Archive for July, 2010

h1

Inception – A Total Mind-Fuck Of A Good Time

July 28, 2010

I saw Inception for the second time tonight. Well, sort of… I went with a friend of mine a couple weeks ago and after 4-5 drinks we headed to the theater and I was disappointed to find the movie already in progress. Not a good look for a film I knew was going to have a pretty tough story. Anyways, after about thirty minutes and several shared looks of confusion, we decided it was time to walk out. Drunk or not, I couldn’t believe I actually stepped out on a Chris Nolan film. Without question, he’s been my favorite director over the past half decade.

Deep in my heart I knew something was amiss and with all the critical acclaim, word of mouth, and the filmmaker’s background, it was time to give Inception another shot. I thought we had been about 15-20 minutes late the first time I went to see it, but after it took 90 minutes for me to recognize a scene from the movie, I realized we had walked into the wrong theater altogether. I guess that’s what happens when you try to point two drunk people in the right direction. Give us five minutes in the concession line and we’re going into the first theater we see that says Inception above it.

With sober eyes and a fresh start from the beginning, I’m in awe of this movie. From a writing standpoint, my mind is completely blown. The complexity of Nolan’s story is immense; I’m not going to pretend I understood everything that was happening, but the general story line is understandable and the difficulty of the script is going to provide for multiple enjoyable viewings in order to comprehend everything that’s going on. Not a lot of filmmaker’s would be able to make this movie, let alone turn it into a summer blockbuster, but not many people have the clout that The Dark Knight director has. Maybe I underestimate the intelligence of the general public, but I’m genuinely surprised that this movie has made $142 million in ten days and currently sits at #3 on IMDB’s top 250 all-time list. That gives Nolan three films in the top 30 and 5 in the top 110 of all-time and this guy only has six major releases under his belt.

While the story in this movie is what really captivated me, the camera work and special effects are a work of art themselves. People walk on walls and upside down, huge landscapes collapse upon each other, and large pieces of scenery are moved with a touch or a simple thought. The cinematography is also stunning as we are given several long shots of beautiful scenery.

The acting in this movie is kind of an afterthought and I thought everyone was solid. Nolan always casts well and usually keeps a close circle of actors he trusts around him. When he does branch out, he has a tendency to invoke stellar performances (think Heath Ledger as The Joker). I’m not sure we have any award-worthy performances here, but the entire cast does a great job. Nothing really needs to be said about Leonardo DiCaprio. I honestly think he might be the best actor of my generation. I think Ellen Page gets an unfair amount of flak, but I recognize her as one of the best young actresses and this movie does nothing to disprove my theory. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is someone that has really shocked me over the past year. The first time he made me go “hmmm” was in last year’s campy G.I. Joe, where he was nearly unrecognizable and a ton of fun as Cobra Commander. I saw the vastly overlooked (500) Days Of Summer earlier this year and that was the performance that made me realize this kid was legit. His work in Inception is just another step in the right direction of what looks to be a somewhat surprisingly promising career as a serious actor.

Inception is INSANE. I recommend you buy all your concessions before the movie starts and that you clear your bladder repeatedly ahead of time because this is the type of film where you could get lost if you step out for five minutes. The story is crazy, the acting is solid, and the visuals are stunning. Easily the best movie I’ve seen this year and it’s a film that will leave you thinking about it for a long time after, eager to see it again so you can get the full concept.

Second Helping (spoilers): I figured Inception needed to be seen at least twice within a close time frame. Chris Nolan seems to have that affect. The first time I watched Memento, as soon as it finished, I started it over and watched it again. I’ve never done that with a movie, before or since. I might have if I had seen Inception on DVD for the first time. The story was a lot easier to follow the second time through and you are able to pick up on a lot of things you couldn’t the first time. It’s a bit frustrating seeing it for a second time with someone seeing it for the first time. I kept looking at my friend throughout the movie and I really didn’t feel like she was having the same experience I was. I kept asking questions and getting the wrong answers. During the climax, after another failed oral exam, I started announcing to her what level of dream they were in every time they cut scenes. Finally, she got it, but after the movie her overall vibe was “it was okay,” which is an unacceptable response.

I read somewhere speculation that Cobb’s totem wasn’t the spinner because that was his wife’s. That much was true, but after spending the entire second viewing looking for a possible totem for him, I found nothing. There’s also been speculation about the very end of the movie. Is he still dreaming? The scene closes with the top still spinning, which leaves open the option that he was indeed dreaming. I’m not buying it. If you can follow the different levels of dreaming, you can identify what appears to be the “conscious level” for all the characters… and during this “conscious level” we have seen Cobb spin the top and watch it fall. Unless we are being hoodwinked by fancy film-editing, and somewhere between Cobb getting off the plane and coming home to his children someone has put him back into a dream state, then that top at the end of the movie eventually falls… we just don’t get to see it because Chris Nolan can be a bastard like that.

A great movie a second time through and I think the director’s commentary on the DVD will be one of the most anticipated of all-time, which probably means Nolan won’t do one. Give us a great Batman 3 and we’ll forgive you anyway, Chris.

Grade: A
Viewings 2
Replay Value: A must-own DVD requiring repeated viewings
Oscar Watch: I can’t imagine anything edging this out for Best Original Screenplay. Nolan will also get a Best Director nod. Eight months into 2010 and this has to be the favorite to WIN Best Picture, but with most Oscar Bait movies coming out in the fall/winter, that is subject to change. Regardless, with ten nominees now for the Oscar, Inception will still be up for the award. I’m sure we’ll see noms for cinematography, art direction, sound mixing, editing, sound editing, score, and visual effects. This movie is that huge. I don’t think anyone is a cinch for any acting nominations, but DiCaprio is always a contender and Gordon-Levitt, Marion Colliard, and Ellen Page might all have long shots in the supporting categories.
Nudity Alert: None

Advertisements
h1

She’s Out Of My League

July 8, 2010

This movie kind of came out of nowhere. Somehow, it hit theaters, went through its run, and came out on DVD without me ever knowing it even existed. Jay Baruchel’s star seems to be rising (as are most Judd Apatow affiliates), and he might even go blockbuster with this summer’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (it looks better than it sounds). That said, I’m not surprised to see him starring in a solid comedy. This movie isn’t hilarious by any means, but it certainly had its moments and was more enjoyable than I was expecting, considering a large lack of word-of-mouth.

“Oh fuck it, are you really not wearing any underwear….? Deb, we’re all thinking it.” This movie has some quotables in it for sure. The performances were decent for the most part. Something about Krysten Ritter (Jessie’s drug-addicted girlfriend on Breaking Bad) really does it for me. I think I love her. I’m not sure that Alice Eve is a “hard ten,” but I’ll give her a “strong eight.” Of course this movie has to have some sort of conflict, so Baruchel’s character has to go through the unbelievable arc of blowing it with his hot girlfriend. Let’s be real, if any of us sub-standard human beings landed a ten, nothing in our brain is going to convince us that we are not worthy of her. If anything, we’d have concerns about her cheating, but never would I consider myself unworthy.

I liked the movie. It’s good for what it is, but it’s not going to make a home in my DVD collection like some of the better comedies of the past few years. I’d recommend it… you probably won’t be disappointed, but if you decide to pass, it’s not the end of the world either.

Grade: C+

Viewings: 1

Replay Value: 1-2 viewings

Nudity Alert: None. How does an R-rated comedy featuring hot women not have any naked chicks? It’s a fair question, and with some nekkid ladies, this movie probably would jump to a B-

h1

2010 Movie Reviews

July 6, 2010

Alice In Wonderland – Tim Burton takes the Lewis Carrol tale and makes it his own by filming it in 3D with live actors. The combination of Tim Burton, the story, and Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter sounded promising at first, but the end result was disappointing. Perhaps animated characters don’t translate well to real life actors because most of the acting in this film was driving me nuts. I really had a hard time not turning it off and moving on to other things. I’ll note that I didn’t watch the movie in theaters or in 3D, which may have considerably increased my enjoyment, but alas, I’ll never know. D

Hot Tub Time Machine – Skipped this in theaters and heard it was pretty funny, so I was looking forward to its DVD release. It wasn’t quite as funny as I thought it would be, but it was still plenty enjoyable with a number of solid gags and laughs. The story was a little corny, but that was to be expected given the film’s title. Overall, I liked it and it’s quite possible this movie will be a grower like a lot of the better comedies of the past couple years. B-

Iron Man 2 – A solid follow up to one of the most surprising movies of 2008. Not as good as the original, but still a lot of fun. It seemed like Mickey Rourke’s character wasn’t given nearly enough screen time and never really felt like a major threat to Tony Stark. Downey was great once again and Don Cheadle was a fine replacement for Terrance Howard. Funny, with good action, and War Machine was a welcome addition. Not a great sequel, but certainly not bad either. B

Kick-Ass – I was really anticipating this one and the results were mixed. It had a fun feeling to it, but the main character really didn’t move me at all and almost all the other characters were pretty hollow as well. Kick-Ass never felt like a superhero of any sort to me… just a nerdy kid in a bad costume. Hit-Girl is what made this movie borderline awesome despite all its flaws. Not only is the character well written and an utter bad ass, but the young girl that plays her displays a ton of acting talent. The movie has some good action and is funny at times, but the story wasn’t executed spectacularly and the casting was questionable. C+

Nightmare On Elm Street – I’m a big old school horror franchise fanatic and Freddy Krueger has long been a fascination of mine. Unlike Jason Vorhees or Michael Meyers, a Freddy reboot was something I was looking forward to and thought could be well done. This remake is a fair attempt at updating an old classic. I liked the news of Jackey Earl Haley taking on the role of Krueger and although several critics disagree with me, I liked him a lot in the role. He was scary in a way that Robert Englund arguably hasn’t been in over two decades. The story leaves something to be desired, but so do the majority of slasher film scripts. If this isn’t a step in the right direction for the franchise, I don’t know what is. B-

Toy Story 3 – Review coming soon…

Youth In Revolt – Michael Cera stars in his normal role of a geeky and awkward adolescent trying to figure out how to succeed with women. Only this time there’s a twist! Cera’s character creates an alter-ego in order to become a bad ass. Needless to say, it comes off cheesy and doesn’t really provide any laughs. Cera’s star is starting to dim and this movie was a snoozer. F