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Posts Tagged ‘inception

Source Code (2011)

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This didn’t blow me out of the water like Inception did, but it was pretty close.

What would you do if you had only 8 minutes left to live?  What would you do if you had 8 minutes left to live… ten times?  Source Code is the government’s latest invention for intervention.  Military pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up one day on a train, in a body that is not his own and sitting across from an attractive woman who apparently knows him.  The last thing he remembers is flying over Afghanistan.  8 minutes later, the train blows up.

He doesn’t die, though.  He winds up in a small isolation chamber – being awoken by a woman’s voice.  Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga), after issuing some basic memory tests, explains that he is part of a government operation and that his experience on the train is nothing but a simulation called source code.  Earlier that day, a bomb exploded on the train, and Colter’s mission is to locate the bomb and the bomber to prevent a subsequent terrorist attack later that afternoon that would wipe out the entire population of Chicago.  Every time he lands in the same place with 8 minutes to find out more information about the attack, as well as more information about himself.

Phew!  That was an intense summary.  Don’t worry about it.  I applaud Duncan Jones for repeating an 8 minute situation ten timesish and have it STILL be original and legit.  We can’t always have Bill Murray to entertain us every single repeated Groundhog Day.  I was never once bored.  It’s fast-paced, exciting, but insightful and deep, too.  I loved the trippiness of it, the question of how much saving he can actually do without being limited to changing the future only.

It also manages to throw in some great character development without being overbearingly mushy or distracting from the excitement.  Colter Stevens can’t remember what happened to him, he doesn’t know how he wound up in the Source Code, he hasn’t even made amends with his father since before he went to war.  Apparently he’s on a mission, but he doesn’t know at all what’s up.  On another note, I never thought I could hear the phrase “everything’s going to be okay” as many times as Colter said it without tasting the oozing cheese.  But it works as an emotional backbone to the thrill.

Even with movies like Inception out and popular, this is still a great, original story and gives thrillers a good name again.  It’s also a great mysery, though I’ll admit I wasn’t too surprised with every twist and turn, save the ending of course.  But that doesn’t mean it’s worthless – in fact if I can compare it to Unknown, which I recently saw as well, it doesn’t make the same mistake of trying to confuse the audience TOO much for the sake of being confusing.  In that regard, the suspenseful plot and theme are perfect.  Then again, I could watch these cerebral fantasies all day.  I love Minority Report, Inception and The Matrix.  I love this.  I knew that I was onboard the second Jake Gyllenhaal looked at himself in the mirror and saw another guy looking back at him, then confusedly looking through his wallet to find an alternate identity in a History teacher named Sean.  [And yes, for the record, Inception is definitely my go-to comparison these days.  Man do I love that movie.  I promise to review it soon.  Anyway.]

I warn you, there are questions.  Who’s Sean?  Who’s Christina for that matter? (the attractive girl sitting across from him – played by Michelle Monaghan).  What’s he doing, when is this happening, what is going on… Just don’t worry about the science.  Suspend your disbelief.  Love the ride.  I adored the almost end – Colter pays off a comedian to lighten up everyone’s faces right before they die for the last time.  Perfect touch.

Jake Gyllenhaal is really good as our leading man (oh the charmer he is), as well as the supporting cast.  I particularly enjoyed Vera Farmiga’s performance, though Michelle Monaghan, and Jeffrey Wright are also good.  But I’m applauding Duncan Jones more than anyone.  I’ll get around to seeing Moon one of these days, I’m definitely a fan.  The editing is also excellent.

It’s like a video game on steroids.  This intellectual thriller is worth full price, folks.  8/10


Insomnia (2002)

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So yeah, I’m doing a Liz Taylor marathon of sorts… but I’m also kinda going through some Chris Nolan movies.  Cuz he’s the mannnn.  After I saw Following I just had to watch Insomnia because I didn’t really remember it and it too was on Netflix.

So Insomnia is probably my least favorite of the Nolan flicks, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it or that it’s by any means a bad movie.  (We’re comparing this to Inception, Dark Knight, and Memento here…) It’s got a great cast (Al freaking Pacino is in it for heaven’s sake… along with Hilary Swank and Robin Williams, all Oscar winners) and still some epic Nolan-esque qualities (who freaking well NEEDS an Oscar).

Pacino plays Will Dormer, an acclaimed detective who hops it over with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) to Alaska to aid in an investigation of a murdered girl.  Dormer isn’t so squeaky clean – there’s an Internal Affairs investigation taking place in Los Angeles over one of his cases for potentially falsified evidence.  He ain’t afraid to use any method possible to find out what he wants or to win.  He and his partner aren’t exactly peachy-keen with each other, they argue over methods and Eckhart might even testify against Dormer.

Then there’s Ellie Burr (Swank), a young over-eager police officer fresh from the academy, and Dormer’s biggest fan.  She’s initially assigned to work with Dormer on the Kay Connell case.  Ya know, I like Hilary Swank.  I like girls that actually look fit and healthy rather than anorexically skinny (You know, The Next Karate Kid, Million Dollar Baby type girl).  She’s also a talented actress and I think she gives a pretty great performance in this.  She creates a character who subtly grows from her naïveté, it seems as natural as a real human being.

Alaska in the summer=the land of perpetual daylight.  It drives Dormer insane, how could anyone sleep in the daytime?  Oh wait it’s midnight already…  Have you ever had insomnia?  It’s awful.  I grew up having extreme difficulty falling asleep at night.  It was the worst in high school.  I’d just be there… on the bed… staring at the ceiling… I’d read a book for a few minutes, listen to music, or not listen to music, open the window, turn up the A/C, get a softer blanket, play a game on my phone, whatever.  It SUCKS.  Luckily I can survive with little sleep, and luckily I’d still manage to average around 5 hours.  Better than going straight through, like Dormer.  And I didn’t have a murder investigation on my mind…

Dormer goes crazy.  Light flashes, confusing memories, fuzzy vision, all that good stuff.  He’s also dealing with some heavy anxiety (murder and stuff tend to do that to ya).  He’s blinking away the fatigue whenever you look at him, willing his eyes to breath.  Al Pacino’s a beast.  He’s good in everything.  I don’t know how a man like that can stand to be so good at what he does, seriously.  But like I said, I know how insomnia goes and Al’s got it down.

It should also be noted that Robin Williams might give the best performance of the bunch, if you can believe it.  I won’t say much more about him, he’s a character best discovered by watching the movie.  I ain’t in the business of giving away too much.

But all I’ve really got to say about this movie is that, *cough cough* it’s Christopher Nolan.  Now here’s the real question – how can a guy like NOLAN survive knowing that he has a repertoire of pure genius sans exception.  What would it be like to be that legit?

Insomnia explores some crazy psychological deals.  Right and wrong, guilt, anxiety.  It’s also a good mystery.  Who killed Kay Connell, what’s Dormer’s deal, who’s the crazy guy that keeps calling Dormer (Robin Williams – no, that’s not the answer), etc.  It’s a thriller, not your standard thriller, but a thriller of the mind nonetheless.  It’s claustrophobic, he’s just sooooo tireddddd. I’d love to watch the original Norwegian version – it sounds a little more hardcore than this.  But by its own merits, Insomnia is great.  Another 50 points for team Nolan.  8/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

March 28, 2011 at 8:06 am

V for Vendetta (2006)

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“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.  I know of no reason the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”

Geek fest geek fest geek fest…  I can think of a few movies that I’ve seen in my lifetime where I come home from the theater, or turn off the TV and just sit back and think.  Memento falls under this category as does Inception or actually The Prestige… k so any Christopher Nolan movie AT ALL, but I’ve also had this feeling with On the Waterfront, The Truman Show, Psycho, and The Man in the Moon.  It doesn’t have to be trippy like Nolan’s movies to get me thinking.  These movies all made an impression on me in some way or another, whether it’s crazy good acting, a revealing twist, trippy cinematography, a great script or simply a wonderful story.  V for Vendetta made an impression on me.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, but this movie is freaking amazing.

So there’s this terrorist dude.  He’s got a white mask, a deep impressionable voice, and goes by the name “V.”  (Hugo Weaving, so awesome even without a face).  Dystopian London is a wreck, and he thinks he can set it straight by finishing what Guy Fawkes and co. started in 1605… blow up Parliament.  On the 5th of November, of course.  Though he dons the Fawkes mask as his symbol, V has his own personal vendetta against the government, beginning with his imprisonment at a British concentration camp for homosexuals, blacks, Jews, Muslims, etc.  His face was disfigured in an explosion (also on November 5th) and he seeks revenge over all responsible at the camp.

There’s also a girl named Evey Hammond (played brilliantly and very British-like by Natalie Portman).  She’s a twenty-somethin’ orphan working at the British Television Network.  She crosses paths with V (well, he saved her life or somethin’) and invites her to watch him blow up the Old Bailey.  The government steals his thunder by covering to the public what really happened, so he makes a personal appearance on the TV Network Evey works at, appealing to the people to unite with him the following 5th of November against Parliament.  Evey saves his life… he takes her to his freaking awesome lair where she’s supposed to chill for a year.  And later she shows off her awesome head shape  – very few women could pull off a shaved head like she can.  (“Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” anyone?)

Okay, so the British government is pretty messed up.  This is dystopian GB, the US is basically destroyed, and totalitarian gov of the fascist Norsefire party led by Adam Sutler (John Hurt) tries to fix the environmental mess that England is in post some war involving biological weapons.  They basically came to power by creating a deadly virus, killing thousands, and then producing a cure.  And they, like, had psycho concentration camps like Nazis.  Sketchy kinda?  So the public might actually pay attention to this “V” man, no one likes the controlled situation they’re under.

Another character of note is Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) who is investigating the murders of several government officials, all killed by V.

First of all, V is freaking awesome.  His opening V-alliterated monologue along with Evey’s “Are you, like, a crazy person?” is kind of great.  V kinda has a knife obsession, loves The Count of Monte Cristo, and all things beautiful.  He’s a jack of all trades master at EVERYTHING kind of a guy.  Too bad we only hear Weaving’s voice, but it’s still a good performance balancing brilliance with insanity.

I, personally, think that Natalie Portman is good as well.  Some argue that her accent sucks and that she’s just white noise behind better performances.  But I disagree, I think she’s a very talented actress and her accent is actually quite good.  I enjoyed her performance.

But I’ll be honest, though the acting, cinematography, directing, writing, costumes, technical aspects (freaking sweet in its own right – visually exciting and better than The Matrix in some aspects) and what else have you are all great ‘n’ all… the story makes the movie.  And I’m a sucker for dystopian plot lines.  It’s gotta be my consistently most favorite genre.  I can’t believe I haven’t gotten ahold of the graphic novels yet (it’s on my to-do list now), because just the film itself has sparked a bug in me and I want to know everything I can about this crazy, unfamiliar world.  It’s complex and nuanced, heartbreaking and gripping.  It’s also a kick-A action movie, if you dig that.

I’m sure the Wachowski bros and James McTeigue don’t do Alan Moore justice, but on a strictly movie standpoint – this is hardcore. 9/10

Following (1998)

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So I think by this point everybody’s on board that Christopher Nolan is the bad-A of the times.  The best of the best, the leader of the pack, a movie-lover’s dream.  This is everybody’s man’s debut film.  Following is probably the most similar to Memento of any of his other movies, but it is also completely different in its own right.  It’s almost Hitchcock-esque.  Not quite so trippy as Inception, but still as gripping.  It’s a low-budget gem.

Following is, initially, about a man named Bill who follows people to pass the time.  He’s a writer, but has no current job, and wants to learn about human nature from his followees.  He had to set rules for himself though, so as not to become too obsessive or, IMO, perverted, and his most important rule of all was never to follow the same person twice.  But why set rules unless you can break them, eh?

He follows a man named Cobb.  (More than once).  But this mysterious, handsome man in a dark suit knows that our guy’s up to something and confronts him.  They talk, and share their stories.  Turns out Cobb’s a serial burglar, and he invites our man to go on some jobs with him.  These ain’t your run-of-the-mill-steal-the-jewelry-burglars, though.  Cobb’s more interested in the personal items of their victims.  “Everyone has a box.”  He drinks their wine, rummages through photos, takes a few things here and there.  His intention is that “you take it away, show them what they had.”

They become partners, and Cobb shows the young man what’s up.  The young man starts some burglary projects of his own, changes his appearance, starts a relationship with a blonde femme-fatale.  Things spin out of control soon enough however.  Never follow someone twice, kids.

The chronology is similar to Memento.  Awesome.  It’s not as systematic as that, however (color real-time scenes, black & white backwards scenes, etc.)  But it’s still out of order, and possibly even awesome-r in this modern film noir.  Who’d-o’ thunk that this method of storytelling would be so freaking epic?  I think it’s the best way to reveal the what’s up of a story.  This remains true for Following.  The big end wouldn’t be half as cool were it not for the messed up timeline.  Hats off to you, Chris.

Its length (just over an hour) and detached feel are strengths as well.  The only character credited with a name is Cobb.  This also felt like something Hitchcock would do (and did).  It’s very straightforward, and lacks strong emotion.  You learn the facts about the characters, you learn about the victims.  You can’t always feel what the young man is feeling, however.  It’s hard to describe, because it’s a character story, or study rather, but it still has this edgy, detached feel.

The incomprehensible small budget of just $6,000 is put to perfect use in the gritty underbelly of London.  Everything feels dirty, creepy, and mysterious.  The excellent photography combined with the scenery contributes to the suspense and ambiance.  The no-name cast is also excellent, Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, and Lucy Russell.  It’s a surprise to me that they did nothing else, they’re quite good in this – especially Alex Haw as Cobb.. and he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page!

If you’re just hopping on the Chris Nolan bandwagon, I’d check this one out.  If you loved Memento, this is his father.  Following is another excellent film that credits Nolan as good as any other mainstream effort of his. 9/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

March 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

oscars to the 83rd.

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It’s that time again guys.  I don’t know why I don’t get so excited for these.  But I do.  So don’t judge.

Some People Predict 2011. Go.

PICTURE: The Social Network
So King’s Speech has been getting the buzz lately, it took the SAG awards.  But I’m still sticking with the Facebook movie.  It’ll be close – this the toughest competition of the bunch.  Well, this and Director.

DIRECTOR: David Fincher – The Social Network.
And oh why wasn’t Christopher Nolan nominated for this??? Didn’t they add ten slots basically because of The Dark Knight’s omission in 2009? Sheesh.  That man better get his someday.

ACTOR: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
I’m not as Mr. Darcy sick as many of my female friends… but I still love this man.  This is a crazy-great category though – I’d pull for Jessie Eisenberg, James Franco, Firth, AND Jeff Bridges if I could.  I don’t know much about Biutiful, but Javier Bardem is always good too.

ACTRESS: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Yeah, I don’t have anything to say about this category. Go Natalie.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale – The Fighter
Love this guy, glad he’s getting some recognition.  I’m also glad Mark Ruffalo got a nom, I’ve liked him for a while.  I wish Andrew Garfield got somethin’ though!

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo – The Fighter
I’m probably plugging for Amy Adams, though I’m stoked Hailee Steinfeld got a nod even if it should have been Best Actress.

I wish Tangled had been nominated.  But this deserves it no doubt.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: David Seidler – The King’s Speech
I’m still plugging for Chris Nolan with Inception…
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Aaron SorkinThe Social Network
I already obsess over Aaron Sorkin with his work on The West Wing.  That guy can write.
This is a tough one.  It’s this or True Grit.
ART DIRECTION: Alice in Wonderland
Yeah, I just said Alice in Wonderland. Though the night before the Oscars I may change that to King’s Speech.
COSTUME DESIGN: The King’s Speech
They always go for the period pieces.
DOCUMENTARY (feature): Inside Job
DOCUMENTARY (short): No freaking idea.  Killing in the Name?
Because I’ve heard of it?  This also may change.  Because I just don’t know.
FILM EDITING: Social Network
I would have said Inception, sealed deal but oh wait it’s not nominated…
This is another tough category because these guys never get famous until after they win.  Maybe I should be better and pay attention to foreign films all the way along but eh, not worth it.
MAKEUP: Barney’s Version
I guess? Anything but Wolfman right?
MUSICAL SCORE: The Social Network – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
I’m for Hans Zimmer with Inception. And I think it’d take second.
ORIGINAL SONG: “Coming Home” – Country Song
Because it’s a country song… But it should be Randy Newman for Toy Story 3
I’m saying no contest?
Because I’ve heard of it?
It. has. to. be.

Looking forward to the 27th folks. See ya then.

hey guys…

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Sorry everyone, I’m in the process of moving so I won’t be posting for a few weeks. I apologize for the delay but things happen, you know? I’ll be returning as soon as possible. I’m still writing and keeping my notes handy for upcoming posts (like Inception – which I FINALLY saw. score.) Thanks for the patience!

Written by laurenthejukebox17

August 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm

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to go away on a summer’s day never seemed so clear

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Apologies for the petite hiatus.  Unfortunately the rest of the summer will be just as bumpy as I move and start school and whatnot.  But my little vacation time with friends and family was spectacular.  From boogie boarding, swimming, and eating good food, to playing games, watching movies, and shopping it was endless fun.  I even got a hike in with my good buddy.

Also during my absence…. I was featured on The LAMB.  Thanks to all who visited my site during that time, and I hope you haven’t gone too far away!  Tomorrow I am 100% planning on resuming normal movie-reviewing blog posts.

Right now I’m also excited to be watching The West Wing Seasons 3-5 as well as White Collar Season 2 whose Season Premiere aired last week.  I’ve also started my next book in the Newbery Award queue – The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  And finally, the best movie I watched in the past two weeks was probably Shattered Glass (review coming soon!)

Holiday, oh holiday…  I heart summer.

post edit: I’m also avoiding Inception reviews like the plague.  So far I’ve heard nothing but amazing, but when I do see it in a few weeks I don’t want anything ruined for me.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

July 24, 2010 at 12:49 am