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#023 Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight vs. Insomnia

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In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Christopher Nolan's best and worst rated films, The Dark Knight (2008) and Insomnia (2002), respectively. Austin and Nate both miss Robin Williams speak for everyone when they agree that Inception is the greatest movie ever made. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Howard Hawk's Rio Bravo (1959) and Red Line 7000 (1965), his best and worst rated films.

Also check out this behind the scenes footage from The Dark Knight:

Insomnia Notes
Worst Rated
PLOT: Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.
  • Ratings: IMDb 7.2 | RT 92% C / 76% A
  • Released: 2002
  • Director: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception)
  • Writer(s): Hillary Seitz (screenplay), Nikolaj Frobenius and Erik SkjoldbjΓ¦rg (1997 screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Wally Pfister (Inception, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises)
  • Notable actors: Al Pacino, Martin Donovan, Hilary Swank, Paul Dooley, Nicky Katt, Robin Williams
  • Budget: $46 million
  • Box office: $113.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Will Dormer's name comes from the Spanish word "dormir" - to sleep.
    • As of 2016, this is the only film directed by Christopher Nolan in which Nolan does not have an official writing credit - even though he wrote the final draft of the screenplay himself.
    • Insomnia (2002) and Following (1998) are the only movies directed by Christopher Nolan that are not listed in IMDb's Top 250 as of 2016. His other 7 movies are a part of the best 250 movies ever made as voted by IMDb users.
    • Robin Williams speaks his first line 47 minutes into the movie and he doesn't appear on screen until 58 minutes in. His character, Walter Finch, does appear earlier in the film, but is not identifiable and is possibly played by a stand-in.
    • Although primarily known for comedic roles, this is one of two thrillers in which Robin Williams starred in the same year. The other being One Hour Photo.
    • The film is a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, which Stellan SkarsgΓ₯rd is cast, while the 2002 remake stars Robin Williams. Both Robin and Stellan worked together in the critically acclaimed film, Good Will Hunting (1997).

The Dark Knight Notes
Best Rated
PLOT: When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the caped crusader must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice.
  • Ratings: IMDb 9.0 | RT 94% C / 94% A
  • Released: 2008
  • Director: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception)
  • Writer(s): Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Bob Kane
  • Cinematographer: Wally Pfister (Inception, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises)
  • Notable actors: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Ron Dead, Cillian Murphy, Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Anthony Michael Hall, Keith Szarabajka, Colin McFarlane, Joshua Harto, William Fichtner
  • Budget: $185 million
  • Box office: $1.005 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • In Sir Michael Caine's opinion, Heath Ledger beat the odds and topped Jack Nicholson's Joker from Batman (1989): "Jack was like a clown figure, benign but wicked, maybe a killer old uncle. He could be funny and make you laugh. Heath's gone in a completely different direction to Jack, he's like a really scary psychopath. He's a lovely guy and his Joker is going to be a hell of a revelation in this picture." Caine bases this belief on a scene where the Joker pays a visit to Bruce Wayne's penthouse. He'd never met Ledger before, so when Ledger arrived and performed he gave Caine such a fright he forgot his lines.
    • Heath Ledger designed the Joker make-up himself, using white clown makeup and cosmetics from a drugstore, reasoning that since the Joker himself would design and apply it, Ledger should do so as well. Once his design was approved, the makeup team was responsible for replicating the look each day for filming.
    • Heath Ledger's sudden death on January 22, 2008 prompted immediate speculation over the film's state. Soon after Ledger's tragic passing was announced, Warner Bros. Pictures issued a statement that verified that Ledger had finished all of his scenes in principal photography, as well as post-production fulfillments (i.e., looping), thus making The Joker his final, completed film role.
    • In preparation for his role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker's every tic, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh (for the voice, Ledger's goal was to create a tone that didn't echo the work Jack Nicholson did in his 1989 performance as the Joker). Ledger's interpretation of The Joker's appearance was primarily based on the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell's character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange (1971).
    • Heath Ledger directed both homemade videos that the Joker sends to GCN himself. The first video involving the fake Batman was done under Christopher Nolan's supervision. Nolan thought Ledger had done so well with that sequence, he felt there was no need for him to be there when it came time to film the scene where reporter Mike Engel reads the Joker's statement. He put his trust in Ledger and let him do whatever he wanted, ultimately pleased with the result after he'd seen the outcome.
    • The first film to be ranked #1 on the IMDb within two days of its theatrical release.
    • Made more money than Batman Begins's entire domestic run in only 6 days of release.
    • Trouble arose during a PR campaign before the movie's release,when a website related to the film sent out several cakes purportedly from The Joker, containing a cell phone inside which made the cake vibrate, and had wires sticking out, making the cake look like a bomb. One such news station which received one of the cakes, believed it to be an actual terrorist act, and the entire building had to be evacuated.
    • Heath Ledger came up with the idea that the Joker should have white makeup on his hands, implying that the Joker would have applied his facial makeup himself and gotten his hands dirty in the process.
    • While filming the chase scene with the Joker and the SWAT vans, one of only four IMAX cameras in the world at that time was destroyed.
    • Christopher Nolan and his co-writers, Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer, made the decision very early on not to explore The Joker's origins. This was so the character could be presented as an "absolute".

  Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down - Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0

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