Tom, you must be joking. Whatever else Nolan is, dreary he’s not. His films have refreshed and elevated popular entertainment. Employing the tool box made available by contemporary filmmaking technologies, he never settles for what other directors so often do today: spectacle for spectacle sake. His films from Memento onward challenge the audience to think about the issues of constructing a moral identity and accepting responsibility for one’s acts. Granted, Inception disappoints on a number of planes and is conspicuously self-indulgent, but it’s also gloriously daring in what it undertakes. What other contemporary movie do you know that takes seriously one of Western culture’s most important themes: the inevitable tragedy of temporal creatures trying to rise above their mortal limitations? The protagonist’s wife has chosen to exist in a beautiful abstraction of life rather than accept the consequences of time and change. (Though French, she’s very American.) Both she and the protagonist pay dearly for her hubris. I was hard on this film in my review, harder than I should have been it now occurs to me. Nolan has been bringing an entirely new dimension to popular film and though he fails in some outings, he deserves to be honored for his attempts to invest the medium with a vision generally missing from today’s screen. Besides, how can we dismiss a film that so astonishingly reprises Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in Royal Wedding?
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