As I said some very mean and intemperate things about a Chris Nolan flick staring the Baleful Christian and praised Huge Ackman for screaming NOOOOO! as the camera zooms out skyward, I want to take a moment to praise a different movie involving all three of them, and that movie is The Prestige, based on Christopher Priest's excellent novel of the same name. Starring Bale and Jackman as two feuding fin-de-siècle British stage magicians, featuring a wonderful turn by Michael Caine, a less wonderful turn by Scarlett Johansson, and most delightfully, bringing on David Bowie to do a perfectly pitched Nicola Tesla (really, really an inspired bit of casting), whose appearance in today's news reminded me of this movie, it had the misfortune to come out at almost the same time as that flaccid period piece, The Illusionist, which stared Edward Norton and Jessica Biel's various limpid gazes.
The novel's plot and narrative mechanisms are complex and convoluted, impossible to relate without spoiling, and the liberties Nolan took in bringing it to screen, if anything, improve on the neo-Gothic atmosphere and, better yet, render the reveal (the prestige) more compellingly than does the novel, which struggles to find a vocabulary for the wonders it ends up describing. The opening scene of the film returns hauntingly later on, and as in the book, a movie that begins as a investigation of the technology of magic neatly inverts itself before its close.