THE NOLAN VARIATIONS | Kirkus Reviews


An up-close and personal look at one of Hollywood’s most successful directors.

In his latest, film historian and critic Shone wrote in close collaboration with Nolan (b. 1970), and their longtime friendship (they met in 2001, not long after Memento was released) provides him with unique access to the “most successful filmmaker to come out of the British Isles since Alfred Hitchcock.” This erudite book is packed with extensive, expansive discussions about Nolan’s films, all written or co-written by the director; insights into what he was trying to accomplish with each film; methodologies; and the movies, directors, books, art, architecture, and music that influenced him. Shone calls Nolan a “classicist” who prefers “to shoot every frame himself.” His films, writes the author, are “variations on a series of themes, repeated in different voices and keys, inverted, slowed down or sped up, creating an impression of ceaseless movement.” On Following, his first film, Nolan says he tried “to tell a story in something like three dimensions.” With Memento, he wondered: “Can you really make a movie backward?” For Shone, the “world’s first spoiler-proof movie” is like “Groundhog Day as written by Mickey Spillane.” Nolan believes that Insomnia, his first studio film with big-time actors (Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank) is the “most underrated” of all his films. His three Batman films, Nolan suggests, trace “what being Batman is costing Bruce Wayne,” and The Prestige, writes Shone, “is the “locus classicus of all his themes and concerns.” After the $1 billion box-office take for The Dark Knight, Nolan was free to do anything. He first had the idea for Inception when he was a student. The film, which broke all kinds of conventional notions of cinema, is “possibly Nolan’s greatest feat of structural engineering.” Interstellar “came from a very personal place,” and Dunkirk, notes Shone, “narrows as it proceeds, like a noose.” The author concludes that “Nolan’s films leave an echo whose reverberations are felt only once it is over.”

Fans of Nolan’s films will find this revealing book invaluable.

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-0-525-65532-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020





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