Back in 2014, I ended my Taki’s review of Christopher Nolan’s ambitious but imperfect Interstellar by suggesting that his blockbuster-every-two-years schedule was too rapid even for a writer-director of Nolan’s talents. (Likewise, Nolan’s 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises had also suffered fit-and-finish problems.) But, I concluded:
If the next Nolan movie takes until 2017 or 2018 to perfect, I’ll be there the day it comes out.
So I was there on opening day for 2017’s most anticipated film, Dunkirk, Nolan’s account of the British Army’s narrow escape from the beaches of northern France in the spring of 1940.
Not only has Dunkirk benefited from Nolan taking a few more months than he did on his last several movies, but he has also solved most of my other complaints about his films. Even his impressive 2010 hit Inception suffered from Nolan’s tendencies toward excessive length, overintellectualized complication, and claustrophobia.
If Nolan’s features did only as well at the box office as, say, the Coen brothers’ movies, I’d be inclined to downplay his flaws and instead offer eloquent defenses of Nolan’s artful airlessness and propensity to ramp up the cognitive demands of even a Batman movie.
But his films have been so successful, with four grossing over $675 million worldwide, that Nolan’s virtues hardly need my articulation. Moreover, the director does well with critics, too. In a recent Guardian poll of reviewers to anoint the best films of the new century, Nolan tied for first place among directors with three top 100 movies (Memento, Dark Knight, and Inception).