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two-cent movie review: Inception

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Everyone seems to love this movie. I didn’t. Here’s why:

‘Inception’ breaks the first rule of storytelling: show don’t tell.

Way too much talking and over-explaining.

Seems to be a trend in Hollywood or some unwritten Hollywood script-writing rule which states if a movie contains some kind of high-brow concept deemed too abstract for the everyday sloped-foreheaded Walmart shopper to properly understand (which, by the way, ‘Inception’ wasn’t at all), that movie must spend inordinate amounts of screen time and pointless dialogue relying on the laziest of literary devices: the Q&A. Question and answer. This movie spends so much time explaining concepts, ideas, and dream jargon in the form of one character asking questions and another character answering them in a nice compact way, that after a while I got the feeling I was watching a plot outline for a movie being pitched to some Hollywood big-wig instead of watching the actual movie itself. It seems the script writers assigned Ellen Page’s character to be this person who asks all the plot-related, concept-related questions to help move the movie along.

I FUCKING HATE WHEN MOVIES DO THAT. SHOW DON’T TELL!

‘Inception’ is okay for good summertime distraction. In fact, my company treated our entire business unit to a screening of the movie. And I missed the first half-hour because some dumbfuck sent out an email saying the movie started at 9:30 when it actually started at 9:00. (Or maybe I didn’t read that email right?) So hey, it beat going to work. But is it a great movie? Is it destined to be a sci-fi classic along the lines of ‘Bladerunner’?

FUCK NO!

‘Inception’ felt more like ‘Bladerunner’ meets ‘Waking Life’ but geared for an ‘Independence Day’ kind of audience, that sloped-foreheaded, easily amused Walmart crowd.

A good movie — no, a GREAT movie — evokes images and emotion. It doesn’t need to explain them.

When you watch a great movie, you come to realize whatever concept it’s trying to convey. It occurs auto-magically. Or seems to. That’s the trick of good storytelling. It doesn’t beat you over the head with droning dialogue in hopes that you’ll get it after the tenth or twentieth time.

In fact, the mark of a great movie is that it contains very little dialogue at all. (‘Pink Floyd’s The Wall’ is one example. I’ve already mentioned ‘Bladerunner.’)

SHOW DON’T TELL, DUDE!

Sad that the writers made the various dream “realities” look exactly like something out of a Bourne Identity or Bruce Willis action-hero flick. If that’s how they dream in real life, it explains the severe lack of imagination throughout the entire movie.

If you want to watch an enlightening and illuminating discourse on the various levels of consciousness and what it means to be in one dream-state versus another, and still be entertained at the same time, forget ‘Inception’ and Netflix copies of ‘Waking Life’ or ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ instead.

Quick note on the characters.

There were about two or three characters that probably didn’t need to be in this movie. Removing them would not have affected the movie’s plot or outcome at all, I don’t think. This tells me the script could have used another two or ten rewrites.

And, I dunno….maybe it’s just me, but it seems ‘Inception’ picks up where Di Caprio’s previous movie, ‘Shutter Island’ left off. Here again, he is forced to deal with the actions of yet another psychotic and/or delusional wife. With the two kids included. Or was it three? Either way, it doesn’t matter. Point is, in both movies he’s missing his kids very much.

Ellen Page seems miscast in this movie just as that hipster dufus Apple Mac kid was miscast in that Bruce Willis flick a few years back. In fact, Ellen Page should team up with Hipster Dufus Mac Boy and make their own quirky sci-fi flick, co-starring Michael Cera. They could all sit around in a stoned-out dream-state singing Kimya Dawson songs. That, to me, sounds way more interesting than ‘Inception’.

two-cent movie review: Following Sean

Although this documentary was released in 2005, it appears that much of the footage was shot in the early- to mid-90’s.

Not sure what filmmaker Arlyck’s own life had to do with anything, but he chose to include large parts of it in the film, which seemed incongruous: “Here’s Sean now, and oh by the way, my wife is leaving for Paris. I think I’ll start filming her instead! And here are some scenes of my two sons in Berkeley. And now here are some scenes of my aging parents talking about stuff that happened in the 40’s and 50’s” Huh? I guess it’s because he felt some kind of connection to Sean by way of having filmed him back in the 60’s. In reality, Arlyck was merely a downstairs neighbor armed with a video camera, without which he probably would have been just another forgettable character.

two-cent movie review: The Cats of Mirikitani

Jimmy Mirikitani is an artist.

As a young boy in Japan, he argued with his father over his unwillingness to join the military. “I am an artist,” Jimmy explains.

Scammed out of his U.S. citizenship and forced to live in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, Jimmy explains: “I am an artist.”

Fast-forward sixty years to find Jimmy, eighty-years-old now and living on the streets of NYC, painting and drawing in Washington Square Park. “I am an artist,” he explains.

This is where filmmaker Linda Hattendorf finds Jimmy, busily painting and drawing, seemingly unmindful of the goings-on around him. Indeed, during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, Hattendorf discovers Jimmy alone in the park, coughing and hacking from the toxic black cloud that had begun to engulf the city, still working on one of his paintings. She takes him into her apartment, and this is where the film’s journey begins.

What impressed me the most was not so much that he was a prisoner of war; or that he lost friends and family when Hiroshima was bombed; or that he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship or was homeless for more than a decade (from what I could gather) — but that throughout it all: Jimmy Mirikitani remained an artist.

read more: Netflix: The Cats of Mirikitani.

“Filmmaker Linda Hattendorf becomes an integral part of the action in this heartfelt documentary about her efforts to help aging Japanese-American artist Jimmy Mirikitani get off the streets of New York City and make peace with his complicated past. As she and Jimmy sift for long-lost relatives and even revisit the internment camp where he was forced to spend several years during World War II, Hattendorf hauls her camera along to capture every moment.”