Noir, sub-noir and sheer magic
(1998) A sinuously hypnotic combination of art movie and film noir, Nolan’s debut studies a strange young man who is obsessed with following strangers through the streets of London. The director’s interest in non-linear narrative is already apparent in this micro-budgeted gem.
(2000) More sub-noir. More temporal hi-jinks. Guy Pearce stars as a man with no short-term memory who, both to help him solve a mystery and to assist in everyday life, takes to tattooing vital pieces of informa- tion on his body. Told backwards, the picture has gathered the sort of fanatical cult following that enables directors to get gigs directing Batman films.
(2002) More sub-noir. More surprising twists. Nolan’s remake of a classic Norwegian thriller sends a sleepy – and relatively unhammy – Al Pacino to Alaska to investigate a murder during a time of endless daylight. One of the few films where Robin Williams is creepy on purpose (we think).
(2003) Following the
franchise’s collapse into raging camp with Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, Warner Brothers had the brilliant idea of hiring a highbrow director to bring some grit back into the franchise. Nolan delivered. Christian Bale is troublingly granite-faced in the title role. Michael Caine is wry as the butler.
Robin is nowhere.
(2006) Bale turns up as one of two rival magicians in a twisty, sinister period thriller that almost becomes too clever for its own good, but somehow survives on wit, flair and sheer chutzpah. Nolan even manages to draw a good performance from David Bowie (left), a feat that deserves an MBE at least.