Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Freshlink 15

<--- USA Today Zoinks. It's the first official pics of Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. ♥
Journalistic Skepticism Luke reviews the entire 1990s in Best Actress. I'd do this myself if I didn't have 141 other ongoing movie projects to worry about. I'm overscheduled, I am. [Sigh]
The Big Picture M. Night Shyamalan thinks that the cynical view of his career (that his movies are getting worse and worse) will be "eradicated" by history. Even more alarming: he says he would kill himself if he thought his movies were getting worse. Oh M. Night. Self awareness and self critique is necessary to growth as an artist. If you think you're incapable of bad work, you're bound to do bad work.
Some Came Running Ellen Page is an early riser.
Towleroad I'm incredibly disappointed in writer/director Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings) and his comments on gay actors playing straight "distracting." He wins some points by using straights playing gays as his prime examples of this off-sexuality distraction (I mean, if you're going to be stupid about what acting is, be stupid in both directions! Thanks) but his own words are so hypocritical since he always has gay characters in his movies and always hires straight actors to play them. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies and the gay community is certainly proof of that in the movie business.
Lazy Circle on The Atlantic's piece on celebrity scandal, tougher on women (like Lindsay Lohan) than men (Mel Gibson). I can't get behind any piece (The Atlantic's) that calls Elizabeth Taylor a joke, though. La Liz is legendary. Those who laugh at her have very little understanding of her epic wing in Hollywood's mansion.
I Need My Fix shares a Goop item, a heartfelt piece from Bryce Dallas Howard on post-partum depression
Serious Film Come back Charlie Kauffman

off cinema
I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing on event television and a real life event. A must read.
Playbill Barack Obama's tribute to Broadway. Love the Mel Brooks quote that musicals "blow the dust off your soul."
Backstage|Blogstage Maybe the all things Mad Men fever has finally jumped the shark... or at least driven over someone's foot with a lawnmower. Of of my favorite recurring bit players has posed for Playboy recreating old 60s pinups.
Movie|Line Have you been reading the Emmy Spotlight here? It's fun. I had totally forgotten about that Gossip Girl themed 30 Rock episode. When I die I want to leave something in my will for Jane Krakowski because she's given me so much raucous laughter in my life.

daily Inception freakout
EW's Owen Gleiberman says he doesn't "get" Inception. And then proceeds to describe it in thorough detail indicating that he totally got it but just didn't like it very much. Yet his constant "I didn't get it" apologetic refrains invite everyone -- sometimes literally -- to disregard his points. Who does Owen Gleiberman think he is? A Democratic politician. Find your backbone!
FourFour Rich (who hated the movie) has a conversation with a friend (who loved it). It's all very interesting but even Rich, who is totz brilliant, falls for the "didn't get it" hedging, before saying lots of smart things indicating that he got it.

I still sorta like the movie (I initially gave it a B and this intermittently glowing review) but the things I did dislike about it such as the entire character of Ariadne (Ellen Page), the literal mindedness of a dream movie, and the direction/editing of some of the action sequences keep bothering me and the things I liked about it (the 'man as builder' vertical aesthetic, the team dynamic, the zero gravity bits, the f/x, the Tom Hardy) aren't totally compensating.

My point is this: I'm glad that someone made a movie that is inspiring this much discussion but I will yet be driven mad by the dynamic of weird hyperbole vs. embarassed apologies embedded in seemingly all Inception conversations. I am sending Nolan my next therapy bill.

Have you tried this "35 Movies in 2 Minutes" short? It's whimsic-hypnotic but I have to admit I didn't even get half of them on the first run through. Try it.

35mm from Pascal Monaco on Vimeo.


Kyle said...

I kinda felt bad for M. Night in that clip...yeah, he's a jerk, but you have to wonder how often he's getting asked those kinds of questions now since this was his what...fourth straight critical bomb?

Yea, he should be making better movies...but people need to stop going to see everything he makes to prove that.


KYLE -- i hear you. I'm sure it doesn't feel great to answer questions like that. But its' a public career. Public careers are always going to have this element that private careers do not. I think he'd definitely be served well by looking really hard and with some distance about what works and what doesn't in his movies.

but maybe he has a ton of "yes" people around him that a lot of the power players get. It nearly always destroys their abilities to make good movies. see also: George Lucas.

Calum Reed said...

Tom Hardy really was dashing, wasn't he?

I also gave Inception a B, but felt it had the same problems as The Dark Knight. Nolan just can't seem to let things breathe, and seems scared that we aren't going to remember every little detail. Inception was much too plotted to really deliver on what it's speculating.

BAM said...

Inception first viewing: A-
Inception second viewing: B-

I can't get over the poorly written and poorly spoken dialoge by Leo and Ken W. Is this Shutter Island 2?

Also, a friend of mine got into the details of time and the different dream levels and limbo and things just don't add up the way Leo's character says they are supposed to.

As psychological thrillers go, The Dark Knight was much more cohesive and believable even though it featured costumed characters.

BAM said...

I also can't get over my spelling errors! //for shame//

The Pretentious Know it All said...

Inception is #3 on the IMDb top 250 list...The nightmare is real.

It's like people aren't even just apologizing for disliking it anymore, they feel like they have to apologize if they think it's anything less than a masterpiece.

Sidebar: at any given time, the IMDb top 250 list looks like it was mostly devised by an afternoon tribunal featuring a five-year-old boy, a thirteen-year-old boy, an Octogenarian of any gender, one graduate film student with crowd anxiety and Mel Gibson.

Volvagia said...

You spelled perfectly. Your friend sounds off-the-wall though.

Kyle said...

Nathanel - you're right, it's all a part of the territory...I've also read further articles about his reaction to allegations of racism in this most recent film, etc etc...he just comes off so pompous...sometimes maybe no comment is the best comment.

Speaking of yes men, who was that little weasel sitting next to him?

Jorge Rodrigues said...

@Kyle - it's Jackson Rathbone. I read it somewhere else. It appears he's widely known from the... hmm... Twilight saga.

Unknown said...

I honestly don't think the Inception ruckus is that strange or new. With every film that becomes a sensation, there's going to be someone who's underwhelmed and confused.

For instance, when LOTR: Return of the King came out, I couldn't figure out where the raves were coming from (I love the first two). My reaction then was similar to your present reaction to Inception, I think.

Sometimes you just have to accept that a particular zeitgeist isn't for you, move on, and wait for the next one. ;-)

I haven't seen Inception yet, so I'm curious to find out what my own reaction will be...

adam k. said...

You didn't like Ariadne? I thought she was kind of a highlight. Yes, she was underdeveloped (what exactly was she studying anyway? architecture? psychology? or maybe she was a double major and that's why she was so special? it was kind of annoying that we were told "this girl is a genius, period." and expected to just go with it) But that said, I thought Ellen Page worked wonders filling her out. She was great and totally watchable, as always. And I liked how she never had to be romantically attracted to Leo. What a revelatory concept. I was imagining the whole time that Ariadne was a lesbian.

But to me, the action was a snooze (except for anything anti-gravity-related), the whole thing was over-plotted and under-felt, and the whole time it just felt like a movie I was supposed to love, rather than one I genuinely did love in any way. The central love story/drama was well-acted but not particularly moving, and the dreams were too literal and linear to be especially compelling. I get the argument that they were consciously designed and hence would be more linear/controllable, but I still say surreal dreams are just more interesting, and can really unlock the artistic potential of film (see: Mulholland Dr.). I mean what's the point of making a movie all about dreams if they're just an excuse for lots of people to get shot and cool special effects things to happen? Oh wait, that's right, the film is actually just a mainstream blockbuster/thriller/heist flick. And those are never my thing.


adam k. said...

Long story short: Toy Story 3 is MY official zeitgeisty-thing-I've-latched-on-to for this year. LOVE.

Inception I can take or leave. Love that Ellen Page is getting more and more known, though.

Andrew David said...

Personally I think the best things about Inception were the characters and the cast. I loved the fact that - mostly for Leo and Cillian - the character complexities WERE the plot. And those two gave amazing performances.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy were both fantastic in their different action hero efforts, and Ellen Page did a nice job in an obviously undeveloped role. But Marion Cotillard really stole the show as one of the best and most original antagonists I've seen for a long time.

The film definitely had its problems (I think the first half dragged, some of the action sequences should have been cut or modified and Ariadne needed more) but it's so much better for having such a watchable ensemble.

Kyle said...

Adam -

I liked Toy Story 3, I really did...but to be honest, it's hard for me to say I just LOVED it mainly because it was so had all the typical Pixar elements, and everything a person would like about those movies but it also took zero risks. It just felt like comfort food, that's not to say its bad or anything...I just feel like something that gets all this critical adoration needs to have a little something more...

Josh said...

Oh good so we're into the backlash to the backlash to the backlash on Inception, now? If someone tips me over into a tub of water will I wake up and not have to hear any more - pro, con or indifferent - about this movie (which I very much enjoyed, btw)?

Sam said...

Those pictures of Natalie Portman are AMAZING. Haunting and weird. I can't wait for that movie!

adam k. said...

Kyle, I'm not sure how "unsafe" one can reasonably expect a Pixar sequel aiming for $400 mill to be.

I was actually quite impressed that the whole thing was built on a foundation of sadness due to loss/separation/all things coming to an end. That part of it was much more adult than the other two, which really made it stand out, and also made it the perfect end to a great trilogy of childrens' films. It also hit me on a very personal level, as I saw it with my little sister who is going away for college this fall, and who was a little kid when the other movies came out.

I'm not saying it's perfect or anything, but it's definitely the best film I've seen this year, and it's so satisfying to see that it's also becoming the biggest hit of the year. Love when that happens.

lylee2 said...

M. Night: Please just go away.

Re: "Inception," I totally sympathize with Owen Gleiberman and get what he's saying. Not that he didn't ultimately "get" the movie, but that while it was going on he didn't get the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of what was going on (or whether/how they mattered), and found them distracting and confusing. I felt exactly the same way, and during some of the later, more interminable action sequences (like the entirety of what I call the "Planet Hoth" scenes), found my mind wandering back to trying to figure out all of that. Which is to say I must have been less than totally engaged by the film qua film and instead got bogged down in the mental puzzles as a separate, stand-alone exercise from my filmgoing experience.

I, too, give the film credit for inciting so much thought and discussion, and I've certainly spent way too much time reading what everyone has to say about it, weighing theories and interpretations, and formulating my own. But at some point earlier this week, I just got sick of all of it. The fact that there's still so much confusion, disagreement, and acrimony over aforesaid mechanics, as well as the overall "meaning" of the film, I think actually undercuts the film's appeal. It's exhausting, not exhilarating.

(end of rant. I actually liked the movie, about as much as Nathaniel did, and would probably see it again if I had time.)

poopface said...

I don't think M. Night was saying he would kill himself if he thought his movies sucked. He was refering to the mindset that he needed to cop-out and make a franchise film to gain back an audience and therefore bankability(which is what the journalist implied).

Kyle said...


I hear what you're saying, and I can reflect some of that from my own personal experience, again I reiterate, I liked the movie...about as much as Nathaniel liked Inception as a good comparison, but I guess I was just a little dissapointed in Pixar. With WALL-E and Up, it felt like they were really leaving that safe Pixar movie formula box that just seemed to permeate most of their early least in those respective films first acts (the silent first 30 or so minutes of WALL-E, and the sad flashback in Up) they were doing something really different. Sadly, they weren't able to keep up that momentum throughout either film (beyond that 10 mins or of Up, I despised the rest of the film)...but they were "going there". Toy Story 3 felt like a step back is all.


nobody mentioned the 35 movies in 2 minutes. i can only get about 12. i know i'll be like D'OH when i figure them out.

how well did you do there?

Agustin said...

i got 13 on first viewing.
i'm really clueless with the other 12

Agustin said...

oh and i'm sure at least 2 or 3 of those 13 are wrong haha

Agustin said...

here's a guess list with the 35

Dylan said...

I second that call for a return of Kaufman. Was he scared away by the bashing of Synecdoche?

adam k. said...


I guess I was initially expecting Toy Story 3 to be less great than it is, so my expectations set the bar low. I thought the first one was totally better than the second, so I was expecting a similar slide in quality, though the opposite turned out to be the case.

I agree that Up and WALL•E were pushing the envelope more (at least in parts), but I think there's something to be said for just making a movie that's damn good, conventional or not. I think making it as sad as it was was challenging enough for today's audience (sad to say). And I think it would've done a disservice to the franchise to do something really weird and different with this one just for the sake of doing something weird and different. You can't push the envelope every time out, you know?

I just thought the film was incredibly funny, clever and moving, as great a time at the movies as I've had in quite a while (How To Train Your Dragon was close, but I thought the beginning of that one really dragged). And it'll be great to see it win the animated oscar not just on its own merits (though it deserves it) but also to make up for the other two not getting a chance to win.

The whole point of my initial post, though, was just that I liked Toy Story 3 a lot more than Inception (as did many critics, it seems).


i think in order it goes...

(peace sign running i have no idea)
??? blue dot turning red?
some charlie chaplin movie
cracked egg? don't know...
stacked hats. i don't get it
apple seeds. don't get it

(i get TOTALLYlost in next section and have no idea whatsover)
box with yellow lines behind it . i don't get...
buzz saw i don't get?
crosses smiles?
upside down cross?
spinning blue backdrop

then just cclocks?
buzzed square?
that damn hat again?
is that REAR WINDOW?
i don't get the hearts with the doors?
broken hearts?
tin drums? TIN DRUM?
moon ?
stars highway?

Katie said...

I cried reading the Bryce Dallas Howard piece. thanks hormones!

Kyle said...


Fair enough, though I'm certain it wouldn't be a big surprise that I felt the opposite of you on the Inception/Toy Story 3 appreciation.

I guess for me, it comes down to...Inception was an experience for me, along with being a great made me think, inspired me a little bit, and promoted alot of conversation between my girlfriend and I.

Toy Story 3 was great, but it was just a movie for us...and really the only conversation it prompted in us was *SPOILER WARNING*

"That was really good/cute, but I wish the toys would have died in the furnace, that really would have been something"


Katie -- are you pregnant? If so, congrats!

Kyle -- funny thing is the furnace scene was my absolute least favorite part of TS3. I thought it was a little cheap actually -- ooh they'e gonna die horrifically. PSYCH! -- but i loved the rest of the movie.

Kyle said...

Nathaniel -

Yeah, definitely cheap when they got saved...but wouldn't it have been crazy if they all burned to death? I really felt like that would have been a ballsy ending...the way it actually ends up for toys that get tossed aside.

I guess too much for what is really a kids movie.