Inception

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.

Release Date: July 16, 2010

INCEPTION

One of my favorite things to do as I’ve gotten older is to take naps. I am an expert nap-taker, even a better nap-taker than sleeper most nights. I never understood why children fight them so much, considering they have been a hobby of mine since college. Four years ago, Christopher Nolan made one of the highest-profile films about sleeping. In the summer of 2010, Inception did more for dreaming than films like 1985’s Dreamscape ever did. Like his most recent film Interstellar, Nolan also brought to life on the big screen some concepts and possible misconceptions about dreaming. One of these was the idea that there is a sort of time dilation in dreams. As the character of Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) points out rather succinctly in the film: “Five minutes in the real world gives you an hour in the dream.” In other words, it’s a bit like the opposite of what happens to Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway while prancing around black holes in Interstellar. Is Nolan simply obsessed with time dilation for his characters, or is he on to something? This got me thinking: Does time really move slower in a dream?

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Interstellar Memento 1

Time is a precious resource in Christopher Nolan’s most personal (i.e., non-bat-related) films, and time rarely ever runs in a linear, straightforward fashion. In Memento, time is split between a receding past and a stagnant present that changes the shape of knowledge and memory with every revelation it produces. In Inception, time is collapsed upon itself many times over, with a singular moment in one tier of consciousness extending to a multiplied time scale in others. Interstellar perhaps presents his most tortured relationship to the movement of time, wherein time is relative yet deeply consequential depending on your orientation with the cosmos, and must therefore be approached strategically. Your experience of time in Interstellar is hardly universal. It depends very much on where you are. While the film’s genre-entry depiction of the procession of time is intended as a rumination on relativity, black holes and the like, as a cinematic (i.e., non-scientific but experiential) exercise, Interstellar’s depiction of temporal relativity is truly affecting. It’s maybe the strongest suit of a rich but messy film, for it exercises something unique about the very act of watching movies.

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Dark Knight Rises

Lynchian. Kubrickian. Felliniesque. A directorial adjective can have strong, transportable power, even if its exact meaning may rely more on general impressions and evocations of inspiration than a concrete set of rules. Many of these terms, however, gain currency well after a director has established a set style, producing a moniker that results as a sort of shorthand for auteurism: a term pregnant with assumed meaning to describe an implied close familiarity with the themes, styles and obsessions that codify a filmmaker’s body of work. “Lynchian” was arguably solidified as popular parlance with David Foster Wallace’s 1996 essay from a visit to the set of Lost Highway, a work of writing that tied together both Lynch’s idiosyncratic film style and his esoteric personality as a person. And that’s the essential formula for the directorial adjective: unlike the auteur theory, which provides insights into the person but takes an analysis of the films themselves as a primary concern, the directorial adjective suggests a fluid coherence between the defining aspects of films and the outsized personality of their maker. To be Kubrickian is to be an obsessive perfectionist of form. To be Hitchcockian is to possess a sadistic sense of humor imbued through the events of the thriller, a personality that regularly makes murder into a game. You don’t know it when you see it with the directorial adjective, you know it when you feel it, when you sense the currents of that personality speak through choices of style and narrative. There […]

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Inception

You’ve probably already spotted the Esquire UK post called “Films Stupid People Think Are Clever” where the likes of Christopher Nolan and David Fincher are given the shortest end of the stick. It’s a worthless article that represents the easiest kind of contrarianism: People like these things? Let’s say we don’t like them, but not really explain why. Now, I’m a reasonable un-stupid person by all the traditional rubrics. My IQ is three digits, my SAT score was four, and I’m probably one (maybe two) practice sessions away from being able to walk and chew gum simultaneously. I’ve read books like “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” and I think I’ve understood them. They’re about girls, right? Just kidding. I’m also smart enough to recognize that Esquire’s trolling traffic-magnet doesn’t deserve a response. Or at least not an angry one. The thing is, I’m dumb enough to take any opportunity to rethink why I see films like The Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty as fantastically intelligent (even clever). Contrarianism, even the lazy kind, can be good if we use it to challenge ourselves in the right way. If it’s a chance to examine why I’m stupid enough to appreciate these movies, count me in.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

We’re on the cusp of summer with all of its glistening promise of wide-eyed wonder, and the most pressing question is whether we’d even be able to recognize amazement if it slapped us in the face and called us Sally. For what it’s worth, I don’t think summer is a wasteland for movies. Sincerely. Far from it. However, it’s easy to get discouraged about Blockbuster Season because the batting average isn’t good. Bad movies outweigh the amazing across all genres and styles, but blockbuster movies feel different because of the full-court advertising press and the sheer number of movies arriving within a short amount of time that typically look the same, feel the same and have the same basic story. I’m not ashamed to admit that the explosive growth of Blockbuster Season has been an exhausting shift (I was hoping to evolve faster), but it’s also important to remember the wonderful, truly fantastic movies that have emerged from the noise. Holding that optimistic remembrance in mind, I read Drew McWeeny’s “Has Life in the Age of Casual Magic Made Moviegoers Numb to the Amazing?” with rapt attention. The kind you give to a comedian who keeps nailing exactly how you feel about air travel. He explores complexities beyond the headlining question, but at its heart lies a spot-on idea about how we’re spoiled by an all-powerful cinematic tool that’s being used ad nauseam for the same handful of simple tasks. First of all, “casual magic” is the perfect phrase for what’s […]

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Serial Experiments Lain

Championing anime, especially something as wondrously bizarre as Serial Experiments Lain, is a worthy cause, but I still can’t make heads or tails of The Daily Beast’s accusation that Hollywood sci-fi films are ripping off anime. Vague and accusatory headline in tow, author David Levesley points out cosmetic similarities between recent science fiction studio fare and well-regarded anime gems with the added (hand-drawn) cherry on top of claiming filmmakers won’t own up to the work they’re stealing from. It’s a bombastic statement (that probably feels gut-level correct for anyone who thinks “Hollywood is out of ideas” is both true and a response for everything), but the gruel here is so clear that it’s see-through. It’s an impotent, misplaced rant with an uncomfortable cultural angle. The quick and dirty comparisons from the piece include: Transcendence = Serial Experiments Lain (and unnamed multitudes) because they both include a person being uploaded to a computer upon death. The Hunger Games = Battle Royale (an old favorite) Inception = Paprika because they both involve a dream machine Pacific Rim = Neon Genesis Evangelion because of the mechs Her = Chobits because they both have a love story between man and compu-lady These similarities would be damning evidence of rip offs…if anime were the only storytelling well of the past two thousand years.

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Movies live orchestra

Would bringing live music back into theaters improve your experience of watching a film? Or would it feel like an old timey distraction? Eight-seven years ago, before movies were able to synchronize sound to the actual picture, having live musicians and orchestras perform as the film played was the norm. The Artist showed audiences how silent films relied on the music to convey the feelings and emotions of the actors on screen in lieu of dialogue. But as film (and the film industry) moved into 1927 – film technology began to advance and recorded dialogue and sound synchronization became the way of the future as theaters began swapping out orchestras for speakers. But should theaters bring live music back to the movie going experience? We say yes.

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catchingfire_firstlook

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news column that cares. Bring Me Your Katniss! – We begin this evening with one of a few new images from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the holiday-releasing sequel to that other movie about a girl with a bow, an arrow and a will to live. The above image is our first look at Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. Seriously, these names…

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As far as I can tell, regular folk don’t care for movies about movies or films about filmmaking. They used to, back when Hollywood was a more glamourous and idolized place for Americans. Classics like Sunset Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1954 version of A Star is Born were among the top-grossing releases of their time. But 60 years later, it seems the only people really interested in stories of Hollywood, actors, directors, screenwriters, et al. are people involved with the film industry — the self-indulgence being one step below all the awards nonsense — and movie geeks, including film critics and fans. If you’re reading Film School Rejects, you’re not one of the aforementioned “regular folk,” and you probably get more of a kick out of stuff like Living in Oblivion, Ed Wood, Get Shorty, State and Main, The Hard Way, The Last Tycoon, The Stunt Man, The Big Picture, The Player, Bowfinger, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Argo than those people do. While it is true that The Artist faced the challenge of being a silent film, another major obstacle in the way of box office success must have been its Hollywood setting. Argo isn’t really literally about filmmaking, though, and that might be working in its favor. Ben Affleck‘s period thriller, which is expected to finally take the top spot at the box office this weekend, is about not making a film, so it should have the opposite result of most movies in which […]

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“In a perfect world, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ would be a lock for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.” – Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit It must be frustrating to write for an awards blog (aka an Oscar blog, since the Academy Awards are always the main focus of these sites), and know that the best films of the year are not necessarily the ones that will be nominated. Magidson’s comment above, from his April review of The Cabin in the Woods, sort of sums that up. But at the same time I don’t know if the movie truly deserves the statement. Something to consider, semantically speaking, is that the Academy’s award is not for “Most Original Screenplay” but “Best Original Screenplay.” This isn’t to say that the script, by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, isn’t well-written, and you’re welcome to argue its case for a nomination. Is it the best-written original screenplay of the year, though? All my time as a movie lover and watcher of the Oscars, including the past few years of hate-watching, the original screenplay category is one I’ve constantly been excited about. It’s the place where you could find some of the more clever and creative efforts, including a number of films that might not get other nominations. You could find a good number of interesting foreign films outside of the foreign-language award ghetto (such as Bunuel‘s two nominations for writing), as well as an interesting showing of mainstream and blockbuster fare, especially in the […]

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One of the best parts of Fantastic Fest is discovering those smaller films you’d never see otherwise. The type of gem that doesn’t get talked to death during its production, that doesn’t have its casting news splayed across the veritable plethora of movie websites, the type of film that just flies completely under the radar. Vanishing Waves is just that kind of film, that seemingly comes from nowhere to blow audiences away. Lukas is part of a research team that has developed a new technology allowing one person to access another person’s thoughts. He’s been working long hours and not spending enough time with his live-in girlfriend, Lina, but his hard work has all been worth it, and they’re finally ready to start human trials. Lukas will be the receiver, trying to document and describe his experience receiving another person’s thoughts. They’ll be using a comatose patient for the sender, the lowered brain activity making the data load more manageable for transfer to Lukas’s brain.

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Rian Johnson’s new film, Looper, is a pretty awesome time travel flick, one with as many elements that are clever and original as there are purposefully derivative and influenced. It’s the kind of smart and stylish sci-fi cinema we expect every once in a while on the festival circuit, like Sound of My Voice (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday), rather than from a major Hollywood studio. Looper does fit the indie model, though, since Sony/Tristar picked it up for distribution only after it was done shooting, yet as Brian’s review of the film attests, we can still consider it a good sign for mainstream movies of this genre, and we can hope that Hollywood will see Johnson as the sort of directorial talent they need. But is it the best science fiction film since The Matrix? That’s a question posed in a headline from Time magazine yesterday, though its respective post doesn’t address such a discussion let alone attempt to answer the inquiry. Well, if we exclude superhero movies, animated features (Pixar, Miyazaki and The Iron Giant among them) and the Star Trek reboot, Looper is currently one of only two original studio films of its order to be battling for the status of best reviewed since the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking modern classic. The other is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

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The Resident Evil film series has always been a directly self-aware and reflexive property, an aspect that became all the more obvious with the fourth installment, which featured the most knowingly gratuitous 3D spectacle since the format’s digital resurgence began. Part five, the newly released Resident Evil: Retribution, is similarly in your face, both with its use of screen-popping 3D and with Paul W.S. Anderson’s typical straightforward exposition and an action style that’s so clear it’s cocky. Yet there also appears to be a subtext we tend not to expect from these movies, one involving a little girl who metaphorically represents the film itself. This child, Becky (played by 11-year-old Aryana Engineer), is found by series protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) in a suburbia simulation within an undersea Umbrella Corp. complex used for trial exercises in mass T-virus infection. Mistaken for the girl’s mother (who was a blonder clone of Alice), the heroine feels a need to protect and save the kid, even if this holds her and the rest of the mission back. And even if it would also seem the girl is barely a legitimate human being. On a superficial level, Becky simply seems to be Anderson’s latest homage to the Alien movies, specifically to the Newt character in Aliens. But unlike Newt, Becky has no significance to any movie centered on themes of motherhood. And why is she deaf? That’s a question I don’t think can be answered solely by the fact that the actress herself is partially […]

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Jurassic Park Mosquito

Movie trailers are one of the few things in the industry that you really can’t improve upon with technology. It’s just editing – that’s it. Nothing else can make a trailer better besides skill. This is also why it seems like they generally get better every year (not always the case though). It’s difficult to nail down exactly what makes a teaser trailer effective, which is why we’re going to focus simply on intensity. It’s the best part, especially when a film is already anticipated from the start due to being an adaptation or a sequel. So here we go – fifteen movie teasers that have your heart pounding before the feature presentation even begins.

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Christopher Nolan

This week in our Scenes We Love series, we continue the theme of last week’s special week-long edition by celebrating the work of Christopher Nolan. Only this time we’re not talking about Nolan through the lens of Batman on film. We’re here to take a look at four scenes from Nolan’s other films. From Memento to Inception and beyond, Nolan has proven himself to be a dynamic, contemplative player who can deliver small scenes with big emotional resonance and big scenes that dazzle. All is represented as we talk through 4 Scenes We Love from the non-Batman films of Christopher Nolan.

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Christopher Nolan

Born in July of 1970, Christopher Nolan was always sort of made for Summer. As an adult, that promise has been fulfilled with blockbuster spectacles in the hot months, but it all started when he was a child. It was then that he picked up the drug that became an obsession for the rest of his life: a Super 8 camera. The result of those early ambitions and the study of storytelling in college led him to create shorts, build a feature in Memento that drew acclaim, and to embark on a studio career that has blended intelligence with popular culture. He’s invaded our dreams, altered a genre and made magic. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who is waiting for a train…

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Just as the fears of global cataclysm at the end of the last century fueled films like Deep Impact and Armageddon, the ticking clock to December 21, 2012 has led to more end-of-the-world movies that rely on something larger than a zombie outbreak or a deadly contagion (although those have been recently popular as well). The latest entry into Hollywood’s obsession with the Earth’s last days is the apocalyptic rom-com Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and if the Mayans were right, that might very well be the last one made. Film School Rejects responds to your concerns about the end of the world, as evidenced by the Apocalypse Soon feature currently running on this site. While you’re catching up on these films to see before the end of the world, we wondered who would be the best people to spend that time with. Steve Carell’s character gets to spend the end of the world with Keira Knightley, and here are some cinematic characters with whom we’d like to spend our last days.

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Game of Thrones

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that brings together the best entertainment-related stories, Monday through Friday. It spends the weekends thinking about you, awaiting the moment when you’ll be reunited on Monday night. That moment is right now… We begin tonight with a shot from Game of Thrones. Why? Because Game of Thrones is awesome. The other reason would be that Pajiba’s Brian Byrd has taken to analyzing the process that HBO will have to go through in Ending Game of Thrones. It’s a spoiler-free essay that talks about the logistical issues of bringing George R.R. Martin’s massive book series to the small screen. In a perfect world, the series would go on for about 10 seasons and span all of the books not yet written. As characters learn each week on GoT, intentions mean shit in the real world.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a vicious diatribe away from being a vicious diatribe. But mostly it tells you the who, what, where, when and why so serious of the movie world. We begin tonight with a cry for help, from a Mother of Dragons who is without the latter half of her title. Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen needs your help. If you see her dragons, send a raven.

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FSR is usually steeped in high-mindedness and moral fiber, but there’s no reason not to highlight something as cool as LEGO versions of iconic movies scenes. Consider it a Friday distraction tucked between a review of the latest Todd Solondz movie and (spoiler alert) breaking news about a possible new Jackass movie. Somehow it makes complete sense. Especially because these images are undeniable. The fine folks at BostInno discovered this internet wonder – a series of sharply photographed movies scenes (from Hitchcock to Tarantino) done with LEGO figures. There’s a LEGO movie in the works, there are movie scenes done in LEGO and the snake of culture continues to eat its tail. Check out the images for yourself:

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