So I finally consumed some pop culture morsels this week in the form of films and fiction. Here, once again, are my not-so-deep thoughts.
INCEPTION: Yes, I’m embarrassingly late to this dream-weaver party. My boss loaned me his screener (one of the perks of being in “the industry”), so I curled up with my laptop and noise-resistant headphones and let Leonardo DiCaprio and company take me into their sub-conscious landscape. I think Christopher Nolan is a great technical director and I truly admire the ambition and scope of his filmmaking and storytelling. The visuals of the film were stunning and supported by a competent, committed cast. But I have to admit that Nolan’s films leave me a bit cold and Inception was no exception. The characters didn’t feel fully fleshed-out to me (much as he tried to establish a back-story for Leo’s tortured character, Cobb). Despite all of the eye candy on screen, I was left with feelings of ambivalence.
Nolan’s explanation of Cobb and his team of dream thieves also intrigued me. There’s a lengthy sequence in which Leo’s character schools newcomer Ellen Page in the intricacies of dream travel, and I found my brain twisting into a pretzel while watching it. The exposition gets quite clunky in establishing these spies who are able to hijack one’s dream state. I think that when you go into a movie experience like Inception, you don’t just check your disbelief at the door – save yourself the trouble and leave it back at home with the babysitter. I guess what I’m saying, Mr. Nolan, is that I don’t need lengthy sequences explaining the minutiae of every last machination and rule of this world. You had me at Leo, so let’s just keep this action-packed ride moving forward, okay?
THE SOCIAL NETWORK: On a similar note, I find director David Fincher to be from the same school as Nolan. Incredible cinematic technician, but a bit lacking when it comes to finding the emotion and character of a story. Jesse Eisenberg did a great job of playing Mark Zuckerberg as a dismissive, disconnected douchebag; but I found myself perplexed by how I was supposed to approach this particular “protagonist” and his groundbreaking story. Believe me, I’m all for prickly, flawed main characters – I tend to center my scripts on them. Yet there comes a point when you need to feel some emotional connection…even to those anti-heroes. So when I find myself consistently rooting for the ancillary characters that were seemingly screwed over by Mark Zuckerberg instead of Mark Zuckerberg himself, then I feel like something’s a bit off. For me, the two best scenes were those involving the girl who broke Zuckerberg’s heart. For a fleeting moment, I felt charged by his vulnerability…and, ultimately, connected to it. If only it had lasted.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: I have only read the book so far, but I plan on seeing the foreign film. Stieg Larsson’s novel is certainly a captivating read. It’s smart and utterly unique. You’ll feel the bitter cold of Sweden in its pages. And you’ll appreciate the complexities of the characters Larsson creates. Especially Lisbeth Salander. What a fascinating construct. I can’t wait to see how she’s handled in the Swedish film. David Fincher is directing the American remake and I think that his detached, calculated approach may actually serve this dark story well.
NEXT UP: Let’s just wait and see!