July at Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second is destined to be dominated by a pair of British filmmakers. The weekend of July 20th sees two of the most anticipated film events of 2012, recognising aspects of both the archival and the achingly mainstream, in the shape of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, the final part in his genre-shifting superhero series, and the large-scale reissue of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger, that filmmakers earliest masterpiece. 

While The Lodger isn’t getting a full theatrical release as such, it will be playing in art-house cinemas up and down the land, courtesy of satellite-powered live screenings of the restored and restored version of the film that forms part of the British Film Institute’s The Genius Of Hitchcock season. We’ve already explained at length how we’ll be celebrating the season remotely (I) by attempting to take in every single film in the Master Of Suspense’s oeuvre, which will be accompanied by a number of related articles covering the finest supplementary material on the director too.

While not nearly as ambitious a project, given that he’s only produced seven films to date, we’ll also be dedicating the same sort of coverage to Christopher Nolan over the next couple of weeks. This kicks off tomorrow with a look at The Prestige, the directors sole period piece and one of his most interesting works. Nolan satisfies a demand for grand scale spectacle told well, and to say I’m excited about what the somewhat illusive (II) filmmaker has up his sleeve for the upcoming closer to his Batman series. Batman Begins was named Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second’s 4th greatest film of the previous decade (III), with it’s 9/11-riffing commentary on a post-Twin Towers USA a remarkable picture 7 years on, with anticipation at fever pitch for his follow-up (there may even be a case to be made that The Dark Knight Rises is the most anticipated film of the modern age). There’s a specific kind of anticipation that comes with films in the post-digital era, with the widespread and widescale vocal dissenter at the heart of much of it. I’m keen to see the reaction to this. 

 It seems mightily appropriate that it’s Hitchcock and Nolan that are the two key filmmakers that are under scrutiny. While much is made of the parallels between the two (both being expatriates, both essentially having the run of a major Hollywood studio, etc) I’m going to cite Patrick McGilligan and his biography on Hitchcock, A Life In Darkness And Light, with a statement that seems as good a match for Nolan as it does Hitchcock.

“No matter how much Alfred Joseph Hitchcock streaked his film with comedy and entertainment, they portrayed a world tilting toward madness and horror”. 

One is also reminded of the almost dismissive attitude from the self-declared high-brow towards Nolan (IV), which is essentially the same afforded by Hitchcock in his heyday. As Francois Truffaut recalls in the preface to the revised edition of his book-length interview with Hitchcock, many fellow critics in the early 1960’s would often ask him “Why do the critics of Cahiers du Cinéma take Hitchcock so seriously? He’s rich and successful, but his movies have no substance.”. While time has proven that Hitchcock’s movies were so much more than deemed by some in 1962, it’ll be interesting to see how the latter-day Nolan fares with time.  

Further reading –

(I) Outlining HitchLies24
(II) Christopher Nolan: No 3D, no cell phone, lots of diagrams
(III) Batman Begins in the Hope Lies best of the decade
(IV) Why Christopher Nolan is not the new Stanley Kubrick 


My entry for last weeks IndieWire Critics Survey on Underrated Auteurs.