Friday, July 16, 2010

A good movie now and at its inception

According to what I read, “Inception” is the “movie event of the summer.” It’s directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, Dileep Rao and Michael Caine. The plot is summarized at: Suffice it to say it is about a dream, within a dream, within a dream. Or, in Shakespeare’s time, it would have been a play, within a play, within a play. It draws upon various other films, including “Dark City,” “Flatliners,” “Dreamscape,” the james Bond series, and probably others.

I think that it is a very good film- it is engrossing, well-photographed and acted. DiCaprio is a wonderful actor with a great range. I would like to see him in a sophisticated comedy, you know, the kind we don’t have any more, thanks to Judd Apatow. There is one scene where Leo is talking with Cillian Murphy in a bar and he is so strong, so forceful, and commanding that I would have bought a Corvair from him. Cotillard, who plays the wife, is unconvincing and unsympathetic. Maybe it’s her character and her circumstances, but I really think is Cotillard’s limitations as an actor. Joseph Gordon-Levett plays Arthur, the “point man.” He’s good and likely has a good future in action movies. Ellen Page is an architect for the dream world. Her role evolves into being a therapist for the main character. Not sure what resulted in the change of role, but Page keeps up with it. Tom Berenger also has a prominent role. I have not seen him in some time, so I was a bit surprised by his ponderousness. One of his films-“Someone to Watch Over Me” is one of my favorites, in part because he and Mimi Rodgers made a handsome couple. If aged has changed her as much as it has Berenger, I don’t think they should plan a reunion. Cillian Murphy plays a key role as the business man whose mind has to be changed by DiCaprio’s entourage. I have read on the internet that Murphy is referred to as the “prettiest man alive.” He is handsome but has a rather slight presence that made him seem vulnerable and an easy target for manipulation. Wait- -that’s what happens to him in the film, so I guess he played it well.

The set up for the story is extensive. It’s similar to having characters of a video game discuss the rules for the player so the player can understand the game before it begins. Because the concept is so convoluted, DiCaprio and Page spend about a half hour going over the rules of entering the dreams of others. If the viewer doesn’t remember all of the rules, the movie will become confusing and maybe even boring. The special effects are outstanding, and I think the movie cries out for a 3-D treatment. I understand that James Cameron will be rereleasing “Titanic” in 3-D so I would not be surprised if “Inception” gets a new look.

There are a few things that I did not like about the film:

1. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer was ever-present and too loud. Often I couldn’t understand Page because of the music. While it adds to the overall atmospherics of the film, it could have been toned down a bit.

2. There were continuity problems. There are scenes where rain is an important character, yet in those scenes, the sun is shining. Someone forgot to make the sky cloudy.

3. There are several scenes shot with a high speed camera of a van falling into a river while it is snowing. Unfortunately the digital snow was not filmed in high speed.

4. There is an overly long section of the movie filmed at a mountaintop lodge. It is snowing and it reminded me a bit of the Piz Gloria scenes from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. These scenes plodded and cried out for some editing. I lost interest before the climax was reached.

5. As I already mentioned, the narrative to set the stage for the movie was overly long. Better they handed out a rule book when we first entered the theater. I know- it wouldn’t have worked, but the exposition really added to the two and a half hour length of the movie.

Notwithstanding these quibbles, I like “Inception” a great deal. It is intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable. I saw it at an IMAX theater, which I highly recommend for others. There are some fantastic rumbles that come from the speakers during the movie that were really enjoyable. All in all, it’s a good way to spend a hot afternoon in an air-conditioned theater.

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