Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Exceptional Inception

I'm sad to say that's it's been a too long of a time since I've been in a movie theater, that last time being this year's birthday movie of AVATAR...and that was back in January, for Buddha's sake.

To be perfectly honest, there hasn't been a wealth of product out there to pique my interest enough to venture off to the cinema. Oh, I'm sure I would found something to see, probably along the lines of a more eclectic nature that I am increasingly drawn to instead of the dreary, mundane product that fill what pass for movie houses these days. Of course I'm talking endless sequels, reboots, remakes, recycles, rehashes all regurgitated back into the sausage maker to make more hot dogs of decreasing taste and nutrition. In other words, Hollywood's on safe mode right now, that means more of the same, literally and figuratively. Who is the worse off in all this? For a change, not the public because they're finally catching on and staying the hell away. Nope. it's Hollywood, hurting itself almost beyond repair and destroying its own legacy by denying creativity its due in favoring of endlessly producing the tried and true until its used-up and false.

This summer has told the tale perfectly. Few diamonds have sat in this rough as TV, once the vast wasteland, has overtaken the great god Film as the hope of the future. Why? Because in the last few years, it has returned to the source-the written word. Compare, if you will some of the output of this summer's movie season to TV's.

Film: IRON MAN 2, SEX AND THE CITY 2, video game adaptation PRINCE OF PERSIA (with Jake Gyllenhaal as Kevin Sorbo), SHREK FOREVER AFTER, GET HIM TO THE GREEK (with the supremely unfunny Russell Brand, who's also starring in an upcoming remake of ARTHUR for Chrissakes!)), THE LAST AIRBENDER, KILLERS, KNIGHT & DAY (basically the same movie), SALT (this year's WANTED), TOY STORY 3 (yes, it's Pixar, but I hold them to a higher standard so it's just another sequel), THE KARATE KID, THE A-TEAM (or as I used to call it THE EH TEAM) and the 547th remake of ROBIN HOOD.
TV: TREME (the best new show of 2010 that you've never seen), MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, TRUE BLOOD, JUSTIFIED, RESCUE ME, LOUIE (Louis C.K.'s 100 ten better show than HBO's LUCKY LOUIE) , THE BIG C (excellent new show w/Laura Linney), WEEDS, NURSE JACKIE, THE UNITED STATES OF TARA...are you getting the picture yet?
Bottom line: TV has intelligent, intricate stories with compelling characters and superb acting.

Film has...3-D.
Yeah, I know it's summer, give me a reason to leave home, huh? (I know I'm ignoring works like WINTER'S BONE, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP and GET LOW, but these little oasises-or is it oasi ...the plural of oasis-in the desert haven't drawn me out either. Chalk it up to lethargy and pessimism, a deadly combination.)

I can only thank my lucky stars (or charms) for Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION, probably the best movie of the year thus far, a bold statement for someone who hasn't ventured out of the house all year. I needed a reason to go and INCEPTION has proved to be...well, the exception.

Here at last is an action film with a brain that is, by the box office take thus far, is undoubtedly being embraced by the public. Sure the imagery is incredibly fantastic and the pace non-stop, but the ideas and their delivery behind it all are garnering repeat viewings. The dream within a dream concepts set forth in Nolan's film have definitely struck a chord in audiences and certainly within me. I was also taken by the lack of cliches, such as the duplicitous team member, the obvious nod to a sequel (Its all about the franchise!) and the Gotcha! ending that would have ruined an absolutely perfect touching moment, one of the best in recent film history.

It's not a flawless work. Nolan has a tendency to blow his work all of proportion with piling on action scene after action without letting up much, almost unnecessarily pandering to today's short attention span audience. But unlike a hack like Michael Bay whose action scenes are played out like a game boy hopped up on Mountain Dew cocktails with Red Bull chasers, Nolan at least adds surprise elements of wonder within all the carnage, elevating his set pieces without sacrificing his premise. There is also no denying that the visuals are indeed spectacular such as the zero gravity fight scenes and Ellen Page's introduction as the dream architect. Still, there's a sense of overkill and INCEPTION could have benefited with at the very least, a ten minute trim.
Thank goodness for filmmakers like Christopher Nolan. With INCEPTION, he is on the path ascending to that pedestal of artists that work within the system and manage to turn out works of art within a damn fine motion picture, right beside directors like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock.

I'm so pleased with myself that I held out to see INCEPTION at the best theater in Portland, the Roseway. I've sung its praises before and will continue to do so. A single screen cinema with crystal clear digital projection and superb sound, the Roseway Theatre is well-worth the 50 mile round trip from my home.
What can I say? I'm spoiled. And you know what else? I deserved it.
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