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Christopher Nolan’s preferred actors.

Christopher Nolan’s preferred actors. (photo)

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The web is celebrating the tiny announcement from Sir Michael Caine that “Batman 3” starts shooting next April. More interesting is that the announcement came from Caine, who is now poised to have acted in five consecutive Christopher Nolan movies, more or less making him the Bill Murray to Nolan’s Wes Anderson.

This is not an insignificant pairing from either party’s POV. Caine’s done plenty of fine work, but he’s also notoriously pragmatic and available to the highest bidder. He’s worked with some great directors (John Huston, Woody Allen, Brian De Palma), and he’s also made “Miss Congeniality” and “On Deadly Ground.” Presumably Nolan’s films have a high enough budget at this point to accommodate whatever Sir Michael’s price might be, but it’s still his longest collaboration.

So what does Nolan see in Caine, Christian Bale (who, beyond playing Batman, also starred in “The Prestige”) and Cillian Murphy (who comes along for the ride in “Inception”)? Those are pretty much the only actors he’s used consistently.

07092010_prestige.jpgBecause Nolan movies tend to be about highly abstract ideas, the most compelling characters are those as obsessed with abstractions as Nolan: the dueling magicians in “The Prestige” are, attendently, his two most compelling leads. Batman/Bruce Wayne lives in abstractions, as does the Joker. (One reason Aaron Eckhart isn’t as compelling a villain is because he doesn’t really stand for anything after he turns from Dent to Two-Face; he goes from a dude with an ideal to just a guy out for revenge.)

Christian Bale is able to use his frame to convey tense belief in what he’s talking about; Michael Caine, by contrast, is a man who can lower the belligerence level in any room he enters without even appearing to do anything. I think Nolan’s smart enough to know that his movies are always on the verge of collapsing into overly-brooding seriousness if he doesn’t have some characters whose job is to stay collected and unmoved in the frenzy. Bale brings the tension; Caine defuses it. Other actors come and go as the spirit moves Nolan’s abstractions.

[Photos: “The Dark Knight,” Warner Bros., 2008; “The Prestige,” Buena Vista, 2006]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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