parker and the Scott bros. never ceased to tell us how awful pre-Thatcher Britain was. The more idiosyncratic like Roeg or Ken Russell (neither were lefties, but they had a hard time pleasing the big boys after Star Wars etc.) were in sharp decline by the early 80s.

Unlike Scott or Parker, Nolan wasn't a lower middle-class wide-boy making his bones in advertising. His daddy got him his first budget! How symptomatic of the British 00s cultural order.

carl said...

yeah this is true. as in, i can't really think of a British take on America that exposes it's insanity/oddness except for roeg really (man who fell to earth among others).. ie at some point america stopped being Alien.... i've been thinking a lot about the reverse situations... americans over here... esp during the 60's/70's when it was cheap to make films in England and the films generally are very Thatcher, America became absolutely the model in all spheres of British life though didn't it.. this was absolutely how we acheived modernity, they believed.... does history really end when the wall comes down or does it covertly, predictibly, end much earlier,
the overthrow of Allende, freetrade zones in china in 73 the election of thatcher... these are all significant markers in the road to neo-liberal hegemony.... the first victims of globalization are clearly the working class in the US and the Uk.... Communism is ouflanked long before it collapses... lets not forget how sclerotic capital also looked in the early seventies... the question is.... what was the communist/leftist equivalent of the shift to neo-Liberalism....or at least how should finance capital have been met and contested.. what would a communist globalization have been...

i agree with all the above points on Nolan and Inception pretty much, one thing that is pure adman's shmaltz though is that use of the kids...

carl said...

actually i need to see "synecdoche new york" again.. one of the few films i've seen recentlt where i honestly just didn't know what i thought about it.. it w as certainly easy to slag off on several levels, but then was the first film in a while that i worried about doing a disservice to...

Anonymous said...

Synecdoche was a funny one - but some of my recent favourites tiptoe between brave classic or indulgent mess (some of my older ones too - Roeg being a case in point).

A rare sincerity unafraid to make the audience squirm? Or indulgent schmaltz dressed up as 'smart' and hip? I was deeply moved when I saw it in the cinema (some scenes uncomfortably close to my own experiences), but on DVD it felt like indulgent gibberish.

Maybe Kaufman's 'importance'
(or anyone's these days) lies in being open to wildly diverging responses within the individual viewer/listener/reader.

Anonymous said...

As for Inception - it was it's whole empty, uninspiring neoliberalism that bored and irritated me the most - check out Dark Knight's Gotham (the blandest and coldest concieved in any medium - who wants to save THAT city?) for further proof of how such a flat, airless, top-down hollowness has claimed complete victory over the popular imagination.

I think someone like Kaufmann at least gets (like PK Dick) how the world celebrated by Nolan gives anyone with a remnant of fragile humanity the death of a thousand, fragmentary, bewildering, tragic cuts.

Rossikovsky said...

I think the real continuous thread in British cinema is not really in the styling of the director, but in the scripts. I think this is the one thing that is really misunderstood about British cinema - it is theme-driven, and not style-driven, which is why people are easily fooled into believing that "there is no such thing as British cinema".

British films, at least in the post-war period have been remarkably consistent on one point - that they are usually about power relationships. This is what unites "The Servant", "The Hill", "The Offence", "Privilege", "Performance", "Sleuth", "The Go-Between", "The Draughtsman's Contract" and "Merry Xmas Mr. Lawrence" as off the-top-of-my-head examples. These power relationships can be between individuals within a system (esp. the class system), between the controllers and subjects of a system, or as a duel of wits absent of a system, but unless you start from this approach, British cinema will always appear to be a rather random and fractured body of work.

That Christopher Nolan doesn't really do this just emphasises the fact that he has nothing really to do with British cinema.

Also I would note that "Deliverance" and "Repo Man" are examples of British directors doing American weirdness.

Finally, if you're adventurous and looking for a very, very odd and intriguing film, you can try this:

Anonymous said...

I agree up to a point, but your examples were all made before 1990. I don't think British cinema concerns itself with class much now (Ken Loach is an anachronism). Even if it's explicitly mentioned (which ain't much), it's power relationships within a given class eg. mother - daughter, man -wife etc. Poverty or power becomes a moral or emotional issue since the mid-90s - in line with the post-Thatcher/Reagan consensus. Systems are barely considered in modern British films.

Surely Boorman is a bit of an anomaly? A masterful style-jumper who nevertheless has a deep personal investment in his themes.

Maybe compare Nolan with Jonathan Glazer - what happened to this very promising director? 'Birth' is one of the most underrated films of the decade - he's a Boorman-esque anomaly too: luvvie actors, cockney gangsters, advert background, star vehicle in the U.S. etc. - but somehow manages to escape the easy pigeonholes IMHO.

carl said...

i should also mention of course....Punishment Park!

Anonymous said...

Never seen it - not least because it always costs about £20 on DVD. Gotta draw the line somewhere.