Director Series: Christopher Nolan

Inception is the latest movie by director Christopher Nolan. He has become a renowned name in Hollywood during the last five years due to his highly successful reboot of the comic-book character Batman, directing both Batman Begins (2005) and the critically acclaimed The Dark Knight (2008). However, it is the director's other movies which have made me pay great attention and follow his career.

I first became aware of the director after watching the mind-bending crime thriller Memento (2000) in which a man is trying to piece together fragmented memories and encounters to track down the man who killed his wife. The non-linear storytelling requires the audience to pay close attention and the movie requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate its mastery.

After this I watched his debut feature-length movie Following (1998), a low-budget black & white thriller in which a man follows a thief to learn his story. Although it is lacking some visual flare and the acting isn't superb, the storytelling is concise and the conclusion is rewarding.

Next up is Insomnia (2002), a remake of a Norwegian movie of the same name. Starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams this mystery thriller is a claustrophobic tale of a detective's search for a murder. Set in the background of a northern town where the sun never sets, the story follows the protagonist as he starts to lose his mind. Although probably my least favourite movie by Nolan so far, it is by no means a bad movie. I am planning to re-watch this again soon, and would also like to watch the original for comparison.

Between his two Batman movies, Christopher Nolan made The Presitge (2006), which is definitely in my top three movies of all time. A story with so many twists and turns makes the movie itself into one huge magic trick. With a stellar cast including Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as the rivalling magicians and Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie and Andy Serkis, Nolan paints the dirty side of a life-long rivalry set against nineteenth-century London with such precision, beauty and grace. The reason why The Prestige is such a good movie — and with any good movie I believe — is that it can be talked about — and argued about — by friends and family, as each takes their interpretation of what they had just experienced. The movie rewards multiple viewings, slowly giving up its secrets to those who wish to learn them — as well as keeping them hidden from those who do not wish to learn about the magic. I love to explain the movie, at least my interpretation of it, to anyone who will listen, but I will leave you with my belief that this masterpiece is not a science-fiction movie.

After the huge success of The Dark Knight, receiving high praise from comic book fans, critics and the general public alike, a lot of pressure was put on the director to start work on the third movie in the series. However, like after Batman Begins, Nolan took time to go back to his thriller roots. It has been revealed that Nolan had been working on the high-concept sci-fi thriller Inception (2010) for years. This preparation has paid off again for Nolan as Inception was released to high acclaim from both critics and the public alike. The complex story about dreams and dreams within dreams is handled extremely well, and although it can be confusing in places, Nolan pulls everything together in a taut screenplay that keeps even the casual viewer entertained. The themes and ideas presented throughout the movie could have easily been too much for many directors and the audience, but Nolan has carefully crafted something special, not only a compelling story that makes the audience engage their brains, but visually the movie is breathtaking, the score is haunting and the acting is superb.

All eyes are now focused on Nolan's return to the Batman franchise to what many believe will be the final episode in his hugely successful reboot of the comic-book character. Many people are worried about the movie living up to (their) expectations, but as I have hopefully just shown you, Nolan is a master of all aspects of his craft, he produces stunning results time after time. I say don't worry, just let Christopher Nolan take control and bring the best conclusion to one of the best comic-book adaptations, and trilogy, ever made. I am looking forward to his post-Batman movies as they challenge the audience more than many Hollywood directors and are usually highly original. I am excited by the freedom of budget, time, studio involvement and casting Nolan has earned so far in his career, which will allow him to make the best movies he possible can — this is something I am looking forward to the experience.

This is the first part of a series looking at movie directors.