Sunday, July 25, 2010

I project a review of "Inception"

“What's the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.” – Cobb (Leonardo DeCaprio) in Inception.
Take that phrase in and let it absorb into your mind for a moment.  Are those not the most insightful words you have read all day?   Not many words spoken have ever captured a concept more accurately.  Ideas are exactly as Mr. DeCaprio’s character described.  Good ideas.  Bad ideas.  It doesn’t matter.  An idea could carry the power to shape the course of events for anything from a single soul to an entire race.  However, for these ideas to have any effect on the world, they need to be perceived by someone.  The perception of ideas is what creates our reality.   This is exactly the point that director Christopher Nolan makes with his movie, Inception.
Anybody who has followed me on Facebook or Twitter already knows that I was gushing praise about Inception within moments of the end credits rolling.  The film is a masterpiece and a mind-fuck of epic proportions.  It is a rare example of a movie that makes a point but demonstrates it by having an effect on the viewer.  There is no secret that I loved it and will suggest it to just about everyone.  I say just about everyone because I know a handful of people who probably couldn’t mentally comprehend the near complex nature of the story.
And yes, this is me taking shots at “dumb” people.   More specifically, by “dumb” people,  I mean those who have the inability to pay attention enough to listen to what the characters are telling you.  Christopher Nolan wrote the screenplay to Inception and included dialogue that not only explains in detail what is about to happen, but it occasionally acknowledges the questions that the audience may be asking.
For those of you who don’t have a clue what Inception is about, let me give you a brief summary.   DeCaprio plays Cobb, a master of corporate espionage, who works alongside his partner, Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt), in the business of stealing ideas on a freelance basis.  The catch is that they use a special technology to steal ideas from dreams.  To make a long story short, a man named Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires them to do the exact opposite in the dreams of his competitor, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy).  When I say do the exact opposite, I am referring to the planting of an idea, which would be described as the term “inception”.  The problem with the process of inception is that it has never been done before due to the fact that the human mind can spot foreign idea like it were a sore thumb.  Needless to say, Cobb and his crew have some work ahead of them.
That’s the basic concept of the film and really all you need to know.  However, I should tell you that Ellen Page plays Ariadne, an architecture student, who is recruited to mentally create a set of landscapes and environments for Cobb’s team to use in their subconscious.  She plays a pivotal role because she is the one that asks all the questions we are asking.  She also gets really nosey into Cobb’s past which is great because his baggage is the heart of this story.  Also working with this rag tag crew are a forgery expert named Eames (Tom Hardy) and a chemist named Yusuf (Dileep Rao).  Their unique sets of skills are used brilliantly with the concept of dream invasion. 
Inception as a whole is a little science fiction mixed with a heist film, a thriller, and a psychological character piece.  The story is essentially told in a linear fashion, but with multiple layers that are easy to keep track of if you are paying attention before the mission starts.  This is helpful to those who spiraled into confusion when viewing Nolan’s first big film, Memento.  It was also helpful that the film immediately acknowledged skepticism that audiences might have about a movie about dreams.  The first thought that came to mind when I learned about Inception’s plot was that we’d all just be fooled by some dream within a dream nonsense.  Well, in the first ten minutes of the film, this idea is addressed directly and we immediately come to an understanding that it won’t be used as a cheap method of plot resolution.
What more is there to say?  Lots actually, but I honestly don’t have the time or patience to write it all here.  You also don’t have that much time to read.  Instead, let me share with you a few bullet points of why I loved this movie.
·         Good use of special effects.  Sure there is plenty of CGI utilized in Inception, but it is not as blatantly obvious or over the top like Avatar was.  Despite the movie being mostly set in dreams, there is still a level of realism to everything, just as if you were experiencing a dream first hand.   That scene from the trailers with Paris folding over itself is one for the ages. 
·         Joseph Gordon-Levitt may become a bona fide leading man after this.  He has deserved it since great work in Brick, The Lookout, and 500 Days of Summer. 
·         When the Academy Awards nominations come out, there will be a nomination for Marion Cotillard. She already has one under her belt, but her performance here could put another on the mantle.  (Not sure if she would be a supporting actress or the leading lady)  Cotillard plays Mal, the primary antagonist.  For the most part she appears as Cobb’s subconscious projection of his wife.  Essentially, her character tends to show up while Cobb is working and makes things get messy.  Cotillard does an amazing job balancing a frail helplessness with pure menace. 
·         There is a fight scene in the middle of the movie that takes place in a hotel hallway.  When you see the film, you’ll know which scene I refer to.  This scene is a game changer for the way imagination comes to life on screen.  It will likely make people stop thinking about how innovative the bullet dodging was in The Matrix.
In conclusion, I must simply say that Inception will blow your mind wide open.  The movie does what its characters seek out to do.  It implants an idea in your head and gets you thinking.  Ultimately, this is the goal of most filmmakers and one that is rarely ever accomplished by them.  You will leave the theater with all sorts of thoughts rolling around your head.  You’ll have questions.  You’ll create answers for yourself.  You’ll talk about the movie with friends.  Before you know it you’ll have theories you are sharing or you’ll be online blogging away about it.  Then you’ll suggest the movie to friends just so you can talk to them about their thoughts and feelings.  Basically, a whole lot of thinking will come from Inception.  That is a lot to chew on.  All because of one simple little idea.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When the smoke clears....

I don’t smoke.  I probably never will smoke.  I am not even a drinker.  However, despite not engaging in either of those vices, I have found myself out and about at local bars and restaurants with my friends.  I go there to be social, to have a good time, and to just get out of the house.  Regardless of the volume of fun to be had there was always one common thing with all my experiences out on the town.  At some point in the evening or the next morning I would have a terrible headache.
                I know what you are going to say.  Nick Wallander is an ass clown liar and I knew it all along!  No, he is not.  So, you can relax as I assure you that these headaches were not due to a hangover.   That would be impossible since I don’t drink, but in some ways it would be better to just have a hangover headache as opposed to the truth.  I was having second hand smoke headaches.  Hours of inhaling cancerous fumes will do that to you.  If the headaches alone weren’t annoying enough there was always the soot colored snot that got blown into the tissues.  On top of that are the perfectly good contacts abused by the smoke as well.  The smoke in the bars was nothing but trouble.  At least it was for the non-smokers.  Those who did smoke were blind to these instances due to their nicotine addiction.  They are the biased experts on the issue because they are, you know, addicted to a powerful drug.
                Go ahead.  Yell at me for not knowing what I am talking about.  Tell me that smoking isn’t addictive and that nicotine is not a powerful drug.  Tell me that second hand smoke is just a myth.  Tell me that I should just stay at home if I don’t want to get some smoke blown in my face.  Well, okay.  Don’t tell me that because I will just tell you that you are starting to get rude.  I would follow it up with a “Why don’t you stay the fuck home and smoke your cancer sticks?”. 
                If you haven’t figured out yet, I am going into an opinionative rant about the newly instilled Wisconsin smoking ban for bars, eateries, and places of business.  A lot of things have been said about the new law.  Both sides of the issue are throwing out comments about their rights being violated one way or another.  In reality, both sides have valid points.  There is no doubt about that.  However, one thing can’t be argued.  This law is better for the health of the general public.  People who smoke can still smoke, but they won’t be up in other people’s business when doing so.
                Now I know what a lot of people argue at this point in the discussion.  The smokers are going to suggest that the non-smokers just go to establishments that have already decided to ban smoking.  Well, isn’t that a selfish statement?  Why the hell can’t you just step outside for a couple minutes?  Wouldn’t that be easier on everyone?  Let’s also not forget about the people who work at these bars and eateries that often don’t have a choice where they work, so they have to endure pillars of cancer gas every night.  What about them?  Should they just not work?  It isn’t as simple as telling the non-smokers to move along.
                Argument point number two is about the bar owners’ private property rights being taken away.  Many people believe that the state shouldn’t get to make that call since people have the choice to go to bars.  People walk in on their own free will into private property.  They should accept what the environment is and the owners should have full discretion if you ask some people.  Hmmm.  This is an interesting point.  I see what they are saying, but I can offer a great retort to that.  These people are essentially saying that being on private property means that the laws of the public should be exempt.  This becomes a bigger issue than it needs to be because part of the opposition is arguing for a behavior/drug that they are addicted to.  They don’t realize that there are plenty of existing regulations that they already adhere to that bar owners could argue are an infringement to their private property rights.   The thing is that people don’t complain because it doesn’t affect their addiction.
                Think about this.  If there weren’t state sanctions on health rules on private properties, the people working in the restaurants wouldn’t even need to refrigerate their food.  Would you like to eat spoiled meat on your hamburger?  Or how about this?  Let’s say screw it to the state’s interference with private businesses and let that bartender mix a drink after left the bathroom without washing their piss covered hand. That would be splendid, wouldn’t it?  Mmm.  Who doesn’t like a tangy drink?  Better yet, let’s forget all consideration for the health of patrons and just let the fry cook send out a shit burger!  It is okay though.  It is their right to do that.  If you didn’t want a shit burger you could go to another place to eat.
                See what I did there?  It makes more sense when you compare the new smoking ban to existing regulation.  It isn’t so bad when you think about it.  We already abide by standards that many could complain are restrictions on individual rights.  The point is that we don’t complain because there is a general understanding that things are for the good of everybody.  In due time, the state of Wisconsin will adjust to the new smoking ban.  The alcoholics will still frequent their corner bars because they need their booze more than a smoke filled room.  The chain smokers will find refuge in the smoking areas outside and may even learn to like the social scene outside of bars.  It will take a little time, but in the end, the state wide smoking ban is good.
                It will be awesome when I don’t have to worry about the smell of smoke on my clothes in the morning.  I won’t have to worry about ruining my contacts or blowing smoke snot from my nose.  I will sleep better without a headache.  However, I may still have to worry about the slight chance of syphilis.