Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

INCEPTION (2010)
This movie plays like they took Dreamscape and pumped it full of hot air. Between this and The Dark Knight I'm really reassessing my opinion of Christopher Nolan. What begs to be a small, interesting thriller becomes an exercise in pretentious, boring contemplation on the nature of dreams and reality. Even with the ridiculous premise--a small team of dream experts try to go inside a business rival's head and implant the idea to break up his father's corporation--and the large scope it's so limited in its imagination. Every layer of the dream they set up looks like a dull action movie (one layer is right out of the old GoldenEye video game) and not like, say, a dream. They fuck around with the special effects a little bit, but nothing really spectacular or mind-blowing happens. I can't believe so many people think this is such a smart flick, especially when the movie is so reluctant to take chances or to dream big. It can't even bring itself to follow the limited set of rules it actually sets up for itself, and disregards nearly all of them for convenience, manufactured suspense, or whatever seems "cool." Seriously, I was bored out of my mind the whole time, and since we never really get to know any character, I didn't feel connected enough to the thing to care whether or not Leonardo DiCaprio saw his kids or Cillian Murphy made it to the Big Boss level (which apparently is nothing more than the hotel room from the end of 2001). * star. Ludicrous.

LET ME IN (2010)
I don't care that it's an American version of something, I really liked this. I loved Let the Right One In, and though this film isn't as subtle as that one (and slightly more special effects-y), it was interesting in the way it spelled certain things out. I have to admit, I didn't think of some of the implications of the relationship between this vampire (Chloe Moretz is very good in this) and a young boy, and beyond the storybook happy ending, what happens to their relationship. As a side note, this is a Hammer production. Seeing the name again makes me happy, especially with such a quality picture. The viewpoint is more American, yes, but I liked it as much as the original, because the filmmakers care about the story and the characters and not just capitalizing on something with recognition. **** stars.

THE FIGHTER (2010)
Another American movie that could lose about a half hour. Christian Bale is excellent as a former boxer and current crack addict, living off of his past success and talking about a comeback that's never going to happen. His family lauds him out of all proportion. That aspect of the movie was interesting to me. What wasn't interesting to me, generally, was the story of his younger brother, Irish Micky Ward, played I guess as well as Marky Mark is capable of. It's really just the story of a fighter who works hard and reconciles the relationships between his overbearing girlfriend (Amy Adams) and his overbearing family of skanks, led by his overbearing mother (Melissa Leo, overacting here--much more effective in Welcome to the Rileys). Really the only member of his family who doesn't pull him down with expectations is his father (George Dzundza, who I haven't seen in years, and who is very nice here). The real outcome, it seems, is that Micky Ward needs someone to yell at him about what he should do. Anyway, it's a decent boxing picture, with a great performance by Bale and Marky Mark about a decade too old to be entirely convincing as Bale's younger brother (in reality, he's a couple of years older). Except for Bale's performance, I don't see what the big deal is. It's not even that sincere. **1/2 stars.

127 HOURS (2010)
Danny Boyle makes up for the underwhelming, overrated Slumdog Millionaire with this character piece. And it's a good choice to play this as a character piece, peeling back the layers of Aron Ralston as he's stuck literally between a rock and a hard place, knowing that this is all leading up to having to cut off his own arm to escape being trapped in a chasm. There's really not much of a dramatic story there, so focusing instead on his state of mind and what the rock comes to represent to him becomes something I got very wrapped up in. It's a very intense (and yes, very graphic) conflict, as Aron eventually becomes certain that his entire life of disconnecting from the people he knows has led precisely to this point. James Franco is excellent in the lead. **** stars.

4 comments:

Kal said...

I like the way you are honest with your reviews. I too have thought alot about 'Inception'. I like the idea of it but not the execution. Unlike 'Donnie Darko' my WTF questions did not disappear with additional viewing. I am done with 'Inception'.

Let me is was tender and enjoyable. I liked the fresh take on a vampire tale especially watching Cloe's 'familiar' age out.

I am sick of Bale's 'method acting trick'. He is like the David Blaine of acting. A magician who doesn't even bother with magic anymore.

127 Hours is on my list of 'must sees' when I can overcome my fear of the gore I will see. It is always less than I imagine in my mind.

Will said...

Inception

If you think about it it's an episode of Mission Impossible. Tom Hardy's character even has to put on a mask to impersonate another character.

It was good seeing it in IMAX.

JP said...

The only thing that might have made Inception vaguely enjoyable is if, right in the end, DiCaprio's character woke up one more time to find himself back on Shutter Island.

Seriously, Nolan needs to dream harder.

I loved Let The Right One In and have been wary of the remake, but your review has intrigued me enough to give it a shot.

Roger Owen Green said...

I liked The Figher, but you're right, it's too long, and the too long is on the front end.