Monday, January 04, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So: Inception and Knight and Day

Rather than ignore trailers in 2010, The Film Experience is joining the conversation. But we're not falling for that OMG! IT'LL BE AWESOME trap. It's all about managing expectations since any film could be great or terrible and most are somewhere inbetween.

, opening July 16th, is Chris Nolan's follow up to The Dark Knight starring Leonardo DiCaprio as some sort of idea thief, Ellen Page as some sort of telep -- well, her mind or her imagination is involved somehow (it's confusing. Yay!). When I met Joseph Gordon-Levitt last month I asked him who most of his scenes were with and he wouldn't say a word. Not a word. They're hiding details. Good for them.

Yes. The city curving up on itself is an interesting image but if I have to pick the one moment in the trailer that gets to me in a charged "I want to see this!"way is that backwards seated dive into a bathtub with the incongruous overlay of all that girlie "WAKE ME UP!" shrieking. Chills.

That and Leo drowning brings back happy memories.

No. Why are 78% of all action movies filmed with minor variations on the steel blue palette. For decades now. Filters come in all colors.

Maybe So. I love my mind to be blown as much as the next person, but that's harder and harder for filmmakers to do in this age of give-the-whole-movie-away pre-release buildup. I love that this trailer doesn't over explain (or even explain) the movie. But it's only the second teaser. I suspect there'll be at least 3 more, each more expository than the last. Can they keep the mystery intact enough to blow our minds? The trailer is skillfully tipping and turning its images in the promise that the movie will be dizzying.

Knight and Day, which opens in time for the 4th of July box office party stars Tom Cruise as a dangerously glib killing machine and Cameron Diaz as a confused woman who doesn't seem to know him but is continually thrust into his comic action messes.

Yes*. Seeing Cameron Diaz screaming in a dangerously swerving car within a trailer for a Tom Cruise movie reminds me of the only thing I liked about the disastrous Vanilla Sky (2000): Cameron Diaz screaming while dangerously swerving her car right off the road... with Tom Cruise in it. I think her histrionics in that earlier movie were skillfully modulated.

*I'm stretching. This trailer. Yikes.

No. Ambidextrous gun slinging is as tired a movie cliche as "cool guys don't look at explosions" both are "this is kickass!" shortcuts. And I, for one, ain't having it no mo'. Where is the filmmaker willing to think up a new "this is kickass!" action movie trope? Loved Avatar but a thrilling leaping off a cliff onto the back of a flying dragon isn't going to transfer so well to other movies.

Maybe So. Four or five years ago if Peter Sarsgaard invited me to jump in a car, I'd totally be all "SHOTGUN!" Now, I'm hesitant since he only plays creepy guys. On the other hand, Carey Mulligan just took him up on it and look what she got: a trip to Paris and mucho Oscar buzz.

...jump in the car?

What's your verdict?


Anonymous said...

Yes to Inception and I'd rather gouge my eyeballs than sit through anything with Cruise and Diaz.

I am however intrigued by Allen Coulter's new one, Remember me. Forget the sparkly dude but Pierce Brosnan, Lena Olin AND Chris Cooper?! I'm so there.

Bensunce said...

YES: Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring in a Chris Nolan movie. I'm so tired that JG-L is one of those "I know him but I don't know his name" kind of actors. Recognition for talent, please! He's been around for almost 20 years!

NO: Like you, Nat, I'm a bit fed up of the steel-blue look for action pictures.

MAYBE SO: It's hard to know if this will be an action-thriller or a character-driven drama with some action. I'm hoping for the latter. I liked The Dark Knight a lot, but I think Nolan is best when he focuses less on action and more on the characters, like The Prestige, which had beautiful production design which served the wonderful plot more than steal the show. The Dark Knight had great intimate moments, most due to Heath Ledger's masterful performance, but in the end, even after 5 viewings, I just remember one action sequence and the Joker... for a 2 hours and a half picture! Not so good... I've seen The Prestige only twice and I remember the entire movie. Character-driven with gorgeous technical achievements taht serve the movie without distracting. That what I hope this will be.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

It kind of looks like Knight and Day is a send-up of such tropes, though. Action/comedy trailers being what they are, though, we've probably seen the best bits here.

Guy Lodge said...

That "Knight & Day" trailer is bizarre -- so rhythmless, choppily structured and filled with dead space, it seems almost fan-made.

Are we to assume the title is some awful pun on the characters' names? Seriously, what's going ON here?

Hayden said...

When Knight and Day was filming in Boston I sat a table away from Cameron Diaz in a Newbury Street tea shop. Fun fact.

Chase Kahn said...

"Inception" is the only summer film on the schedule next year that promises to be a grown-up, sophisticated, heady and ambitious project.

Everything else wreaks of "Knight and Day."

Also, this is the SECOND trailer for "Inception." The first teaser played before "Inglourious Basterds" back in August.

Robert Hamer said...

So, Nat, I finally got around to seeing Nick's #3: Dancer in the Dark. I got to say that I loved this film almost despite itself. It was overwrought (especially Bill's murder and the execution finale), completely manipulative, at times illogical (I didn't believe for a second that Linda would turn on Selma so cruelly and so quickly)...and yet, I couldn't stop thinking about the film after it was over. Lars von Trier's experimental and provocative style worked wonders for this strange experiment of a movie, which I admired for combining everything from silent melodrama to classic Greek tragedy. Underneath all of the overbearing drama there were these beautiful emotional truths hinted at that I found touching. I even liked all the songs, which is weird considering that I'm not a huge fan of Björk's music.

Speaking of Björk, she Just WOW. Her performance was, oh, how should I describe it? Miraculous, amazing, heartbreaking, bold, works on every level, I can't even think of enough words to describe how much I loved her as Selma (as an aside - and I don't dislike him or anything - but fuck Richard Roeper). I now understand completely why she took the Cannes, and your personal, Best Actress prizes, and every member of the Academy should be slapped for not nominating her.

mrripley said...

any1 feel knight and day looks old hat bit like cruise n cameron.

remember in the late 90's early 00's when stars names on a one sheet meant everything.

FrenchGirl said...

on Inception,why does Nolan switch off? but it's intriguing! all these mysteries!

on K&D trailer,all i say is FUN and COOL!

Runs Like A Gay said...

This really is an odd pairing.

Of the 12 or so major releases over the summer you've selected:

1. Serious Chirs Nolan's Serious follow up to the Serious Batman movie with Serious Leo diCaprio frowning seriously.


2. Zany Cameron Diaz is telling her Zany friend about her Zany adventure with Tom Cruise acting all Zany on a plane/freeway/other zany action location.

I'm thinking there probably isn't a more incongrous pairing this summer. (I will see both of them though)

Daniel Armour said...

I'll definitely be seeing Inception because I love Nolan and it comes out on my birthday. Night and Day looks okay but I'm not a Cameron Diaz fan and it reminds me too much of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (which I never bothered to see). Therefore, it's not likely that I'll see it.

Anonymous said...

You really hate DiCaprio, don't you?

Hayden said...

DiCaprio thinks that acting constipated is the same thing as "acting." It worked for Howard Hughes, but it's boring, repetitive, and painful everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Hayden, sorry your boy Christian Bale isn't in this one.

DiCaprio is a 3 time Oscar nominee, earning his first nomination at age 19.

You need to get over yourself.

Oh, and sorry "Jumper" didn't work out for you.

Anonymous said...

I think DiCaprio's one of the best actors around. Not sure what all the hate is about. I think the rest of the "Inception" cast is terrific too.


i can't follow these comments. Who is hating on DiCaprio? I was asked if i hate him before anyone said an unkind word about him?

for the record: I like DiCaprio. But he's hit and miss performance wise and i do think he has some repetition problems.

Anonymous said...

Repetition problems?? Are you talking about the fact that DiCaprio is always playing sooooo serious? If so, I'd have to agree, up to a point. I do admire that he quite often takes on very difficult work and it's easy to criticize someone when things don't completely even out. After all, we're all such perfect critics ourselves. Right? Still, I long to see him in a real out and out comedic role. One where he gets to show an entirely different side because I understand that he can be extraordinarily entertaining -- if Kate Winslet is a good enough judge to say so (many times, in fact). As for being hit and miss --- that can be applied to many talented actors -- even Brando had his moments there. DiCaprio unfortunately got himself pushed into a corner by Titanic and has been working a little too hard to be taken seriously ever since. But I didn't take the drowning comment as anything negative. I think that's what they're talking about, Nathaniel.

Alex said...

I wish Peter Sarsgaard were in the Nolan movie and not the Cruise movie...

Anonymous said...

Agree with above! Inception looks amazing, can't wait. I'd still get in Sarsgaard's car regardless of creepy..


Alex. yes, please.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how anyone can say DiCaprio has a "repetition" problem. How is Billy Costigan anything like Frank Abangale like Danny Archer? They are three very distinct characters. If he has a repetition problem, then so do Penn, Day-Lewis (both at times too over the top) and Clooney (who always seems to me, like Clooney).

I admit DiCaprio hasn't done a comedy, but when has Penn or Day-Lewis done a comedy? If anyone wants to accuse actors of being "too serious," look at these two. Penn, in particular, looks like he attended the DeNiro School of Acting.

DiCaprio was painted in a corner by "Titanic" and the shrill fanboys who knew nothing about his earlier work, such as "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and "This Boy's Life."

All actors have certain behaviors/habits that they give to charactors (including Streep). Just like writers have certain styles.

I think some (usually males) just dismiss DiCaprio because he looks "pretty" to them, or whatever. I'm not saying every one of his performances is great, but then all actors have their good performances and their not so good performances.

Anonymous said...

Don't ask me why, but the way you sumed up the plot of Knight and day and Diaz's part in it, together with the image from the trailer I see by default, it has reminded me of another action/comedy from years ago that was also kind of a wreck: Bird on a wire, the Mel Gibson & Goldie Hawn thing.