Monday, December 21, 2015

nolan =/= soderbergh

Maybe it was the way the air-stuffed Wonder Bread quality of Inception won such excited puffery from the experts, maybe the ego already was on its asymptotic trajectory, but either way, Christopher Nolan seems convinced he has the atmospheric and other hard-to-quantify chops of a Stephen Soderbergh.

Why else would he try to top Soderbergh's interpretation of Solaris?

The thing that makes Soderbergh's Solaris so good is that it doesn't ape-but-modernize when using the same source novel as Tarkovsky.  It sets up the psychologically tense, wrong-footing-at-every-turn landscape a little better than Tarkovsky's version.  Tarkovsky's version is Tarkovsky:  see The Sacrifice.

Nolan seems to be trying for meld-aping both Solyaris and The Sacrifice while modernizing the mix.  A tiny thumbnail version of The Sacrifice, and the something-like-style of Solyaris.  But again -- modernized.  Thus the wicked coolness of the visuals while moving through the wormhole, or the Iceland-located barrenness that served as Mann's planet.

While watching Interstellar I thought of grabbing my .mp3 player and using its dictation-recording ability.  There were so many scientific SNAFUs that should not have escaped the attention of the Greatest Science Minds on Earth, I was MST3King the show.  But to no real audience.

Just for one big clusterfuggle:  why would they think two planets sitting next to a black hole would have stable environments?  And stable for a long time?  Not prone to being affected by the wicked anomalous stuff going on right next door?

They land on each and are surprised that each is barren.  "But the reports were so positive!"

Supposedly it's a "plot twist" caused by Michael Caine's nihilism.

In any case, there isn't much more to say at this end.  It's said better, and funnier, by a reviewer on IMDB named ruskin-462-304151, you can find it here, it should be top of the pile.


Chet Redweld said...

Taking almost a full day to think about that entry above and Nolan's attempt at making Citizen Kane, while also contemplating the Fallout:New Vegas add-on Old World Blues I recently played to conclusion, a few things struck me.

1) FNV:OWB does a better job of showing The Greatest Minds in Science, though again it helps to know the difference between irony, parody and satire when playing it through and learning the history of Big MT and the Think Tank.

2) The nihilism of Doctor Mobius in Big MT is more understandable than the nihilism of Professor Brand (the elder, so Caine not Hathaway). The "plot twist" of Interstellar doesn't fit the mythology created by the brothers Nolan, which is that science/progress will save humanity even after fits and starts. Mobius's response to the Think Tank's solipsistic SCIENCE IS KING! PROGRESS IS EVERYTHING!! is not really nihilistic at all compared to Brand's intentional 20+ years of lying for profit but still nudging humanity toward ETERNAL PROGRESS through SCIENCE(-as-technology).

3) Nolanville would be a bad place to live in the future; Avellone Nation probably would be more interesting and less full of self-deceit and graft-apology.

Chet Redweld said...

In case the Mobius reference, the FNV:OWB reference, etc are gibberish to you: