Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Inception' and '2012'

I watched 'Inception' last night. I have no idea what it was about. But I watched it all, damnit. For one thing, I just don't think I'm as smart as I used to be. Twenty years ago I think I might have loved this movie. Maybe even have understood it. Something about 'going deep' and 'the third layer of a dream' and 'feeling the push' and needing an architect, a chemist and a, oh, I don't know what else. All I kept thinking was, "You know, Leo DiCaprio is starting to look a lot like Van Heflin as he gets older." And, oddly, his dead wife (spoiler alert) had an Eastern European accent for some reason. And Tom Berenger turned up. I thought he was dead. I think Andy Warhol might have directed this film, although I can't say for sure. And the vertically challenged girl who had a small role on a West Wing episode was in it, too. She seemed to speak louder than the others. And...well, that's about it. I think it ended well for everyone. Not sure about that, either. Michael Caine was in it for about 12 seconds. And then not. That kid from '3rd Rock from the Sun' was in it being all serious and shit. I had tried to watch this film once about three months ago but after thirty minutes switched to 'Murder, She Wrote.' I think it takes place at some point in the future but I clearly saw an AMC Gremlin at one point. Oh, and that creepy kid from 'Witness' with Harrison Ford was in it, all grown up. He apparently gets drunk a lot with DiCaprio according to TMZ, so that explains that. And that Japanese fella from one of those two Japanese movies that Clint Eastwood directed, he's in it, too. He grimaces a great deal in it. I think he's a bad guy that becomes a good guy or something. Anyway, I refused to turn it off once I'd started it. My wife walked through the room at one point and said, "What's this?" I just shook my head and wept.

In any event, the movie cost about a hundred and eighty billion dollars to make. Which only made me weep harder.

The special effects were kind of cool, although I never knew why they were happening except to know they were all happening in someone's dream. Which sort of takes the wind out of special effects for me. It's not really happening so who cares? And everytime something really big happened with the special effects the movie cuts to someone waking up from the dream all startled and shit, looking off and squinting, like they do when they go to a commercial break on 'Young and the Restless.' Most of the movie is in slow-motion so when they cut to regular speed, it's like, "Oh. The dream must be over." These guys all have slow-motion dreams, I guess.

DiCaprio is a good actor. I don't think we even know how good Leo is yet. He's been extraordinary in the past. Watch some of his unheralded work in 'Blood Diamond.' One critic called it a "Brando inspired performance..." I can see why. It's a hugely intelligent performance complete with a Brando-esque South African, dead-on accent.

One thing I noticed about DiCaprio is, even though he's aging and is now, oh, I don't know, probably mid-thirties, he still walks like a kid. Odd thing to notice, I know. But he does. He sort of throws his legs out before him when he walks, willy-nilly. As though he's still an adolescent and doesn't realize how tall he's gotten.

Actually, in point of fact,'Inception' cost approximately 200 million dollars to make. That's right, 200 million dollars. And I just kept thinking (during the slow-motion segments, which was about two thirds of the movie) that 200 really good films could have been made instead. Of course, that's not how the universe works, but I couldn't help thinking it.

I sort of liked Danny Glover in the opening segments as the President of the United...wait. Oh, yeah, that was '2012.' Another movie I desperately tried to get through recently. It was also made for about 200 million dollars. True. So, that's 400 really good movies the planet could have had instead of these two sleepers. Or, if you're not a movie buff and don't care about that sort of thing, 400 million dollars that could have fed starving children in Alabama (I'm sure there are some down there).

I always seem to catch '2012' on one of the cable channels (we now have U-Verse and about 1,000 channels) and never see the beginning of it. I always seem to tune in right about the time The Vatican gets wiped out. Coincidence? I think not.

This is another movie that kind of looks promising for a bit and then all of a sudden we're in the middle of The Poseidon Adventure (Shelly Winters: "Oh, Manny, in the water I feel...THIN!"). The difference between '2012' and 'Inception' is the acting. 'Inception' has some good acting, although you have no idea what they're up to, and '2012' is just appalling. At one point in '2012,' thousands of Chinese workers are going to be left behind to be destroyed by a giant tidal wave while the principals in the movie make their getaway in a huge Noah's Ark kind of thing. Oliver Platt, probably the best thing in it, says to the young, black scientist and his simpering lady love, 'If you want to give your tickets to a couple of Chinese workers, be my guest!' Moments before the two young lovers are practically apoplectic at the idea of leaving all the Chinese workers behind to die. But when Oliver Platt says this, they sort of look at each other and smile and raise their eyebrows in a way that says, "Well, he's got a point, the old rascal."

Four hundred good, small, smart, insightful, new, thought-provoking films that could have been made instead of these two shameful behemoths.

Whatever. But I'm telling you, DiCaprio is starting to look A LOT like Van Heflin.

See you tomorrow.