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serious_cineast

5 reviews in total 
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Inception (2010)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
It certainly didn't put me to sleep..., 23 July 2010

'Inception' is a fast-paced science-fiction thriller, set in a not too distant future. The story revolves around a team of specialists who can enter another person's dreams and extract information/secrets from them by stealth, while the person is asleep. The team, headed by DiCaprio's character, is given a new assignment that will prove to be their most challenging yet. As if for an elaborate heist, they prepare for it meticulously, planning it carefully, down to the last detail. But, as so often in life (and in films), things don't always go according to plan...

That is the gist of it.

The story is delightfully complex and elaborate. The fast pace makes sure you won't get a chance to pause and figure the whole thing out...at least not before it's over. That is as it should be. It's hard to find any flaws with the film. It is really well executed and the performances are all flawless. Perhaps the only minor flaw is that the pace gets too fast towards the end, as if the director was running out of time and needed to wrap things up quickly - too quickly, perhaps. The film deals with the topic of dreams, the conscious manipulation of dreams, and raises the question of what is reality: "Am I dreaming?", "Am I awake?", "Am I awake while I'm dreaming?", "Am I asleep while I'm awake in the 'real world'?", "What is real?" These are questions that are troubling the characters. And they may trouble you too after seeing the film. There's certainly a lot of food for thought there as you leave the theatre.

'Inception' makes heavy use of CGI. I'm not a big fan of CGI. It has been abused too often to make up for bad scripts and stories, to wow an audience even though the film is crap. 'Inception' is an exception here: the heavy use of CGI actually aids in the telling of the story. And what a great story it is!

The cast is excellent and delivers convincing performances. I am pleasantly surprised by Leonardo DiCaprio, though, and will admit that he's kind of growing on me. I respect him more and more with every new role. He seems to have developed into an incredibly versatile actor: put him in any role, in any genre, and he'll deliver. Not many Hollywood actors of star fame can pull that off.

It is often hard to rate a film objectively coming fresh out of the theatre. It usually takes some time to get some distance to the film and then reflect on it again at a later date. Does 'Inception' really deserve the 9.3 stars rating (as of 23 July '10) and its current ranking as the third best film on IMDb? Good question. Probably not. But that doesn't mean it's not a really, really good film.

I think with the passing of the years, when the film's special effects will look dated, it'll only be judged by its story and the performances of the actors. And I think 'Inception' will still look good on that front.

One thing is certain: you're going to have a good time watching 'Inception' when you go see it on the big screen. And see it on the big screen you must! And if, unlike me, you manage to find a comfortable seat, you won't even notice how fast the 2 1/2 hours will pass.

FINAL VERDICT: 'Inception' is a fast-paced, thought-provoking blockbuster with a great script, convincing performances, and (for a change) CGI that actually aids in the telling of the story. It will appear to both mainstream audiences and the more discriminate filmgoers.

On a different note: If 'Inception' sparked your interest in dreams, the conscious manipulation of dreams, and the question of what defines reality, then I highly, HIGHLY recommend you read 'The Lucid Dreamer: A Waking Guide for the Traveler Between Worlds' by Malcolm Godwin. You see, you actually CAN be fully awake in a dream, realising it's a dream, and manipulating it to your heart's content. It is called 'lucid dreaming', and it is a skill that can be learned. Read the book.

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Cinematic achievement = entertaining movie? Not necessarily, 4 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A film, first and foremost, should be good storytelling. It should be entertaining - and entertaining doesn't necessarily mean "laughs", and it doesn't necessarily mean "light". It basically means you're not bored while watching it.

As brilliant as 2001 may be, it is a difficult film to watch, especially for the current (video-game-playing/iPod fumbling) generation. Its slow pace and the sometimes intolerable amount of time it takes for an actor to perform a single action (e.g. the attempt to rescue the crew member floating in space) will stretch your patience. On the other hand, the cinematography is brilliant, the film cleverly directed, the ending thought-provoking and the score...the score is chilling, especially as the crew in the transporter approaches the artifact on the moon. Boy, I had goose bumps, big time. This doesn't happen often when I watch films, and is a testament to Kubrick's directing skills.

It IS considered a classic, and many people consider it the best science-fiction film of all time. That alone is a good reason to watch it if you haven't done so yet. However, just because everybody else thinks it's a brilliant film doesn't mean you have to force yourself to like it. You either will (like it) or you won't. Perhaps the slow pace isn't such a bad thing, after all. Directing your attention to something rather static and slow-paced for 2 1/2 hours might teach you a lesson. It will certainly be a different experience to all these fast-moving, fast-paced images we are subjected to these days (whether commercials, music videos or video games).

I myself think it's a "memorable" film. But not one I'm eager to watch again anytime soon (unless I'm in a particular mood for slow-paced films).

Hence, 7 stars out of 10 from me.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bloody Brilliant!, 4 January 2009

The first time I watched this brilliant comedy was in the late 90s, shortly after it came out on video. Since then I've watched it at least four more times - whatever else this film may be, it is first and foremost a VERY ENTERTAINING film you can watch over and over again without getting bored.

The film basically deals with a gay common law couple (the Goldmans) whose 20-year-old son hits them with the fact that he's getting married. The family of the girl are very conservative (the husband's a republican senator). Amidst a political scandal, the senator and his family (along with the girl), flee the press to meet the boy's parents, hoping a wedding will cool things politically for the senator. Of course, they don't know the Goldmans are gay; and the Goldmans will do anything in their power to prevent them from finding out. And thus the charade begins...

I admit: I find Robin Williams annoying in some films. But 'The Birdcage' isn't one of them. So convincing (and funny!) is his portrayal of a gay club owner, you just have to love the guy (metaphorically speaking). Nathan Lane is just brilliant. He was so utterly convincing as a gay drag queen, I thought, "my, this guy can really ACT!". Of course, later I learned that the actor himself was gay. Ha-ha! I never considered Hackman a comedy actor (who would?). But here he proves that he can make you laugh real hard. I wish he would do more comedies; he's so funny as a conservative character confronted with "liberal" elements.

The film is packed with comedy and first-rate entertainment. Just sit back, relax, and let the film work its magic. And while it might not turn you into a homosexual, it certainly will make you 'happy and gay'!

Warmly recommended!

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Interesting show on immigration, but too much fluff, 4 January 2009

Have you ever considered emigrating to Australia? If you have, and if you're interested to learn how others have fared, you will probably find this show interesting and useful. Otherwise you'll be bored and possibly annoyed by its format.

But first things first: the show follows a British family to Australia. First they interview them, ask them about their reasons for the decision to emigrate, their hopes and dreams, and so forth. Then they are given the choice of three possible lifestyles: beach, country or city living. Once they decide they're flown over to Australia where they check out the scene - work, houses on offer, entertainment, food & drink. In the end they must decide whether Australia is for them - this happens by popular vote.

The format of the show is quite rigid and the show never strays from it. This is particularly annoying as the host, Nadia Sawalha, uses pretty much the same dialogue from episode to episode, and then there are the recurring little info clips that are shown every once in a while - they too are the same with each episode and may make up 10 minutes out of the 40 or so minutes of the entire program. It's quite annoying, really, and you get the impression they are putting this in as filler footage. But other than that, the show is quite interesting (particularly the family members' reaction to all things Australian) and the BBC pedigree guarantees high production value.

If you're willing to overlook the annoying rigid format and some of the fluff (recurring dialogue & footage) you've got a decent and informative show on your hands.

So, if you're seriously considering emigrating to Australia, watch it. If you're not, then I'm sure you'll have better things to do with your time (unless you're hopelessly bored, that is).

"Huff" (2004)
11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
It was brilliant, but the cancellation was the right move, 4 January 2009

The show stars Hank Azaria as psychiatrist Dr Huff(stodt). Without revealing too much, I'll just say the show basically revolves around his work and his personal life and all the trials and tribulations the characters face.

Right from the start, you realise, "this is quality television". The characters are interesting and appear convincing, the script is brilliant and everything is pretty well executed. At the end of most episodes you get that burning desire to watch the next one ("oh, what's going to happen next?!"). That's always a good indicator for a good show.

Hank Azaria is convincing in his depiction of a troubled psychiatrist. The actor who plays his kid is brilliant, as is Oliver Platt in his portrayal of the libertine lawyer who always seems to get into trouble of his own design.

For those of you wondering why there have only been two seasons: I can't quite fathom why the execs decided not to renew the show for another season. But I do know this, though: often it's best to quit while the going's good. Otherwise, by trying to top something that's already peaked, you run the risk of ruining something special - take Nip-Tuck, for example. By just going on and on they've ruined a great show that, after season 3, I think, was a mere shadow of its former self. So, don't worry about the cancellation of Huff. The end of season 2 was the point to stop, and by so doing the show was wrapped up admirably and with a good resolution at the end.

SHOULD YOU WATCH THIS SHOW?

I can recommend 'Huff' wholeheartedly and without reservation. This show, albeit largely unknown, is certainly a gem among television shows. Though I must say: It took some getting used to seeing Hank Azaria in this role after having seen him as Agador, the hilarious gay waiter in 'The Birdcage'. The contrast between the two roles is so stark, it'll make it even more enjoyable watching him in 'Huff'.

This show is likely to grow on you if you enjoyed 'Six Feet Under', 'Nip/Tuck' or 'Californication'. All these shows are somewhat brutal and unrelenting in depicting harsh realities and unusually offensive (for American television) language. It'll definitely keep you interested and you may enjoy it with a clean conscience as it is intelligently made.