BLUE VALENTINE

by Gordon

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Released: 2010
Rating: R [strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating]
Runtime: 112 min.
Main Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%                    IMDB: 7.8/10

 

I think it was the 70s Scottish rock band Nazareth who popularized the saying, “Love hurts.” But God knows it’s been said or thought by anyone who’s ever dabbled with the emotion…the honest ones at least. Blue Valentine is an unrestrained, unafraid portrait of both the rich fullness and the utter emptiness of the drug, a smiling ode to the falling in, and a piercing warning to the falling out of, love.

The focus of the film is Dean Pereira (Gosling) and Cindy Heller (Williams), and the genius of its screenplay is that it presents two very different times and places in their relationship, from its conception to its potential destruction, alternating between the two as we share with them in the joys and pains of their love. There’s nothing “Hollywood” about the couple’s present-day suburban marriage (from which they share a young daughter), and even their budding city romance is void of the usual clichés that, while not without their charm, so easily distract an audience from trusting their reality. And still those inescapable themes are there, of class, communication, jealousy, and the defense mechanisms we use to survive, only told in for me what is the most honest, compelling, and ultimately frightening portrayal of love onscreen.

To help achieve an impression of believability, of a history rich in the ups and downs necessary to create any bruised and battled but not yet defeated couple, actors Gosling and Williams rented an apartment together before filming, even staging fights to better tap into the realness of the pair’s dynamic when on camera. While Gosling’s pitch perfect acting came as no surprise to an already fan, it was Williams’ confidently vulnerable performance that I wasn’t prepared for, and her Oscar nomination was well deserved. And as the film straddles that fine, and often winning, line between independent and mainstream, it’s appropriate (and from a fan’s perspective thrilling) that Grizzly Bear would provide the haunting and beautiful soundtrack that so ominously infuses the couple’s landscapes (though Gosling does make a few fine contributions as well).

Chances are that Nazareth also would have agreed with Pat Benatar when she said, “Love is a battlefield.” And in that bittersweet battlefield between two lovers, what Blue Valentine gets so right is that there rarely exists a definitive protagonist and antagonist, or black and white measures of good and evil, but only vague illusions of the two as interpreted by the parties involved.

And who can’t understand that? These notions of love shared and received so easily become muddled through the jagged lenses that never completely filter the stresses of everyday life. We all know it’s ok to be different one from the other, lover between lover. But what director Cianfrance so realistically shows us is the vast world of difference between what happens when those differences bring us together, and what happens when they tear us apart.

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Matt’s Oscar Predictions

These are my Oscar predictions for this year. Despite knowing that “The Academy” is extremely political in its choices, I’m hoping that this year will be a bit different. There are, of course, going to be winners that the majority of people disagree with, and this makes the Oscars less and less credible. However, it is the most prolific awards ceremony we have that allows us to celebrate each year’s triumph in film. Luckily for us, this year has plenty to celebrate over.

Best Picture – The Social Network (It was the most well-rounded, clean-cut, and perfectly executed picture by far)

Actual Winner: The King’s Speech

Actor in a Leading Role – Colin Firth (Brilliant, believable performance by a well-trained actor)

Actor in a Supporting Role – Christian Bale (His raw talent never ceases to amaze me. One of the finest actors ever)

Actress in a Leading Role – Natalie Portman (She delivers a jaw-dropping, emotional roller coaster of a performance not to be missed)

Actress in a Supporting Role – Hailee Steinfeld (This one was tough, but her sheer confidence as an actress won me over in a film that left me unfulfilled)

Actual Winner: Melissa Leo

Animated Feature Film – Toy Story 3 (No contest… sorry)

Art Direction – Inception (In my opinion the most entertaining and thrilling film I have ever seen, and the art direction was an integral piece to its success)

Actual Winner: Alice In Wonderland

Cinematography – Black Swan (Edgy, horrifying, and equally beautiful)

Actual Winner: Inception

Costume Design – The King’s Speech (Beautiful period piece wardrobes as real as the story itself)

Actual Winner: Alice In Wonderland

Directing – The Social Network (Flawless directing from start to finish)

Actual Winner: The King’s Speech

Film Editing – The Social Network (Again, flawless)

Music (Original Score) – The Social Network (The icing on the cake of this year’s top film)

Sound Editing – Inception (Reminiscent of the Dark Knight… need I say more?)

Sound Mixing – Inception (With all the action involved in the film, the mixing tied it all together)

Visual Effects – Inception (Absolutely stunning visuals. Left me questioning my own reality, therefore, must be a winner)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – The Social Network (Engaging script that provides multiple points of view on this incredible story)

Writing (Original Screenplay) – Inception (Genius… that’s all I can say)

Actual Winner: The King’s Speech


….So I didn’t do too well last night. I underestimated The King’s Speech and was shocked that Black Swan didn’t earn more recognition. Melissa Leo’s nod for Best Supporting Actress was well deserved… except for her blue-balling of Kirk Douglas which I found to be in bad taste. Overall, it was a pretty good time.

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10 of ’10

by Matt

 

This year, more than others, the focus of films seemed to be about reality and the idea of reality. What do we know to be real and how? Does the fact that it is called history always make it true? These were some questions I found asking myself as I watched these top 10 films.

This year has without a doubt been a fantastic year in film, and it is due to the fact that so many incredible stories have been re-created for our viewing pleasure. Films like Get Low, 127 Hours, I Love You Phillip Morris, The King’s Speech, and The Fighter all tell stories of courage, survival, love, and perseverance. The Social Network takes truth and reality to court, as we are given multiple sides of a story and then asked to decide with one is true when, in the end, only those who were actually there will know.

I’m Still Here is a film that flips reality on it’s head by calling itself a documentary when in actuality it is a fabricated masterpiece on the culture of reality television. The film itself isn’t amazing, but the world’s reaction to Joaquin Phoenix’s living script makes it a complete success.

This is what makes film watching fun. The fact that these are true stories allows for us to see ourselves in them, and that for me makes it all the more enjoyable. So, without further adieu, I present you with my list of the top 10 films of 2010.

 

10. The Ghost Writer

Directed by: Roman Polanski
Rating: PG-13 [language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference]
Runtime: 128 min.
Main Cast: Ewan Mcgregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%                    IMDB: 7.5/10


9. I’m Still Here

Directed by: Casey Affleck
Released: 2010
Rating: R [sexual material, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some drug use and crude content]
Runtime: 108 min.
Main Cast: Joaquin Phoenix
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%                    IMDB: 6.2/10


8. 127 Hours

Directed by: Danny Boyle
Rating: R [language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images]
Runtime: 94 min.
Main Cast: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%                    IMDB: 8.4/10


7. Get Low

Directed by: Aaron Schneider
Rating: PG-13 [some thematic material and brief violent content]
Runtime: 100 min.
Main Cast: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%                    IMDB: 7.4/10


6. The King’s Speech

Directed by: Tom Hooper
Rating: R [some language]
Runtime: 118 min.
Main Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%                    IMDB: 8.6/10


5. I Love You Phillip Morris

Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Rating: R [sexual content including strong dialogue, and language]
Runtime: 102 min.
Main Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%                    IMDB: 6.7/10


4. Black Swan

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Rating: R [strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use]
Runtime: 108 min.
Main Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%                    IMDB: 8.6/10


3. The Fighter

Directed by: David O. Russell
Rating: R [language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality]
Runtime: 115 min.
Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%                    IMDB: 8.3/10


2. The Social Network

Directed by: David Fincher
Rating: PG-13 [sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language]
Runtime: 120 min.
Main Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%                    IMDB: 8.2/10


1. Inception

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13 [sequences of violence and action throughout]
Runtime: 148 min.
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%                    IMDB: 9.0/10

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TOP TEN FILMS OF 2010

by Gordon

 

10. The Town

Directed by: Ben Affleck
Rating: R [strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use]
Runtime: 125 min.
Main Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%                    IMDB: 7.8/10

 

   Great story, ultimately centering on leaving one’s own past. Jeremy Renner continues to impress. And the fact that the superb direction comes from Ben Affleck makes it even more commendable.

9. Shutter Island

Directed by: Martin Scorcese
Rating: R (disturbing violent content, language and some nudity)
Runtime: 138 min.
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Jackie Earle Haley, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, John Carroll Lynch, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%                    IMDB: 8.0/10

 

   Not one of Scorcese’s best, but by no means one of his worst. DiCaprio serves up another amazing performance. At times predictable, but with enough mystery throughout to make for an engrossing ride.

8. 127 Hours

Directed by: Danny Boyle
Rating: R [language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images]
Runtime: 94 min.
Main Cast: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%                    IMDB: 8.4/10

 

   While it’s no Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle’s touch on this real-life story of human determination amidst tragic circumstances is unsurprisingly remarkable. Franco’s not bad either.

7. Let Me In

Directed by: Matt Reeves
Rating: R [strong bloody horror violence, language and a brief sexual situation]
Runtime: 116 min.
Main Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%                    IMDB: 7.4/10

 

   Finally, a take on vampire culture that’s void of the teenage angst and textbook melodrama that so dominates the rest of them. Superbly written and beautifully shot. Both young actors show they’re here to stay.

6. True Grit

Directed by: Coen Brothers
Rating: PG-13 [intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images]
Runtime: 110 min.
Main Cast: Malin Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%                    IMDB: 8.3/10

 

   Though not big on Westerns, there’s no denying another great Coen brothers film. Though their quirky spark isn’t as pronounced, they do a fine job at bringing the original book to the screen. Hailee Steinfeld gives a praiseworthy performance.

5. Toy Story 3

Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Rating: PG
Runtime: 103 min.
Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%                    IMDB: 8.7/10

 

   Yes it’s animated. But all the more remarkable that it’s such a good movie. The visuals are the best in the business. But more importantly, Pixar truly knows how to craft a story.

4. The Fighter

Directed by: David O. Russell
Rating: R [language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality]
Runtime: 115 min.
Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%                    IMDB: 8.3/10

 

   Though its title may refer to the character played by Mark Wahlberg, the real catch in this one is Bale, whose continued willingness to visually transform into even more characters remains a powerful sidekick to his impeccable acting.

3. Black Swan

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Rating: R [strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use]
Runtime: 108 min.
Main Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%                    IMDB: 8.6/10

 

   A true hit for the hit or miss but always inspiring Aronofsky. It’s dark, creepy, provocative, intense. Portman has never been more impressive.

2. The Social Network

Directed by: David Fincher
Rating: PG-13 [sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language]
Runtime: 120 min.
Main Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%                    IMDB: 8.2/10

 

   I wouldn’t have guessed a movie about Facebook would be so damn good. Nice job by Eisenberg, still a bit typecast but maybe rightfully so, but it’s Timberlake who really steps out of his shell. And though the role is a bit limited, a nod should also be thrown to Andrew Garfield, a captivating newcomer. But who am I kidding? The movie’s great because of its direction from Fincher.

1. Inception

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13 [sequences of violence and action throughout]
Runtime: 148 min.
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%                    IMDB: 9.0/10

 

   The acting’s good, not amazing. The story’s a little puzzling, perhaps even over the top. But with Nolan behind it all, I could care less. It’s one of the most creative and visually daring movies I’ve ever seen. And it’s so expertly conceived and executed that at times I almost found it all plausible.

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I’M STILL HERE

by Gordon

Directed by: Casey Affleck
Released: 2010
Rating: R [sexual material, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some drug use and crude content]
Runtime: 108 min.
Main Cast: Joaquin Phoenix
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%                    IMDB: 6.2/10

 

   Back in February of 2009 actor Joaquin Phoenix appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman as someone no one could recognize: hair unkempt, mangy beard, and a suit that, though traditional, was offset by a pair of dark shades and chewing gum, for which Letterman would later comment on and Joaquin would dispose of using the host’s own desk. His physical persona was shocking enough, but even more shocking was his demeanor. His personality was void of anything remotely familiar and replaced by some kind of whacked-out version of the actor, one estranged from himself and the world. All this amplified amid what seemed to be a case of extreme shyness and timidity, Phoenix uncomfortably reacting to any and all stimuli from either the host, his band leader, or his audience. Oh, and something about him quitting acting to pursue a career in hip-hop.

   I was shocked, intrigued, curious, and oddly delighted all at once, the last reaction resulting from a seed planted in my brain that hinted to me it might all be a put-on, some kind of Kaufman-esque performance to test the limits of public acceptance with celebrity persona. Instead of an audience looking on to see what the actor does next, Phoenix was turning the tables, making a bizarre move and sitting back while playing the part of observer.

   And then a few YouTube videos surfaced showing the actor actually rapping in public! Was this for real after all? Then again, he was pretty awful, even clumsily falling off the stage in one clip. And then: news that his friend and brother-in-law, Casey Affleck, was filming a movie about the actor, supposedly a documentary on his transition from acting to music. Validity was taking shape, in part because Affleck had already proven himself as a solid actor and artist, because Phoenix was just the right combination of talented and mysterious to perhaps lead up to such a publicly bizarre life crisis, but in the end, because he was so good at convincing us of that scenario despite it all being a ruse.

   This was all confirmed by the director before the film had even had a chance to hit the majority of its theatrical release in the U.S., a decision I later found premature and ultimately damaging to the filmmakers’ original intent. While I was eager to discover the truth behind I’m Still Here, learning it prior to viewing the end product cost my impression the profoundness of experiencing it as if it were all true.

   That said, I was amazed that despite my new knowledge of the facts, I still found myself at times believing that the character Joaquin portrayed in the film was really himself, due in large to his, ironically, having not lost any of his acting chops whatsoever. It was, in fact, his convincing rendition of an actor who no longer acts that assured me he was as good an actor as ever.

   It would all make for a great conclusion if it weren’t for the fact that, unfortunately, the film gets lost in such personal and specific character drama, not unlike any reality show you could probably find on TV presently, that it becomes lost on us in the process. Whereas the goal, as declared by both actor and director after the fact, was to examine the concepts of celebrity and public persona, so little attention is paid to outside reaction of this shift in the main character’s life, that the more memorable takeaways become the crude and sometimes even vile behaviors and scenes involving Joaquin and his fellow friends and costars.

   I still look forward to future work from both Affleck and Phoenix, hopefully in a more mainstream way for the next few years at least. In the end, it’s not so much the film that reamins memorable, as the Late Night appearance itself and the year leading up to it.  And for me, anything that pushes boundaries and the buttons of public thought is enjoyable, if for no other reason, than that one alone.

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21 GRAMS

by Gordon

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Released: 2003
Rating: R [language, sexuality, some violence and drug use]
Runtime: 124 min.
Main Cast: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%                    IMDB: 7.9/10

 

   I thought 21 Grams was going to be a movie about drugs, cocaine probably. I was dead wrong. It includes drugs, yes, but is actually one of those big something-shitty-happened-that-brings-together-a-bunch-of-shitty-lives stories, kind of like Crash, only without nearly as much hope, if any. And that, I’d argue, was a big downfall.

   Though not nearly as big as the non-linear structure that director Alejandro González Iñárritu decided to present the story in. Non-linear certainly has its place, and always adds interest, but is a cheap trick if simply employed to draw attention, when a good story in itself should suffice for that purpose. The jumbled mix of discordant scenes, especially in the beginning, did more to confuse and annoy me than add interest, though I suppose it still did.

   When, half an hour in, Del Toro’s character Jack plainly proclaims to his wife that he’d run over a man and his two daughters (a starter action that sets much of the remaining events into play), I utterly embraced the first inkling of some semblance of a story. The now widowed Cristina (Naomi Watts) is left grieving for the rest of the film, though this subsides somewhat when she meets Paul Rivers (Penn), a man who continues to live because of the heart transplant given to him using the organ of Cristina’s deceased husband (a tidbit he understandably chooses to wait to reveal to her).

   Look, I enjoy the artful expression of bitter, reality-driven sad lives riddled with human flaws, problems and complaints, I really do, but when that scenario is devoid of any hope, the emotional stakes we hold for the characters dies off dramatically, and in this story, that’s exactly the case. No character ever seems close to content (except maybe in rare and short-lived flashbacks), and this doesn’t change, no matter their steps taken to escape their discontentment. No more rooting for positive outcomes. Simply watching these players crash and burn…slowly.

   The frustrating thing is that this story could easily stand alone, chronologically told, as enthralling. Therefore, the director’s choice of directing style comes down to that exactly: stylistic. While Iñárritu does prove he’s capable of some top-notch filmmaking, he simply has to better decide the “when” and “why” behind his directorial choices.

   Whereas an actor’s challenge is to convincingly convey their character’s changes from different state to different state over the course of some constructed timeline, non-linear storytelling shows you these different states with no explanation for the change. All the actor has to do is “be different” and they succeed, while our interest becomes less involved with what’s actually transpiring and more with the voids of unseen transitions. For 21 Grams, as Rob Gonsalves of eFilmCritic.com put it, “The structure simply doesn’t let any of the characters build an arc of growth or despair.” And on top of all that, it carries with it an air of “smart”, simply for confidently charging on while the viewer for the most part remains out of the loop and guessing. For me this was a joyless exercise.

   But while it’s his ability to pull together an overall story that I question, the director still has a knack for seeing and presenting the individual stories of each character and how these interact with one another, as was also the case in his next film, Babel. Although this, too, should not be met without some healthy criticism, perhaps directed at the writer. Sometimes writers introduce secondary stories to give us something else to think over if we’re not taken by the central plot. But if these secondary stories don’t aid or at least come into play with the driving theme, they merely detract from that driving theme’s significance. For this movie, there will no doubt exist differing perspectives on the matter.

   Overall it was a brilliantly acted movie (Del Toro in particular). Sometimes, however, the more important decider is not the story itself, but how well you can tell it.

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INCEPTION

by Gordon

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Released: 2010
Rating: PG-13 [sequences of violence and action throughout]
Runtime: 148 min.
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%                    IMDB: 9.4/10

 

   Inception was one of those long-awaited movies for me, stemming back to initial teaser trailers that showed men in suits fighting in a gravity-defying hallway, sported Leonardo DiCaprio in a film directed by Christopher Nolan (who had already more than proved his talent as a director with films like Memento and the two most recent Batman movies), and played a deep, brass-y note throughout that sounded as ominous as the imagery appeared. I had no idea what it was about or what to expect, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t wait to see the movie.

   Turns out that the story centers on the ability to enter a dream world, with others if you so choose, by taking a sedative and hooking yourself up to a briefcase-carrying contraption. Once inside, one can “steal”, or in this rare case implant ideas in the minds of others, in order to gain or alter important information. Complicating the scenario (while simultaneously calling to mind the ten years’ time it’s taken Nolan to imagine and write this daring piece of fiction), one can hook themselves up and enter a dream within a dream, taking them again somewhere else entirely (still designed by the Architect), the constructs of time and space further contorted the further down the rabbit hole you go.

   The tagline for the film reads, “Your mind is the scene of the crime.” Though they play more like the heroes, the criminals are an eclectic mix of almost other-worldly specialists, including Cobb, or the Extractor (DiCaprio), an expert in subconscious security, Arthur, or the Point Man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who’s responsible for researching the team’s targets, Ariadne, or the Architect (Ellen Page), a young college girl who designs the dream landscapes, Eames, or the Forger (Tom Hardy), capable of shape shifting his identity inside the dreams, Yusuf, or the Chemist (Dileep Rao), who provides the team with the necessary sedatives to get them inside the dreams, and Saito, or the Tourist (Ken Watanabe), the businessman who hires the team for the specific mission which is the focus of the film.

   The cast are as eclectic and talented as the characters they play. Hardy works well as the thickly-accented comic relief from time to time, and Gordon-Levitt once again surprises us (though it shouldn’t anymore) with another great performance off the heels of 2009’s 500 Days of Summer. He somehow landed what I see as the coolest role in the film as the sharp-suited, charming sidekick who gets one of the most visually entertaining and probably most fun scenes involving the gravity-defying fight scene as mentioned earlier.

   The cast not comprising the team are to be equally lauded. Lukas Haas, a talent I hope to see one day rise above the minor roles so often given him, plays the team’s first Architect, who unfortunately fails in his profession. Michael Caine has a small but necessary role as Miles, Cobb’s mentor, teacher, and father-in-law, who introduces Cobb to Ariadne for the team’s purposes. Cillian Murphy plays Robert Fischer, or the Mark, who as the heir to a business empire has attracted the attention of Saito and thus become the team’s target. Tom Berenger makes a surprising film return (in a movie such as this) as Robert’s godfather and advice-giver in the time of his father’s (Pete Postlethwaite) death. And the beautiful Marion Cotillard plays Mallorie, or the Shade, Cobb’s deceased wife who spent decades living with him in their own lovers’ dream world, one that in the end ruined the pair and has continued to haunt and disrupt the life of Cobb in his present line of work. The backstory she helps to create is what drives any emotional interest we feel for Cobb or the movie in general.

   Attempting to even describe the events of the movie would a) fill three entire reviews and b) not at all serve justice to the complexities that Nolan has been so careful to visually explain. While I was at many points in the film baffled, confused, and even a little annoyed with both my inability to understand what I was witnessing as well as the director’s purposeful intent of that being the case, I must congratulate him for being ambitious enough to even tackle such a fantasy. While somehow still shying away from as much computer-generated imagery as he can successfully avoid, the visuals were at times unlike anything I’d ever seen onscreen, with materials and landscapes bending and popping in somehow the realest of form. And though it may seem like a tough sell for those unable to connect with anything sci-fi or other-worldly, just as the strangest of dreams can seem real while we’re asleep, so too did Inception while I sat in that theater.

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