04 November 2021 359 Views

Downey and Nolan: a match made in Movie Heaven?

by James Murphy

OPPENHEIMER is good to go:

With the best actor/director combo, ever..

I know I make fun of Christopher Nolan a lot. No. I make fun of the reverence with which he is treated. I loathed TENET. Thought DUNKIRK ok. INTERSTELLAR v clever but knew it. INCEPTION a fun James Bond riff with added psycho analysis and sfx. THE DARK KNIGHT is overrated imho. And yet..my annoyance is simply that the bar for great is low, rather than being in any doubt that Nolan is himself a literate, passionate, decent, inspirational director. Above all? He gave me THAT café in Florence motif in DARK KNIGHT RISES. Often copied. Never bettered. Adorable.

As for ‘Bob’ Downey? Well I think everyone knows, by now, how highly I rate his talents. I saw CHAPLIN when I was a 12 /13 year old boy. I was entranced.

This actor had genius: Downey not only captured Charlie Chaplin but topped that by being funnier than said subject. He is right up there in the pantheon of greats with Olivier, Brando, Pacino Nicholson, Hackman, Duvall and co. 

And of course he gave us all IRON MAN / Tony Stark. Our cinematic lives remain the poorer in that character’s absence but we can all be grateful to have enjoyed the performance for the ten years it was granted.

So, as a team? NOLAN + DOWNEY = MAGIC! The movie is a biopic of sorts. OPPENHEIMER and the creation /legacy of the first nuclear bomb. Nolan can bring his thoughtful, measured, prosaic filmmaking to a meditation on the invention that both ended a war and yet created the threat of something far worse.

Downey gets a supporting part (he is not the titular scientist), meaning he can enhance the project, flex his acting muscles a bit but not have to carry the whole endeavour. Plenty of time for FOOTPRINT COALITION and Sherlock Holmes 3. And he’s right at home in period piece historical /political, provocative drama, having featured in George Clooney’s GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. 

In a way, this is Tony Stark done for serious genre purpose, as Iron Man 2-3 and some Avengers plots sort of went ‘there’ (what have I created ? etc..) and this allows the actor to replay those beats but in a differing key. He will add box office credentials aplenty and a certain levity to the set and promotion, without ever demeaning the seriousness of the subject matter. Bravo!

These two geniuses will work well together. Downey’s energy will ensure Nolan refrains from becoming too ponderous or pretentious either on set or in an edit. And Nolan will in turn elicit an intellectual investment and raw, honest, improv sensibility from Downey.

These are two fine craftspeople at the peak of their power. There is also the super-hero connection. Iron Man was often compared against The Dark Knight trilogy and Downey was once mooted to play both Joker and Lex Luthor. Small world!

If this goes well? Expect a best director gong for Nolan and FINALLY the Oscar that Downey should have won years ago, possibly this time round settling for best supporting actor? And setting up, a further, fuller collaboration on NAPOLEON? As in the lost Kubrick project, finished by Downey and Nolan? Just think of it!

BEST OF LUCK TO ALL INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE IT!

 



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