Saturday, July 17, 2010

Christopher Nolan's Inception

When it comes to Christopher Nolan I can't offer enough praise. There is a film maker who has, time and again, amazed, puzzled, and impressed from film to film in a crescendo of quality. Films such as Dark Knight, The Prestige, and Memento display this man's genius in the film medium, and they come with my highest recommendation to any who have not yet had the opportunity to watch them.

Then there is his most recent film Inception. From the first scene to the final, it is a film experience like no other. The splendid acting, the amazing writing, and the powerful score, composed by Hans Zimmer, combined to wrap the viewer in the action and story of this cinematic wonder.

The film deals with dreams, to put it plainly, and how through the invasion of dreams one can not only steal ideas but plant them, changing the nature of the individual whose dreams were subject to the trespass. It also addresses the life we may have in dreams and the ability to hold tightly to the things we dare not release. Those things we hold to, though, could damn us in the end as we eventually see.

The cast consisted of what I consider, in no disrespect whatsoever, to be Nolan's stable of actors, with obvious additions. Once again we see Michael Caine, a Nolan favorite apparently, Ken Watanabe, and Cillian Murphy whose role and character story would alone make an interesting film apart from the dream business. Leonardo DiCaprio has been an impressive fixture in the film industry rising above the years of being considered a base heartthrob to becoming a meaningful, inspiring actor. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave a grand performance in consistency with his usual brilliance as an actor. Ellen Paige impressed me in her role as the architect of the dream world and the mediator for Leonardo's character's inner conflict. Then there's Tom Hardy who I haven't seen since his appearance in Star Trek Nemesis which he's apparently not only outgrown but surpassed in so many ways. I hope to see him in many future films. These actors along with the layers of wonder present in the world of the film kept the action moving, driving the viewer to the typical, rewarding Nolan finish.

There are some things about Christoper Nolan that I have noticed in watching this and his many other films. One thing is, and perhaps I'm reading too far into this, that it seems in most of his movies the story, after whatever exposition is offered, ends up in a garage or warehouse where plans are laid and the characters base themselves in preparation for whatever it is they hope to achieve. In Batman Begins and in Dark Knight we see Bruce Wayne in the Batcave or Fortress observing the story occurring beyond the room he's in and formulating plans to deal with the events he must inevitably join. In the Prestige we see the workshops of two magicians who must use their places of solitude to design their contraptions and illusions to better their acts and meet out revenge on one another. In Inception we see the team of dream specialists designing their assault on the consciousness of their mark in a warehouse where all their techniques and methods are developed. I know, having watched the special features available through Nolan's films, that he tends to develop all of his movie concepts and stories in his garage. Perhaps this isn't the case all the time, but I thought it would be an interesting connection between his view of a workspace/planning area that acts also as a fortress of solitude and his character's areas of planning and design. From both locations stories are built, plans are made, and the rest of the film progresses forth.

To conclude, I find Christopher Nolan to be my favorite director above all others. It is in the areas I've mentioned above and in the respect for his work that I base this assessment of the man. I highly recommend viewing his library of film when you get the chance!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Harvey Pekar, A Passing

The last several years have taken a great many incredible people out of our world. Names drop from life to join the list of those no more. So much talent, such amazing lives, and many interesting personalities laid to rest at last.

I never had much of a chance or a drive to read American Splendor. I regret this because what I picked up from the little I knew of the book was that it was something certainly worth reading. It was truth and life, not just any, but those of a simple Ohio resident named Harvey Pekar.

Harvey seemed like a character, hell he most likely was based on all the documentation of his life I've been exposed to. I felt a kinship in many ways, like I knew the silly man. His tales, the most wondrous gifts we gift each other during our lives, were fun, odd, sad, and stirred so many folk's emotions. I could feel his effect on the wondrous industry of comics and the legacy he crafted and left behind. I didn't need to be a life long fan to understand or appreciate him. All I needed was a read over his work, a look at him in discussion and I was certain that this was an impressive force. Thanks to the film makers of American Splendor for fully exposing me to this fella.

It was great to have known of, and have had exposure, though limited, to such a man as Harvey Pekar. May he rest well. I wonder what he'd say of his current state or where he found himself after death. That would make a great comic, and I'm certain it would be all the better being recorded with his pen.