To this day I cannot understand why people sing paeans in the name of… MoreTo this day I cannot understand why people sing paeans in the name of the director Christopher Nolan, presenting him as an modern auteur. Watching Interstellar the other night, I was convinced, once and for all, that Nolan is not just a shallow director of the highest degree, but also an incompetent one. At least other blockbuster directors like Spielberg and James Cameron are technically competent in their job despite their total shallowness; but Nolan proves himself a failure as a story-teller for reasons explained further down. But enough with the director, let's go to the film.
The first feeling that a relatively experienced eye in films gets by seeing Interstellar is the disastrous rhythm of the work. Ok, this is not Tarkovsky to expect a poetic rhythm, but even as a prose rhythm of classical Hollywood cinema it lacks consistency and fails. This failure is due to the bombastic nature of the storytelling that tries to squeeze drama and emotion every chance it gets; the result is like listening to a piece of music that is in constant fortissimo. There is zero sense of building up to a crescendo, the whole film is one crescento after the other to the point that Nolan must make each scene that follows even more over-the-top to keep the attention of the viewer; of course, in a nearly 3 hour film one cannot sustain such overblown emotion all the time without the work becoming comic. Particular failure must be attributed to the cross-cutting (which Nolan loves as seen in the 3-level dream sequence in Inception, where it was equally problematic) of no less than three different dramatic scenes running at the same time. (This is when Cooper fights with Dr Mann on the frozen planet, while Cooper's daughter fights with her brother on earth, apparently in an argument that is intoduced so arbitrarily.) These cross-cutting techniques pushed to their limit destroy any tension inherent in each individual scene and turn them into a fragmented videoclipish sequence that is glued together by bombastic music. Actually, the whole film in its incoherent form is glued by the ridiculously overblown music by Hans Zimmer, which, with the usual Hollywood modern electro-'epic' cliches, tries to impose some kind of rhythm on the material. Zimmer's music combined with Nolan's direction make the ultimate duo of emotional extortion (along with the duo of Spielberg and John Williams). Every scene tries to spoon-feed you with its meaning and the supposed emotional intensity you ought to feel at that moment. This is the true bankruptcy today of Hollywood cinema in terms of quality.
It is not easy not to laugh in the finale, when the plot twist is revealed, that Cooper was the poltergeist of his daugter's room. When his daughter suddenly comes to the realization of who the ghost was, the story has lost touch with any possible fictional reality and has leaped in the realm of absurdity.
I have't touched yet the ridiculous implicit ideology of the film, which is the real offensive stuff for an elementarily intelligent being. That is the idea of ascribing a totally unscientific value to a scientific theory of explanation such as is that of natural selection. What we have in this film is a sacralization of natural selection and ludicrous notion that humanity will progress forward in a social darwinian theory. Natural selection does not ascribe any positive (or negative) value to evolution and, seen by our insignificant human perspective, it presents more of a vision of hell than of paradise, as it means constant struggle of species and individuals to survive and breed. In an ecosystem like that of a jungle, murder and pain reign supreme in many forms; how did Nolan manage to see it under a Christian perspective (it is Christian to the extent that it seeks transcendence through the future) is beyond me. Hence, we have love that 'transcends' dimensions and other such stuff that defy the limits of any believable story. The implicit ideological ideas promote the American ideals of course, as is obvious from the ultra-annoying southern-American accent of the protagonist, who is the one with the leadership qualities and is contrasted to cynics, who don't believe we landed on the moon (see principal's office scene). This idealization of American rural life. married with science is not the only offence here as, Lazarus, the mission in the name of humanity, flashes its American flag before our eyes every chance it gets.
Let us get back to our scientist cowboy hero. He sacrifices himself in the name of humanity and for Dr. Brand, who is a love-interest. What happens after that bombastic and 'emotional' scene? He goes into a black hole, survives it and then is rescued years later by humans. By making him survive, the narrative tries to set up another emotional scene with him meeting his old daughter. What the hell? Are there any consequences in this world? The guy that dies is of course the 'coward' Dr Mann, while the good guy is saved by the invisible hand of morality. This absence of consequences that hides a moralistic view of the most ridiculous kind exists also in The Dark Knight, where Joker has put people in two boats and bombs in each one and wants to make them choose to kills each other or die all. Of course their 'humanity' prevails in the end and the decide not to kill each other but... nobody dies because Batman saves the day. Such juvenile messages have bad taste and are also dangerous.
The performances have zero intersts as the characters have zero interest and the actors play versions of themselves.
One would expect, at least, the film to be visually stunning. It is not. The sci-fi tropes seen are much less awe-inspiring than Kubricks 2001 despite the new technologies. That is because technology is not enough, especially in an age where digital images can create anything. What is needed is artistic direction. It doesn't help that the heroes do not seem very awe-inspired themselves when they encounter such things as a wormhole or a black hole. What the hell! They are about to enter a wormhole and they exchange smart-ass coments casually, instead of trying to recover their jaws from the floor?!
This film does not deserve such a long review, (which could be much longer by the way, if we wanted to cover every fault) but seeing how much people, even critics, seem to praise Nolan's junk, I feel I have to write this as a protest against the state of criticism today.