Predictably, there's been a lot of debate over the meaning of "Inception." I'm curious to read what you think. I'll include some pertinent links and quotes after the jump, in case you want to discuss the movie.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine
"Inception" is quite simply a great time at the movies. It's as fun to watch its intricately designed and thrilling set pieces as it is to try to make sense of the convoluted rules and logic of the simulated dream worlds it depicts. Like director Christopher Nolan's previous works, particularly "Memento" and "The Prestige," it's a cleverly designed puzzle with lots of moving parts. A game, a magic trick, a mind-bending word problem. It can even be seen as a successful metaphor for film-making itself, but I'm just not sure it succeeds completely as art, though.
And you know what? That's not such a bad thing here. It's about time we got a somewhat original, intelligently made blockbuster action movie out of today's Hollywood. Nolan can continue to lazily fudge plot twists in Batman movies if it means more money for him to take on big, ambitious projects like this.
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Garret Dillahunt, Michael K. Williams, Molly Parker
"The Road" is a hopeful movie. Sure, it's set in a barren and scorched post-apocalyptic wasteland that used to be America, and, yes, it seems like most of the survivors of an unnamed catastrophe have teamed up to become roving bands of cannibals. But there is a fire that burns in the heart of this nightmarish vision. It's the fire of a father's love for his son and for the belief that there are still "good guys" out there who'll want to carry on in the face of seemingly unending horror.
Don't expect a sappy, overly sentimental two hours, though, and fans of Cormac McCarthy's novel should be satisfied, although the movie just misses the complete emotional devastation the book provides. Director John Hillcoat is exceptionally faithful to the brutal, uncompromising vision in the source material. Ash and soot cover everything. Water is gray and undrinkable without some very crude purification. Highways and bridges are shattered and abandoned. Every town's a ghost town, and the rare house that may still be occupied might just have a storeroom full of maimed people being kept alive for food.
Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Ned Beatty, Simon Baker, Elias Koteas, Bill Pullman
Just a warning. I recommend "The Killer Inside Me" enthusiastically, but it's not for everyone. It features some pretty frank depictions of violence against women. It's not glorified or glamorous. It's detestable and disgusting, which is entirely the point. This movie, which is incredibly faithful to its Jim Thompson-penned source novel, tells its story from the perspective of a deeply disturbed man, and while it seeks to understand the killer, it doesn't sympathize with him.
Thankfully, Casey Affleck, who plays the killer, gets this. He's one of the finest actors working today, and his performance here is another great one. That's no small task, since he already set such a high standard for himself in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "Gone Baby Gone." His ability to switch from awkward weirdness to keen intensity to terrifying blankness reminds me of a younger Robert DeNiro or Christopher Walken when they were establishing themselves as Hollywood's go-to psychologically interesting leading men in the 1970s.
It is downright oppressive out there. Summer in the northeast sucks the energy out of me. The sun is blazing, the pollution is thick, and the humidity is saturating. Why even bother to move? I'm glad I've been on vacation during this heat wave. I couldn't imagine dragging myself to Midtown every day, sweating my face off at train platforms and bus stops.
Unfortunately, the heat has also sapped my inspiration to blog. Sorry about that. I promise I have stuff coming, including reviews of "The Killer Inside Me" and "The Road," a movie I had been looking forward to seeing but had put off for a while. I liked both a bit, although one more than the other. I'll get it up here soon.
Also, I have a Friday Rocks coming in just a few minutes. Here's hoping you're still out there!
Oh, and go fuck yourself, LeBron James. It takes a real asshole to celebrate the Heat with weather like this.