Thursday, July 29, 2010


Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ken Wantanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine

Rated PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action throughout)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Written by Christopher Nolan

* * * * *

Famous poet Edgar Allan Poe once wrote, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

“Inception” explores this idea with heart-pounding, mind-blowing vigor, literally turning our idea of reality upside down.

Cobb (DiCaprio) is a master extractor. He implants ideas in people’s minds by reaching them in their dreams. One idea, say placed in the mind of a dictator or business mogul, can set in motion actions that change the whole world. Cobb is a man who can essentially control anyone around him, should he choose to.

But he is unhappy with his work, which keeps him away from his two children. Suddenly a powerful client lays down an offer he can’t refuse: if he completes the mission, he can return home to his family in peace, with no strings attached. This job just happens to be his grandest undertaking yet. Cobb puts together a dream team including architect student-genius Ariadne (Page), “thief” Eames (Hardy), and the guy who holds the whole dream sequence together, Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. The target is young heir Robert Fisher, Jr. (Murphy).

To plant this idea in Fisher, Cobb and his crew must construct a dream so detailed and complex, that there is quite literally a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. As the team goes deeper into each dream level, the harder it is to get back. The lines between reality and dream blur until one is undistinguishable from the other.

Page is perfect as Ariadne, the newest recruit, quickly drawn to this alternate reality where she can create the scenery. DiCaprio is completely compelling, a man full of inner torment after the death of his wife, Mal, played by the superior Cotillard.

The film will keep you in a leaning-forward-in-your-seat-and-clutching-the-hand rests kind of suspense. Guessing and analyzing until the very last minute, it’s the kind of film you have to see twice just to understand each incredible layer. The final kick will reach out and grab you. A masterpiece, a breathtaking look at the frontier of film to come, and in the midst of so many stale, brainless and boring films, “Inception” gives viewers a fresh take on reality, dreams, and the weight one person’s idea can have on the world.

* Question:* From the final scene, do you think it stops spinning?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Salt* *

Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreibner, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Daniel Olbrychski

Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Written by Kurt Wimmer

* *

"Salt" is an action film, a spy thriller, and not much more.

Jolie plays CIA agent Evelyn Salt, a relatively cold, aggressive character that was originally written for a male role. As she runs from the government, accused of being a Russian spy, the audience is left wondering whether or not she is as innocent as she claims. While Jolie looks a bit out of place as CIA agent-Salt, all blonde bob and boxy suit, she is completely convincing as on-the-run Salt. Her hair is jet black, she kills quickly and without any emotion, and dons all black.

Liev Schriebner is Ted Winter, her closest friend in the CIA and the only one who seems to think she may be innocent. As bodies pile up in her wake, backed by a bleak setting and bleaker characters, Salt seems less a hero or desperate woman on the run trying to prove said innocence, but rather a reckless killer hard to root for.

The film is excessively violent, with a murky plot and Salt completes one unbelievable death defying stunt after another. In one scene, she sits in a cop SUV, knocks out the two officers on either side of her and grabs one of their taser guns to stun the driver. She then repeatedly shocks the driver until he accelerates at top speed smashing several police cars ahead. Then she tasers him to speed in reverse, slamming into more cars behind. Finally, she drives off a bridge into the traffic below. Salt simply climbs out of the totaled SUV and walks away, barely a hair out of place - she is also handcuffed the entire time.

"Salt" may be a wild ride, but it doesn’t live up to its name – it’s neither pungent nor witty. Instead it’s bland and unremarkable.