Shakespeare's plays are divided into comedies, histories and tragedies
but those three categories, or genres, only begin to describe the rich variety of forms in contemporary movies. For example,
the simple western can be broken down into sub-categories that include the Native American or the psychological western. Similarly, the crime film comes in many shapes and sizes, each with its own formal
qualities that we instantly recognize. First in Memento and now in Insomnia, Christopher Nolan uses the crime film as a means
to explore the moral and psychological extremities of human behavior. Insomnia isn't plot-driven in the usual sense. Like
a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy, we know what's going to happen. At the same time, we're taken inside the characters so that
we live through their dilemmas. Dormer is pushed to the edge by his nemesis, a mysterious crime fiction writer called Walter
Finch, who somehow knows what's going on in his head. **taken
from "Insomnia" the review, September 1, 2002
Al Pacino plays the veteran cop, looking like a man who has lost all hope.
His partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) is younger, more resilient and may be prepared to tell the internal affairs investigators
what they want to know--information that would bring the older man down. They have been sent up north to help with a local
investigation, flying into Nightmute in a two-engine prop plane that skims low over jagged ice ridges. They'll be assisting
a local cop named Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), who is still fresh with the newness of her job.
the first film directed by Christopher Nolan since his famous "Memento" (2001), is a remake of a Norwegian film of the same
name, made in 1998 by Erik Skjoldbjaerg. That was a strong, atmospheric, dread-heavy film, and so is this one. Unlike most
remakes, the Nolan "Insomnia" is not a pale retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good
play......Pacino takes a more physical approach: How much longer can he carry
this burden? The story involves an unexpected development a third of the way through, and then the introduction of a character
we do not really expect to meet, not like this. The development is the same in both movies; the character is much more important
in this new version, adding a dimension I found fascinating.
*from the review by Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun
Times dated May 24, 2002
“When does it get dark around here,” Will
Dormer asks the local cops in Nightmute,
Alaska, the halibut fishing capital of the world, and they only smile. During the summer months this far north of the Arctic Circle, the only darkness,
as the Shadow liked to say, lurks in the hearts of men, and there is plenty to go around.
They have come to Alaska not only to aid the authorities
of the small town of Nightmute in finding a killer, but to temporarily escape the spotlight of an Internal Affairs investigation. Will (Pacino) is greeted like a legend in Nightmute, especially by Officer Ellie Burr
(Hilary Swank), who hero-worships him.
**A Film Review by James
Berardinelli dated 5/24/2002
Dormer : Randy, this whole thing you're
doing, you know, this "fuck the world" act. Now that might work with your mama. It might even work with a couple of these
local cops, who have known you long enough to figure you're too dumb ever to kill anyone without leaving a couple of witnesses
and a signed confession.
Ain't gonna work with me, because I know things, you understand? I know you beat your girlfriend.
I know she was seeing somebody else. Somebody she might have even gone to see after she walked out on you Friday night. Now,
you're gonna tell us who that somebody might be? Or are you so fucking stupid, you're going to leave yourself as the last
person to see Kay Connell alive?
his low-key approach to the part, Robin Williams manages to submerge his highly visible, volatile personality. Walter is not
a ranting, over-the-top killer but a clear-eyed, logical individual.
**A Film Review by James
The face of
the killer, the first time we see it, comes as a shock, because by now we may have forgotten Robin Williams was even in the
film. He plays Walter Finch, who does not really consider himself a murderer, although his killing was cruel and brutal. These
things happen. Everyone should be forgiven one lapse. Right, detective?
Insomnia the review by Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun Times dated May 2002
Dormer : You don't get it do you Finch? You're
my job. You're what I'm paid to do. You're about as mysterious to me as a blocked toilet is to a fucking plumber. Reasons
for doing what you did? Who gives a fuck?
Finch : You have no evidence I killed Kay.
You only know because I told you what I saw.
Midnight Sun is very much a character in Insomnia. Some of the most memorable images are of Will trying to shut out
the light at night so he can get some sleep. As the movie progresses, and Will's lack of sleep becomes evident, Nolan incorporates
this into the film's look. The shots become agitated. Unusual angles and blurred images are more commonplace. Pacino's acting
and demeanor feed into this; his manner grows more unstable and his appearance is more haggard.
Det. Ellie Burr : A good cop can't sleep because
he's missing a piece of the puzzle. And a bad cop can't sleep because his conscience won't let him.
|Dormer: "Let me sleep." (Pacino's last line)
Behind the scenes...with Christopher Nolan
Nolan's reputation as a thoughtful yet exciting director who treats his material - and his audience - with respect. Built
with care around a wonderful cast, Insomnia is a gripping film that never flags from the opening scene. Intelligent, perceptive
and completely engrossing, Insomnia is one of the best thrillers of the year. **David Edwards,
article May 2002 titled "Sleepless in Alaska".
Christopher Nolan: "Certainly Insomnia I think touches on certain things that you know can't be discussed in everyday
life and you know shouldn't be but there's validity in exploring those things through fictional characters and seeing where
it takes them."
"And in the case of Pacino I think the thing that's easy to overlook with what he does in the film is that because
of the story you have a character who can't tell anybody what he's really doing, what he's really thinking, what he's really
feeling and yet everybody understands the plot of the film I think very easily and that's only because of what he can do with
his eyes, what he can do with his body because he's saying one thing, thinking another and the audience is completely understanding
Hear more comments from Chris Nolan on
your copy of Insomnia on DVD. Includes an exclusive, one on one interview with Chris Nolan and Al Pacino along with
many other special features.
Chris Nolan: Al in addition to just being one of the finest
actors who ever lived is someone who has this great star appeal that I felt the character demanded to draw the audience in
to this very dark situation.
**from interview with Christopher Nolan @ christophernolan.net
Under the scenes!
"I did some of those runs and thought I'd check myself in the
hospital," says Pacino, 62. "You pray that somebody will yell cut and it will be over. After those action scenes,
I'd touch myself to make sure everything was still there." It wasn't much easier when he pursued the bad guy in the
1995 drama "Heat." "I remember chasing Bobby Deniro around 3 a.m.," says Pacino. "I didn't warm up and boom, there
went my hamstring. I was like, "Great, I feel like old Al. Then I realized, I AM old Al." The icon accepts the
inevitable. "I guess I have to keep in shape as I get older," he says. "But I don't like to work out. Whenever
I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes."
*from People Magazine, June 17, 2002
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