Director Christopher Nolan builds a lot of rules into his movies. From The Prestige to Memento to The Dark Knight, each film is an intricately created network of systems and balances, shapes and lines set in motion against one another. It can be exhilarating, but it can be exhausting. It's certainly distinctive.
The New Yorker's James Verini has written a smart critique of Nolans films in which he discusses their gamelike quality in a far-reaching if not terribly in-depth degree. It's an interesting look at a man whose films can feel overly structured, bracing in their answer-obsessed maleness.
I would argue that a new kind of movie came into being with Ledger's Joker. Let's call it the algorithmic action picture. Viewing "The Dark Knight," and its follow-up, "Inception," you feel as though you haven't pressed "play" on a movie, but rather "start" on a game console, or that you've instructed a computer program to run and are watching its functions. These movies are so frenetically informative and their rules take up so much bandwidth that the screen seems to contain not mise-en-scène but "gameplay," that interactive dance between player and video game.
Verini spends much of his time talking about Inception, writing that it took him a while to realize that the movie suffers from "male-answer syndrome."
"When "Inception" isn't explaining the rules of inception, the trick of implanting ideas in minds that's at the center of its plot, it's explaining the rules of "Inception."'
That sounds familiar! I definitely feel this particular brand of criticism, as it's the same criticism I made on this very website two years ago: