Monthly Archives: July 2010

So I Saw Inception Last Night

I was fortunate enough to have a press pass to see a screening of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Inception.  I now consider myself to be amongst the lucky few who have seen this movie and urge everyone reading this to drop all weekend plans in order to see it as soon as possible.  A dreary Friday is worth it so you can see a midnight showing on Thursday.  The film is just. that. good.

I'm not sure why Tom Hardy and Ken Watanabe are missing from this photo. They provide much more meat than either Caine or Murphy.

It’s a heady film, and one that I fear may soar over the heads of many audience members.  There are complex plot points involving multiple layers of dreams and the concept that one could actually implant an idea in another person’s subconscious. If you thought The Matrix was confusing, this film will certainly leave you flabbergasted.  I couldn’t agree more with Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly

“Beware the critic who claims the ability to analyze Inception authoritatively after one viewing. As engrossing and logic-resistant as the state of dreaming it seeks to replicate, Christopher Nolan’s audacious new creation demands further study to fully absorb the multiple, simultaneous stories Nolan finagles into one narrative experience.”

The main character of Dom Cobb – portrayed brilliantly with the characteristic restrained pain of DiCaprio – leads a group of ingenious thieves in the business of corporate espionage who actually invade and construct the dreams of their victims.  His team consists of a right hand man (Joseph Gordon Levitt), an architect to construct the dreams (Ellen Page), and a “forger” (Tom Hardy) – a team member who can portray other people within the dream.  Dom needs these people to help him in the most daring and complex con of his life – the One Last Job that has become so textbook in films like this.  Instead of stealing trade secrets or ideas from rivals, he sets out to plant an idea in the mind of Cillian Murphy’s Robert Fischer.  His name suggests, as Schwarzbaum points out, that we are in for quite the game of chess.  The movie frequently skips between several different realities and, to be sure, has an ending that leaves the audience wanting more.

It is, in a word, mesmerizing.

My only gripe really is that the emotional connection to the plot is severely lacking.  We are intellectually stimulated and enraptured throughout most of the film – and especially the second half.  However, the believability of the emotional motivations is simply not as strong.  Marion Cotillard plays Dom’s wife Mal – you know, Latin for “evil” (every character’s name is layered, just like the dreamscapes they create).  I won’t reveal any twists involving her character, but it is certainly safe to say that the motivations for Dom are a tad cliché; the way they all play out is not.  To be honest, it really comes down to this sense of innovation.  Yes, the emotional structure is bare-bone and tired, but the mental structure is so captivating, is so enthralling, that I am eager to dismiss this shortcoming.  The last hour of the movie is incredibly complicated and, at the same time, insanely compelling (Nolan has constructed a truly mind-bending scene with a hotel hallway fight that will leave you breathless).

In short, I want to see this film again, and as soon as possible.  This is the kind of movie that leaves you seeing the world in a different way once you step out of the theater.  Only the truly great films can aspire to be this transcendent; Nolan should be proud that so many of his pieces can accomplish this.

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I’m Sick of Stupid Fans

I have a gripe, and I don’t really intend on anyone listening to me, but sometimes it just helps to put it out there.  I’m sick of the obnoxiously condescending and sometimes outright rude middle class soccer (neé football) fans in America, many of whom don’t really give a shit about the sport itself.

Yes, I’m talking about those of you who abandoned the World Cup the second the United States was eliminated by Ghana.  I’m especially talking about those who either claimed that soccer fans were pretentious or refused to admit that the American team sucked.  Seriously, I could write an entire post on the monstrously bad defense put forth by the Americans this year, and detail the faults of the team that somehow managed to lead their group. There is a reason that the American team was the only of eight group leaders who failed to advanced from the second round.

Great symbol. Pathetic defense.

Mostly, though, my ire is directed at those of you who have somehow decided that rooting for Ghana was the best possible way to conclude the World Cup.  Honestly?! Ghana?!? The team who took the strategy of taking dives and elevated it to an artform?  The team that put the likes of Brazil, Italy, and Mexico to shame with their manipulation of refs?  The team of Asamoah Gyan, who has forever become the goat of the sport?

Gyan is one of the reasons Ghana did not advance. Blame Suarez all you want.

Let’s be completely honest here, people – the blatant, goaltending handball from Suarez of Uruguay is NOT what stopped Ghana from winning.  Yes, the man cheated, but he was red-carded and sent packing until, if the team is lucky, the final match.  The reason Ghana lost is because Gyan couldn’t sink that resulting PK.  This is, by the way, one of the easiest things to do in soccer.  Furthermore, once the game was set to be decided by PKs, the Ghana team choked again and failed to sink the requisite balls to decisively defeat Uruguay.

My point, however, must be made.  I have met so many people here in the States who claimed for weeks that “I just want RANDOM AFRICAN TEAM to win, because they deserve to.”  I’m sorry?  So based on the fact that only three African teams have ever made it to the quarterfinals, now all of a sudden people want any random African team to advance?  Even worse, they’re throwing their chips behind Ghana?  I could possibly tolerate this borderline racist mentality if the team they chose to support (had they advanced from a truly deathly group) had been Côte d’Ivoire.  Côte d’Ivoire had real players, with the commanding presence of Drogba, and the skills to take on teams like Brazil and Portugal without being dismissed handily.  In fact, they held the highest ranked team in the world to a 3-1 victory, and even tied with Portugal – ranked globally by FIFA, in case you were wondering, at third.

Les éléphants sont une meilleure équipe de toute façon.

But for them to arbitrarily throw their backing behind any African team that advanced was pretty obnoxious and, I’ll say it again – completely condescending.  Do you honestly think that a random white kid from Indiana is going to make the difference when Ghana is playing a team like Uruguay? Netherlands? Germany? Spain?  Will your self-righteous support really lift them past some of the best teams in the world?  More importantly, where was this all-consuming love for down-trodden and underrepresented teams when South Korea made it to the semifinals in 2002 as a co-host country?  I don’t recall Americans who were relatively well-off getting so excited about supporting our brothers in Seoul eight years ago, and the support this summer seems to smack of hypocrisy.

So, just for the record, I’m ecstatic to see Ghana go.  I never liked them and found their gameplay to be rather shameless.  I’m ecstatic about today’s game between the Netherlands and Uruguay, and even more so for tomorrow’s game between Spain and Germany.  I still hope for a final between the Netherlands and Spain, resulting in a first-time winner no matter what.  Truth be told, though, I’m just hoping against hope that those cocky bastards from Deutschland don’t make it any farther.

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