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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Nolan’

THE PAST

With the start of another semester approaching, I feel I should take a second to contemplate the year thus far. In short, I believe it’s been a cinematic drought. The past eight months have provided us with only a handful of noteworthy films. Otherwise, the lot has been filled with either cash-grabbing remakes, uninspired sequels, or straightforward disappointments. To assuage the disappointment of this year’s fruitless filmic delivery, I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorites. I should be a little optimistic, right?

3. Terribly Happy

Although Terrbily Happy hails from Denmark, it’s a film that is surprisingly inspired by some of America’s greatest directors. Impressions of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers are prevalent throughout the movie’s tensest scenes, and simple American iconography is seen percolating in the quieter, much somber moments. It’s an interesting tone for an even more interesting story. Consolidating film noir and western together, Terribly Happy saunters its way into telling a compelling and very tragic tale.

2. Inception

Unlike anything we’ve seen this year, Inception bends physics, alters time, and damns the viewers’ mind. Director Christopher Nolan imbues us with a cinematic pleasure that’s as precious as the the movie’s subject. Ornately dressed with special effects and great performances, Inception is one of 2010’s best moviegoing experiences.

1. How to Train Your Dragon

Yes, it remains! How to Train Your Dragon is still my favorite film of 2010. Sure, it’s a simple story of a boy and his pet, but to me, it’s a conglomeration of emotions so subjective and personal that it’s impossible to describe on this blog. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of things I can say…The film explores infinite terrain with whimsical scope, but the sense of danger that is projected is unmistakably real. This is done with great technical craftsmanship, but an equally satisfying core of characters also aids in making this film outstanding.

THE PRESENT

Despite my aversion towards this year’s catalog of films, there are some great titles out right now. For instance…

Cyrus

Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, the innovators behind the mumblecore movement, dually take on their first “Hollywood” film. To the movie’s benefit, Cyrus elegantly uses minimalism to naturally elicit deep characterization and pure emotional resonance.

The Kids are All Right

I’ll be seeing this in the next few days, so I will give my full thoughts then. However, reviews for this dramedy continue to be glowing with positivity.

Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone has been accumulating buzz since its premiere at the Sundance Festival. Winning the Grand Jury Prize, this literary adaptation is carrying a lot of momentum on its shoulders. Hopefully, I can check it out when it comes to the local art theater at school.

Some other films available now include:

  • Mother
  • Get Low
  • Animal Kingdom

THE FUTURE

So what is there to look forward to? Well, there’s…

  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (August 13)
    • Comedy action
    • Directed by Edgar Wright
  • The American (September 1)
    • Noir thriller
    • Starring George Clooney
  • The Town (September 10)
    • Gangster thriller
    • Directed by Ben Afleck.
    • Starring Ben Afleck, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Ham.
  • The Social Network (October 1)
    • Drama about the birth of Facebook
    • Directed by David Fincher.
    • Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake.
  • 127 Hours (November 5)
    • Directed by Danny Boyle.
    • Starring James Franco
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (November 19)
    • Part 1 of 2 for the final chapter of Harry Potter
  • Black Swan (December 1)
    • Psychological thriller
    • Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
    • Starring Natalie Portman
  • Tron Legacy (December 17)
    • Sci-fi action sequel
    • Starring Jeff Bridges
  • True Grit (December 25)
    • Western remake by the Coen Brothers.
    • Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin

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***Review contains spoilers***

Inception is as much an illusion as it is a film. Within each cranny of this well-traversed labyrinth of a movie is an assessment of reality and our incomplete understanding of it all. Our perception is guided (and even misdirected) by the meticulous management of director Christopher Nolan; he is the Architect, the Forger, the Extractor, and the Shade. He creates a holistic world in which we are simply just the Tourist, and as we know, “There’s no room for tourists on these jobs.”

Inception begins with an idea. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a master thief whose lucrative method involves breaking into people’s dreams in order to steal their secrets. He is offered a job-specifically his last job-which is to plant an idea into a subject’s mind and to trick the mind into thinking it’s the subject’s own idea to begin with. What follows is an elaborate heist film that crosses several planes of subconscious existence.

And just like any idea, it begins to expand. We learn that Cobb is a deeply haunted person that has difficulty letting go. In a world where dreams are infinite, he is internally imprisoned by his own past. What helps him break free is the cast of peripheral characters: his right hand man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an architecture prodigy, Ariadne (Ellen Page), a forger of identities, Eames (Tom Hardy), the one who hires him, Saito (Ken Watanabe), and the mark of the job, Fischer (Cillian Murpy).

The idea that Inception is an illusory maze now begins to manifest. We have the plot, the characters, the action, and the destination. What we don’t see coming is the way these factors come together.

The plot is cleverly reflective of the film’s ideas and visuals; it initially unfolds upon itself like the dreamworld we witness in the first half hour. Towards the end, the plot becomes buried underneath layers and layers of dreams and flashbacks, and while this sounds confusing, the narrative is surprisingly straightforward. It is actually very linear, but it is forged by successfully mindbending techniques, further clouding our perception.

I’m one to argue that people tend to do this. We, the architects of our own psyche, choose to complicate our minds with paranoia, misjudgment, and prejudice. However, our problems can sometimes be the simplest things to solve. The film acknowledges this frustrating paradox with its deceptive narrative structure, and I find it quite remarkable.

Similarly, the characters are utilized in a uniquely effective way. Aside from Cobb and his wife, Mal, all of the characters are bland, but their collective facelessness is a quality that enhances the surrealism of the dreamworld. As Cobb becomes unhinged by his subliminal demons, the rest of the cast becomes mute in the midst of action-covering their faces with ski-masks or floating idly in zero-gravity. The characters break into deeper levels of the subject’s subconscious, and the emotional arc of the story simultaneously becomes more singular. Cobb’s imprisonment parasitically evolves from simple, faded memories to an entire dimension of loneliness and torture.

Inception’s idea begins to spiral uncontrollably. With Cobb at the mercy of his guilt, the film takes us through several lapses of time and many unique dimensions of thought. Visually, we are struck with images of rain, snow, light, and darkness. Furthermore, Nolan’s hindrance as a poor director of action sequences is used to his advantage. Disorienting our perception with chaotically shot action is a perfect way to throw us off.

And beautifully, the idea comes to a halt. Cobb reaches his destination, and he is able to let go. However, Nolan uses the final moments of the movie to finish his illusion. Before cutting to credits, the audience is left with a question: Is it reality or is it a dream? We never get to see Cobb’s totem finish its action, and this ambiguity is all we are left with. So, does the totem fall? Or does it keep spinning?

Well, I have two answers…

1. It doesn’t matter. It can fall and it can not fall. Both conclusions make sense, and there is enough evidence to support either claim. With an ambiguous ending, we are expected to speculate and to make theories. We have ideas about everything, but these ideas are planted by Christopher Nolan, himself. Thus, Inception has been performed on us.

2. Although I just said it doesn’t matter, part of me likes the film more if he is still in a dream, and here is why. The film begins with the ending. Nolan is known to do this; he does it in Memento and The Prestige. When we reach the ending of the aforementioned movies, a metaphorical loop is closed, and everything makes sense. With Inception, the film ends where it begins, and this loop is seemingly closed. However, the very idea of loops is something Nolan plays with. He utilizes loops as a motif in the film, but he uses them as illusions-for instance, the paradoxical infinite stairs. By making the ending the beginning, and the beginning the ending, a loop is formed, but as Inception itself is an illusion, so is this loop. It’s a paradox, designed by Nolan, and Mr. Cobb is trapped in his dream.

What makes Inception so great is that it has multiple meanings. These are just my takes, and they are bizarre ones at that. Being The Tourist of Christopher Nolan’s mind is chaotic joy, and I hope to hear your opinions. Feel free to leave comments!

10 out of 10

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These new posters for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming cerebral thriller, Inception, give some insight to the characters’ specific roles. Great stuff.

Click to enlarge.

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Unbelievable!

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This preview’s mixture of elusive imagery and sound showcases the brilliant yet controlled mind of Christopher Nolan. We’ve seen him tackle tough concepts with poise before-Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight. His films are very high-level and almost farfetched in thought, but each one is reined in with the maturity only a few directors can maintain.

Inception looks no different.

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Many fans have been clamoring for another sequel to add to the Batman franchise since the amazing release of The Dark Knight in 2008. While the whereabouts of a third movie aren’t yet officially confirmed, Christopher Nolan’s new Inception has taken off with this teaser.

Cerebral and epic, Inception brings a great cast together to explore the architecture of the mind in contemporary sci-fi fashion. The teaser is essentially just a teaser; not much can be determined. However, Nolan’s track record, along with the support of a talented cast, implies that the assembly of a complicated, puzzling looking film is possible.

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