24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Dark Knight

'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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 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.

Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight Rises' rises [Trailer]

July 18, 2011 |  5:59 pm

"If you make yourself more than just a man," the teaser for director Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" begins, " ... you become something else entirely." Thus begins the string of clues about the next Batman movie.

There aren't a lot of details beyond that bit of portent -- an apparently hospitalized Commissioner Gordon, a quick shot of a fight scene -- but it seems more than enough to pique the interest of fans. The film is likely to be among the hot topics at this weekend's Comic-Con convention in San Diego (even sans Nolan or an announced "Dark Knight Rises" panel). The teaser's closing shot, which has the camera swooping down from above the Gotham skyscape, is enough to give one the visual scope of Nolan's new film even on a tiny computer screen.

The Batman movie hits just about a year from now -- with a lot more clues like this to come in the interim. Take a look:



-- Steven Zeitchik


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.


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


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Can 'Iron Man 2' beat 'The Dark Knight'?

April 6, 2010 |  3:56 pm

Exactly one month from Wednesday, Tony Stark, Pepper Potts and the other personalities of "Iron Man" will return to make witty mayhem in the superhero sequel.

And exactly three days after that, we could have a new domestic box-office record.

Stark himself, never lacking in suave self-confidence, probably wouldn't make such a bold boast. But it's entirely feasible.

According to just-released tracking surveys, director Jon Favreau's second installment in the Marvel franchise is showing astonishing levels of interest and awareness well ahead of its three-day opening next month. There are enough statistical indications to think that the first-weekend gross could top the $158.4-million haul for "Dark Knight", the current record-holder for the biggest (non inflation-adjusted) opening weekend and the gold standard for movie debuts. 
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