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Inception (2010)

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Outlandishly complex, visually mesmerizing, and action-packed. “Inception” is an intelligent blockbuster that bursts forth from the screen with all the spectacle and wonder that makes cinema so riveting. With infinite staying-power fortified by unlimited ingenuity, an empathetic human element, and dynamism. “Inception” is easily one of the best science fiction films to ever be released, if not the best. Written and directed by the distinguished Christopher Nolan. “Inception” is a brilliant addition to his already stellar collection of highly memorable films and adds another layer of superlativeness to his stern and bright reputation. Completed by an all-star cast and an absolutely epic score from the incredibly talented Hans Zimmer. “Inception” is an unparalleled cinematic experience and regardless of its intricate story or the grandness of its heart-stopping scale, should stand the test of time (no pun intended).

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Dominic Cobb (DiCaprio) is a skilled thief who is somewhat of a master when it comes to the artistic science of extraction. Simply put, Dom can be inserted into anyones dreams and steal their most valuable secrets and information. After a failed job, Dom and his partner Arthur (Levitt) are hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe), the original target, to convince a rival company’s owner to disband his inheritance. This tactic is officially known as inception. Upon recruiting Eames (Hardy), Ariadne (Page), and a few others, the group begins plotting against their target, Robert Fischer (Murphy), unaware that Dominic is hiding a dark and possibly dangerous secret about his late wife Mal (Cotillard).

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Once again Nolan is able to top his previous efforts with a completely unique and bewildering idea presented with his usual flare and style. Evidently, more than a few like to poke fun at “Inception” claiming its premise as idiotic, amongst other aspects they feel to be miscalculated. Nonetheless, Nolan’s ability to transcend and harness the abstract remains unrivalled and is a much needed jump-start for the currently unbalanced film industry. While the path he has carved for cinema might not be for everyone. Cinephiles and critics universally agree that Nolan is a mind like no other. Arguably the most successful, forward-thinking, genius working in film as of the moment. Nolan always pushes the envelope and upon assisting in the much needed reboot of the Superman franchise, it appears the sky’s the limit for this one of a kind filmmaker, but I digress, back to “Inception.”

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Very rarely does a film come along that proves to be a game-changer, and in every sense, “Inception” is one of these films. Whether it is the folding over of an entire city, mind-churning paradoxes, or astoundingly choreographed action sequences, “Inception” is deliciously appealing. Granted, a majority of these magical, majestic, delectable scenes take place in a fantastical realm. However it doesn’t degrade the sheer intellect, talent, and innovation infused into every single one of these miraculous scenes. And while the production value and intricacy of these aspects is enough for them to stand on their own. What truly puts “Inception” at another level is the brains that accompany the brawn. Equally matched intellectually and visually, “Inception” is its own excellent contrast. The mind and eyes receive quite the workout, yet, never has a strenuous effort felt so euphoric.

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Talk about easy on the eyes. “Inception” has the outwardly striking, abundantly accomplished, and utterly skilled cast to assist in the completing of this masterpiece. Starring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cottilard, and Michael Cane, amongst other proficient personnel . “Inception” is undoubtedly the full package with an ensemble that knows no weakness.

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Many will deny it having seen a few of these stars in previous films, but “Inception” officially launched Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy into the mainstream. Each give a humorous and heartfelt performance that instantly made them crowd favourites. Cottilard and Page do an outstanding job grounding this flick, adding a much needed emotional element to this larger-than-life picture. What can one say about Leonardo DiCaprio, he always makes it look so effortless, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Finally, to quote the great Mr. Nolan, “it’s always good to have a little Michael Caine in your film.”

Literally appealing to every sense, “Inception” is not to be missed by anyone in existence, cinephile or not…and how about that ending?

Inception: 9 out of 10.

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The East (2013)

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Deftly paced, emotionally gripping, and psychologically advancing. “The East” is a socio-political thriller that never mistakes revenge for a lack of heart. Piling on the tension to an almost unbearable extent and performed with graceful precision and a relentless thirst for justice. Co-writers Brit Marling and Zat Batmanglij have once again created a taut character-study oozing with conscientious-awareness and founded upon eco-friendly tendencies. While parts of “The East” may feel somewhat like a retread of the duo’s previous effort “The Sound of my Voice,” any correlation between the two is soon disparaged. Yes, it may deal with similar themes such as infiltration, self-realization, and influence. Nonetheless, “The East” is Marling and Batmanglij’s most complete offering to date and sees their potential continue its rise to an even brighter future.

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Sarah moss (Marling), a former FBI agent, is a high-level operative for the private intelligence firm Hiller-Brood. She is commissioned to infiltrate a terrorist organization called The East and report back with the groups next targets. Upon gaining the trust of the charismatic leader Benji (Skarsgard) and next in command Izzy (Page), Sarah begins to unveil intel to her boss. As time passes, Sarah becomes infatuated with the group’s members and ideals.

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The first few moments of “The East” strike a strong note of consciousness that resonates throughout the entire film and never disperses or weakens. It is followed with wave upon wave of allegory that inflicts an ocean of inward assessment regarding environmental duty and industrial intoxication. It may leave a bitter taste with its blatancy, unorthodox approach, and alarming nature. Nevertheless, it is a controversial wake-up call that is extremely difficult to look away from. Ultimately, “The East” isn’t easily dismissed upon completion. It acts much like a splinter, stinging and constantly drawing your attention and ire until it is dealt with. I’m not implying that it will force you to drop sanity and necessity to go and save the world. Yet, it will enlighten your point of view and illuminate these troubling matters at hand so one day we can make better, more informed decisions about the planet, and more importantly, our future.

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Amongst these immense matters, it would be easy to lose sight of the human element. After all, the safety of our environment directly affects our longevity and its security. It might seem a bit selfish, but the concern about our habitat is based in majority on our dominance of this planet. Amazingly, Marling and Batmanglij have managed to bottle these enormously important topics and infused them with our heart and soul. What good would the preservation of Earth be if we weren’t around to enjoy it? While we are treated to an abundance of vantage points, each one is unique and connects with different people on vastly different levels. Which, evidently makes “The East” an outstanding experience for all involved, cast, crew, and audience.

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Perhaps the most beautiful thing about “The East” is its dissection of every facet that compiles our existence. It doesn’t solely focus on saving and bettering our planet. It tackles industry, poverty, indifference, humanity, etc… Everything is entangled and attached in this metaphorical web and each aspect is torn down until its roots are bare. There are a lot of wrongs that need to be righted in our current state and awareness is a huge step that seemingly the majority of us are afraid or unwilling to take. I’m not trying to preach as I am just as clueless and motionless as the next when it comes to eco-preservation. It is simply gratifying to know that some are taking the initiative to better our world. It might sound cliche or corny, nonetheless, it is something that needs to be dealt with in order to fortify our existence and evolution.

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I think that is enough of a disembowelment towards our humanity, existence, and the film itself in general. I’ll move on to the technical aspects of the film and its performances. “The East” stars the aforementioned Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, and Ellen Page. The biggest surprise, well, at least for me anyway, was Alexander Skarsgard’s performance, he easily dominated the entire film. Page and Marling were also incredibly impressive, but not on the same scale. Possibly because I expected them to be terrific and I had no idea what to expect from Skarsgard. Considering the significance of the film, overshadowing the star-power was a concern entering the theatre. However, this turned out to be a wasted worry as the cast, in its entirety, matched the story’s intensity, subtlety, and brilliance. As for Zat Batmanglij, he continues to perfect his craft as “The East” holds, without question his best work from behind the camera.

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Tremendously acted, superbly filmed, and just impeccably solid all the way through. “The East” is an immaculate depiction of our society, its flaws, and how we can ultimately correct them.

The East: 8.5 out of 10.

Juno (2007)

Just a quick review today guys, sorry about that. I am rather busy but I will soon return to business as usual. I hope you enjoy this review. Juno is one of my all time favourites. Have a great weekend!

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A coming-of-age rom-com that focuses more on the heartbreak than the laughter. Juno’s relentless quirkiness, philosophical depth, and political shades are vastly entertaining, yet alarming and enclosing. But conversely, are a much welcomed and appreciated cinematic suffocation. Juno might appear to be harmless and vindicated on the surface…In retrospect, underneath its harmless exterior is a set of disturbing and harsh realities. Not everything about this unorthodox film is doom and gloom. The vibrant, bitter story is carried along by a light, rather breezy hilarity that’s closer to masking the fallacy of invisible innocence than outrightly distracting the viewer from it. Containing a script filled with oddities, performances that mar the line of morality, and innovative direction. Juno is a romantic comedy for past, present, and future generations to come.

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Sometime in autumn, Juno (Page), a 16-year-old high school student living in Minnesota, discovers she is pregnant. The father is Paulie Bleeker (Cera), a fellow classmate and friend whom she spent one night in a big chair having sexual relations. Juno decides to have the unborn child aborted at a local clinic. But upon arriving, Juno has a sudden change of heart and decides to give birth and give the baby to a couple willing to adopt. After an extensive search, Juno finds the perfect parents in Mark (Bateman) and Vanessa (Garner). When all the papers are signed, Juno continues on with her schooling and life as planned, waiting to give birth. What she doesn’t realize is the physical and emotional toll the next 9 months will force upon her.

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Harnessing the charisma, honesty, and charming irregularities of its shy, solidified cast. Juno features Michael Cera, Ellen Page, and Jason Bateman as the funny, at times troubled leads. With Jennifer Garner, Alison Janney, and J.K Simmons supporting as they exude their usual comedic genius. By a wide margin, Page takes top spot for her performance as Juno. As the lead, Page is forced to deal with, not only a significant body change, but also an unprecedented, rapid ascent into maturity and she captures these facets in their entirety, effortlessly. Following up Page is Bateman who’s a close runner up. Showcasing a much more artistic and serious side to his usual hilarity. Bateman is incredible as a confused, helpless, deviant looking for an escape. Cera doesn’t diverge from his typical behaviour and believably falls for the girl, hard. As a unit, Juno’s ensemble couldn’t have performed any more faultless.

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Diablo Cody, writer of Juno, and director Jason Reitman give new life to a failing genre. With a unique sense of humour and circumstances that break the mould, Juno is cinematic evolution. Reitman and Cody up the ante by forging an encompassing situation that affects not only the typical protagonists in a rom-com. But residually, albeit indirectly dismantles anyone who’s connected. Reitman’s staggering ability to consume a story’s identity and regurgitate it to his viewers in a emotional, meaningful, visually spectacular way is worthy of unconditional appreciation. Juno is existing proof that you don’t need to break the bank or complicate the story to make a film that sticks in the viewers mind. Using what it has to make the viewer laugh, cry, and appreciate what is truly important, Juno is a modern classic.

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Showing the intricacy in what is seemingly a simply event. Juno’s implicitly and adoring nature is worthy of the audiences heartfelt endearment and empathy.

Juno: 9 out of 10.