Lifetime Pass: Christopher Nolan

Most everyone is familiar with the concept of the Lifetime Pass: An artist of some stripe -- be they actor, musician, director, or what have you -- puts out work so remarkable that they engender a seemingly inexhaustable supply of goodwill in your heart. Sometimes, it's that a movie, song, or whatever it is becomes your unwavering favorite, and though the artist may not go on to do much else of note (or even slides into actively terrible territory), you will always think of them fondly.

There's another type of Lifetime Pass, though, and that's when an artist has a string of reliably enjoyable work, to the point that his or her name attached to a project means that you're immediately on board, even if you have no idea what it entails.

I tend not to think in terms of directors. I can sort actors into "I like" and "I dislike" piles all day long, but I rarely bother with directors, because for the most part, they're not as easily pigeonholed. I can predict whether I'm going to like a particular actor in a movie, but a director can go either way; making a good or bad movie doesn't really portend how I'll feel about his or her next one.

Christopher Nolan is a notable exception. He's directed seven movies (the upcoming Batman release is his eighth), and there isn't a single stinker in the bunch. He has literally never made a movie I've disliked. Memento. Inception. The Dark Knight. The Prestige. I came away from all of these not only loving the movie, but knowing that when I inevitably watched them again, I'd discover more layers beneath the one I saw on first viewing. I think I've seen Memento a dozen times, and spot something new each time. His movies please the art-house crowd, yet still make gobs of money from the general public.

At this point, he could announce his next film is a fourteen-hour documentary on paint drying, and I'd be first in line. As far as I'm concerned, regardless of his future projects, Christopher Nolan gets to coast on his current reputation for the next sixty years.


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