Friday, May 18, 2012
I didn't think our Following discussion would get this heated...
All right, fine, but it's about to get HOT now that Chris Nolan's biggest supporter is jumping into the mix. I was going to surprise you, John, but I'm changing my twitter handle to "PrestigeFan36" -- 36 being the number of times I've seen it. Who would've thought that a movie about magic would be so magical?
Now that I've got that out of my system...
As stated on the Facebook, I had seen Chris Nolan's Following before and I do own the DVD. Like many people that John and Brandon probably hate :), I was a big fan of Memento back in the early 2000s (and still am). I was such a big fan that I wanted to track down Chris Nolan's first film. Because Netflix didn't exist yet, the only way I could see it was to buy it on-line.
When I watched Following last week, it marked only the second time that I've ever seen it. So yeah, two viewings in the past ten+ years doesn't exactly sound like the greatest of endorsements. My feelings are sort of mixed. I would be slightly shocked if someone was blown away by it. And I do admit, the twists and turns aren't clever enough to get you too excited about the film.
Having said that, like Jeff, I would argue against the idea that Nolan tried to make it overly clever. I fail to see any sort of labored effort on his part. I feel that Following uses "smoke and mirrors" in the same way that The Saint Takes Over does...or yes, more accurately, the way a neo-noir does.
What we have here is a solid first film. Nolan is not talentless; I think we've all seen enough shitty movies to realize this. To call him competent would be putting it mildly. He knows what he's doing, and each film he sets out to make is slightly more ambitious than the last. I can admire that.
I can also appreciate his talents as a storyteller. Even John admits that the premise for Following is interesting...though I will grant you the point that it isn't executed as well as it could've been. In fact, now that I'm thinking about that, I believe that was my main complaint when I saw it for the first time.
But the movie does play with some cool concepts, and the story is still interesting; I can't see too many people bailing on the movie halfway through. Cobb is an intriguing character and I enjoyed the last shot of him disappearing on the London streets. The main character's aimless existence leads him down a dangerous path. It's partly rotten luck, but he does bring it upon himself after breaking one of his own rules. Cobb's con involved a lot of planning and thought, and I get the sense that Chris Nolan does as much when he's writing his scripts.
I mean, the guy wrote/shot a movie about people who hack into someone's mind in order to plant an idea...and we're trying to curb him from filmmaking?? Sure he's overhyped and his films are over-analyzed; sure there might be moments when you get the sense that he's looking for a pat on the back (like most directors). But I admire what he has been able to do over the past fourteen years. I'm not sure why Nolan and Aronofsky get singled out. Maybe if I knew more of their fans I would understand.
Anytime I see one of the Joel Schumacher Batman movies on the TV, I thank the gods (the old and the new) for Chris Nolan. He turned what was one of the campiest, lamest piece of shit franchises and transformed it into something gritty, realistic, and enjoyable. I know many people say that all comic book movies are the same, but I don't get that sense with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
I do agree with a lot of what Jeff wrote about Following, but mostly I'm just speaking for myself here. I'll probably come off as the most defensive Nolan guy, unless Jason wants to be the Robin to my Batman. Also, I didn't really say a lot about the movie because I want leave room for others to jump in and talk about it.
The final twist of this post is that I don't actually like any of Chris Nolan's films. I just support him because we have the same first name.
Can't wait to see The Dark Knight Rises with you, John. I mean that sincerely. I love you.