Inception (2010)


((SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!))

Before I actually go into my review of this film, I want to take the time to share a little something I found on the internet: 

It pretty much sums up my feelings about Inception (except in a much cuter way that I could express)- it's an enormous, two and a half hour mind fuck. 

How do I go about describing my experience? Well, other than being detained in a bathroom for fifteen minutes due to a tornado warning (after listening to a collective "ugh!" from the audience when the screen shut off just as Joseph Gordon-Levitt is floating through the air with a semi-automatic), I haven't watched a movie that made me think that much in a while, and that's a good thing. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed.

Also, let me just say that this movie should be a testament to all the Hollywood producers that think we either need dumb action movies or intellectual “conversation” movies. I enjoy them both, but sometimes I really hate that in order to see an action film, I have to sit through Wanted and to see an intellectual drama, something like Frost/Nixon is automatically on the agenda. I loved being able to see a movie that encompassed both. I know, I know. You’ll undoubtedly say, “But there are lots of movies like that!” Not blockbusters that I’ve seen. And not in the past few years.

Let me start with the beginning… which is actually the end. At first, when the movie finished, I thought, “that isn’t necessary. This movie would have been intense enough without doing the start-from-the-middle gimmick.” But then I thought about it, and I realized that there was no flashback indication, no “36 hours earlier” text at the bottom of the screen, which made me think that maybe the beginning was actually the end of the travelled levels. Think about it- if Cobb was going to go anywhere else and we were supposed to see where he had been leading up to it, wouldn’t they have shown a different scene?

See, I feel there are three ways you can interpret this movie and its open end:

1. Cobb made it home to the real world (in my opinion, not likely- I mean, come on, his kids didn’t even age)
2. There is another level above the ending of the movie that started before the movie started that we didn’t see (i.e. Mal was right all along), or
3. He never made it out and is still in dream limbo.

To me, because of the start of the movie, the third option seems most likely. I loved seeing this movie in the theatre because when the top was spinning and spinning and the scene cut to black, the entire audience went, “Augh!” in frustration that we don’t get to see if it actually stops or not. As I alluded to before, I personally think it doesn’t.

My other thought is, if you need to be in dream limbo with someone who’s been there before and who has built some sort of structure, and the spinning top was Mal’s to begin with that he intercepted and took from inside her own thoughts, was that actually her mind they were entering into? Or did he just think it was hers, and it was actually he who was convinced that everything was not real? After all, when he was on the phone with his father he said he had to get back to the real world, and that his kids were the only thing real to him anymore. Just something to think about.

This is one of those movies where you come out of the theatre having an intense discussion, and then after it falters, you actually want to continue talking. It isn’t even that you want to understand the movie, it’s just that secretly, you want to be more confused. At least, that’s how I feel. I love spending hours just having my mind go in circles about all the different meanings a movie could have. To me, that makes a fantastic film.

And now, the million dollar question that has nothing to do with the plot of the movie but is still burning- did they use Edith Piaf as the indicator that time was running out as a nod to Marion Cotillard’s Oscar?

Tell me what you think! If you haven’t seen Inception, go see it! Although I doubt anyone would have read this post if they hadn’t seen it because of the spoiler warning (well, they’d probably just be confused as fuck because it really doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen the movie). 


The Movie Mistress


Despicable Me (2010)


I liked this movie. 

(Don't you wish you could just write a review with just those words and be completely done?)  

I did- a lot. I thought it was funny, cute, and had a heartfelt story while still being believable (believable in the sense that all the changes that happened to the characters seemed genuine, not that the world created was believable- and it didn't have to be). It also KEPT YOUR ATTENTION, something that Pixar sometimes fails to do (I'm sure you've read any of my numerous rants about Up). If Despicable Me was, indeed, Universal Pictures' response to The Incredibles, then I give them a round of applause, because they've certainly captured the moon. 

Here's what I liked about it:

1. The backstory. You didn't get a whole lot of backstory on Gru, and you didn't really need any for the overall plot to work. However, the five minutes that we did get to see him as a child captured the entire meaning and motivation behind his character, which was to make his mother proud, which he does, in the end. As I'm sitting here writing about it now, I'm thinking about how well done this element of the film is and I'm speechless. I've written before about how much I don't like forcing nostalgia on kids because they don't and won't get it (Up, anyone?), and here we were able to see Gru as a child struggling without it ever feeling like we were looking back and reminiscing. It was very fast and comedic, which kids can register, while still subtly establishing that he has Mommy issues (which get introduced in the beginning and resolved in the end. Genius.). And they didn't feel the need to include any other history because it wasn't necessary. Maybe this is interpreting it too much, but this part of the movie was incredible well thought out. 

2. The minions. I get that they were comic relief of sorts, but their interactions were some of the best moments in the movie. I also loved that they ended up proving crucial to the overall plot (the ticket scene where one of the minions puts it in his pocket) because it's sort of like saying every character in the movie means something. So... not only were they absolutely hilarious, but also interacted with the main characters in a way that was real and touching. 

3. The kids. I have to admit that Agnes cracked me up several times, including the when she sang the unicorn song and also when she thought her cheetoh was a caterpillar. I felt that the portrayal of the kids in this movie was just so genuine and honest. They were funny because they did things that kids do, not because they were trying to be funny characters. Very, very well done. 

What I didn't like:

The violence. Some of the violence in this movie was reminiscent of old Looney Toons. It was a little bit disturbing to see a bunch of fireworks blasted at Gru even if he does survive, and the overuse of violence as comedy got a little bit weary. The minions punching one another is one thing, but to see characters blown up, flattened, squeezed, crashed, smashed, and rolled over and over with the moon was a sore sight on the eyes for a children's movie. And I'm not even going to go into how upset I was by the juicebox incident. That kind of humor should not be shown to kids. Not at all. 

Overall, a good film to go see in the theatres and rent, although I would honestly hold off on taking really young kids. 


The Movie Mistress


Which Version is Best? Part I


Given Hollywood's current state of panicky mass remake mode that they've been in for the past, oh, maybe, twenty years, I decided to scour the books for the originals and remakes that go head to head (and also hope to spark heated arguments). I realize that there seems to be a usual trend of a remake butchering the amazingly done original, but every once in a while you find a gem of a film that both honors the content of the original movie while bringing in its own take. I'm going to list the contenders here for now, and say what is great about both, and then say which one is, in my opinion, the best. This is going to be super boring without participation, however, so I'm really asking people to get involved. There will be blood. 

Rear Window (1954) or Disturbia (2007)?

Even though there was never an official "this is a remake" statement, the fact that Spielberg was slapped with a lawsuit from the Hitchcock estate is good enough cause to list Disturbia as a remake of this other thriller. Both have pretty riveting plots with amazingly well thought out character restrictions, although I find Disturbia's main character's house arrest a tad more interesting than the broken leg in Rear Window. Then again, there's the voyeuristic quality in Hitchcock's thriller that Spielberg's lacks, as Disturbia finds a way to maneuver its hero into the heart of the action via cameras and an underground passageway, thus taking away the quality of vulnerability brought about by only being able to observe what's going on from across the way. However, the dependence on tech rather than binoculars brings about a whole other quality of heart pounding fear, as you're much more invested in whether the characters will get caught since bugging someone's home is illegal while looking at it with binoculars is just creepy. At the same time, however, the fact that the salesman is able to hide what he's doing so easily in Rear Window makes our hero's obsession more compelling. What do you think?

Friday the 13th (1980) or Friday the 13th (2009)?

Both of these are horror films. Both have the same name. However, the plots are pretty different. There were a lot of people that criticized the 2007 version for essentially summing up the plot of the 1980 version in two minutes and then taking it in a whole other direction. While it’s valid that a remake should be pretty faithful to the tone of the original, I think that with a horror film, you can take some liberties. I mean, the original exists on its own, so to not make changes to it would be silly. If you don’t want changes, just watch the original film.

Now that I’ve said that little bit, on to the contenders. I like the first film because the large portion of the story or plot is focused on Jason and not the camp counselors, because, hey, they’re all gonna die anyway, so who gives a shit about their baggage? On the other hand, the newer version had its ups in making you invested in the college students because you actually wanted them to live. Yes, it was fun to watch Kevin Bacon get chainsawed, but it’s nice to sometimes NOT want the characters to die, too. Just a thought. At the same time, however, I have to say in all honesty that the special effects in the new one SUCKED. Sometimes, to make a horror movie, all you really need is a bucket of fake blood and a mask. The audience can put together the rest.

The Parent Trap (1961) or The Parent Trap (1998)?

Don’t you ever look back on the 1998 version and think, Wow, Lindsay Lohan was so cute. What the fuck happened?

Anyway, this is one remake where I honestly love both movies, and it comes down to this: I love the 1968 version for the girls, and I love the 1998 version for the adults. The camp scenes in the original are so hilariously reminiscent of the summer camp nightmares every kid experiences, from the bugle horn to the classic pranks and cabin rivalries. In the remake, I found the camp scenes a bit too sappy, but the sappy scenes that went with the romance of the two adults worked really well. It was nice to see what it was exactly that our two young heroines were fighting for. I don’t really remember there being quite as much chemistry between the parents in the original, which could have been casting, or could have been the protocol of a 1960s Disney movie. One thing I did like was the casting of Hayley Mills in the original, who was actually about fourteen, making her a way better actor than eleven year old Lindsay.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)?

To me, this is a hard one. I love Gene Wilder. He was a genius in this role, and Johnny Depp’s quirky eccentric-ness doesn’t quite compare. However, I didn’t really like the content of the original, since it doesn’t exactly follow the intentions or tone of the book. The remake, though it delves into an entirely unnecessarily backstory about Wonka’s daddy issues, keeps the exact plot and tone of the book, even keeping with the Great Glass Elevator. I like the original for the songs and Wonka, but I like the new one for the story and the other characters, such as Charlie and his family, who are (gasp!), actually English. 

I'm sometimes not good at concealing my opinions, but I'll do a follow-up post with which versions I (honestly) think are better. 


The Movie Mistress


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010)



Let me just say that the last detective movie I saw before this one was Angels and Demons, so going in to see this one, I was not sure what to expect, since that one didn't exactly live up to my expectations.

But, man, do the Swedes deliver! 

This was a total thrill ride. The two main characters are not your typical American leading man and woman, but that, to me, makes them that much more enjoyable. I've never read the book, but I can say that the characters themselves were a large part of what made this movie so memorable, and if this movie HAD been made in America, I don't know how much I would have enjoyed it, since we probably would have gotten some generic Sienna Miller look-a-like and young version of Harrison Ford in the title roles (and really, who wants to see that....again?). Noomi Rapace is fucking HOT as Lisbeth Salander, and I loved that she's able to hide in plain sight by dressing as a blonde bombshell (and also that it's supposed to be humorous). That girl is a badass. 

I have to admit that I was pretty disturbed by the rape scene, but I think that was the point. Maybe it's just the American movie business idea of a taboo subject being instilled in my head. I mean, I wasn't as disturbed by this rape scene as I was by the one in Marnie (1964), but it was still uncomfortable. However, I think that because they included all the details it made the even more graphic revenge scene that much more satisfying (in a twisted sort of way). The fact that this was included not as a subject of the overall plot but as a character device is another great attribute to this movie because we were allowed to get to know each character as an individual and as a whole before they come together and solve a crime. That's something we don't exactly get with Se7en, now do we (not to say that that's a bad movie, but I thought I'd use it as a comparison due to the Biblical-themed murder plot)? 

Although I didn't find the whole father-passing-the-crime-to-his-son deal realistic, I did like that the crimes were about the very real and unfortunate issue of anti-semitism. (I get that a lot of the praises I'm making should be credited to the author of the book, but seeing as I haven't read it, I'll just praise him AND the filmmakers for staying true to the original plot, something they didn't have to do completely after buying the rights). I feel like there are so many detective story lines that avoid issues that actually exist for fear of offending anyone. Why? I don't know. It's a movie- you can't please anyone. And besides, if there were someone that were watching this that were a fan of anti-semitism, hell, I'd WANT to offend the shit out of them. 

Anyway, now that I've gone on a little rant about that, I also want to make one unrelated comment about how wonderful the color quality of this film is. It's been a while since I've seen a film where the film itself matched the content of the movie (although I'm sure they shot in HD). The film buff in me is giving props to the editors for making a movie with dark and disturbing content, well, actually dark. The saturated green tint that permeated most of this movie only added to the well constructed storyline and memorable characters. I can only hope that the sequel that's already in process will live up to the dark and ominous beauty of its predecessor. 


The Movie Mistress