Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Movie Discussion: Inception (by Dave Machado

Inception is a masterpiece.  It's the type of movie that comes along once in a great while and reminds me why I love movies so much.  After having seen the film twice I feel like I have a good grasp on what the movie is about yet I am still hesitant to review it.  I've read so many amazing articles about this movie that I wasn't sure I had anything useful to contribute other than "me likey Inception!"  Luckily for you however I am compelled to discuss one topic that has been on my mind since the infamous cut to black.  Spoilers from here on out so if you have not seen this movie yet, stop reading and go buy a ticket right now for the next showing.  

The main debate of Inception seems to come down to whether or not the top stopped after Cobb was finally reunited with his children.  I think the top would have kept spinning but it doesn't matter because I interpret the cut to black as Cobb waking up from his dream.  Some people agree with this theory and believe every second of the movie is a dream.  Now I don't buy that argument but I think we enter the first level of dreaming a lot earlier than some people think.  There is a scene after they meet up with the chemist Yusuf in Mombasa where Cobb asks to try out the sedative that Yusuf claims is very powerful.  I believe from this point on, the movie is Cobb's dream and the real Inception is his team trying to make him get over his issues with Mal.  That is why that at the end of the movie, only after he has finally come to peace with everything and is literally ready to face his children again, he wakes up and will be able to successfully complete jobs again.

My favorite part of this ending (or any interpretation of Inception) is that is uses the "it's all a dream" cliche and makes it meaningful.  I have always had a problem with scenes in movies that turned out to be dreams or when certain characters turned out to be hallucinations.  I believed that it negated the importance of said scenes and/or actors and was a waste of time.  Inception is what finally made me realize how stupid that argument was and that I was looking at movies the wrong way.  

The reality of movies is about as realistic as our own dreams.  We are watching actors playing parts for our entertainment.  Even though we know what's on screen is fake, we still follow along and are interested in the well being of the characters.  Yet we get upset if this fake character has a dream where something happens that we thought was important.  But why is this upsetting?  Is it because we ourselves get upset when good things happen in dreams but turn out to be false?  The character's "reality" and "dreams" are equally fake in our world so it seems silly to get upset over saying one part is worth your attention and the other is not.  The purpose of a movie is to tell a story and to see a character go through a journey of discovery.  It should be the end result that matters and that is what I think Christopher Nolan is trying to say with Inception.  We are invested in Cobb as a character and even though most of his arc takes place in a dream, his character still achieves what he desired and is therefore better off in the end.  In fact it is only through dreams that he is able to attain that.

There are so many other ways to view Inception that I could go on forever but I think this is enough to chew on for now.  Other interesting ideas such as Inception as an autobiographical story about making movies (similar to 8 1/2) is another fascinating take that I feel has already been explained to perfection by Devin over at  If you have a chance, go read his article as I think it is exceptionally well written and gets across the point a lot better than I could.  I hope I haven't turned anyone off to their own view of Inception because I think this movie is purposefully ambiguous.  I love hearing other people's take on the movie as I am not one who gets defensive over the way I see it.  We all bring personal baggage to films that distorts our view but it's important to stay open minded about what others have to say.  Always make sure your "Mal" doesn't take over and ruin the experience for others.

You're Welcome,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Movie Review: Predators (by Dave Machado)

Predators was a movie I had been looking forward to ever since I heard it was being Written/Produced by Robert Rodriguez.  I consider myself a fan of the first two Predator movies but not so much the Alien vs. Predator spinoff franchise.  I’ll admit to never actually seeing the second one but the first was pretty bad and lacked what made the earlier Alien and Predator films special.  So when I heard that someone whom I already respected in the movie industry was going to be behind the rejuvenation of a franchise much in need of new blood, I became very anxious to see the end result.  Luckily once the credits rolled on Predators I was satisfied with the film they made.

The film pretends that the Alien vs. Predator movies never existed (or at least never directly references them) and instead builds upon the mythology setup in the first two movies which consisted of Predators coming to earth to hunt down humans for sport.  The welcome twist for the new movie is that the Predators also bring humans (and other alien life) to their own planet to setup a gaming reserve so they can hunt and evolve their own tactics.  This fits nicely in with what we know about these creatures already and allows for some fun additions to the mythology.  We now learn there are multiple types of Predators and also Predator “dogs”.  As with humans here on earth, these different species are at war with each other in addition to hunting the life forms they bring to their planet.  It’s never stated but heavily implied that the “classic” Predators we are used to seeing are the lower/weaker species and not the ones who are controlling the “imports” being brought to the planet.

Speaking of “imports”, the group of survivors brought to the planet are an enjoyable collection of badass clich├ęs from around the world.  It’s like an EPCOT World Showcase of killers (who of course all speak at least some English) with people from America, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Japan, and Sierra Leone.  They all wake up in the foreign jungle with no clue how or why they were brought there.  Luckily they all have weapons though…really, really big weapons.  So it doesn’t take long for them to band together and start to piece together what’s happening.  I think special recognition should go to Adrian Brody as the American mercenary and Topher Grace as the poor confused American Doctor (every unit needs a medic right?).  I’ll admit to being confused by their casting at first because they both don’t scream “badass” at all.  Luckily Topher Grace is cast perfectly as the nerdy smartass in way over his head (or is he?) so it didn’t require AHNOLD levels of muscles to pull off.  Adrian Brody however does play a badass in the movie and pulls it off nicely.  I would have never thought Mr. Brody could play a tough brute but about 15 minutes into the movie I was sold on his performance.   This is not to say the rest of the cast is poor by any means.  I actually thought it was one of the few ensemble movies where there isn’t a weak link in the group.  Fans of seeing big mouthfuls of scenery being devoured onscreen will also love Lawrence Fishburne’s role/cameo.  I won’t give too much away but you can tell he is having a lot of fun with his role (as was I).

Any fan of the previous Predator movies will enjoy this movie.  If you like over the top sci-fi action, this has your share of it for the entire summer.  A movie like this won’t win many people over though.  You will go in already knowing whether you will love it or not.  It delivers exactly what was expected of it and because of that I am thankful that the Predators were given one last hunting season to show that they can learn from their “mistakes” and become an optimal fighter in the multiplex.

I give this movie 3 ripped spinal cords out of 4.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me! (by Dave Machado)

So today is my 25th Birthday and I've decided to celebrate the occasion by creating a Blog.  My plan is to use this place for longer thoughts that can't be confined to Facebook and Twitter updates.  This won't be a personal Blog where I complain about daily life.  I have two good reasons for this:

  1. I have a pretty good life
  2. No one likes reading about people complaining
So why did I create this Blog?  Simple, I still have stuff to say that I hope you will find entertaining enough to read.  This will be my place to write reviews for movies, music, and TV shows along with other thoughts on Pop Culture related events.  In fact, expect some exciting posts in the coming days related to my 2010 Emmy Nomination thoughts!

But first, back to my birthday.  When I was younger, it seemed like such an amazing day that you would countdown to for weeks, just waiting to be able to say you were one year older (which also meant you had to remember to lift 1 extra finger when asked your age.  A big responsibility for such a small body).  But as the numbers get higher (and you run out of fingers and/or people caring about your age), the day gets a little less exciting.  Yet as I sit here on the 1/4 century anniversary of my birth, I realize that while it may not be as exciting as it was to turn 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, or 21, it's still a day that makes me happy and I still countdown to. So tonight when I go to buy that bottle of wine to celebrate my birthday and the cashier asks for my ID, maybe I'll just flash both hands twice and then my right hand 1 more time, letting it linger as if waiting for a high five.

Happy Birthday to me!