REVIEW: Interstellar

9 11 2014

“We were meant to be explorers, pioneers – not caretakers,” utters Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper towards the start of “Interstellar.”  This declaration is true not only for the world of the film but also of its filmmaker, the inimitable Christopher Nolan.  As if exploring the deepest corners of the mind with “Inception” or redefining an entire cinematic genre with “The Dark Knight” was not enough, he has now flung his vision and ambition into the farthest reaches of space and time.

His “Interstellar” is not limited by dimensions nor encumbered by gravity.  It defies time and space entirely.  It is at once poetic and narrative.  It is a calculated work of science that also operates from a profound emotional level, wedding Kubrickian formalism to Spielbergian sentimentalism.  And most importantly, it inspires wonder and awe.

This is why, at least in Christopher Nolan’s lifetime, the movie theater experience will not perish.  His cinema is bold, immersive, and ultimately transcendent.  He goes beyond capturing an image or a feeling for what it is, showing the majesty it can embody and convey.  When at his calibrated best, Nolan can invoke not only a visceral reaction but also a spiritual one.

He is the undeniable myth maker of our time.  If that does not prompt loyal adherence, it should, at the bare minimum, command admiration and respect.  No one else working with this massive a budget is coming anywhere close to approximating Nolan’s scope or verve.  “Interstellar” is the latest shining star in his cinematic universe, and it shines brightly as a paradigm of balancing artistry and authorship along with accessibility and avant-gardism.

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Random Factoid #570

29 10 2014

InterstellarI figured in order to break myself out of my recent writing slump, I’d bring back an old favorite … the Random Factoid!

Because I go to the movies and have a brain, I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan and eagerly await his upcoming feature “Interstellar.”  Because I have such confidence in Nolan, I don’t need to be sold on the movie’s plot or marketing materials.  Thus, I am trying to avoid them at all costs.

This is nothing new for me.  Back in 2010, I wrote of my efforts to pull off a similar feat in the wake of the opening of “Inception” in Random Factoid #275:

“I am attempting to do the impossible: avoid the media blitz surrounding Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” and walk into the theater on July 16th without knowing anything about the plot.  I am not going to read plot summaries, watch trailers, or read any sort of specific review.

I am prepared to do whatever it takes not to have this movie spoiled.  I will start bringing either headphones or earplugs to tentpole summer movies where previews will most assuredly play.  If I see any feature on the movie, I will shield my eyes and go away.”

I’m still doing the same with trailers at the movies; last night, I even walked out of the theater for three minutes while the “Interstellar” trailer played (to the complete bafflement of the rest of the crowd).  But this abstinence has taken on a new battlefront in 2014: social media and trade websites.  Because the embargo has broken and people can start talking about the content of “Interstellar,” I have sworn to myself that I will not take the risk of having anything spoiled for me by visiting these sites.

I unfollowed The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and IndieWire on Facebook so their posts don’t appear on my News Feed.  (Like I was going to give up Facebook entirely?  Please.)  I won’t check any sort of awards handicapping site because they are most assuredly breaking “Interstellar” down in those terms.  It’s essentially like a miniature Lent for the Church of Christopher Nolan.  Who knows what I’ll do with all this time I’m saving in avoiding these sites?

Maybe start writing reviews again … actually, make that definitely!

REVIEW: Man of Steel

20 07 2013

Look, it’s a bird!  No, it’s a plane!  Worse, it’s Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” a bomb of heroic proportions torpedoing its way towards a multiplex near you to steal 2 1/2 hours of your life and $10 of your money.  How this could have been touched by moviemaking Midas himself, Christopher Nolan, truly escapes me.

I personally saw nothing horrendously wrong with Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” though I haven’t seen it since 2006 (a fact that may ultimately speak loudest to its quality).  However, I can point out a number of gaping flaws in “Man of Steel.”  It’s one thing to leave a movie nonplussed but another entirely to be angry.  If you hadn’t already guessed, I was the latter upon leaving this film.

Most issues seemed to spring from the lackluster story.  The film takes on the practically futile task of humanizing Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El, an invincible being.  He’s always had an identification problem because, well, how many of us can relate to someone who is essentially perfect?  (I’ll speak for myself and say that I certainly cannot.)  While the drama of Clark’s grappling with his power is relatively compelling, it’s told only in brief flashbacks.

And these scenes with his adoptive parents, played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, really only serve to play into the overarching Messianic allegory of the entire film.  I’m certainly not opposed to such grand implications, but they need to be done well (such as they were in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables“).  “Man of Steel” feels completely disingenuous, exploiting spirituality for its own gain.  If it were any more obvious about its overloaded metaphor, Henry Cavill’s Superman would be wearing the letter t across his chest.

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REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

29 07 2012

I don’t force every domestic drama I see to stand up to “American Beauty.”  Nor do I weigh every romantic comedy against “Annie Hall.”  So in a sense, why should I make a superhero movie stand up to “The Dark Knight?”  I consider it every bit as paradigmatic as the two previously mentioned Best Picture winners, so an apples-to-apples comparison is hardly even possible.  It’s more like apples-to-Garden of Eden fruit.

Indeed, a number of directors have tried to make their genre films a little more in the mold of Christopher Nolan’s iconic tale of the Caped Crusader, such as Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man 2” and Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class,” to little success.  Yet even “The Dark Knight Rises,” the sequel to the revolutionary film itself, can’t recreate its magic nor cast a comparable spell.  Perhaps its time to declare those heights unattainable to avoid further disappointments.  If Christopher Nolan himself can’t reach them, surely it is time for Hollywood to find its next golden goose.

“The Dark Knight Rises” also has the added disadvantage of being scrutinized as a Nolan film, not merely a post-“Dark Knight” facsimile.  Coming off an incredible decade of filmmaking (five supremely acclaimed films: “Memento,”  “Batman Begins,”  “The Prestige,”  “The Dark Knight,” and “Inception“), it is hardly premature to call him the Millenial equivalent of Steven Spielberg.  His movies are so good that they have merited many a repeat viewing, allowing dedicated fans to really analyze what makes his work so exceptional.  Now, it’s immediately recognizable when his films are not up to the sky-high standard he has set for himself.  For instance, in the opening scene of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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Know Your Nominees: “Inception”

4 02 2011

The Oscars are a great cultural conversation for all to participate in, but it’s all too easy to only have surface knowledge of the nominees.  It’s all too easy to know “Black Swan” as the ballet movie, “The Fighter” as the boxing movie, and “The Social Network” as the Facebook movie.  But don’t you want to know more and stun your friends with your knowledge of the movies in the weeks leading up to the awards and ultimately during the broadcast itself?

That’s what my KNOW YOUR NOMINEES series hopes to do.  Every three days, I’ll feature ten interesting facts about the ten Best Picture nominees of 2010 that would be fascinating to pepper into any conversation.  My hope is that you will come away with an enhanced appreciation of the movies but also enjoy learning strange and interesting things about them.

So, as we proceed in alphabetical order, our next stop on the tour is “Inception.”

So what was the inception of “Inception?”  According to director/screenwriter Christopher Nolan, the movie began as a heist film mainly as a way to provide entertainment and exposition for the complicated dream structure.  But concerned with the cold emotional detachment to the characters in a heist film, he began to add the hero’s story to get the audience to connect with the movie.

What’s real and what isn’t was a big talking point about “Inception,” but it may interest you to know what was shot on location (real) and what was shot on a soundstage or studio lot (not real).  The snow fortress was a built set, as was Saito’s castle. With a few other exceptions, most scenes were shot on location in Tokyo, Paris, Mombasa, Los Angeles, and a small town in Nolan’s home country, England.

How about that spectacular anti-gravity fight scene in the hotel hallway.  According to Christopher Nolan, Joseph Gordon-Levitt did all his own stunts for the scene, only using a double out of necessity for one scene.  The scene was done by creating a spinning set, not through CG.

Another fantastically well-executed scene of mind-blowing visual proportions was the scene at the Parisian café where the city implodes.  How did they shoot that?  According to cinematographer Wally Pfister, they used a camera that captures 1,500 frames per second (in contrast to the average camera which captures 24) to create the slow-motion effect.  In post-production, the visuals team added effects to make the objects look like they were floating.  (Everything was shot out of air cannons for the explosion effect.)

Throughout the second half of the movie, we saw plenty of the van falling off the bridge.  But what you might not know about this scene is that it took months to film and entire days were dedicated to the shot.  But it gets better: the van was shot out of an air cannon and when the van hit the water, the actors actually had to stay underwater for four to five minutes holding their breath and taking air from a tank.  How’s that for dedication?

The ensemble cast turned out perfectly, but it wasn’t always what it was.  Before shooting, Evan Rachel Wood was slated to play Ariadne but dropped out and the role went to Ellen Page.  Another big casting shift was the exit of James Franco, who was originally cast to play Arthur, due to scheduling issues; the role ultimately went to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Fans of Marion Cotillard got a chuckle when they heard “Non, je ne regrette rien,” the closing song of the film “La Vie En Rose” which won her an Oscar for Best Actress.  The title means “No, I regret nothing” when translated literally into English.  Was it a clever nod to her previous role?  Actually, no.  Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer chose the song before Cotillard became attached to the project because of its booming rhythmic qualities, not because of its association with the actress.

Many people have seen “Inception” as a metaphor for filmmaking, and Nolan has said that these musings aren’t entirely off-base.  But the craft he was most interested in exploring was architecture.  In an interview with WiReD, he stated, “I’m very interested in the similarities or analogies between the way in which we experience a three–dimensional space that an architect has created and the way in which an audience experiences a cinematic narrative that constructs a three–dimensional -reality from a two-dimensional medium—assembled shot by shot. I think there’s a narrative component to architecture that’s kind of fascinating.”

NEWS FLASH: The kids at the end of the movie are not the same as the ones before! Adjust your explanations of “Inception” as necessary.

Don’t worry, no top theories here.  Only some insight on where the idea came from – not exactly inception.  Nolan gave a top as a gift to his wife and then rediscovered it, incorporating it into “Inception.”  The one used in the movie was symbolically designed by the prop department to represent Cobb’s universe.

Check back on February 7 as the KNOW YOUR NOMINEES series continues with “The Kids Are All Right.”

Random Factoid #540

19 01 2011

So, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.  Time for her to get her sexy on (since she won’t be able to rely on just straight up being naked like in “Love & Other Drugs“).  Guess we just have to trust Christopher Nolan’s casting instinct.

It’s hard being a fan to remind myself that I actually have no say in how movies are made.  I don’t get to write, cast, or direct Hollywood products (yet).  I don’t have control, and we have to remember that a studio wouldn’t give millions of dollars to a director if they didn’t know what they were doing.  And after “Inception,” I dare you to tell Christopher Nolan that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

A lot of people, particularly us vocal bloggers, have a hard time reminding themselves of these things.  We scream as if there’s actually some way we can change things.  But we really can’t, and it’s only worth writing about if you can joke about acting like you have a say.

What about YOU?  Do you struggle with remembering you don’t run Hollywood?

Random Factoid #527 / I’m a DC

6 01 2011

So Katie over at “Stories That Really Mattered” invited me to be a part of the meme called “I’m a Marvel, I’m a DC” (which should ring a bell from Mac/PC in your head).  I’m pretty noncommittal on the two comics powerhouses as I don’t read the books, and the movies just run together for me.

But, since she asked so nicely, I’ll make a commitment.  I’m a DC!!!

Why?  Three reasons.

  1. They had Heath Ledger.
  2. They have Batman and Christopher Nolan, who made “The Dark Knight,” the only comic-book movie worth talking about as anything other than a movie adaptation of a comic book.
  3. They have “Watchmen,” which was a pretty average movie, but a great graphic novel!  I only read it thanks to the movie, TIME magazine, and a friend’s recommendation, but I certainly did enjoy it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever read another one again, yet I certainly was enriched by reading an entirely different kind of literature.

So there.  Those are my reasons.  Take that, Spider-Man!  Turn off THAT dark!

10 for ’10 – Blogging Moments

22 12 2010

Catch up with the idea behind this series here.

2010 was my first full calendar year of blogging, and I sure have enjoyed every post of it.  However, there were those that I enjoyed a little bit more than the rest.  Here were my highlights of 2010 (in no particular order):


1,000+ comments and 20,000+ views

I find plenty of satisfaction in just the craft of writing; I don’t really need quantifiable markers of success to bring me happiness.  But I will admit, it sure is nice to look at my dashboard in the morning and see an extra digit in the comments/views.  These were both reached in July, and I’m happy to say that since then, this blog has logged a cumulative total of 1,740 comments and 34,500 views to date.  So thanks for visiting and commenting … don’t be afraid to do it some more!

(500) Random Factoids

I’ve been logging a factoid every day since day (1).  When I started to blog, I was in a pretty major “(500) Days of Summer” phase, so I decided then that I would have to watch the movie on my (500)th day of blogging.  So, needless to say, I was very happy to have my celebration (500) days in the making.

1,000 posts

Hard to believe I’ve been blogging so long that I’ve logged 1,000 posts.  Factoids help, but I had 489 “serious” posts too.  That’s a whole lot of keyboarding.


LAMB Casting Winner

… and twice, nonetheless!  Thanks to all the voters of the LAMB who think I could cut it as a casting director in Hollywood!  It sure made me beam to win – and then to pick the subsequent movie to be recast.


Nolan Marathon / Fincherfest

I got a little excited for the releases of “Inception” and “The Social Network” – so much so that I spent the entire week before revisiting and reviewing all the directors, Nolan and Fincher, respectively, and their past works.  The result was a renewed appreciation for their movies and an enhanced perspective when seeing their latest movies.  It worked so well that now I just have to plan ahead my weeks for 2011.

Marshall & Julie

The event that scared most of you all away because it looked like chapters of a book, largely because they were, was one of the most personally rewarding experiences for me this year.  Looking back on a year’s worth of blogging by reading “Julie & Julia,” the book that inspired the movie that inspired this blog, led to some pretty interesting insights.  If you have some time on your hands this holiday season, why not go revisit the series?

The Origins Project

The project that brought a little corner of the movie blogosphere together may rank among my proudest achievements this year.  I loved seeing the community come together to answer a few simple questions about what got us started blogging and what keeps us going.  Everyone gave such interesting and unique answers, and I was always fascinated by what I posted each day for a month.  It’s still worth a read – go seek out your favorite blogger in the project’s annals!

New Features

Save Yourself!

When it comes to stirring up good discussion, it’s hard to beat something that goes totally against popular opinion.  Writing a review that goes along with every point that all the critics make does little to engage readers.  The “Save Yourself” pieces I wrote this year got some of the best discussion on this site.  People either rallied behind my hatred, saying they felt oppressed in feeling the same way, or went crazy in defense of the movie they loved.  I didn’t care who thought what; I was just happy to have them comment!

Classics Corner

I sometimes doubted my own cinematic expertise, being so poorly versed in classic cinema.  So, with the establishment of the “Classics Corner” series, I renewed my commitment to being a better cinephile by requiring myself to watch at least one classic movie a month.  So far, I’ve seen some very interesting ones, and they’ve illuminated fascinating things about what I watch now.

A Facebook fan page!

I took a big step this year and created a Facebook fan page for my blog!  I’ve been experimenting with various ways to make it work, although I will admit that all these attempts have been pretty half-hearted.  The building blocks are there from 2010, but in 2011, I intend to build mountains.

Random Factoid #458

29 10 2010

Filmmaker feud alert!

Stop the presses … John Landis says “Inception” isn’t original!  In other redundant news, “The Social Network” isn’t entirely true and the world isn’t flat.  Here are his exact words, for all those wondering:

“Interestingly enough ‘Inception,’ which is wonderful, is not original. There have been a lot of movies like it; remember ‘Dreamscape?’ Oh that’s bad special effects but almost the same movie. It’s Dennis Quaid and Edward Albert is the president of the United States and they insert him into his dreams … ya know, I think, don’t misunderstand me I think Christopher Nolan is a wonderful director it’s just I don’t think he is yet to make a movie other than ‘Memento’ that I thought was really original, its just very stylish.”

Hello, “Inception” isn’t original, but it’s the closest thing we have to original in these meager times where imagination is about as dead as Generalissimo Francisco Franco.  These days, “original” has become synonymous with “not formulaic,” which is a shame.  Cynics would say that cinema is done being original, and now we are stuck with petty rehashes.  While Nolan presented the world of the dream in a highly creative and innovative way, it’s hardly original.  In a feature with The New York Times, the director even expressly laid out four movies that influenced “Inception” to a large extent: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Blade Runner,” “Heat,” and “The Matrix.”

So yes, I agree with Landis that it’s not original.  But Nolan agrees too!  Everyone can agree that they’ve seen something like “Inception” before, so Landis is rendered irrelevant.  I’ll close with a wonderful quote from director Jim Jarmusch that perfectly encapsulates the point I’m trying to make here – and why “Inception” has become such a beloved movie in 2010.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”

Random Factoid #451

22 10 2010

Dear Warner Bros.,

According to /Film, you are going to make a sequel to “Inception.”  That’s a poor decision.  If you ever want my business again, you will NOT make a sequel – especially not without Christopher Nolan, which you technically have the right to do.  This is not “The Land Before Time;” you cannot destroy it by making irrelevant sequels like that!

In fact, even if Christopher Nolan himself comes on board for the sequel, I’ll wonder to myself how much you paid him under the table.  This isn’t a movie that needs a sequel.  A new installment would just be shameless money-grubbing.  So be happy you got $300 million from a $175 million dollar production in the U.S. alone.  You’ve made enough money, now go find some other auteur and develop him to superstardom.  Leave Christopher Nolan alone!  There should be no reason for me to scream at you in veiled Chris Crocker references!


Classics Corner: “2001: A Space Odyssey”

12 09 2010

Gut reaction to Stanley Kubirick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” – WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!?

I just had to put that out there.  From my past experiences with Kubrick, which only include “Spartacus,” “The Shining,” and “Full Metal Jacket,” I was definitely expecting a head-scratcher.  But I can honestly say that in my nearly 18 years of watching movies, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so cryptic.  I feel like I’m going to be left baffled for the rest of my life, and somehow I feel like Kubrick is grinning mischievously down at me from the afterlife, sniveling “I’ve got him just where I want him!”

Honestly, how did they discuss this movie in the 1960s?  Without the Internet to bounce ideas and theories off each other, did people just accept the fact that they couldn’t understand it since they didn’t have access to the geniuses who post things on the Web?  I can’t even fathom how dinner conversations might have gone in discussing such an innovative movie.

As you can see from the poster, the movie is advertised as the ultimate trip.  It truly is … the ultimate ACID trip.  I strongly advise anyone who might be under the influence of certain influences to stay away from this movie, not because of the content, but because the style might cause you to have some kind of seizure, stroke, or spasm. But what makes this movie a classic?  I can tell just from my first viewing that it has had an enormous influence on filmmaking in the 42 years since its release.  I felt a particularly urgent desire to watch “2001” now because Christopher Nolan named it as an influence of “Inception.”  Here are the specifics according to The New York Times:

The influence of the director of ”2001: A Space Odyssey” is readily apparent in a ”dream-gravity” sequence during ”Inception” that tracks Joseph Gordon-Levitt through an environment of rotating rooms followed by a period of total weightlessness. ”Kubrick to me always had a wonderful sense of calm and specificity in everything he did,” Mr. Nolan said. ”Every detail had a specific meaning and purpose. That’s something I always try to aim for in my filmmaking. It’s not a specific thing. It’s an approach of saying: ‘Why is this thing here? What are we doing with this detail, this element?'”

I can definitely feel a sense of overarching purpose in both the works of Nolan and Kubrick. The former, however, is much more forward while the latter is more subtle, really requiring us to trust in his directorial abilities.  In 2010, a time where Kubrick has been given God-like status among filmmakers, it’s very easy to do that.  But in 1968, I can imagine I might have been a little more skeptical.

The movie is packed with all sorts of themes, imagism, motifs, and symbols, many of which I have absolutely no idea how to interpret.  And I’m not even going to try (to quote “A Serious Man” despite the fact that I despise it, “accept the mystery”).  On the surface, the most accessible thematic element is that of artificial intelligence.  We build computers to be smart, even machines like the HAL-9000 that can supposedly make no errors, but when will come the time that they become smarter than us?  This idea has definitely been echoed quite a bit ever since, often times in a more paranoid tone (see “The Matrix”).

There’s also the ground-breaking special effects, which wow me even in 2010.  Crowd reaction must have been like “Avatar” on steroids.  The fact that someone can watch visual effects over four decades old and not be able to laugh at them is practically unfathomable, yet here is “2001” with spectacles that are barely even dusty.  And beyond the graphics, the movie also boasts some very appealing cinematography and skilled make-up artistry.

And of course, no discussion of “2001” can be complete without discussing the music.  I swear that “Requiem” was used in “Inglourious Basterds” when the Nazis killed Shoshana’s family, but I can’t confirm it anywhere (and thus risk looking like a fool if I am refuted).  But the eccentric, or as some would say, innovative, sequences where the only thing we is hear is instrumental music are definitely incredibly influential.  Not to mention the incredibly eclectic nature of the film’s music, which often times feeling entirely out of place, that I say for sure manifests itself in today’s movies.  Look no further than Quentin Tarantino for that.

I’m not ready to crown Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” one of my favorite movies of all time, although I know many would include in their pantheon of fantastic films.  However, I am thankful that this movie was made because it got the ball rolling for the future masters of science-fiction and fantasy to further expand the possibilities for the genre.  I think it’s a topic to debate whether this still reigns supreme or if any of the movies it has inspired have eclipsed it.

*NOTE: I wrote this entire review without consulting any source that would attempt to explain the mystery that is the movie to me.  That has to count for something.

Random Factoid #367

30 07 2010

Christopher Nolan inspired me to a personal first today during my second viewing of “Inception.”  I took notes during the movie.

That’s right.  I took notes.

As I’ve been saying for the past two weeks, I’ve been hesitant to embrace a theory until I had seen the movie again.  I find myself still a little befuddled as to how everything happens, but what happened was definitely a lot clearer.  It was clear enough, in fact, that I was able to formulate my own theory as to what could be happening in the movie.  I’m not sure if it’s entirely valid, yet it’s a theory nonetheless.  I’ll throw it after a jump so an unsuspecting visitor doesn’t find that they’ve had the ending of the summer’s most talked about movie ruined for them.

So needless to say, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS after the cut.

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Random Factoid #359

22 07 2010

It’s really a shame that “Inception” is going to have this stain on its legacy – the massive backlash and brawling between the movie’s ardent admirers and bitter detractors.

I’m not even going to try to capture what happened: the early acclaim, the backlash, the counter-backlash, and endless counter-backlashes.  Lisa Schwarzabaum at Entertainment Weekly did a great job of chronicling the strange critical saga, so I’ll borrow from her:

Critics and bloggers and blogger-critics and readers who like to post on Internet comment boards about those same critics and bloggers are spending a lot of time trashing one another.  The argument is about the early raves, and the critical backlash citing those early raves with disdain, and the reader backlash to the critical backlash, and the tyranny of aggregate scores on Rotten Tomatoes, and on and on and zzzzzz….

I wish I were dreaming this. Instead, the bickering is a waking nightmare at a time when professional movie criticism is being viewed more and more as a rude, elitist intrusion on the popular preferences of a public with greater opportunities than ever before to be your Own Best Critic and let the world in on your thoughts.

…Can we agree that those who love it aren’t brainwashed? Those who don’t like it aren’t snobs?

I will say that I’m not immune to backlash.  In the early months of 2009, as everyone else was discovering “Slumdog Millionaire,” I kept saying it’s good, but it’s not that good.  Maybe it was just pretentiousness as I had seen it months before these bandwagon fans.  Yet I know that hype has ruined many a good movie.  Anticipation really does mess with your perception of good and bad, often times putting your opinions at polar extremes.

You know where I stand on “Inception” (my A grade should say it all), but as long as someone can honestly give me a reason why they don’t like the movie, I’m okay with it.  But there is no place for people who choose not to like a movie just to spite everyone else.  No reason to lower the Tomatometer just because you want to.

It’s been an interesting lesson on the boundaries and limits of film criticism, although I hope that “Inception” hasn’t become a victim of it.

Random Factoid #356

19 07 2010

I thought that perhaps Christopher Nolan had performed inception on me and that I might start having dreams about the movie.  Surprisingly, it hasn’t happened.  Mal hasn’t jumped out to kill me … yet.

But I have started to feel like I’ve been hallucinating – or in a dream – a little bit more often than usual.  Almost as soon as I left the theater, I feel like a pedestrian came out of nowhere and walked in front of my car.  A projection?  Doubtful.

And then there was the other day when I was reading my book out in the sunshine.  A cloud had covered up the sun for a little while, but then I felt those rays hitting me with their fiery Houston intensity.  I looked up and saw the cloud – moving in the opposite direction as if it had just done a 180.  A paradox?  Perhaps.

No one try to shoot me to wake me up or anything.  Now I know all these weird moments from here on out I will blame on “Inception.”

REVIEW: Inception

16 07 2010

Filmmaking is about creation.

The creation of a character, a couple; a feeling, a frame; a narrative, a novelty; a relationship, a romance; a moment, a mystery.  Have no doubt about it, filmmaking is creation, no matter the size of the budget or scope.

But there are very few filmmakers with the knowledge, the willpower, and the vision to create a world.  We all remember the first time we stepped into the galaxy far, far away that George Lucas took us to in “Star Wars.”  Recent examples include The Wachowski Brothers leading us into the world of “The Matrix,” Peter Jackson lifting Middle Earth off the page and displaying it before our very own eyes in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and, very recently, James Cameron giving us a crystal-clear, in-our-face look at Pandora in “Avatar.”

And now, with the release of “Inception,” we can officially add Christopher Nolan to that impressive list of filmmakers.  He unravels before our very own eyes what he envisions to be the world of the dream.  It’s an incredibly complex world, governed by a set of rules that have graver implications that we could ever imagine.  Only he holds the keys to unlocking the secrets of his creation, and he tantalizingly dangles them before our eyes.

Yet he also challenges us to use just the sight of them to figure it out for ourselves.  I have no doubt he left us clues throughout the movie, but it’s not possible to catch them your first time.  You are simply too awe-struck by what’s on the screen, too busy puzzling out the intricacies of the plot, and too preoccupied trying to stay ahead of Nolan to go a layer deeper.  And to go that extra mile, to find what’s really bubbling under the surface of “Inception,” you will have already dug to a great depth.  Some people won’t even be willing to go that far, and they will feel left in the dust by the movie, like a kindergartener sitting in a calculus class.  But Nolan doesn’t design it for those people, making it an even sweeter treat for those willing to take their mind on a journey it won’t always understand.

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