Tag Archives: inception

Are movie critics afraid of thinking out of the box ?

I hate to admit it, but I’m a big fan of award-shows. The Golden Globes are no exception, and I was really stoked to watch that show yesterday night. I just saw Social Network and Toy Story 3 last week so I had a better idea of what was going on with the nominations.

I liked the show overall: Ricky Gervais was funny as the host, Olivia Wilde was hot as hell and DeNiro got honored for his amazing career. But, in the end, I think the Hollywood Foreign Press failed miserably again in encouraging “out-of-the-box” cinema.

First off, let me say that I really loved Social Network. I think David Fincher is an amazing director (I’m a die-hard fan of Seven and Fight Club), Jesse Eisenberg was really good in his role, Aaron Sorkin’s script definitely deserved an award, and this movie is probably the first that is able to portrait recent events such as the Facebook story without leaving you with the bitter taste of deja vu and “we already know all that” in your mouth. Bottom line, if you haven’t seen it, rent it right away, it’s awesome.

BUT, there’s a but. This year, Inception made the cut as one of the five nominees for Best Picture – Drama, and in my opinion, it deserved to win by a mile, if not two. Let’s get this straight, how many times do we read sentences like “the story was same old same old” and “the movie lacked originality” in various movie critics. Pretentious critics are fast to notice these flaws, and their not shy of expressing their opinions in their reviews.

Now, here you have this epic thriller/sci-fi movie, with a concept never before seen, with an all-star cast (it’s a scandal that DiCaprio was not nominated for Best Actor) and a story that challenges your intelligence to the next level. Let’s face it, movies like Inception come once every 5, maybe 10 years. What was the last mega Hollywood blockbuster that messed up with your head the way Inception did ? For me I think it was Memento, also directed by Christopher Nolan, and that was 11 years ago, in 2000, and saying it was a Blockbuster is pushing it way too hard.

Inception is also beautifully directed, and without taking away anything from Mr. Fincher, it was most likely a lot more challenging movie to direct than Social Network. The story is heavily complex, but the way it is told makes it perfectly understandable if you’re concentrated, and this can only be achieved by an experienced, highly-talented director, which Mr. Nolan is.

Also, I’m not saying IMDB’s Top 250 list is an absolute reference, but when a movie is #7 just months after its release, it must mean it’s pretty good, no ? Even Black Swan is 108 positions in front of the Social Network, which appears at #160. People might not know cinema like movie critics, but we’re not talking about a controversial battle for first or second place, we’re talking about 153 positions separating the two movies in the eyes of the public’s opinion.

Now why would movie critics not give the Best Picture – Drama award to Inception ? Are their condescending selves shy of publicly liking a movie involving science fiction ? Is it bad for this very select and elitist group of person to recognize a movie involving visual effects ? Probably not, since Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won Best Picture at the Oscars back in ’04. What is it then ? I’m waiting for an answer.

Had it been any other year, I would have shut my mouth and congratulated the Social Network team for their wins. But this is just a shame. Inception is a movie like no other, while Fincher’s movie is something that has been seen before and that we’ll see again in the future. I blame those critics for the lack of originality in today’s cinema, because letting a movie like Inception go without any recognition is encouraging established and aspiring filmmakers to play it safe, not take risks, and do like everybody else. To the critics, you’re the only ones to blame for your recurring “the story lacked originality” sentences.

Top 5 everything of 2010

Once again, as hard as it is to believe, another year has almost already passed by and it seems like yesterday I was having dinner with the family at my uncle’s house for New Year’s day for this new decade. The more time passes by, the more it seems to fly away at the speed of light, and I’m again left wondering if this year will be the one where I’ll have time to do everything I’ve planned for the coming 365 days. Of course, it will not happen, but, before this year ends, I did manage to find some time to look back on 2010 and realize how good a year this has been. And, since the only things I’ve seen on social networks in the past days are Top 10s and Recaps, I decided I’d make my own Top 5. Ok, I’ve cheated on some categories, some are top 5 with honorable mentions, others may contain only 3 winners, but, you get the point.

This is of course my own personal opinion. No stats, no results, no expert analysis, just my own totally subjective, sometimes biased opinion. Let’s start it off.

BEST ALBUMS

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I said it recently, and I stand with my first impression, this is the album of the year, and critics (aka Rolling Stone Magazine) seem to agree. The creativity, the originality and the “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude that emanates from this album make it impossible to ignore. Mr. West has taken his music one step further and created a sound of his own, and for that, you get my gold medal Kanye.

2. Eminem – Recovery
Wouldn’t it have been for Kanye, first place would have gone to Mr. Mathers. Recovery is the return of the king, the road to redemption fulfilled for Eminem. It is his most mature album yet, and I think I’ll dare to say it also is his best album. It may not contain as many classics as The Eminem Show or The Marshall Mathers LP, but the overall ride on which Eminem takes you with his latest album is definitely something no Em fan has ever witnessed before. A must for any fan of hip-hop.

3. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Montreal band proved to the world that they are a force to be reckoned with this album. Their sound is unique, the lyrics are profound, and the overall experience that you go through while listening to The Suburbs is definitely something special that not many bands can match. For me, this is an instant classic, something that my iTunes play-count can start to fear.

4. Jònsi – Go
The Sigur Ros vocalist/guitarist released a solo album back in April, and I did not listen to it until earlier this month. To be honest, I’ve lonely listened to it twice, so I don’t feel like I know this album too well, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. This is musical ecstasy. Whether they make you joyful or nostalgic, Jonsi’s exotic melodies are sure to spark a lot of emotions inside you. It is hard to describe, so the best thing I can say is, buy it and let yourself be immersed by the sound of it, you will not regret it.

5. B.o.B. – The Adventures of Bobby Ray
Probably the hardest position to fill, because the list of contenders was endless, but B.o.B. had to have his place in my 2010 year. I listened to this album countless times during my trip to Costa Rica, and it just has a special feel every time I listen to it. Even if this is his first LP, B.o.B. shows an incredible maturity as an artist, mixing super catchy commercial pop songs with more dramatic, serious tracks on which the lyrics are certain to make some hip-hop veterans jealous. The artists collaborations are original (Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo…) and it is just a good, easy to listen album. Plus, Airplanes has to be one of the greatest hip-hop songs released in the past 5 years, so for all that, I raise my hat to B.o.B. who fills in the last position of my top 5 for albums.

Honorable mentions
Bonobo – Black Sands
Misteur Valaire – Golden Bombay
Travie McCoy – Lazarus

BEST MOVIES
Important notice: I have been a total failure as a 2010 movie-watcher. I’ve watched countless “classics” on my To-See list, but I’ve just not been into the new movies this year. I haven’t seen Social Network, Black Swan, Toy Story 3… So, this is of course my own best of, where I’m sure some of the movies I’ve just named would have had their place had I seen them.

1. Inception
How can this not be the best movie of the year ? It is a cinematic masterpiece, incredibly intelligent, well shot and brilliantly acted. Christopher Nolan raised the bar to another level with a very original story, brought to life by shining performances from DiCaprio and company. An instant classic in every genre, a movie that will be talked about for years.

2. The Killer Inside Me
Western movies are more and more noticeable nowadays since they are becoming more of a rare thing, but this one really slipt under my radar. I watched it just a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. Casey Affleck is incredible, to the point he should easily be nominated for an Oscar. The mood of the movie is scary, tense, and the story really sucks you in. It is brutal, violent, sometimes disturbing, but always intriguing. A must-see, at least only to witness Affleck’s brilliance.

3. The Book of Eli
This movie did not get very good reviews, as do all of Denzel Washington’s films for the last 5 years. But I think critics were a bit harsh and have failed to see the strong points that this movie has to offer. It is visually flawless, every image is sure to make you wow at your screen. It might not be Denzel’s best performance, but you can’t say so for Gary Oldman’s. He just shines in his role as the bad guy and shows he’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood nowadays. Plus, the fight scenes, and especially the gun-fights are masterfully directed and now have a place in my personal best combat scenes in cinema history. Plus the ending is just incredibly surprising.

4. Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s latest film has a sort of Woody Allen feel, with endless dialogues and a fairly old style of editing, which make it stand out. The intrigue is good and the always entertaining Ewan McGregor is very good in the leading role. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s really worth a watch.

5. The Town
I rented this movie 4 hours before writing this blog post, as it was, surprisingly, on most 2010 best-of lists. You should have seen my level of skepticism before watching this film. I’m really not a Ben Affleck fan, but I decided to give it a chance. Surprise of the year for me. This is a very entertaining thriller, in which Affleck shows talent as both director and actor. The acting award in the film will definitely go to Jeremy Renner though, who is so believable in his role that you could think the producers found a guy from the projects to play in their movie. You won’t fall in love with the other characters, but they show some kind of depth, enough to make you enjoy this film, along with its good heist scenes.

MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Jay-Z – On to the Next One
One might wonder why this is taking the pole position, and it is for only one reason: It’s a music video. Hurricane and Runaway are closer to short films than music vids. Jay-Z’s video, directed by Sam Brown, portrays a funeral through multiple black and white, highly aesthetic images. It was the first music video released in 2010, and in my opinion, it is still the best. It is a shame it didn’t win any awards at the VMA, but let’s be honest, the VMAs are pretty much meaningless. Jay-Z proved once again his immense artistic talent by releasing a video of this caliber, and the 41-year-old rapper also proved he’s here to stay.

2. Kanye West – Runaway (extended edition)
Here it is, the video that will be at the top position of everybody’s list in 2010, and it deserves it. While to me this is a short film, it redefined what music videos are. It is artistic, different, colorful. It delivers powerful messages, and it is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks ever. As I said in my previous blog post, this is sure to make history with the likes of Thriller.

3. 30 Seconds to Mars – Hurricane
Another video that should be considered a short film, Hurricane will probably have its place in history also. While less visually appealing than Runaway, Hurricane is controversial, sexually offending, twisted, and beautiful. A video that the American public is not ready to see at all (and it got banned for that), and because of that, Jared Leto’s band deserves a lot of recognition. They dared, and succeeded in creating commotion.

4. Eminem – Love the way you lie
Eminem’s real comeback in the music video scene, because Not Afraid was definitely not it. This is also a controversial video that caused a heart stroke to America, because of its reference to domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships. Joseph Kahn used his enormous experience to direct a video that suits the song like few videos have been able to. The cinematography is amazing, Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan are good in their main roles and the Eminem/Rihanna duo just fills the screen with presence and intensity. One of the best videos of the year on all aspects.

5. Linkin Park – The Catalyst
Joe Hahn has slowly made the transition from turntablist to director for Linkin Park, and this change shows how much talent the guy has. He was a great DJ (he still is in fact) and is now one of my favorite director in the music video domain. His creativity is unmatched, and everything he does just fits the Linkin Park style beautifully. The Catalyst is no exception. The imagery is innovative, the editing is on-point and the Linkin Park guys really give one hell of a performance. Great use of slow motion throughout.

Honorable mentions
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Linkin Park – Waiting for the End
B.o.B. – Airplanes

TV SHOWS

1. Breaking Bad – Season 3
Discovery of the year for me, TV-wise. A fresh, original concept with actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul playing two of the most fascinating characters to ever appear on TV. Be warned, this, like many other series, is highly addictive. Sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic, and seldom highly violent, this show will get you through the whole set of emotions, and will also kill your social life, second warning here !

2. Entourage – Season 7
The second-to-last season of the series aired this summer, and deceived no fan. Vince, E, Drama, Turtle, and especially Ari were back in full force, with new relationships, new insults and new adventures. The dialogues were once again a work of genius, and Vince’s breakdown was amazingly put together. The Cameos were entertaining and the complicity between the characters was once again something so entertaining to watch that every episode made you wish you had their lives. If you haven’t started to watch Entourage at all, I also envy your life, because you’re in for 7 seasons of never -before-seen laughter and entertainment. Start now !

3. Sportscentre – Morning Show on TSN
Probably the most unexpected winner of my entire top 2010 list, but I couldn’t pass by it. Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole are the best start of my day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They redefine sports news with their incredible sense of humour and amazing charisma. They don’t take themselves seriously at all, they’re spontaneous and it gives a whole other perspective to everyday sports news.

Honorable mentions
Mad Men

BEST ADVERTISEMENTS

1. Dulux – Let’s color
Adam Berg takes the prize two years in a row for me, with his masterpiece Carousel for Philips last year. The whole concept of this Dulux ad is so good that it goes beyond the final TV spot. The fact they used local people and gave them the chance to put some color back into their dull scenery is amazing, and the fact that they were able to render this live process into such a beautiful advertisement is just brilliant. This is advertisement at another level.

2. Nike – Write the Future
The biggest sports event in the world of course means, the best advertisements in the world, and W+K knew that they havd to give it their best shot, and they didn’t fail. This ad pictures the World Cup vibe with such epicness and bigger than nature reactions that it clearly makes it the best ad of the tournament. The overall idea is so clever and the production value is unbelievable.

3. Sussex Safer Roads – Embrace Life
A beautiful alternative to encourage people to always wear their seat belts, Embrace Life succeeded in doing what all the gory, violent ads about car accidents couldn’t. The ad created an enormous buzz on the web, and probably saved more lives today than any other commercial. The concept is so well-thought and the imagery is spectacular.

4. Gaz Metro – A Natural Evolution
It takes great patience and dedication to tackle a project like this one, but it takes incredible talent and vision to make a project like this one look as good as this. This entire ad, conceptualized by Sid Lee, was done in stop-motion over 4 nights and with more than 1500 pieces of chalk. The animation is unbelievably fluid considering it’s stop motion and the visual is spectacular. Another considerable piece by one of the most creative agencies in the world.

5. LG – Something Lurkingg
One of the toughest spot on which to deliberate, the final slot of my entire top 2010 goes to the very recent LG ad, created by Y&R and the masters of animation, Psyop. Read a couple of posts prior to this one to know how amazed I was by this ad.

Honorable mentions
Adidas – Cantina 2010
Sony – Eye Candy
Audi – The Art of Progress
BBC – Honk If You’re Human
AT&T – Rethink Possible

This is it ! Probably the most time I’ve ever invested in a blogpost. I hope, even if you don’t agree 100% with me, that this will make you discover some gems in the media domain and give you things to entertain you during this one-to-two-week holiday that is coming up. This will most likely be my last blogpost of 2010, so in advance, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year !

Inception Review

Rarely have I seen a director set fans’ expectations so high, and live up to them. Well, up to know, Christopher Nolan has been able to do that with his incredible portfolio, consisting of Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Each and every time, Nolan has been able to outdo himself and bring something fresh to the audience.

After releasing The Dark Knight, which is still the king of Opening Week revenues and was nominated for 8 Oscars, the bar was VERY high for Nolan’s Inception, his latest movie. If that wasn’t enough, he probably brought together one of the strongest casts in recent years: DiCaprio, Cotillard, Murphy, Caine, Page… One might wonder how someone could fail with these guys !

Inception starts off strong right away, with action scenes that will get you on the edge of your seat for the first minutes. The pace never really slows down; when Nolan’s not overwhelming you with out-of-this world action sequences, he’s filling your brain with information crucial to the understanding of the somewhat complicated plot. It may seem too much to take in the first 20 minutes of the movie, but the scenario is so well constructed, the actors are so good and the cinematography is so impressive, that you quickly pick-up the rhythm, and before you know it, you’ll be immersed in the story.

As the movie goes on, you wonder how can someone come up with such a creative, intelligent story, as detailed as this one, and not get lost in his own process of creation. Well, here’s another thing that Nolan has not failed at. The scenario is pretty much flawless, and always makes you wonder about dreams, the mind, subconscious mentality… Yes, this is a sci-fi movie, but it doesn’t get too geeky and they are still morales and values transmitted throughout.

Leo, Leo, Leo… What can I say ? Probably the most underrated actor right now (with Brad Pitt not far behind). He once again delivers a mind-blowing performance, bringing an intelligent but emotionally disturbed character to life. The rest of the cast is also brilliant: the young and lovely Ellen Page shows us once again why she is one of Hollywood’s most promising actress out there right now. Academy-award winner Marion Cotillard is also wonderful in her supporting, but nonetheless important role.

One thing that scared me at first was the fact that Nolan was going to use major VFX and CGI for this movie, something he’s been known to use as little as possible in his previous movies, which gives his films an incredible organic feel (i.e. the Truck-Flip in The Dark Knight). Well, the visual effects are so beautifully integrated and they serve the story so well that you end up being used to them and process them in your brain as a normal visual aspect of the film.

I could go on with this review, but I think that by now, you understand that I thoroughly enjoyed this picture, and it exceeded my expectations by a mile. I hope this movie gets the recognition it deserves, because I feel it is destined to be a classic of modern cinema. Christopher Nolan proves again that he is one of the best writers and directors in recent years.

Robin Hood review

This was probably the movie I anticipated the most so far this summer (there was actually a tie between Hood and Inception), so it was a formality that I go and see it as soon as I could, which was yesterday. Things started off great, with epic battle sequences in which the cinematography and editing were just top notch.

But then, the deception kind of kicked in. The trailer suggested a really dark representation of Robin Hood, kind of like what Christopher Nolan did to Batman. Right at the start of the movie, the script sneaks in a couple of funny lines, which break that dark mood from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong though, pretty much everyone is good in the movie. Crowe‘s performance is solid as usual, and so is Cate Blanchett‘s, but the writers gave them some lines that were just too cheesy.

On the cinematography side, this movie just delivers what you would expect from a Ridley Scott movie. Epic shots, mixed with some crazy travelings that make your head wonder how can such a camera movement is even possible. The editing and sound have nothing to complain about either.

Bottom line, this is a movie you have to see on the big screen. It is a good movie, that fails at being great because of some flaws in the script.

Can’t wait to see Inception

Last week, the third trailer for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Inception launched, and if the first two didn’t get you stoked out your head, then this should do the trick. The trailer looks stunning and DiCaprio’s performance looks amazing as usual. The kind of sci-fi concept looks refreshing without being too heavily geek. Plus, the entire cast is just an endless list of all-stars: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Michael Kane, Marillon Cotillard…

To be honest, Christopher Nolan is still the only director today who I think has yet to make a bad movie, and this one looks like it will keep the streak alive. Contender for movie of the summer for sure !