Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

The Year End Review: Movies

Let me start off by saying that, if you don’t read this, I won’t hold it against you. I know this list is almost too small to even justifying being written, but I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and as the musical says, “Traaadiiitiooooon!!” I’ll say that I really enjoyed all three of these films and thought they were a cut above the standard A-Team crap we have thrown at us all year long. But still, this list feels a little like it looks the way it does more because of the movies I didn’t see this year rather than the ones I did see. Anyway, keep reading, if you dare!

Inception. It’s nice to see Hollywood taking a chance on an expensive sci-fi flick that actually makes you think, although they probably wouldn’t be if someone like Christopher Nolan weren’t in charge of the whole thing. This one also scores points because it managed to keep Leonardo DiCaprio out of a falling tank, shooting planes out of the sky. It was also one of Ellen Page’s first films that didn’t make me want to hit her. But seriously, folks, although the first half was a little exposition heavy, it was a great story that did a better job of incorporating its action scenes into it than most films. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Tom Hardy.

The Social Network. Everything Aaron Sorkin writes takes place in a sort of heightened reality where people have mountains of raw data and statistics at their fingertips, and almost everything they say is quotable. And if his cocaine habit is the price we have to pay for that, then I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice. I think we all understand that his version of Facebook’s creation was embellished just a little bit, but who cares? We expect that sort of thing, right? Major props to Jesse Eisenberg for snapping out of his Michael Cera funk, and Andrew Garfield, who just might make a proper Spiderman yet.

True Grit. I reviewed this one just a few days ago, so I’m not sure what else I could really add here. I’ll just say that nobody does it like Jeff Bridges. And nobody really does it like Jeff Bridges wearing an eye patch. And why haven’t we seen Matt Damon in more westerns?

I admit that this is a pretty generic list. But it does represent the best of what I saw this year. I don’t get to watch as many movies as I’d like, so some, like The Fighter, Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3 passed me by. I’d apologize, but none of you are here to read my movie reviews. You check back every week in the vain hope that I’ll start LOSTWATCH!! back up. Well, who knows what 2011 will bring. More movies, definitely. More LOSTWATCH? Definitely maybe.

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“You musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

When I first heard about Inception, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It wasn’t a video game or a comic book. And it didn’t have anything to do with Inception!, the popular 80s TV series starring Lee Majors. Then I discovered something curious: Inception was a completely original concept which hadn’t been adapted from any previously existing property. It had been so long since had seen anything like that, I’d almost forgotten what it was like. Needless to say, Christopher Nolan is a witch and should be buried under a load of heavy stones.

Seriously though, and all of the fanboyish love over movies like The Dark Knight (please be seated) aside, Christopher Nolan seems to be one of a dying in breed in Hollywood who have both the desire and the clout to bring a film like Inception — a big movie about big ideas — to theaters. And Inception definitely has some pretty hefty ideas. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a thief who can enter people’s dreams and extract their secrets. His skills have cost him his wife and his children, but now he’s being offered a chance to get it all back. One last job, where instead of stealing ideas, Cobb and his team will be planting one.

Even though the film has a lot going for it, there comes a point fairly early on when you wonder if Inception might collapse under its own weight. Like I said, this movie’s got plenty of big ideas. So many, in fact, that for the first half you begin to wonder if Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page aren’t really acting in the film, but taking turns reciting its instruction manual. That’s a little too harsh, but explaining the movie to the audience does make for some clunky exposition in the first hour or so.

Once the groundwork is laid down, the film picks up considerably. Of course, this is in no small part to the cast Nolan’s brought together. There are some actors out there who, regardless of the film, deliver consistently good work. Leonardo DiCaprio’s definitely one of them. Along with him, you’ve got Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who delivered a good, albeit somewhat boxy performance. Ellen Page, who amazed me by making me forget for two and a half hours that she was in Juno. And Tom Hardy, who has to be one of the most under-appreciated actors around.


But the cast and what a cool concept Inception is aside, what I appreciated most about the film was its sense of restraint. I’m willing to concede that they went a little over the top, but I’m one of those people who will argue in favor of the second and third Matrix films. With Inception, it would have been easy for Nolan to follow very closely in the Wachowski’s footsteps. Crazy CGI. Never-before-seen stunts. And we do get some of that, but Nolan is one of those filmmakers who knows when to dial things back. As Cobb as his team move deeper and deeper into the dreams of their mark, trying to plant their idea, nobody gains superhuman powers. And the dreams we see are all still grounded in reality. Well, except for that last one and if you’ve seen the film you’ll understand. But still, I never felt that Nolan was using the film’s subject matter as an excuse to — as the French say — masturbate all over the place, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

But even when Nolan does turn things up to 11, he does so incredibly well. The physics of the dreams and unique architecture of the dream worlds may be the best example of this. Some may find it simplistic, but I think it was probably the best way to convey this sort of concept to a mass audience. Think about some of the dreams you’ve had, and how batsh*t insane they are. Then think about how the movie would have been had Leo and co. had to navigate their way through freaky childhood clowns and that one time I peed myself in the middle of the Wal-Mart in front of my ex-wife. I think you get the point.

People are already talking about what Inception’s Oscar chances are, but unless we’re talking about set design or special effects, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I think films like Inception are doomed to suffer silently while lesser films get all the big accolades. Maybe that’s as it should be. Inception is definitely a blockbuster, but in a way I’ll always think of it as the little film that could. That is, the film that showed us it’s still possible to meld mind-blowing special effects with an actual story.

Can someone tell me what the hell this movie’s about?

On second thought, don’t. I’ll go see it anyway.

TRAILER MONDAY

People got their first glimpse of James Cameron’s Avatar at this year’s Comic Con, and people are already complaining that the movie’s aliens and giant robots don’t look real. The question we’re asking is, why is James Cameron putting aliens and giant robots in a live action remake of Once Upon a Forest?

The teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Inception isn’t giving anything about the movie away. I can give you a hint, though. The working title for the film was The Sweaty and Disturbed-Looking Leonardo DiCaprio. Discuss.

If you ask me, it’s about time they made a movie about underage girls falling in love and having crazy sex with zombies. Enough with all of this vampire crap, you know? Wait, there’s nothing like that in Zombieland? Amusement parks? Right. Amusement parks… Wasn’t Sunday’s True Blood great?

“And tonight, you’re gonna break your one rule.”

Wow. Wow. The summer blockbuster season might as well pack it in and go home, because it’s over. See you later Step Brothers. Shake a leg Swing Vote, because it’s done son. We’ve been waiting three years for Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to 2005’s Batman Begins, and holy piss, was it worth it. And not only did we get a great film, but the greatest superhero movie ever made.

As Batman continues to clean up the mean streets of Gotham City, desperate criminals are scrambling to save their crumbling empire. Taking advantage of the confusion is one of Gotham’s new breed of criminal, a man they call the Joker. Why does that sound awesome? Because it effing IS.

Watching as all this unfolds is Batman. As the Joker takes control of Gotham’s underworld and the body count begins to rise, Bruce Wayne is forced to ask himself if the creation of such a fantastic hero as Batman is really to blame for all this. If, in his desire to make the city a safer place, he’s only upped the ante in a game he’s not sure he can win. Or rather, a game in which he’s not sure he can do what he needs to in order in win.

I hate to say it, but these types of movies have changed since 9/11. The line between hero and villain has been blurred and they’re presented to us in a much more gritty, realistic way. As far as superheroes are concerned, this method has been met with some criticism. Frank Miller, of Sin City fame, explained it like this…

People are attempting to bring a superficial reality to superheroes which is rather stupid. They work best as the flamboyant fantasies they are. I mean, these are characters that are broad and big. I don’t need to see the sweat patches under Superman’s arms. I want to see him fly.

I think it’s a valid criticism, but not one I necessarily agree with. When superheroes are presented to us as “flamboyant fantasies,” I’m not sure they can progress beyond a certain complexity and ultimately don’t affect us on the level a movie like The Dark Knight does.

The movie’s complexity is served not only by it’s story, but also by it’s actors. Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman. All are in top form from start to finish. And while they were all great and a delight to watch on screen, it was as if God himself looked down on Heath Ledger’s Joker and said, “You are my finest creation.” From his first scene (and it’s AWESOME), his entire performance was brilliant.

There’s a giant internet slap-fight going on right now, with people arguing over who’s better, Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson from 1989’s Batman. They’re both representative of two different cultural mindsets and I don’t think you can truly compare the two. And while I loved Nicholson’s portrayal and get a little giddy every time I hear the line, “Hubba hubba hubba! Money money money! Who do you trust!”, Ledger’s Joker was much more rounded-out than Nicholson’s and in the end you understand him better. This is really driven home in a scene halfway through the movie (that they’ve hinted at in previews), in which Batman interrogates the Joker at Police HQ. In it, you understand who these two characters are, and why the Joker is considered Batman’s nemesis. For me, it was probably the best part of the whole movie. But then again, I’m stupid like that.

Two small complaints (I’m sorry!). At a hefty 152 minutes, the movie does start to drag a little toward the end. And, Batman does have a few more crazy gadgets that make you scratch your head a little. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about these two movies is that they don’t really mess with all the crazy bat-crap the comics and the Joel Schumacher movies got bogged down in. But, these are small things and – at the risk of sounding like someone who’s just gulped down a big pitcher full of Batman Kool-Aid – it doesn’t really matter. Everything I liked about this movie completely outweighed the things I didn’t.

The movie is set to make all sorts of money this weekend, so a third installment is as good as in the bank. And honestly, I have no idea where they’re going to take it. Aaron Eckhart plays Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent, and anyone who knows anything about Batman knows what happens to him. With that in mind, I felt that while the focus of the movie would be on the Joker, Dent’s story would set things up for the next film. We’ll just say that all my expectations were dumbfounded. That’s right, they were found to be dumb. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say that the Joker doesn’t die. And while I don’t think Nolan would ever try to find anyone to try (because they could only try) and follow up Heath Ledger’s, you’d think they would try and give some resolution to his storyline. I guess we’ll see.

This is the best movie you’re going to see this summer. So if you haven’t seen it already, run out to your nearest IMAX and enjoy it in all it’s six-story, high definition goodness. And then go do it again.

10 out of 10 stars

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Like Puff Daddy once said…

“Can’t stop. Won’t stop.”

more Two-Face news…

Isn’t viral marketing awesome? Go check out www.gothamcitypizzeria.com. Click on the bouncing “HA” in Gotham to see an exclusive clip from next month’s The Dark Knight. This gives a little more credibility to the Two-Face concept art that sent Warner Bros. into crazy damage control mode last month. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section.

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