After seeing The Prestige I decided that Christopher Nolan is the best film director of the century (so far). To back this up, I offer up his oevre of full-length films to date: The Prestige, Batman Begins, Insomnia, Memento, and Following.
You probably haven’t heard of Following, because it’s a low-budget black-and-white feature from 1999 starring only part-time actors. But even as his first full-length film, it already shows many of Nolan’s trademarks: a twisty plot, back-stabbing characters who are a lot darker than they at first seem, and a tense narrative that flits back and forth in time in a manner crafted to conceal and seduce rather than to blind and confuse.
The story starts with an unemployed writer who decides to follow random people on the street. Not in a scary stalky way, but just to learn more about who they are, and what they do. But when he follows the same mysterious man twice, he gets caught in the act. This man, Cobb, turns out to be a burglar. He introduces the writer to his techniques, and gets him to try a couple of break-ins himself. And then things start to go really wrong.
The only place you’ll probably be able to find this is an on-line rental service, but if you liked any of Nolan’s other films, I think you’ll find it worth your while to put it in your queue.
Yet more proof, if any was needed, that it’s really hard to make a good time travel film. This one is better than most, but it still has plot holes large enough to drive a medium-sized family car through. And they just distract from everything else going on. Still, it’s good to see Val Kilmer getting good work again.
Tense and emotional thriller about a diamond smuggler who discovers his conscience. Although it gets a bit melodramatic and overly “worthy” at the end, I was gripped throughout. (I think I may have mentioned this before, but I really think that Leonardo DiCaprio has turned into one of the best actors of my generation. His performance here is brilliant as always.)
This has been called “The Godfather of spy films”, and it’s easy to see the comparison. Even leaving aside Francis Ford Coppola’s involvement, both movies are intense, measured examinations of family, loyalty, secrecy and betrayal.
Although I love spy action films, I actually much prefer my spy stories to delve into the mechanics and politics behind the scenes. The Good Shepherd does this magnificently. Don’t expact any big explosions or hyperactive stunts. Do expect a set of awesome performances from an all-star ensemble cast. In particular, Matt Damon’s depiction of cautious, withdrawn spymaster Edward Wilson could hardly be further removed from his turn as Jason Bourne. Very highly recommended.
Entertaining rubbish; but quite thoroughly amiable.
Decent adaptation, somewhat let down by Americanized dialogue that just doesn’t sound right coming from British actors.
Strong performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman, but a fairly cold and detached film. Given the story and the characters, this seems appropriate. Good to have watched, but not something I’ll be returning to in a hurry.