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Tag Archives: Inception

Cop Out
(Blockbuster DVD — Cincinnati)
Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan star in this simple cop comedy. The random humor that made Tracy Morgan so popular on 30 Rock is exemplified over and over in this movie. The plot isn’t exactly the most engrossing thing, and I found myself just waiting for more Tracy Morgan humor towards the end of the movie (I didn’t find it that thrilling). I hope Willis made a pretty penny off being in this one. In terms of Naked Gun style entertainment, it’s pretty satisfying, but certainly not intellectually stimulating in any way.

Shutter Island ^
(Blockbuster DVD — Cincinnati)
This film got a lot of hype before its release earlier this year, as is understandable with whatever new Scorsese project is in the works. After its release, as with most hope, it came against a wall of critics. Which is where I fit in. Interestingly, I thought DiCaprio acted pretty much the same character as he did in Inception. A hard-ass, strong willed, albeit mentally weakened professional forced to deal with his, up until now deflected, love driven psychosis. Again, a woman is the ultimate (leaky and disruptive) devastation to the man’s reality (same as Inception). The film is just beautiful, though, and the story is told fantastically—making you feel just as insane as the star. Greatly enjoyable, and a must see to capture Scorsese’s film style.

Inception *
(Esquire Theater, Clifton Cincinnati)
On all accounts, this movie is incredible. There’s also no doubt it’s a great conversation starter—more so than The Matrix but more accessible than, say, Waking Life. Here are my criticisms, though. Firstly, Christopher Nolan has provided us primarily with an action movie. As mentioned previously, it’s pretty much a better version of The Matrix, in terms of sci-fi action and conceptualization (fuck the sequels). As a result, during the first half of the movie we’re being rushed in and out of explanations for the films universe (note, this happens in The Matrix, as well. There is a purpose, though. The final sequence of the film would be completely and totally indiscernible if it weren’t for the hasty context we’re given earlier. (Which is why Ebert calls this film, “unspoilable” and “process” oriented). Let’s take Nolan’s ‘Memento’, on the other hand. Here’s a movie that hadn’t the need to focus so much on the action and as a result allowed us to experience more of the protagonists interior space. In an almost Hitchcockian sense, we sometimes learn more from what we don’t see of the characters interior space than what is manifested for us on the movie screen. That said, the manifested interior space is an unbelievable Matryoshka of conceptualization. The street flipping dream (including the mirrors and stuff), the Escher style staircases, the entire hotel hallway/elevator sequence, and the ‘totem’ shots (including the final one) were the most memorable for me. However, I hated the final dream setting (the wintery subconscious-defense-station). It seemed so boring as a dream setting compared to the other places. Many have concerned themselves over the ending: is it all a dream, or…er…where do the dreams start and end. Clearly this isn’t what drives interest in the film. Instead, it’s the idea of the ‘totem’, the ‘architect’ work, the ‘theif’ chameleon, Cobb’s abilities, Robert Fischer’s life, etc. But, just see the movie, it’s brilliant. On a more personal note, I wasn’t that interested in the stability of Cobb’s psyche—it wasn’t the driving force for my interest in the film’s mythos, it was a simple solution to Nolan’s problem of ending a film that threatens to be bigger than one man’s psychological well-being.

Blow
(Cable Television)
So much of this movie seemed to pick up right where Goodfellas left off. This is probably exemplified by Ray Liotta’s casting in the film. Anyway, Depp is fantastic as the lead character. In terms of stories that sober audiences to the reality of the drug business, it’s a good one, but not a classic—and certainly not original in any way. Depp’s character reminds me of a mixture of his roles in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Donnie Brasco. Penelope Cruz plays another great crazy bitch (a la Woody Allen’s recent Vicki Christina Barcelona), and as always, she does fantastically in this role. The costuming of the movie is pretty underrated, it’s got late 80’s early 90’s down to a sick science.

50 First Dates
(Cable Television)
I don’t want to spend much time reviewing this movie, so I’ll say a couple words about Adam Sandler. Despite the criticism he often gets, his movies fill a very profitable niche. Films from Big Daddy to Click all run in the same sociological vein, they aren’t that expensive to make, and generally guarantee a profit. Having grown up hearing quotes from Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore throughout my adolescent school career, I have to admit that I really enjoyed his movies growing up. With 50 First Dates he still manages to achieve some of that really satisfying, and somehow endearing, childish humor, but in a slightly more conservative, understated presentation than, say, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Drew Barrymore plays a caricature of girl next-door cuteness, and though she does it well, it’s not exactly the most impressive roll of her life. Still, the movie tickles romance, and may, for some at least, offer a drop of intellectual exploration.

Star Trek VIII: First Contact
(Netflix Watch-it-now) 
I started watching this film out of boredom and ended up finishing it despite my original plan not to. In that regard, it was sort of like sitting down on a Saturday in the 90’s and settling for a mediocre movie on TV that just happened to start when you wanted to watch something. I had originally thought this was the Star Trek with the desert stuff and the meeting of Kirk, you know, uh…oh yeah: Star Trek: Generations. But, in fact, it wasn’t—but like I said, I finished it anyway. Ok, so, there’s the odd-number Star Trek films suck, theory. I pretty much agree, except that (though I haven’t seen all of them), most Star Trek movies are unimpressive. I’m very rarely super satisfied with any movie made from a television show. Additionally, the bad Star Trek movies have ended up like cult classic episodes of the corresponding series. In that sense this movie was about as good as any episode of TNG. The special effects are pretty cool, but nothing really happens in this one that’s absolutely universe shattering (besides good old fashioned time travel)—I mean, it’s hard to compare with the crash landing of the Enterprise in Generations. Geek wise, it was probably super satisfying the see the warp engine’s inventor, and ‘First Contact’ with the Vulcans. Anyway, the movie is just another franchise film, and nothing like Abram’s recent prequal-reboot (which was brilliant, if you ask me). If you really want to nerd out for a couple of hours, save yourself some money and check out Jandrews Edits on Youtube.

Life is Beautiful ^
(Netflix DVD)
This movie won best foreign film and best actor in 1998 at the Academy awards, which is basically why I decided to watch it. In that regard, Roberto Benigni is amazing, and perhaps the most notable thing in the film. In fact, the most memorable thing the film offered to me was Benigni’s acceptance at the Academy Awards. The film reminded me of some other postwar films that exemplify the imaginary as a method of coping with trauma—thus, I’d say, this film is a perfect pair with Goodbye Lenin. It’s hard to believe the story in any way plausible, but I think Benigni’s character is something that is fundamentally human. I know people love this film, but having watched it this particular week, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if Adam Sandler was Italian and made a holocaust film—I imagine it couldn’t be that far off from this. It’s an uplifting story, but not in the same way that Schindler’s List is uplifting.

Trouble the Water *
(Netflix DVD)
There is so much to talk about with this film. As the website for the film indicates, it’s not just about the Katrina disaster, it’s about the inequalities of citizenship in America. Kimberly Rivers Roberts’ and friends’ camera work is terrible, and as she captures the storm, those who couldn’t flee, and a strangely authentic pre-apocalyptic atmosphere. The titular moment of the film comes when Roberts’ puts one of her own raps on the boombox and does an impromptu karaoke version, to me this sums up the film’s power and message. We’re seeing an individuals struggle to promote individuality in a country that idolizes individuality but somehow sadly fails to adequately foster that individuality for all its citizens. See this movie.

Youth in Revolt ^
(Blockbuster Free Kiosk Rental Code)
Michael Cera star-drives this cathartic strange boyhood romance story. In comparison to Superbad the protagonist often talks about his desires to do things that are clearly ‘immoral’, and somehow awkwardly manages to overcome these societal pressures to do the ‘right’ thing, and get the girl. In this case: blowing up a bunch of stuff so he gets sent to live with his dad (near the girl), sneaking into a boarding school and trying to have sex (with the girl), and drugging his the girl in hopes that she’ll fail out of boarding school and have to come home. In contrast to Superbad, though, the film takes place in a much lower class setting, which I think allows it its strangeness. The family troubles, the floozy mom (Ray Liotta cameo), and Steve Buschemi as a dad, make the film a lot less mainstream in terms of what most audiences can identify with. I particularly enjoyed when the jesus-freak parents end up perpetually on shrooms because of the older brother character. You’re still getting an awkward Cera film, but you’re getting a lot more eccentricity.

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Inception

The best articles from the New York Times.

In Praise of Progress

David Brooks: Unemployment is high, and there’s suffering, but global poverty is at its lowest point in human history. Afghanistan is depressing, but there are fewer wars these days than ever before, mostly because a sharp drop in civil wars. In short, everything is better, or nearly everything, and I say that as someone typing with his thumbs while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes in the back yard.Gail

Collins: Wow, the lack of power has really cheered you up. I remember just a few months ago, you were practically suicidal over the toxic politics in Washington.

Building Smarter Machines

Synthetic speech, autonomous robots, computers beating the best humans at chess and checkers. As computers grow ever smarter, a look at developments in the field of artificial intelligence.

Hints of Earth Splash a Saturnian Moon Landscape

However, if prolonged spells of 90-degree temperatures have you yearning for a refreshing icy dip, there are still plenty of bathing opportunities on Titan.

Of course the lakes there are made of liquid methane — and the 90 degrees of temperature are on the Kelvin scale, near enough to absolute zero to challenge even the most cosmically adept polar bear. The atmosphere is nitrogen and methane.

Four Ways to Kill a Climate Bill

But efforts to genetically engineer algae, which usually means to splice in genes from other organisms, worry some experts because algae play a vital role in the environment. The single-celled photosynthetic organisms produce much of the oxygen on earth and are the base of the marine food chain.

“We are not saying don’t do this,” said Gerald H. Groenewold, director of the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center, who is trying to organize a study of the risks. “We say do this with the knowledge of the implications and how to safeguard what you are doing.”

The Limits of the Coded World

In one set of experiments, researchers attached sensors to the parts of monkeys’ brains responsible for visual pattern recognition. The monkeys were then taught to respond to a cue by choosing to look at one of two patterns. Computers reading the sensors were able to register the decision a fraction of a second before the monkeys’ eyes turned to the pattern. As the monkeys were not deliberating, but rather reacting to visual stimuli, researchers were able to plausibly claim that the computer could successfully predict the monkeys’ reaction. In other words, the computer was reading the monkeys’ minds and knew before they did what their decision would be.

On the Origin of Species (Annotated Text)

Darwin packed this paragraph with all of the elements of the process of natural selection. The phrasing reflects his incomparable knowledge of natural history and his revolutionary new view of nature:

“…variations useful in some way…” – the words of a lifelong collector who appreciated that individual members of a species exhibited variability.

“…the great and complex battle of life…” – unlike his predecessors who viewed nature as a peaceful, harmoniously designed landscape painting, Darwin had observed that nature was a battlefield in which there was tremendous waste and death.

“…thousands of generations?” – Darwin’s grasp of time was critical, his knowledge of geology made him confident that the planet and life were much older than people had once thought, such that there was plenty of time for the process of natural selection to play out.

—Sean B. Carroll, molecular biologist and geneticist; and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

The Errors of Our Ways (Book Review)

Schulz begins with a question that should puzzle us more than it does: Why do we love being right? After all, she writes, “unlike many of life’s other delights — chocolate, surfing, kissing — it does not enjoy any mainline access to our biochemistry: to our appetites, our adrenal glands, our limbic systems, our swoony hearts.” Indeed, as she notes, “we can’t enjoy kissing just anyone, but we can relish being right about almost anything,” including that which we’d rather be wrong about, like “the downturn in the stock market, say, or the demise of a friend’s relationship or the fact that at our spouse’s insistence, we just spent 15 minutes schlepping our suitcase in exactly the opposite direction from our hotel.”

Take Ivy (Slideshow)

Time has done little to dim the allure of “Take Ivy,” with its guileless snapshots of handsome, fit and presumably bright young lugs disporting themselves in dining halls, on the College Green at Dartmouth, along Nassau Street in Princeton and in Harvard Yard. Credit: Teruyoshi H Girl

Pop’s Lady Gaga Makeover

Furthermore, the thing that most separates Lady Gaga from the bubblegum sirens of a decade ago is that her capacity for seduction has been neutered, recontextualized. Near the end of her recent Madison Square Garden show she emerged onstage with sparklerlike contraptions on her chest and crotch, spitting out tiny, angry, smoldering bits. “You tell them I burned the place!” she shouted. It was a straightforward repudiation of hypersexualized imagery. There was nowhere to touch without getting hurt.

Plus-Size Wars

Perhaps nowhere is the cultural confusion surrounding the larger woman more pronounced than in the clothing industry’s efforts to dress her. According to a 2008 survey conducted by Mintel, a market-research firm, the most frequently worn size in America is a 14. Government statistics show that 64 percent of American women are overweight (the average woman weighs 164.7 pounds). More than one-third are obese. Yet plus-size clothing (typically size 14 and above) represents only 18 percent of total revenue in the women’s clothing industry. The correlation between obesity and low income goes some way toward explaining the discrepancy — the recession was particularly hard on this segment of the market, with sales declining 10 percent between 2008 and 2009, a drop twice that of the women’s apparel industry over all — but it doesn’t explain it entirely. That figure has been fairly constant for the past 20 years.

Everybody’s a Critic of the Critics’ Rabid Critics

But then a second round of notices tarnished that luster. David Edelstein of New York magazine, Stephanie Zacharek of Movieline.com and Armond White, the reliably oppositional critic at The New York Press, published pans that ranged from frustrated to weary to vitriolic, decrying the rush to inscribe “Inception” in the pantheon of cinematic greatness. For their efforts these and other similarly unimpressed writers were treated like advocates for national health care at a Tea Party rally, their motives, their professionalism, their morals and their sanity questioned, and not always politely. What seemed to provoke the most ire was that these critics had shown the temerity to mention what other critics had written, and to respond to the aggressive marketing and the early effusions.

Facebook Is to Power Company as …

“I worry that we’ll end up with solutions that are familiar but not correct if we start from the wrong metaphor,” she said. “And I’m not sure there is a good metaphor for Facebook.”

Married, but Sleeping Alone

Technology is an even greater intrusion. Forget the tired debate about TV in the bedroom; how about your ex’s Twitter feed? Anyone who’s around teenage girls or techy men knows someone who checks e-mail, text messages or Facebook pages after turning out the light at night and before going to the bathroom in the morning.With all this commotion, it’s no wonder the bed has become such an unappealing place to sleep. Between whining kids, buzzing BlackBerrys, stacks of unpaid bills and overturned bottles of Evian and Ambien, the bedroom has become more crowded than the kitchen. If my house is any indication (“You get up early with the kids on Monday, I’ll move the car on Tuesday”), my bed needs its own Outlook calendar.