Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Cheap Dreams

Inception blatantly invites comparisons. The zero-g simulation and the center room of the dream heist evoke the mystery of 2001, the cityscape of Limbo wants to look like Brazil, and the gimmicky plot screams “this is what Matrix 2 and 3 should have been like”. Failed ambition.

If I were in want of stunning visuals lacking in emotional and logical depth, Avatar would be a much better fit than this and do the job much more nicely and honestly, without leaving the tinny taste of being taken for a sucker in the mouth. For all its technical glory, Inception makes almost no sense as story or metaphor, and it’s sad to imagine the movie this could have been, in the hands of a writer/director taking the mind seriously. Diving down into somebodies subconscious ought to be unsettling and intense, but instead there is just stuff being blown up and secret agents shooting blanks: mind as submachine gun. Yawn.

Additionally, the only way Inception can keep you from falling through the cracks in the plot is by keeping everything in frenzied motion. But once the action stops, everything crumbles. The crumbling is pretty to look at, no doubt, but what remains in the end is still only technorubble.

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Tim Burton – Sweeney Todd (2)

st-movie-poster.jpg There is a hole in the world like a great black pit, and the vermin of the world inhabit it. Not entirely taken with the beginning of the venture – the opening credits looked less than good, and Todd’s song to his knives seemed drawn out and overacted to the verge of embarrassment – but from judge’s failed shave on in I enjoyed every last drop of it. And of dripping there is aplenty, of course.

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Park Chan-wook – Chinjeolhan Geumjassi (1)

poster.jpg Would you? Or wouldn’t you? And are the artificial plot settings the question arises in only superficially important or does it change the quality of your answer that you may never be in a situation that’s remotely close to the one depicted in this movie? In other words, is the moral conundrum this movie seems to present only applicable within its own stylized universe? If even within that universe, the kathartic act falls short, and everybody seems more upset after it than before, should these people have trusted their instincts? And am I falling into Park’s trap, asking all these questions instead of just enjoying a wildly original ride?

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Tamara Jenkins – The Savages (2)

savages_ver2.jpg Quirky, drab, touching and depressing, all at the same time, this is the story of a father slowly dying, and his estranged children struggling to find their place in what unfolds. I’m not entirely sure of its quality objectively – I suspect it’s rather good, if you must know -, for it hit close to home for me on a personal level. Having been in a similar situation just recently, I found myself both relating to the characters’ confusion, and back in my own bewildered state at the same time. And when we left the theater, I heard an old gentleman tell his wife “that was really sad”, in a broken voice, which was both sweeter and sadder than anything within the movie, and that’s in spite of that Lenya song and the ending.

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Zach Braff – Garden State (2)

Garden-State-DVD.jpg A delightful and touching comedy, with a lovely soundtrack, and wonderfully understated moments of dry humor, mixed with the emotionally touching story of trauma overcome and love found in the most unlikely of places, Jersey. I’ll go to southern Newark soon, looking for the infinite abyss and the old leaky boat guarding it, not to move in with the young couple, but to also stand on top of the excavator and shout at the unknown.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Akutagawa Ryunosuke – Rashomon (2)

rashomon.jpg This collection of short pieces did not leave me quite as astounded and fascinated as did his longer story Kappa, but there still is an undertone of oddness created by the things, notions and emotions that come natural to Ryunosuke’s characters, yet seem strange and strangely upsetting to me. But the general theme that ties together this book, the isolation of the individual and the fragility and subjectivity of social relations and even accounts of reality, both of which at the same time are essential to life and happyness, is much closer to being universal as, I suspect, his criticism of a specifically Japanese society was in “Kappa”.

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Luchino Visconti – Il Gattopardo (4)

50-Gattopardo.jpg There might be a gripping historical tale in this movie, of the change Italy underwent when the univifcation movement succeeded, of the social turmoil, and of the mixed feelings of an educated upper class, about to lose it’s power and influence for a good cause, but I didn’t stick around to see whether there was. After the first forty minutes dragged on, with a nonexistent plot and a badly choreographed, endless public fighting scene, I stopped. Sorry, Visconti.

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Paul Verhoeven – Turkish Delight (3)

180px-Turkish_Delight_DVD_cover.jpg What a weird trip. I have to admit, the power of script and acting impress me, but from todays perspective, the sentiments and behaviour just seem strangely affected. Seeing this today suggests not artistic abandon and an emotional rollercoaster, but a dated body language and strangely stale clichees of reckless abandon. The horrible porn soundtrack doesn’t help any.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Zack Snyder – 300 (3)

poster1_full1.jpg Awesome graphic design, wonderful cinematic visuals, both of which are more to Miller’s credit, of course, than the filmmakers’. The story lacked subtlety or characterization, and the dialogue was horribly cliched in places, which may also be Miller’s fault – need to pick up the book to check. A sad waste of talent and material overall.

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Martin Campbell – Casino Royale (2)

bond.jpg For some bizarre reason that I find it hard to put my finger on, I still like Timothy Dalton’s Bond best. Maybe it was the discrepancy between his effeminate appearance and the supposed tough guy he portrayed. Craig certainly doesn’t have that asset, if an asset it is, but the realism the makers of this movie were striving for, is certainly rewarding. I’m not a fan of product placement, nor of movies that are longer than they should be, nor of the elaborate stunt sequence beginning, that felt like it was tailored for a computer game, but still watching this latest Bond was more fun than I recall the last few attempts to be. And I also liked the surrealist feel of going back to the roots, yet having the plot set in the present, with Dench as M.