24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Chris Nolan

Christoper Nolan pulls a Guillermo del Toro

June 14, 2012 | 12:08 pm

Christopher Nolan pairs up with Wally Pfister

Despite his extensive cachet in the fan community, Christopher Nolan hasn't loaned out his name and wisdom to lesser-known filmmakers in the manner of, say, Guillermo del Toro. He's producing/shepherding "Man of Steel" and a supernatural thriller from a filmmaker named Keith Gordon and, well, that's about it.

But Nolan will make a rare attempt at the godfather routine on a new movie from Wally Pfister, the Oscar-winning cinematographer who has worked with Nolan on everything from "Memento" to "The Dark Knight Rises." Principals announced Wednesday that Nolan and wife/producing partner Emma Thomas will executive produce Pfister's untitled debut, which is currently coming together behind a veil of secrecy.

According to a person familiar with the production, the project is being cast now, with actors beginning to read the Jack Paglen script. The location for the production has not been determined, but the movie will shoot in the U.S., and could start as soon as fall 2012.

The project has some other interesting names on its pedigree -- it's being financed and produced by Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson from Alcon Entertainment ("The Blind Side"), was developed by a former Overture Films executive named Annie Marter and also now has the involvement of a company called Straight Up Films, which is next financing and producing a science-fiction thriller from the up-and-comers the Purchase Brothers.

What remains to be seen is Nolan's involvement -- though Pfister has discussed the film with him, the  director has been heavily involved in "The Dark Knight Rises" and hasn't even yet met with some key members of the creative team.

Nolan's influence can be felt on the movie in at least one way, however -- plot details and even a general log line are being kept under wraps.


Dark Knight Rises trailer

'Dark Knight Rises' hits the road

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--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Christopher Nolan promoting "The Dark Knight Rises" at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards. Credit: Getty Images

MTV Movie Awards wants to tap next Christopher Nolan

April 27, 2012 |  7:00 am

NEW YORK -- Over its 20-year history, the MTV Movie Awards haven't exactly been the Oscars, or even the People's Choice Awards.

But the telecast known for handing out prizes for such Brando-esque acting feats as “Best Kiss” while playing clips from countless summer movies wants to get more serious.

Well, slightly.

"We want the show to be a little more of  a celebration of why we love movies," MTV President Stephen Friedman said in an interview at his offices this week, noting that he felt the program, for all its fan enthusiasm, was sometimes too irreverent toward the filmmaking process, undercutting the point of a movie-awards show in the first place. "We want people to feel the same sense of awe watching our show like they did the first time they saw 'Harry Potter' or ‘Hunger Games' on the big screen."

(Oddly, the tack follows a similar shift at the Oscars, which under the hand of producer Brian Grazer and host Billy Crystal this year went in a more magic-of-Hollywood direction, to mixed reviews.)

For its 20012 edition, the MTV Movie Awards have brought on Jesse Ignjatovic, the reality/live-event producer who has been shepherding the network's Video Music Awards. We’ll see his handiwork fairly soon — this year's show airs live on June 3 from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City.

The awards have long endured the criticism that they are little more than a commercial for studios’ summer movies, whose clips come fast and furious. Friedman  said that he could imagine that this year's show will feature fewer plugs for upcoming films by making sure that those that were featured were “really special” pieces of material that viewers couldn’t see anywhere else.

And though the Movie Awards added a few new categories this year, including “best on-screen dirtbag” (now there’s something Brando-esque), they also will hand out a breakthrough performance prize. Unlike the show's many viewer-voted categories, however, this one will be chosen by a panel of filmmakers, ensuring that (for now, at least) Kristen Stewart will not win her 1,325th MTV Movie Award.

Friedman said that the larger mission is to restore a sense of relevance and tastemaking to the program.

“If you look back, this show was among the first places to tell you about Christopher Nolan when he had ‘Memento,’ just as MTV is the first place to tell viewers about a new band that they need to know,” Friedman said. “We really want to go back to doing that.”


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--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Lindsay Lohan, Verne Troyer and Sean Combs at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Nolan's 'Dark Knight Rises' dons an Occupy costume [Trailer]

December 20, 2011 |  6:31 am


Still photo from the next Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises"

We already knew Christopher Nolan was up to something topical with “The Dark Knight Rises” when he decided to shoot near Occupy Wall Street. Now we have a clearer sense of what that topic is.

As the Batman film's new trailer released online Monday suggests, it’s economic disparity and government response to organized protest, among other subjects.

Over a haunting rendition of a child singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" (lest there be any doubt about his national themes), Nolan offers us a peek at his haves-and-have-nots preoccupation when he has Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle whisper in the ear of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne a message from the 99%.

“You think this can last?" she says. "There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. And you and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”

The ante is upped with a quick shot of a tank taking aim at what appears to be a group people (protesters?) congregating on a City Hall-like building -- an image, incidentally, that also evokes the Arab Spring.

And if its patriotic themes weren’t evident enough, the big act of villainous violence happens at a football game — and as a kick returner is speeding to the end zone, no less. (Thomas Hardy, wearing a gas-mask, of course does villain honors as Bane, setting off explosions-cum-earthquakes behind the player.)

Nolan cut to the issues of the day with “The Dark Knight” in 2008, posing questions about the appropriate responses to terrorism and the nature of heroism in a post-Sept. 11 world. Here he swivels his gaze.

Not a lot of filmmakers would attempt to roll together Occupy, Egypt and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in one cinematic package, let alone in one with superheroes. But Nolan is, as ever, thinking big, with his typical blend of flash and seriousness. 

The movie opens July 20, with footage currently showing before some screenings of "Mission: Impossible."


"Dark Knight Rises" stars: We feel the pressure

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-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Warner Bros.

'Dark Knight Rises' stars: We feel the pressure

December 2, 2011 |  7:22 pm

"The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's third and final movie in his Batman trilogy,  is still more than seven months from hitting theaters. But as the hype grows around the superhero picture, so does the pressure on the people involved with it.

In separate interviews, Christian Bale, who of course plays the lead character, and Gary Oldman, who stars as police honcho James Gordon, each acknowledged how the rising noise can take its toll..

"In terms of box office, I don't feel any pressure,” Bale told 24 Frames. “I never saw Batman and Bruce Wayne as a big tent pole. It was just another character I love playing. But I do feel a creative pressure. It would be wrong if I didn’t feel that.”

Meanwhile, Oldman, whose character, promoted to police commissioner in the last film, remains one of the few who knows Batman’s secrets, said he was keeping the expectations at bay by drawing a distinction.

“It's more pressure on Chris [Nolan] than on me,” Oldman said, when asked how he was handling it. “If they feel disappointed with Gordon, that’s one thing. If they feel disappointed with the movie, that’s another."

The actor added that even though the third installments of franchises often don't live up to the first and second editions, he didn’t think fans should fret. "Chris is too  classy to make a movie just for the sake of doing a third one,” he said, adding, "It’s a terrific story, and it’s going to be epic.” (Said fans will have a chance to decide for themselves when new footage is shown at some Imax screenings of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” beginning later this month, as our sister Hero Complex blog reports.)

Coincidentally, both Bale and Oldman will bring out new movies this month too — Bale, the China-set historical drama "The Flowers of War," and Oldman, the John le Carré espionage period piece "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" — and have been hitting the circuit to promote them.

Oldman, who has seen the marketing and fanboy culture change exponentially in the three decades since he entered the acting business, said he didn’t expect the buzz to quiet down for "Dark Knight Rises." "I think it’s already won a prize for most anticipated film or something." He repeated the thought. "It’s won a prize — and we haven’t even finished shooting the thing yet.”


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--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Tom Hardy in "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Warner Bros.

Will Nolan's 'Dark Knight Rises' occupy Wall Street?

October 17, 2011 |  7:43 pm

"The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's third film in the Batman trilogy, has been shooting in Los Angeles in recent weeks. But the Christian Bale-led production is now set to make a trip to New York and could be heading to a fraught locale: the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Under its code name "Magnus Rex," the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures production will arrive in the nation's biggest city for 14 days starting Oct. 29, according to a casting notice recently issued by producers. And, according to a person briefed on actors’ schedules who requested anonymity because production details were being kept confidential, cast members have been told the shoot could include scenes shot at the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Occupy Wall Street is of course the movement that began in Lower Manhattan and has since spread to other cities, including downtown Los Angeles. It marked its 30th day on Monday and in New York has gathered supporters at Zuccotti Park downtown as well as in locations in Midtown Manhattan and elsewhere in the city. It seeks to bring attention to banking deregulation, Wall Street bonuses and other practices that supporters say threaten the prospects of the working- and middle class.

While it's unclear what shape the protean movement will take in the coming weeks, the demonstrations will almost certainly be continuing during the period that "The Dark Knight Rises" shoots in New York. While the person who’d been told of the plans said the protests could figure into the production, they said that doesn't mean they will be included in the storyline.

In other words, Nolan, who's known for carefully planning out scenes months in advance, wouldn’t necessarily be tweaking the script; he’d simply be using the protests as a backdrop or a stand-in for something that already exists in the film. 

It should be noted that Nolan is known for tossing out red herrings. The director has said, for instance, that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play police officer John Blake and Marion Cotillard will star as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate — even though neither character is a part of the Batman mythology (leading some to believe the announcement was merely a cover for their real roles).

A Warner Bros. spokeswoman confirmed the production was headed to New York but would not elaborate further. Nolan does not currently have a publicist.

"The Dark Knight Rises" has already shot in locations ranging from Jodhpur, India, to Pittsburgh.

Like so much connected to “Rises,” exactly which scenes are scheduled to be shot in New York remain a secret. According to the casting call, interested actors should have "military and/or law enforcement training/experience, weapons training, and/or martial arts training."

But using a real-life location like the Occupy Wall Street protests — particularly in the city nicknamed Gotham — would add an element of gritty authenticity to 'Rises." It also would fit with the franchise's preoccupation with themes of urban order and civil unrest, which "Dark Knight" explored at length.

It’s unclear how protesters would react if cameras for “The Dark Knight Rises” were nearby. A former independent-film director, Nolan wouldn’t seem to have much in common with Wall Street fat cats. But he is overseeing a $250-million production financed by one of the world's largest media conglomerates.

On the other hand, some demonstrators may find that the film accords with their mission. The casting call says that characters will inhabit "a city besieged by crime and corruption." That’s almost like a description you’d read on a, well, Occupy Wall Streeter's protest sign.


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 — Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight." Credit: Warner Bros.

'Dark Knight's' Jonathan Nolan takes his tales to TV

August 2, 2011 |  4:55 pm


You hardly need to be a fanboy to know or appreciate the work of Jonathan Nolan. The younger brother of Christopher Nolan has collaborated with his sibling on some of the more inventive movies of the last decade, writing “The Prestige,” "The Dark Knight" and next summer’s hotly anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises." He also wrote the short story on which “Memento” was based.

Now Nolan is taking a leap into television, co-creating and executive-producing a new J.J. Abrams-shepherded show, this fall's conspiracy thriller “Person of Interest” on CBS. But is Nolan feeling OK about stepping away from a movie world in which he's been a relatively important player?

“One of the things I was drawn to with TV is that you get to see the fruits of your labor right away," he told 24 Frames. "Even when everything is going perfectly [in film], two or three years have gone by. And sometimes it’s six or seven. You’re not the same person, and you’re lucky if you even remember writing it.”

Moreover, Nolan said, it could be frustrating writing for film; the canvas, he said, sometimes felt too limited, even with an iconic character like Batman. “Working on a franchise, you come to really know the voice of a character — and then when you’re done you have to throw the character away," he said. "There’s something kind of tragic about that."

Nolan acknowledged that he was at least a little nervous about the opposite problem — coming up with stories that can last for dozens if not hundreds of episodes. “You do have to go in knowing you’re telling a really big story, and you have to know to save things for later,” he said. (More on "Person of Interest," which stars Jim Caviezel as a down-on-his-luck former government operative who sets about protecting mysterious strangers, in print and on our Show Tracker blog in the coming weeks.)

Nolan said he wouldn’t rule out a return to film but was happy to toil on the small screen for now. “None of these things are easy. A film is a sprint and a TV show is a marathon, and with a marathon you better come up with these interesting characters from the beginning," he said. "The goal is to do the opposite of a movie. By the end of movies, or at least of my movies, everyone’s kind of dead. And [my television partner] has been impressing upon me that in TV you kind of have to keep people alive."


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— Steven Zeitchik



Photo: Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight." Credit: Warner Bros.

How will Marion Cotillard fit into 'The Dark Knight Rises'?

May 3, 2011 |  5:46 pm

Marion Cotillard will next appear on screen in "Midnight in Paris," the Woody Allen film that opens the Cannes Film Festival next Thursday before a release in the U.S. the following week. But it's a lot more than cinéastes paying attention to the French actress: Superhero enthusiasts are anticipating her return to Christopher Nolan-ville. She'll follow up her "Inception" turn from last summer with a part in the director's "The Dark Knight Rises," the Bruce Wayne picture due out next July.

Nolan and Warner Bros. said in a recent release that Cotillard would be playing Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises board "eager to help a still-grieving Bruce Wayne resume his father's philanthropic endeavors for Gotham."

But Nolan has a history of misdirection in casting announcements, which made some fans doubt the character reveal. And, indeed, it may not be as simple as Cotillard playing Tate.

Asked by 24 Frames in a recent interview about her part in the film, Cotillard responded with a coy, "My role is a secret, as is the whole project." So speculation about who she'll actually be -- from a love interest of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman to a more shadowy character -- can run riot.

Cotillard did offer some thoughts on why she joined the film -- namely, a chance to reunite with Nolan. And she said she has a specific regard for Batman among pretty much all the superheroes out there.

Just what is it about Batman that makes him so appealing to the actress? It's that brooding thing. "I think it's that he's human," Cotillard said. "He can't really fly, and he doesn't have superpowers. And he has that darkness inside."


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-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Marion Cotillard as Mal in "Inception." Credit: Warner Bros.


Kenneth Turan's critic's pick of the week: 'Memento'

February 3, 2011 |  8:33 am

"Memento" is not Christopher Nolan's first feature -- the compelling "Following" was his debut -- but it was the film that announced his arrival as a major director. This haunting, nervy thriller about a man who can remember nothing is a provocatively structured film noir that pushes what can be done on screen in an unusual direction.     

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a former insurance investigator with a peculiar and devastating mental condition: a blow to the head as he was battling the men who raped and murdered his wife caused him to lose the ability to retain short-term memories.   

So while Leonard can recall everything up to that brutal moment, nothing more recent stays in his head for more than a few minutes. Determined to avenge his wife’s death, this defective detective compensates with an elaborate system that includes notes, photographs and, most bizarre of all, key information tattooed on his body so he can read it in a mirror.  

Nolan, intent on mirroring Leonard’s point of view, has in effect constructed a thriller that starts at the end and works its way back to the beginning. Yet the more information we get, the more facts we think we can identify, the less we can be sure just what is true.  

This is a storytelling method that not only rewards but demands the closest kind of attention. As we come to understand how easy it might be to manipulate the main character we’ve come to care about, the tension and suspense become unbearable.    

With the director's branch having peckishly denied Nolan an Oscar nomination for "Inception," this is a fine opportunity to remind ourselves how good a filmmaker he is.

"Memento" will be shown Friday (Feb. 4) at 7:30 p.m. at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. A discusssion with Nolan will follow the screening.

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss in "Memento." Credit: Danny Rothenberg

Around Town: Oscar hopefuls, Charlie Chaplin and fine French cinema

February 3, 2011 |  5:00 am


With the Academy Awards just 3 1/2 weeks away, the various nominees are making their last big push for the Oscar. Take "The Fighter" director David O. Russell. Friday at the Cinefamily's Silent Movie Theatre, Russell and Alexander Payne will do a Q&A after a screening of Russell's 1996 comedy "Flirting with Disaster." Afterward, Payne's film "Citizen Ruth" will screen. On Saturday, Russell will appear at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre for a screening of "The Fighter," which is nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture and director. Russell will discuss the film with actor Mark Wahlberg.

Meanwhile, writer-director Christopher Nolan, whose "Inception" is nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best picture and original screenplay, will be on hand at the Egyptian on Friday evening for a screening of his first film, the edgy innovative 2001 noir "Memento," starring Guy Pearce.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday at the Egyptian, the Cinematheque will offer a free Oscar music composing seminar featuring contemporary musicians and others who will talk about music in film. http://www.cinefamily.org; http://www.americancinematheque.com

Continue reading »

Anne Hathaway gets catty with Christopher Nolan and 'The Dark Knight Rises'

January 19, 2011 | 10:51 am


Fans' reactions were mixed on Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes as the female leads in Christopher Nolan's first two Batman movies. Will they be more enthused about Anne Hathaway?

The actress was announced Wednesday morning as Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in "The Dark Knight Rises," as per our sister blog Hero Complex.(The studio also confirmed that Thomas Hardy would play villain Bane.)

The Hathaway move fits with Nolan's pattern of casting -- while other big female parts around town have lately gone to up-and-comers and relative unknowns (see: Rooney Mara in the remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"), Nolan has preferred actresses with pedigrees.

It's a major transition for Hathaway, who started out as a tween queen then transitioned to increasingly dramatic parts, first slightly in "The Devil Wears Prada" and then intensely in "Rachel Getting Married." Now she adds summer blockbuster to her list. (We won't mention "Havoc.") Oh, and there's the Oscar hosting gig next month. If Nolan is nominated for a directing Oscar for "Inception," get ready for the Catwoman jokes.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Anne Hathaway. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press


Hero Complex: Anne Hathaway is Catwoman in 'The Dark Knight Rises'


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