I watched Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” this week and loved it. Ever since 2001’s “Memento,” I’ve sought out Nolan’s films, and every single one has impressed me. He’s got this ability to create an atmosphere of suspense, combined with real feeling and empathy for his characters.
He also seems to be constantly examining men either on the verge of madness, or deep in the throes of it. He brought us Guy Pearce as a man sunk in rage and confusion as a widower trying to avenge his wife’s murder in Memento. Then he remade “Insomnia” and turned the rather slimy cop that Stellan Skarsgard played in the original, and turned him into the haunted cop trying to redeem himself played by Al Pacino. Likewise, in the two Batman films, Christian Bale has played Batman as a man driven by rage, ego and a pained hope for a better Gotham: Nolan’s films have been far more psychologically complex than the “Batmans” of the past.
The great thing is though that despite the psychological complexities, Nolan’s films never fail to be entertaining, suspenseful, and incredibly atmospheric. I still can’t get the score from Memento and The Dark Knight out of my head sometimes, and he has an ability with both elaborate chase scenes and intimate monologues that’s incredible.
So far Nolan isn’t a household name like Spielberg, Scorsese, or Tarantino but with a few more films of the quality and commercial success of his past work, he should arrive there. In my view, Christopher Nolan is already this generation’s Hitchcock.