Dreams Within Dreams: ‘Inception’

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Inception

“Inception” Review

Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio……………..Cobb
Joseph Gordon Levitt.…………Arthur
Ellen Page………………………..Ariadne

Credits

Director…………………………Christopher Nolan
Producers………………………Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
Writer……………………………Christopher Nolan

Sorry for this long overdue post. I had a lot of things on my plate, and the blog was the first casualty of my hectic work schedule. But without further ado, let’s get down to business.

Well, you knew this one was coming. It had to be. Nolan has said that he spent years writing this film, visiting and revisiting his script time and time again. That must have been ridiculously tough, considering the kind of detail that went into this mind-bending movie. And yet, he manages to pull “Inception” off with aplomb.

The story follows Cobb, a man who has been extradited from America, from his home, because he is suspected of having killed his own wife. Now, he has become what is known as an ‘extractor’: A man who goes into powerful people’s minds and steals their ideas. He does this by entering into the subject’s dreams and trying to find a way around his subconscious. Wait, what? Into their dreams? That’s right, dreams.

Cobb is then given an option which will get him back home. He is told that that there is a way he can see his two little children’s faces again. The job is inception. Instead of going into another’s mind and stealing an idea, Cobb has to go in and place an idea there. He has to go into the mind of the son of the head of the biggest energy company in the world; he must convince the son to break up his ailing father’s enterprise after he passes on.

For this, Cobb must summon a team, an Architect, a Point Man, a Chemist and a Forger. Cobb relies on the tried-and-tested, and goes with a team he’s used before, with his Forger being Eames (played nonchalantly by Tom Hardy), his Chemist, Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and his Point Man, Arthur (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. All that remains is the Architect, and when the team finally convinces an up-and-coming architect, Ariadne (played by Ellen Page), to be a part of the inception, the team is ready to go.

What follows is some of the most mind-bending stuff you will have seen in recent years. Sure, “The Usual Suspects” was pretty hard to follow, and on the surface, it seems that ‘Inception,’ comparatively, isn’t too hard to comprehend. But of course, the more the movie goes on, the more you have to keep your eyes peeled and your brain on the ‘on’ mode. And then there’s the ending. Surely, even if you haven’t watched ‘Inception,’ you will have heard of its ending, or at least the fact that the conclusion questions everything you’ve seen p to that point. And wherever you heard that from, they’re right.

One thing that really makes this movie work (besides its obviously fascinating plot and script) is its stellar cast. Every single member of the cast delivers a strong performance, from DiCaprio to Marion Cotillard, Cobb’s dead ex-wife. Yeah, that’s right, dead ex-wife. However, I felt that strongest performances were from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He was extremely good as the Point Man in his first major role since ‘(500) Days of Summer.’ The top performer though, I felt, was Tom Hardy as the Forger. His cool and charming depiction of Eames was fantastic, and this was the role that really shot him into the big-time, landing him roles in ‘Warrior’ and ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,’ the former being one of the best films I saw in 2011. Of course, he’s also landed the role of Bane, in ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ and I simply cannot wait to see how he does.

The score of this film is another thing that sets this movie apart. While there are some soundtracks which take a backseat to a film, the soundtrack of ‘Inception,’ at times, takes over the screen; and it works. I found myself looking up each of this film’s soundtracks on YouTube and listening to them on repeat, and they never got old.

‘Inception’ has that rare quality of being both an action-packed thriller, as well as a mind-bending psychological film. Not often does that combination come by, and Christopher Nolan must really be commended for the work he has done here, which is just one in an ever-growing list of very-good-Nolan-movies. The cast does a brilliant job as an ensemble, with Hardy and Gordon-Levitt being the tearaway successes. The score is great, and really adds to the effect of the film, especially during its more tense moments. All of this amidst one of the most thought-provoking films in recent times, and you’ve got a winner. If you haven’t watched ‘Inception,’ well, then what are you waiting for?

FINAL SCORE:

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DiCaprio-Scorsese: ‘Shutter Island’

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Shutter Island

“Shutter Island” Review

Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio………….Teddy Daniels
Mark Ruffalo………………….Chuck Aule
Ben Kingsley…………………Dr. John Cawley
Max von Sydow………………Dr. Jeremiah Naehring

Credits

Director………………………Martin Scorsese
Producer……………………..Dennis Lehane
Writers………………………..Laeta Kalogridis and Dennis Lehane

What a combination they are. DiCaprio. Scorsese. Gangs Of New York. The Aviator. The Departed. All fantastic movies, especially the last one. And they reunited again in 2010 with the thriller, “Shutter Island”.

‘Shutter Island’ is no ordinary movie. On the surface, it may seem like there is nothing spectacular about it. But, like they say, never judge a book by its cover. Only once you delve into this thrilling movie will you know just how spectacular it is.

This film is set in 1954, and is about two U.S. Marshals, Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), and Chuck Aule (Ruffalo), who come to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderer from a hospital for the criminally insane, on the remote Shutter Island. Oh, and she escaped while her cell doors were locked, in a ward that was locked, in a fortress with walls which could withstand cannon fire, on an island several miles away from civilization, with tons of ice-cold water surrounding it. That too, in the middle of a ferocious hurricane. And she left her shoes. Interesting? I believe so.

From the moment the opening sequence rolls, we get a feeling of gloom. The soundtrack accompanies this movie brilliantly, not overshadowing the film itself, but adding to it just perfectly to bring about a sense of forlorn dread and dismay. And from the moment we step on to the island, we can feel that there seems to be something off about it. The correctional officers at every corner, all with loaded guns, the electric fencing, the towering walls, it all adds to the feeling of dread. Even the seemingly cheery deputy warden feels as though he’s holding something back. In other words, it is ‘film noir’ at its height.

To further add to this feeling, we meet the two doctors in charge of the facility: Dr. Cawley (Kingsley) and a little later, Dr. Naehring (von Sydow). In particular, Kingsley’s character is the one who gives us the feeling of insecurity, and uptightness. The latter, Dr. Naehring, is much more straightforward as far as his traits go. His emotionless look gives away the menace inside him, which actually makes his character quietly terrifying. Scorsese does a great job of making all these elements combine to give us the sense that something sinister is happening on this island.

In terms of character development, Scorsese chips away at the protagonist in little bits and pieces; these bits and pieces generally consist of flashbacks into his traumatic work in the army during World War II. He slowly but surely peels layer after layer off of Daniels’ character, and all of it using the simple technique of flashbacks. The more we see these flashbacks, the more we start to get confused, and we will remain this way until the film’s chilling conclusion.

In terms of story, this one is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Every time we see the protagonist have a personal triumph, the film uncovers something new to oppose the fleeting victory. And this is how Scorsese brings forward the plot. The story throws at us a string of questions? How did the woman escape? Why do the doctors seem like they are concealing something? Why does this facility give Daniels flashbacks? And all of these questions are answered in one fell swoop near the very end of the movie. And if you thought the film was over there, you would be wrong, because Scorsese gives us one final twist at the end of the final scene. And that last line gives us an insight into Daniels’ mind, one final insight before the film closes.

And when the ending credits roll, you will probably find yourself not moving, not getting up, not changing the channel or ejecting the DVD, for at least a few seconds. You will probably ponder what exactly happened in this movie for a few days. At least, that’s what I did. What did the ending mean? The question went through my mind for quite a while.

For some people, this movie might be best on first viewing. In my opinion, the second time I watched this, it became even better. I knew what was going to happen, what the ending was, and the fact that I still went though movie’s 140-minute runtime is a tribute to Scorsese’s class, and the masterpiece he has created. I discovered many nooks and crannies to the story that I otherwise wouldn’t have if I didn’t watch it a second time, and it made the story even better.

Martin Scorsese has created something different, and not something perfect. For sure, this movie isn’t perfect. It lacks certain elements, but that’s what makes it so good. It leaves a lot to the viewer. You can look at it wonder about the ifs and the maybes for a long time, and it makes you think. Scorsese hasn’t tried to close ever story or tie up every loose end, and yet the story seems wholly satisfying, while still leaving room for us to think about some of the things that weren’t shown.

This film is several layers deep, though it won’t feel like it on first viewing. Though it doesn’t require a lot of brain to watch, it does however require a lot of thinking to fully understand the movie. By no means have I understood it completely, and yet I say that this is a great movie. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a movie which isn’t one-dimensional, and I would rate it as one of the better movies I have ever watched.

FINAL SCORE: