Showing posts from December, 2020

How Pixar Helped Me Better Understand Christopher Nolan

On the surface, there’s no discernible relationship between Pixar Animation Studios and Christopher Nolan. After all, the former produces exclusively animated fare, whereas the latter produces dark and gritty live-action films. And while Pixar movies often tug at the heartstrings, Nolan’s films often act as cinematic brainteasers. Upon further reflection, however, there are more similarities between Pixar and Christopher Nolan than one might expect. Consider film critic Scott Renshaw’s somewhat humorous summation of Pixar’s output : As wonderfully crafted and emotionally affecting as those films have been, they all seemed to start from a very similar place: What if toys had feelings? What if insects had feelings? What if monsters had feelings? What if cars had feelings? What if  feelings  had feelings? Similarly, Christopher Nolan’s intricately crafted and cerebrally affecting films tend to start from a similar place : How does memory loss affect perception of reality? How do dr

The Three Phases of Christopher Nolan’s Films

If you take Christopher Nolan’s work as a whole, it’s possible to discern the emergence of a common concept—what we might call a narrative MacGuffin unifying all his movies: How does memory loss affect perception of reality? How do dreams affect perception of reality? How do magic tricks affect perception of reality? How does insomnia affect perception of reality? How does time inversion affect perception of reality? Nolan has established himself as a director adept at exploring the relationship between time, memory, and reality—as well as how these concepts can be perceived, rearranged, and distorted. But even if his feature-length oeuvre is fairly cohesive, it can still be divided into three separate epochs, each with its own distinct characteristics. Others have argued that Nolan’s career has mirrored the three stages of a magic act: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige . This concept is clever, insightful, and thought provoking. Nevertheless, it is, in my opinion, insufficien