The Misinception of Chris Nolan

In Pat Black on July 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm


Christopher Nolan blew back a strand of strayfully bodisome blond hair and looked in the mirror.

            “Now there,” he said, chuckling, “is a fine-looking man.”

            The mirror blinked, and then frowned. “Uh, thanks, Mr Nolan. Are you feeling alright?”

            “Whoah.” It wasn’t a reflection, it was… goodness, it was Leonardo Di Caprio. “But… you look just like me, with the tie, and the baby blues, and the wavy landslide hair, and… I need to write this down. This is important.” He did, too, clicking at his BlackBerry.

            Di Caprio drained a glass of scaatch. “Well… I’m sure it is. I’ll, uh, be going now. Great party, Mr Nolan. I have to go and, uh, keep my mildly cool resume updated.”

            “Yes, do, do,” said Nolan. “Oh, tell me. Where are you on the Newman Scale now? You’re what, a Level Four? Pretty boy turned full-fledged serious actor, but still a leading man? Is that the Brad Pitt?”

            “Sure is.” The Di Caprio grin. “Now it gets difficult. I’m going for Level Five. The Depp. Beautiful man unsure of own face, has to go all weird and dark to make sense of it. That’s where I want to be. A character actor in all but cheque.”

            “Sure thing.” Nolan gestured to the table, littered with party debris – cocktail sticks, lonesome quiches, empty bottles, lines upon lines of coke destined for the dustbin as usual. “Um… you sure you don’t want to take some?”

            Di Caprio was good at playing the innocent. “Some..? Come again?”

            “Oh come on. You want a slice, don’t you? To take home? To share with a lady friend, maybe?”

            “Gee. Well I’m not sure if I can, Mr Nolan. You throw a mean party and all, I hate to take advantage of your hospitality…” But he was rubbing his palms against his trouser legs. That was a “tell”, Nolan knew. Or eczema, maybe.

            “Nonsense, mate, nonsense. Come on, have a slice of Credibility.”

            “Are you sure? No… I couldn’t. I’m full. And I’ve had loads from working with Scorsese again on Shutter Island. I’ll get fat on that stuff.” But he was licking his lips.

            “Oh come on, don’t be shy now. I’ve got lots of it to go around. I’m Trusted. You know – ‘In Nolan We Trust’?”

            Di Caprio couldn’t take his eyes off the Credibility. It had been under glass all night, and no-one had dared cut a slice, not even Eric Roberts. Nolan sauntered over, did the necessary with a knife and wrapped a slice of it in cling film before handed it over.

“The man was throwing it around,” Di Caprio would explain to his friends later, in the slightly embarrassing style of his ‘shark attack’ monologue in The Beach. “I mean he was giving it away…”

            Di Caprio quickly stuffed the Credibility into his inside pocket. “Thanks, for everything. Just one thing, before I go?”

            “If it’s A Body Of Work you’re after, you’ll have to speak to your agent,” Nolan said.

            “Ha ha. No. What I want to know is… did you have a plan for Inception from the beginning, or did you just make it up as you went along?”

            “Inception… Making it up as I went along… Did I?” Suddenly Nolan looked exhausted. Predictably, he smoothed back the floppy haircut as it bounced over his forehead like a keen little spaniel. “Did I, now?” He slumped into a chair. Batman had left his cape and cowl draped over the back, perhaps symbolically, perhaps not.

            Di Caprio shuddered. “Uh, I’d better go. It doesn’t matter. It’s a great movie. Everyone says so. See you around.” And the star strode down the path, tearing off chunks of Credibility even before he reached the limo at the bottom of the drive.

            Nolan sagged in his seat, alone at last in the big, dark, silent house. With the door closed, everything went sort of bluey-grey, like a Michael Mann movie.  “Did I?” he whispered to himself. “Did I have themes? Did I have an idea? Or was I just playing with myself?”

            “But of course ya blaahdy had themes,” one of the shadows said. A very tall, very English butler appeared, in full evening attire with great, thick Harry Palmer spectacles on.

            “Caine.” Nolan’s curiously squashy face relaxed. “Am I glad to see you.”

            “I thought I’d see if ya wanted some suppah before I started tidying this blaahdy place up.”

            “I’m sorry? Wanted some what?”


            “Oh, supper! Of course. Sorry. Sometimes I get a bit confused by your superb accent.”

            “It is great. Down to earth, innit? Street smart, but waaaawm. You feel like you’ve known me all yer blaahdy life.”

            “I’m so glad I have you as a trusted father figure in all my movies, Caine. But, no, no supper for me tonight. I’ve got something to clear up, myself. The mystery of Inception, the key to what it means. And you’d make the perfect guide.”

            “Well, I’m yer man, Bob’s yer auntie. You mind if I, er..?”

            “No, help yourself,” Nolan said, but Caine was already stuffing handfuls of Credibility into his mouth.

            “Mmm. Yes.” Caine licked his fingers. “That’s the blaahdy stuff. Now. You want to know the secret of Inception?”

            Nolan nodded, and sighed. “It’s like I forgot about it… The whole reason for making it… I mean, you do so many interviews… you speak to internet fanboys… you get all shy and defensive and people mistake you for being really clever, and before you know it – bang. You forgot what the fuck you were saying.”

            “Well, if we’re looking for answers, why don’t we explore Nolan Manor?”

            “A good idea. Let’s go into the study.”


Caine lit a candle and led the way through the old, dark house. Shadows seemed to dance on the walls, and the paintings of the Nolan ancestors grinned and winked at them as they passed.

            “Hey,” Nolan said, taking a closer look. “What the hell’s going on with the paintings?”

            Most of Nolan’s ancestors were in dark blue suits with little Leo Di Caprio haircuts and beards – the men as well. But something had been added to their faces.

            “Red lipstick… black eyeliner… white greasepaint… Someone’s vandalised these, Caine! It’s an outrage!”

            Caine frowned at the ghastly, grinning faces, holding the flickering candle close to them. “I think I have my suspicions as to who the culprit is, Master Nolan.”

            “When I get my hands on them… I mean, what’s with this emo shit? I do dark, Caine, but I don’t do emo. That’s where I draw the line.”

            “It appears someone would disagree with you, sir.”

            A shrill, high-pitched laugh sounded somewhere down the corridor, and both men stiffened.

            “This is all getting a bit too Poltergeist for my liking, Caine,” Nolan said. “I think I might be getting the willies.”

            “Perfectly understandable, sir. You’re a blaahdy dark man with a blaahdy dark imagination.”

            “Hold my hand.”

            “I’ll need a few more slices of Credibility for that.”

            “Don’t push it.”

            A door burst open in the hallway and both men flinched; but a child emerged, in a stripy red and white T-shirt and shorts, with a retro-1950s space helmet on his head. He pointed a toy ray gun at the pair, and it buzzed and flashed as he triggered it.

            “Pow pow! Pow pow!” the child said, quite unnecessarily. “Chris, is it alright if I come down to the party now? I’m hungry in here.”

            Nolan lunged forward and bundled the boy back into the doorway. “How did you get out there? Get back inside, quick!”

            “But I turned out the script for the new Batman, like you asked me to,” the boy whined, producing sheaves of notepaper from a back pocket. They were overwritten with crayon and felt tip pen, none of the letters joined up. “Please, Chris, you said I could, you promised-”

            Nolan slammed the door with an effort, and fumbled for a set of keys in his pocket. “I told you, Jonah, give me some ideas on what the hell I should do with Superman then we talk about parties and freedom!” He sighed and shook his head as he finally found a key and turned it in the lock. “Kid brothers, Caine. What can you do?”

            Moving on, they reached the end of the corridor, coming to an open staircase. The stairways above intersected and cut over each other, and in the flickering candlelight it was difficult to tell which steps led upwards and which ones descended.

            “Look!” Nolan cried. “There’s a man up there! And he’s… he’s upside down!”

            There was a man up there. He seemed to be standing completely at odds to all notions of physics, hanging downwards from the ceiling.

            “Yes…” Nolan said. “It’s coming back to me now. This is a clue. Escheresque confusion, the logic of dreams, all interlocking… folding over… identity, retreading over old memories and making new ones… the physics, the actual physics of it… yes… that’s it.”

            “No,” Caine said, “it’s just Bale pretending to be a blaahdy bat again. Oi! Eyebrows! Get down out a’ there!”

            “Are you sure?” Nolan shielded his eyes.

            “Well, let’s dispense with the atmosphere a bit and put a blaahdy light on in ‘ere, so we can see properly.” Caine flicked a switch.

            “You’re in my shot, duuuuude,” rumbled a faux Californian accent. “You and me? You’re alright, Caine, but professionally? We’re-…”

            “Shaaat aap,” said Caine, “and get down from there.”

            “You are ruining the lighting a little bit,” said Nolan. “It’s not the kind of atmosphere that Wally Pfister wants in the house.”

            “Wally Pfister can pfuck off,” Caine muttered. “Right ya bawstard, get daaahn!”

            Bale let go of the pull-bar from which he’d been doing chin-ups for something like the past eight months and allowed himself to drop to the floor. He was wearing a pair of ninja pyjama bottoms and nothing else.

            “Nice tits,” said Caine. “Roight, we need you to ‘elp us out in finding the key to Inception. Chris ‘as lost his marbles, and we’re ‘ere to ‘elp out.”

            “I did not come here to get myself involved in some psychological puzzle box,” Bale said.

            “What did you come here for?” Nolan said.

            “I just wanted to look more intense, more frowny. I wanted any sense of charisma and humour to bleed away into nothing.”

            “That’s pretty difficult, son.”

            “How so?”

            “Well, every time I see you…” Caine began to giggle… “I just can’t help seeing you as that blaady psycho banker.”
            Bale couldn’t stop a smile escaping. “I was good in that, wasn’t I?”

            “That bit when you’re with the two birds? Posing in the mirror?” Caine guffawed.

            “Alright, dude. Enough levity.” Bale paused, then… “Maaan.”

            “What’s that blaahdy accent all about?”

            “I’m trying to sound like I’m part Californian laid-back beach bum… hhhhhyuh, yeah? But at the same time, I’m also trying to sound…really, really constipated. It’s a paradox.”

            “But you’re from Wales, son.”

            “Well, I can switch to this… bizarre Noo Yoik accent that I put on for movie premeeeres.”

            “You wot?”

            “Premeeeeres. Red carpet. Come aaaaahn!”

            “We’ll just go with the uptight surfer dude one,” Nolan said. “That one works for me. Just don’t use the Bat-cent, it plays hell with your throat.”

            “In Nolan I trust. Before we go, though… I’d like to get into my suit.”

            “It’s back in the party room, on the back of a chair, I think. Anyway, is it really necessary?”

            “That’s not the suit I mean. I mean the suit that defines me. The suit that defines what I do.” He reached into an alcove and pulled an animal skin off the wall.

            “What the…”

            “Blaahdy Nora,” Caine said. “I knew it. He’s a blaahdy Fuzzy!”

            “Bertie the Bat, if you please,” Bale said, pulling on the furry grinning helmet. “Mascot for the Bogota Bats.” He unfurled a pair of plastic wings which hung off his arms like old flesh-coloured tights on a washing line.

            “Jesus. We’ve wasted enough time here,” Caine said. “Into the library.”


            Through the door, and the rows upon rows of books were lit by a blazing fire set in the hearth. Before the hearth was a huge purple armchair. A gloved hand was visible on either side of the chair’s arms. Shrill, maniacal laughter sounded from the seat.

            “My God… can it be?” said Bale, springing forward.

            “Heath?” Nolan stammered.

            The chair was empty except for the gloves, left lying on the chair, and a “bag o’ laughs” novelty toy.

            “What the blaahdy ‘ell’s going on?” said Caine.

            Laughter sounded again. The Joker appeared from the end of one of the book-cases, flicking through a Mad Magazine Treasury. His face split into a grin… actually, it was split into a grin already, but it split into a proper one, if you know what I mean.

            “Oh, hi!” he said. “Mad Magazine – you can’t beat it for laughs! There just aren’t enough laughs in the world, don’t you think?”

            “Wait…you’re not-…” Nolan started.

            “Who, Heath? Nah, he’s dead. I’ve gone beyond him, way beyond.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “I’m the Joker. The character himself.”

            “You mean…what? My film made you real?”

            “Nah, your film made me fucking bored. All those marks and beats I had to hit, all that plot I had to follow. I couldn’t take it anymore, so…I jumped out. Ta-daa!”

            “Really? I could’ve sworn you looked like someone…” Nolan squinted. “Yes, I know that face, I’ve seen you before in…”

            “No, don’t say it…”

            “Chris Klein?”

            “Blaahdy Nora…” said Caine. “Who’s Chris Zein?”

            The split-grin became a grimace. “Damnit, no. I’m not…I merged, he’s gone…I’m the Joker now.”

            The Joker threw down Mad Magazine.

             “It’s okay…it’s fine, really,” said Nolan, his hands patting the air. “No-one knows who Chris Klein is anymore.”

            “Really? No-one remembers American Pie?

            “No, no…”


            “Certainly not. Right, Bale?”

            Bale was twisting one of the wings of his Bertie suit into a knot. “Duuude…Chris Klein… Chris… Fucking… Klein…”

            “What’s that?”

            “…you stole Rollerball right out from under me. Why…you…”

            Bale launched into his foe, and a very confusing, badly cut fight scene ensued. Nolan and Caine stared at each other in confusion as jerky images and crunchy punchy sound effects took over from coherent action. It ended with Bertie the Bat kneeling on the Joker’s chest, triumphant.

            “Wait a minute,” the Joker said. “What the hell just happened there? Was that a fight or something?”

            “I… I don’t know,” Bertie said, that fearful, if cuddly furry visage sagging. “Uh…”

            “Shall we go again?”

            Bertie shrugged. “Why not?”

            This time the thwacky smacky fight scene ended with the Joker on top. “Alright, you furry pervert, stay where you are. Don’t think I don’t know what you Fuzzies really get up to in there. Ugh!”

            “What’s the story, jackanory?” Caine said. “I must warn you, I was in Get Carter. I can outstare any of you young bawstads, any day of the week.”

            The Joker spread his hands and got up off his foe. “Look, I come in peace, okay? I’ve given up all that crime and anarchy stuff. I’m done with it – I’m out.”

            “And Klein?”

            “Absorbed the first day I broke out of the film. Seriously, another few months and I won’t even look like him.”

            “More’s the pity, son. Then what do you do with yourself all day?”

            “What the hell does it look like? I’m a clown – a children’s entertainer.”


            “It’s true. I…. I tell jokes, I sing songs, I make animal shapes out of balloons… I wish I’d done it years ago, you know? I get sick of this ‘Evil Clowns’ shit. Everywhere you go. ‘Oh I hate clowns, they scare me’. ‘Oh, I saw this movie the other week with an Evil Clown in it. He was really Evil and he scared me’. I mean what kind of bullshit is this? When you were a kid, were you honestly ever scared by a man wearing shoes as big as these? Look at me. I said, LOOK AT ME!”

            “You, er, seem to have knives on the end of your big shoes,” Nolan said.

            “Oh, God, sorry. No wonder that little boy in the front row today cried. Sheesh!” He pressed a switch in his heel and the blades retracted. “I guess that explains the popping balloons, too.”

            “Maybe this is all part of it… not embracing anarchy and disorder… turning to paths of righteousness… yes…” Nolan tapped this into his BlackBerry.  

            “Hey,” the Joker said, sniggering. “I got one for ya. What do ya get if ya cross Heath Ledger with a half-a-dozen types of fucking prescription drugs?”

            “That’s not very funny,” Bertie the Bat said.

            “Aw come on, it is a little bit funny. Hey, let’s have no hard feelings, Bertie. Rollerball was years ago, and a piece of shit anyway. Let’s shake.”

            Bertie shrugged then accepted the proffered hand. Seeing what was coming a mile off, Nolan and Caine left before the hand buzzer discharged its 50,000 volt payload. They closed the door on the Joker’s laughter, which sounded suspiciously like grief. “Uh, man! Bale! Your suit smells like wet dog now!”


 “I feel I’m getting closer,” Nolan said. “I just need to find the missing parts… something deeply personal. Where are we going now?”

            “The dressing room, sir,” said Caine. “There seems to be a lot of noise in there…”

            Sure enough, there was a very tall man in a Busby Berkeley top hat n’ tails, dancing the light fandango on top of a huge dressing table.

            “A ra…. ta-ta-ta, ta taaaaaa…”

            “Jackman,” Nolan said. “In The Prestige. Oh no. Act natural, Caine. Don’t make any sudden moves or you’ll be doing the tango till dawn.”

            “Hey you guys!” Hugh Jackman leapt off the stage then posed John Travolta style. “What’s happening? Are any of you up for a song and dance? I have a background in musical theatre, you know.” To the sound of a hot calypso beat, he shuffled across the floor.

            “Good God. What the hell happened to that guy?” Nolan said, horrified. “Was it Van Helsing? It takes a brave man to come back from something like that, I guess. It marked me as a viewer, so God knows what it did to him as an actor.”

            Caine watched Jackman perform a passable ‘caterpillar’. “You blaahdy know what? I reckon it’s Exploding Trailer Syndrome, sir.”

            “Come again?”

            “Think about it – X-Men Origins. In the trailer, ‘e’s walking away from this blaahdy big explosion. Doesn’t even flinch, does he? Not even a hint of fright. I mean, if you were walking away from something and then the ‘ole thing blew up like a blaaahdy fireworks factory, you don’t think you’d maybe ‘it the deck or scream or something?”

            “Now that you mention it, I’ve heard of that. Didn’t it happen in Desperado with Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas?”

            “It’s on the blaahdy DVD cover, sir. And Clooney. Blaaahdy Clooney did it in the trailer for Syriana. ‘E got the Academy Awaaawd for that one, too. ‘E wants to watch it, that Clooney.”

            “Just shows you – no-one’s safe.”

            Jackman finished his routine with the splits then tossed his top hat into the corner. Looking closer, Caine and Nolan saw that there were a pile of top hats there, all identical. “Whoa! That was great. Now, who’s up for The Slosh?”

            Nolan picked a hat up. “Uh, Jackman… what the hell have you got all those hats for?”

“Ah, you know, funny thing… they’re very delicate, and, um, you see, my Adamantium haircut can sometimes bring out a few baubles in the material, you know?”

Caine and Nolan shared a look then quietly crept out of the dressing room.

            “I don’t care what anyone says, and I don’t care that he played Wolverine – that guy is a bit funny,” Nolan said. “And I say that after spending time with Bale.”


Into the grand central hall, and a set of rakes and iron coat hangers hung loosely in the moonlight tinkling through the atrium roof. “This is a fine place for a movie climax. If only Bertie the Bat were here.”

            “What the blaaahdy ‘ell’s that set of hangers doing hanging up there by itself?” Caine said.

            The set of hangers moved. “It isn’t a set of hangers, cobbers. It’s me.”

            “Who?” Nolan squinted. Could it be he was looking at a person? It certainly looked like the wire coathangers had moved near the top, in mimesis of a jaw…

            “Guy Pearce, mate! From Neighbours?” A spindly claw reached out. “Memento, mate! Surely you remember? Your first film?”

            “Memento?” Nolan’s mouth turned downwards. “I’m flummoxed.”

            “Ya mean ya don’t remember Memento?”

            “Sorry, fella. I’ve never met you before in my life.”

            “Aw, what? Fair go, mate, fair go.”

            “I think you’d best leave.”

            The hangers clanked off into the distance.

            Caine was puzzled. “But you must remember Memento, sir? It was your breakout. Your first big hit in the movie business.”

            “Sorry… Jeez. It’s slipped my mind, Caine. What was it about again?”

            “Well… there’s this chap, who, well, he’s lost his memory…”


            “Well… that’s sort of it, really?”

            “That’s not the best, is it? I mean, how did I make it in Hollywood with something as flimsy as that? ‘A guy’s lost his memory?’ We need something else, Caine. A gimmick. But not quite like Shyamalan, he’s lost his shit, big time. Or maybe we don’t really need a gimmick. Maybe memory’s part of it all… yes… the way we encode events. Or maybe they encode us! Yes, that’s it!” He tapped the BlackBerry. “I think I’ve just about cracked it, Caine. It’s a bit complicated but not totally tricky. We’ve got a guy who’s searching for an identity, but past memories keep repeating on him and defining what he does, even though he really wants to do the right thing, although bad stuff happens and pulls him off track. All within some kind of collapsible dream reality where there are no rules at all. Is that it?”

            “Masterful, sir.” Caine stepped aside, as a flying chunk of backwards text zipped past him.

            “What the hell was that, Caine?”

            “Opening credits, sir.”

“Oh no, you’re shitting me.” Nolan wailed. “Don’t tell me this whole thing has been running backwards!”

            “Precisely, sir.”

            Nolan slapped his forehead. “Well, at least I didn’t make out it was all a dream after all. I mean who would buy that in this day and age?”


  1. You ever think Nolan might be Caine’s puppet?


  2. Oi think he’s the blaaahdy cyphah

  3. This is full of win. 😀 Superb stuff!

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