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In the logical, rational films of Christopher Nolan, heroes often make a mythical journey into the land of the dead, Ryan writes...
Christopher Nolan stands in front of a chalk board, carefully scratching out a network of lines and arrows. He's attempting to describe the complex structure of Memento, his second film, which cuts between two intertwining stories - one told in a conventional order, the other told in reverse.
"Most movies present a quite comfortable universe," Nolan says, standing in front of his odd hairpin-shaped diagram, "where we're given an objective truth that we don't get in everyday life. That's one of the reasons we go to the movies."
For many, Memento was their first encounter with Nolan's style of filmmaking, which seems fixated on the precise and the concrete. He favours the use of celluloid and practical, in-camera effects. Like Stanley Kubrick before him, Nolan »
If you had Haymitch Abernathy and the Hulk face off, you could easily predict the clear winner. But if you gave Haymitch Professor X’s powers and got him to stay sober for a few days, the Hunger Games champion would probably have the edge. Haymitch and the the big green guy’s real-life alter-egos had a meeting of the minds that had Woody Harrelson making Mark Ruffalo see green. Literally seeing green. (’Cause he's the Hulk, of course.) Harrelson, who learned the art of mentalism for his role in the Now You See Me films, got to try out his new skills on his co-star when the two of them were in New Orleans (where part of the first film was shot). It was during dinner with Keith Barry, mentalist and hypnotism consultant on 2013’s Now You See Me, and consultant for mentalism and other magic on the sequel to the magician heist movie, which hit theaters today. Barry trained Harrelson via Skype at first, then flew out to work with him in Los Angeles. They met at Soho House, where the Ireland-born mentalist hypnotized a large group of people. “And then I said [to Harrelson], ‘Okay, off you go!’” Barry recalled. “He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘You start hypnotizing people!’ As a hypnotist, you have to prepare to fail all the time, and you do fail because there’s various levels of susceptibility, as we call it. But he embraced it, and we just had an absolute blast while we were out and about.” Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney in Now You See Me 2. Photo credit: Jay Maidment/Summit Entertainment Cut to a few months later, during Now You See Me’s production in New Orleans: Harrelson had honed his skills well enough to get Ruffalo to forget the number 6 and to see everything as if through a green filter. Barry contends that Ruffalo was genuinely hypnotized, though the actor says he was only pretending to be hypnotized. But, as Barry explained, proficient hypnotists can tell if someone is truly under hypnosis by looking for dilation of pupils and watching the carotid arteries in the neck. “I think Mark doesn’t even know the truth himself,” Barry told me. So I was curious: If mentalists can get people to literally see green, can they change how we see green and red, giving us the experience of different kinds of color blindness? “Yeah, pretty much anything psychological can happen with hypnosis. So, yeah, color blindness is actually quite easy,” Barry said. “I can make myself invisible, float objects around.” Seriously, this dude is Professor X. [I’ll break here to warn you that there’s a Spoiler about the big reveal in the first Now You See Me film a couple paragraphs down.] We’ll have our full video interview with Barry on HitFix next week, but I’ll share one more tidbit from our chat today: His favorite movies about magicians — aside from the Now You See Me movies of course — are The Prestige and The Illusionist (which both came out in 2006). “Those were amazing movies,” he said. “If I was to pick a favorite between the two, I’d probably go with The Illusionist. I just think Ed Norton was amazing in it.” Lesson learned: Hulks make good illusionists. Okay, Eric Bana, when’s your magician movie coming out? Now You See Me 2 opens in theaters today and also stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe, Jay Chou, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine. »
- Emily Rome
There are few modern filmmakers that are what many would call "purists." These filmmakers shoot only on film, and do everything in their power to keep their visual effects grounded and practical. One such filmmaker is Christopher Nolan, the man who brought audiences such films as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Inception, and Interstellar. While Nolan hasn't been immune to CG, he definitely puts a certain amount of effort into doing practical effects (such as the big rig flipping in The Dark Knight).
As a result, this rumor regarding Nolan's latest film, Dunkirk doesn't come as a huge surprise. Here's what the report from Indie Revolver had to say:
"A source tells me that Warner Brothers recently signed a five million dollar check to purchase a vintage WW2 aircraft, (possibly a German Luftwafee) which will be outfitted with IMAX cameras to be used in what are sure to »
- Joseph Medina
“Now You See Me 2” is the kind of sequel that has all but gone out of fashion: a follow-up to a blockbuster so flaky and off-center that even those who made the original probably never expected it to spawn a second chapter. The new film is an even wilder lark—a madly spinning top of a movie, powered by an eagerness to please that somehow comes off as more innocent than calculated. The film knows that it’s playing you, and in almost every scene invites the audience to embrace the fact that it’s being played. It now feels downright retro, and maybe even a little exotic — in a good way — to encounter a sequel that isn’t all about setting up a five-year plan of franchise plot points. “Now You See Me 2” is more like a giddy piece of cheese from the ’80s, a chance to »
- Owen Gleiberman
This week, Neil Calloway looks forward to the former boy band star appearing in Christopher Nolan’s next film…
This week the first set photos of Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming war film Dunkirk emerged, as well as the news that Tom Hardy had signed up to appear in the film. He joins a cast that includes Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles.
There was some dissent when Styles – better known as a member of One Direction than an actor – was announced as part of the cast. It’s an unusual move, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that Christopher Nolan does.
While Nolan obviously has a regular troupe of actors he uses in different films – Murphy, Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway and Christian Bale have all appeared in his films more than once – he also makes some unexpected casting choices.
Nolan has a habit of resurrecting the »
- Neil Calloway
Hugh Jackman went from big screen Mutant to real-life hero this weekend when he spring to the rescue of a couple kids caught in an Australian riptide. And it was all caught on video. The actor has become known as one of the more generous stars of his generation, and he certainly put his reputation to the test while out enjoying the surf at his local beach. When a dangerous riptide started to pull swimmers out at the beach, he didn't hesitate to jump in and lend a helping hand, perhaps saving a life or too. Two of the children were believed to be his own.
Hugh Jackman was just enjoying a lazy afternoon hanging out on the hot sand when a fierce current began pulling innocent swimmers out to sea. Acting quicker than Wolverine might himself, the actor sprang into action, wading out into the water, grabbing ahold of people, »
Though he has less than a dozen feature films under his belt, Christopher Nolan has become an innovative, force to be reckoned with. From his socially relevant debut, “Following,” to the “Dark Knight” trilogy and “Inception,” Nolan has continually demonstrated his uncanny ability to seamlessly mold a story into a beautiful cinematic archetype. Read More: Christopher Nolan’s Next Movie Is A WWII Film Centered On The Evacuation Of Allied Troops From Dunkirk, France In a new video essay from The Nerdwriter, they focus on Nolan’s fifth film, “The Prestige,” the story of two feuding magicians in a spellbinding, climactically triumphant narrative. Nolan uses this narrative as a powerful force, it’s how he connects with his viewers and draws them in, without, as he likes to put it, deconstructing anything. In other words, “The Prestige” is almost meta-meta-cinematic. It uses multiplicity in plain sight, as the essay suggests, »
- Samantha Vacca
If there’s a single director in Hollywood that probably doesn’t need any more video essays dedicated to his work, it’s Christopher Nolan. Nonetheless, when it comes to perhaps his one of his more under-appreciated features, The Prestige, we’ll make an exception when the video is this well done. Coming from Nerd Writer, he looks at how Nolan immerses us in the story through metacinematic sleight of hand tricks, so to speak.
The film is “all about a trick that moves its object through time and space instantaneously,” akin to film editing, he argues, showing how Nolan was inspired by Terrence Malick‘s The Thin Red Line. “This is Christopher Nolan’s great gift as a film maker: he’s so in tune with the dynamics of film narrative that he can construct a plot with so much forward momentum that even when he gives you all the clues, »
- Jordan Raup
David Bowie. Thin White Duke, Goblin King, Ziggy Stardust, Genius. The world was shocked by his death, so soon after gifting us with his album, Blackstar. Released only days ago on his 69th birthday and intended as a parting gift to us all, David Bowie was wonderful, weird, and surprising until the very end.
While there’s no denying the musical talent Bowie brought to generations through his many albums and character incarnations, the film world has also lost a charismatic actor known for some iconic roles. While Bowie may not have worked steadily as an actor, his roles were carefully chosen and memorable, allowing him to work with some of the most talented directors of the past 40 years.
Whether Bowie is the Goblin King, a beautiful androgynous alien, or the master of the fashion catwalk to you, we look back and celebrate his most iconic performances in film.
- Rachel West and Sasha James
This past weekend we here in Washington DC got a lot of snow. Um… “A whole lot of snow”? …Okay, how about, “a metric ton of snow”? Ooh… “The fourth heaviest snowstorm dating to 1884.” There. I think that sums it up nicely.
Given this, I (not even kidding) have not left my home in five days (but I’m still sane! No really, I promise! The purple bunnies in my pantry told me so.) And of course, being a very practical person, since I knew the storm was coming I ensured I was well-stocked with all the necessary items beforehand. But then, around the end of Day 1, as the snowdrifts began inching into the two-foot range on my windowsills, I began to wonder what I would do to entertain myself if the power went out (taking with it, one might assume, the Internet).
“Ah-ha!” I said to myself. “I have »
- Emily S. Whitten
The late David Bowie brought something down to earth (literally, in one case) to his film acting roles. We look at his film acting roles.
Editor's note: we don't like to run material to generate clicks off the death of someone. We did, however, want to talk about the wonderful film and TV work that the late, great David Bowie has left behind. Hence, we've thus held this piece back to now. If it still feels too soon, then do give it a miss.
David Bowie's state of existence at the time of performing influenced his musical ‘personas’ enormously. Though such characters as Diamond Dogs’ Halloween Jack or Ashes To Ashes’ Pierrot seem superficially too outré and theatrical to be based in anything real, retrospectively we can see a private life exposed: Bowie’s exposure to fame and feelings of being an outsider informed the Ziggy »
Actor gives the performance of her career in Antonio Campos’s eerie study of a news anchor who achieved notoriety in the 70s for killing herself on live TV
Hollywood has never seemed to know quite what to do with Rebecca Hall. The stunning British actor came to the industry’s attention with a scene-stealing turn in Christopher Nolan’s magician thriller The Prestige, shortly followed by a juicy role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But since her arrival, Hall has largely languished with supporting roles in films that in no way prepare you for the breadth she displays in director Antonio Campos’s tragic character study, Christine.
Hall completely immerses herself in the role of Christine Chubbuck in Campos’s stark retelling of the story that led to the television news reporter’s suicide live on air, aged 29, in 1974. It’s one of two films on the »
- Nigel M Smith in Park City, Utah
“Anyone can learn a trick, but doing something that no one else is willing to do makes you a magician. I can do what no one else can,” Bo (Jacob Latimore) attests in a critical moment of confession, avowing his commitment to achieving the extraordinary in “Sleight.” It’s a line that wouldn’t feel out of place in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” as Christian Bale’s thaumaturge pledges similar sacrifices to his craft at all costs. Both characters are obsessive, keep secrets, and lead ruinous double lives, and while “Sleight” is ultimately a much smaller, less impressive beast, it still has plenty of intrigue and allure. Chameleonic and bold, the dramatic thriller is a unique blend of styles and ideas — that one-of-a-kind spot where L.A. street magic, legerdemain, science fiction, romance, drug dealing gang bangers, and limited socio-economic opportunities intersect. Read More: Check Out All Of Our »
- Rodrigo Perez
David Bowie couldn’t have asked for a grander entrance in Christopher Nolan‘s finest film, The Prestige. Walking through a field of electricity, Bowie’s Nikola Tesla greets Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), conducts and produces electricity with his body, and then offers the magician a meal. Even though the real Tesla, a famous germaphobe, probably wouldn’t have shaken […]
- Jack Giroux
Dailies is a round-up of essential film writing, news bits, videos, and other highlights from across the Internet. If you’d like to submit a piece for consideration, get in touch with us in the comments below or on Twitter at @TheFilmStage.
When we were casting The Prestige, we had gotten very stuck on the character of Nikola Tesla. Tesla was this other-worldly, ahead-of-his-time figure, and at some point it occurred to me he was the original Man Who Fell to Earth. As someone who was the biggest Bowie fan in the world, once I made that connection, he seemed to be the only actor capable of playing the part. He had that requisite iconic status, and he was a figure as mysterious as Tesla needed to be. It took me a while to convince him, though—he turned down the part the first time. »
- TFS Staff
Read More: The Magical David Bowie Performance Nobody Appreciates Nearly Enough In the week since David Bowie passed away from liver cancer at age 69, tributes from peers, critics, collaborators and admirers have poured in from across the world on all corners of the Internet. The latest tribute comes from Christopher Nolan, who published a short post on Entertainment Weekly's website earlier today honoring the late musician and actor who provided so much gravitas to Nolan's 2008 psychological drama "The Prestige." "When we were casting 'The Prestige,' we had gotten very stuck on the character of Nikola Tesla," the director writes. "Tesla was this otherworldly, ahead-of-his-time figure, and at some point it occurred to me he was the original Man Who Fell to Earth. As someone who was the biggest Bowie fan in the world, once I made that connection, he seemed to be the only actor capable of playing the part. »
- Zack Sharf
We lost one of the greats in the history of entertainment when David Bowie passed away on January 10. Since then, a number of his collaborators have spoken about what it was like to work with the singer and actor. The man had a number of film roles but one of his last was as the enigmatic inventor Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan.s 2006 film The Prestige. Now, the director has opened up about working with the icon, and why he had to have Bowie in his movie. According to Christopher Nolan, casting the small, but vital role of Nikola Tesla in The Prestige was one of the most difficult actions in the film. As the one character in the movie who was based on a real person, it was important that the man playing him be right for the role. Like all right-thinking people in the world, Nolan is a »
Above: UK one sheet for The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, UK, 1976). Designed and illustrated by Vic Fair.David Bowie, who left our planet this week, appeared in some 20 movies, but his appearances on movie posters are restricted to just a handful of films. Many of his roles, especially in later years, were cameos or small, but significant, character parts. He memorably played Pontius Pilate in Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat (1996), and Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006); he appeared as himself in films as varied as Christiane F. (1981), Zoolander (2001) and Bandslam (2009); and he was endearingly strange as an FBI agent in the opening section of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992).His most important and iconic film role by far is his starring role as the titular alien in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth »
- Adrian Curry
David Bowie’s death came as a shock to many. I had awoken during a night of restless sleep and decided to put on Bowie’s newest album as I tried to fall back asleep. Before I had drifted off again there was an alert on my phone, a rarity that late at night. It was difficult to believe that David Bowie could be dead, so soon after releasing a new album, but the announcement of his death felt even stranger, coming at the moment of my personal connection with his music. There will be no more music from Bowie, but his connection to the arts extends beyond his music. In fact, beyond being a trailblazing musician, Bowie was also an accomplished actor. That part of his oeuvre was understandably subservient to his music, but was nonetheless underrecognized.
Part of what made Bowie’s acting so captivating was that he »
- Brian Marks
David Bowie’s relationship to cinema and acting was characteristically complex and knotty even before he started: He famously had to change his name from Davy Jones because there was already a British actor with that name making major waves in music as part of the mega-hit TV manufactured band, the Monkees.
For an artist who transformed rock and roll music to great acclaim and financial rewards, David Bowie’s work as an actor never matched the notoriety and success of his recordings and concerts. But Bowie accomplished a feat that eluded Elvis and many other pantheon rockers who attempted to crossover from rock stardom to films and starred in a movie that has endured as a legitimate work of art: Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 sci-fi masterwork, “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” (The other contender for that distinction is Mick Jagger, whose “Performance” is ranked as a masterwork of British »
- Steven Gaydos
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