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Inception (2010)

What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it.

— Dominic Cobb

Inception is one of my most anticipated films of the summer. I was worried that this movie was hyped up too much for me to enjoy fully enjoy it. It is currently the #3 Movie of All Time on IMDb. That scares me, because the same thing happened with The Dark Knight. I did not see the theatrical trailer, read any reviews or look at the promos for this movie. I wanted to go into this movie fresh with no bias whatsoever. All I thought about when I saw this movie was making it a drinking game, hearing the word “dream” uttered.

This mind-bending movie is about how complex the human mind can truly be when an extractor Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has the ability to go into people minds. He’s sorta like a mental bodyguard that provides security for his clients’ important secrets, but he ultimately steals from them.

He is outsmarted by a shady businessman, Saito (Ken Watanabe) who wants to use Dom and his associates to penetrate the mind of his rival’s son, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). In return for his participation, Saito will reunite Dom with the family that he abandoned when his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) kills herself to make it look like he did it.

Dom puts together his team together with his researcher that creates a dossier on their mark, Arthur (Joseph Gordon Levitt), his shifter to trick the subject to be any person in the dream, Eames (Tom Hardy) and the chemist who will inject the team with a special sedative that will allow them to sleep, Yusuf (Dileep Rao).

They need an architect which is essentially a person that could create and keep up the façade of delving into a person’s mind. Dom goes to his former professor; Miles (Michael Caine) to enlist a person that could be as good as him sense his memories about Mal easily distract him. Miles suggests Ariadne (Ellen Page), who is quickly tested about discerning what reality is and what is not.

On an international flight after Fischer’s father, Maurice (Pete Postlethwaite) dies, the team drugs Fischer. When the team goes into Fischer’s mind, they didn’t realize that his mind would be heavily fortified with a projected army that could threaten their mission and their only way to wake up.

What can I say about this movie? I understand that Nolan wanted to make a cinematic version of M.C. Escher painting about how the mind play tricks on you. I thought I was tricked. At first, I didn’t know what the hell was going on. When Ellen Page’s character came in, she was like the audience who is trying to understand this world she knows nothing about. The endless exposition doesn’t help matters when random characters try to tell you about the human psyche. It’s like you are sitting in a long boring lecture in college.

My brain broke with this movie. I could not follow it worth a damn. I wanted to follow along, but I got lost somewhere in the first hour of this 2 ½ hour opus. I tried to focus on Dom’s guilt over his wife’s death. That went away. Next, I tried to focus on the action with seemed like it came out of The Matrix with a tinge of a Lionel Ritchie video thrown in there. Lastly, I tried to hold on to the ending which is ambiguous and up to your personal interpretation. If you know that the ending is coming, it’s not fun.

This film is not fun or cool. If it was something like Primer about a dialogue that went over my head, but was still cool, I would understand. I was yawning in this movie. I lowered my expectations with this movie because of the hype that The Prestige got and I hated that movie. I think this movie tried to be too ambitious. I got nothing out of it.

The whole idea of going into people’s minds sounds good on paper, but onscreen you’re like, “Who gives a fuck about the different levels of the mind.” The whole reasoning behind the inception mission was petty and selfish. I believe Christopher Nolan created this movie for himself to enjoy. It seems that he has to dumb it down for the audience with endless amounts of exposition. It seems arrogant and condescending. I’m insulted by the notion. I expected more.

Judgment: This movie is like a Rubik Cube that never gets solved. Don’t bother trying.

Rating: **

Layer Cake (2005)

My name? If you knew that, you’d be as clever as me.

— XXXX

Over the years, film geeks have been singing the praises of Matthew Vaughn’s breakout debut film, Layer Cake. It is also ensured Daniel Craig getting a spot as the next James Bond. English gangster films are hit and miss with me. More hit than miss with me. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

J.J. Connolly adapted his book of the same name about his tale of a cocaine dealer known cryptically as XXXX (Daniel Craig) who wants to get out of the game before he gets in too deep. He is not a gangster. He has never first a gun in his time of dealing the coke. His philosophies are keeping a low profile, have a small team of men cutting up the product like Terry and Clarkie (Tamer Hassan, Tom Hardy), never get greedy and always pay your supplier on time. His supplier is Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) who dispatches his right hand man, Gene (Colm Meaney) to transport the drugs and the money.

Price wants to have a private meeting with XXXX to help Price’s friend, Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon) find his missing daughter, Charlotte (Nathalie Lunghi) who could be with her junkie boyfriend, Kinky (Marvin Benoit).

To make matters worse for XXXX, a pompous asshole nicknamed The Duke (Jamie Foreman) steals over a million Super E pills from Serbian war criminals with the help of his girlfriend, Slasher (Sally Hawkins) and right hand, Gazza (Burn Gorman). The Duke wants to sell the pills for a ridiculous amount of profit.

XXXX enlists his mates Cody and Tiptoes (Dexter Fletcher, Steve John Shepherd) to deal with the girls as he has a shit storm falling on him. Apparently, The Duke boldly said his name to the Serbs and one of them hires an assassin named Dragan (Dragan Micanovic) to go after XXXX and he associates. XXXX has to find a way to rectify the situation.

The first half of the movie was a lot of exposition that was okay. Not exactly thrilling, but there is a turning point where everything comes together and I was hooked in. There is not like a Guy Ritchie movie. It is not over the top with the characters having weird quirks or having exaggerated accents. It seems grounded in reality. I applaud the film for that.

Judgment: A tight crime caper. What more can you want?

Rating: ****

Bronson (2009)

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The Man. The Myth. The Celebrity.

Based on the true story of prisoner, Michael Peterson, the infamous Britain’s most dangerous prisoner incorporates the alter ego of Charlie Bronson. Bronson has been traveling the film festival circuits for over a year and now it is opening in limited release. All I say is, “who cares?”

Director Nicolas Winding Refn recounts the life story of Peterson (Tom Hardy) that has a violent streak with his temper and his fists. Starting out with his boyhood when he was a petty criminal and he was sent to jail.

Being a loose cannon, he hops from jail to jail for the thrill of it. Fighting with prison guards while he’s naked, attacking fellow inmates and being a little bit off. He is committed to mental hospital.

After getting out of the place, he tries his hand at being a underground fighter by the moniker, Charlie Bronson after the action star, Charles Bronson.

His bad boy side comes out and he is sent back into jail when he discovers his true passion. He spends thirty-four years in prison and he loves every minute of it.

Tom Hardy is fine as the titular Bronson. The ultimate question is what is the point of this movie being made? If the main character is uninteresting, the audience would not care about what happens to them in the end.

I didn’t care about him addressing the camera. Him doing the “Chicago” motif of acting out his story is front of a studio audience was completely unnecessary. Why does Bronson look like he’s from the nineteenth century? I don’t care about this person I haven’t heard of. What was the driving force to make this movie?

Judgment: Words cannot express how I think you should not watch this movie.

Rating: **1/2

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