Archive for August 2010

Inception (Chistopher Nolan, 2010)


As I write my brief review I listen to Hanz Zimmer’s explosive score, one of the best since Bernard Herrman’s score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  This is a perfect film.  No flaws stick out.  Its narrative is impeccable and one can tell that Nolan spent 9 years writing and incubating this project.  He threw it at Warner Brothers after Memento, they liked it but he was wise enough to tell them that he needed to learn the art of making a Hollywood spectacle before attempting a film on such a grand scale.  So The Dark Knight was released to all the fame it deserved (and after a recent viewing I forgive the third act as relevant and important to the film).

Read Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes professional reviews for any point-by-point, minute-by-minute plot deconstruction.  We are talking dream extraction, and the technology to do so.  The ability to enter a mark’s subconscious to steal an idea or thought.  But this is different – Cobb (Leonardo DeCaprio, quickly catching up to a career on par with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, in part to Martin Scorcese’s trust in him) is planting an idea into his mark – in this case Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy).  The idea, simple enough, plants an idea to break up his dying father’s dynasty to make way for Saito’s (Ken Watanabe) business empire.

It takes four dreams – layered one on one to get to the objective, and in return Cobb can return to the United States and be reunited with his two young children left behind by Cobb and Mal (an intense and emotive performance by the absolutely stunning Marion Cotillard) due to problems with ‘limbo,’ the condition of being stuck in dream state for an immeasurable amount of time.  But at the end it’s all up for grabs.  The spinning top, referred to in the film as a ‘Totem,” reminds the dreamer if he is awake or dreaming.

Above all, this is an action film par excellence.  Experience it.  See it before it goes off the big screen, which will be awhile based on the $350M+ gross to date.  Furthermore, this mind twister is quite followable.  My second viewing wrapped up a number of plot elements.  And for you parents out there, if your youngster could handle The Dark Knight and/or Avatar this is kid’s play.  The blood violence is minimal, there is little objectionable language and there is no sex, nudity implied or otherwise.

Its gentle and careful treatment of the leads is a hallmark of Chris Nolan.  Not one character is sloppily presented, but presented to us as fully rounded out characters with unique skills that help move the story to its astounding ending, which is cathartic and beautiful.

One casting idea change I would have made – replace Ellen Page with Alison Lohman.  Both beautiful and talented actors but Lohman really would have had the chops for the role of Ariadne and based on her recent performance in Drag Me to Hell with the charming Dileep Rao, she would have hit a homer.

Making a film about dreams is hard enough; but making a film with such structure, grace and power is so rare as to place it as one of the best films of the century (thank you Robert Roeper and no thanks to you, Rex Reed – idiot).  For someone that gets into movies the way I do, this one will haunt me for a long time.

It’s a rare and so deserved 5 out of 5.

***** / *****

Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987)


Just a few flaws about plot:  boiling rabbit, abduction of child from school (mind you), you got the attack in Close’s apartment between Douglas and Close.  Where are the police in all this?  They don’t materialize until the end.  Dramatic tension was building but this giant gaffe sinks the story just a little.  Its a barnburner and one I still can’t turn off if its on (probably seen it 20 times, gulp).  Michael Douglas at his high point and adulterous men at their low point.

** 1/2 / ***** (used to be *** 1/2 / ***** before this realization)