Sunday, 6 October 2013

"Memento". Is Christopher Nolan the new Stanley Kubrick? 

I saw "Memento" a few days ago. 
The film is about a guy who has anterograde amnesia, i.e he loses the ability to make new memories after he and his wife are attacked. The memories before the incident remain intact, he still has his identity, but the last thing he remembers is his wife dying and afterwards, he always has to carry photos and notes and has to tattoo things on himself in order to 'remember' important things. 
That's the idea. Obviously, the most brilliant ideas can also be destroyed if not executed brilliantly. That, fortunately, is not the problem of this film- it has a good script and very brilliant editing and interesting narrative techniques. A great film, in short. I don't hesitate to call it the best Christopher Nolan film and 1 of my favourite films of all time.
There's 1 flaw that makes me not call "Memento" a masterpiece. Several times the leading character speaks the themes directly to the audience. Which reminds me of this article:
 ("themes as lectures" is no.6)
I don't know how it started but at some point somebody compared Christopher Nolan to Stanley Kubrick and it has been common ever since. The comparison is discussed here:
And in many other places. 
Is Christopher Nolan, thus, the new Stanley Kubrick? 

In my opinion, no. 
Actually, there should not be such a question in the 1st place. People like to compare and like to call somebody the new somebody, and most of the time the comparison is rather lame. Stanley Kubrick wouldn't be called a master nor hailed as 1 of the greatest directors of all time if it were easy to find a 2nd Stanley Kubrick some decades later. His immense talent is unlikely to be met again any time soon, and he's unique. 
[Does anybody notice that Stanley Kubrick didn't do sequels/ prequels?] 
In my mind the question is whether Christopher Nolan can be in the same league with Stanley Kubrick, or whether he is a great film director. Having seen 6 of his 8 films, I think "The dark knight rises" is quite boring, "Insomnia" has created no impression on me except the certainty that I have watched it, while "Inception" is admirable in lots of ways but I can't claim it to be a favourite because I truthfully didn't understand what was going on. Among the other 3, "The dark knight" and "The prestige" are quite good and "Memento" is awesome. 
Overall, it's a bit too strong to say Christopher Nolan is a bad director (as in the 1st link above), the man's not without talent. He's much better than directors like, say, Michael Bay or Baz Luhrmann. He is similar to Stanley Kubrick in the sense that he makes very different films of different periods and settings and genres. He's extremely talented when it comes to techniques- watch the Batman films and "Inception". But technology isn't everything. It has always been clear that I lean towards Clint Eastwood, David O. Russell, Sidney Lumet, Jim Sheridan..., away from Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson... His films do have flaws, such as his weakness at dealing with personalities and emotions (Batman's personality, if any, is absolutely flat), or his tendency to let characters speak the themes directly to the audience. And after all, what are his films about? He makes commercial films and doesn't go for big ideas. In the end, the films that stand the test of time are not the ones that put lots of focus on technology. Technologically Stanley Kubrick was revolutionary, which can be seen in "2001: A space odyssey" or "Barry Lyndon", but that's not the reason he's acclaimed. Steven Spielberg also makes commercial films but he makes serious films as well, such as "Lincoln", "Schindler's list", "War horse", "The colour purple", etc. 
The new Stanley Kubrick? Definitely not. A great film director, 1 of the greatest of all time? I don't know. I would place him below some other 'young' directors such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, David Fincher... (even though he has greater diversity and adaptability). 
But he surely has talent. I just wish he would make more films like "Memento" instead of those blockbusters. 
Now, how's it going to be- his upcoming film "Interstellar"?

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