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The Mind is a terrible place to hide (but an awesome place to play): My review of the film “Inception” – [Contains some spoilers]

A few months back, I literally drooled over the awesomeness that was the then-new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s surefire blockbuster film, Inception.  Well, I’ve FINALLY seen the movie itself.  Here’s my review . . .

When it comes to dreams, nothing beats the lucid ones.  You know the dreams I’m talking about.  The ones where, at some point in the dream, you become certain, without a doubt, that you are, in fact, dreaming. 

It is at that moment, that you have all the power. 

You are the Master of the Universe.  You are a god.  There are no limits to what you can do.  Everything is yours for the taking . . . and the making.  You have become the big kid in the playground of your own mind . . .

Party Hard!

At least until you wake up, and have to face your boring, crappy, normal life again.

A lucid dream – that’s what seeing Inception felt like for me.  Because if I could create the ultimate movie in my mind (and was also significantly smarter, and more creative than I actually am), I imagine it would look a lot like this.  Seriously, what more could you possibly want in a movie?  Inception offers (among other things):  

*A brilliant writer/ director (Christopher Nolan). 

* THIS guy . . .

(It pains me to note that he kept his shirt for the ENTIRE film . . . CLEARLY an oversight on Chris Nolan’s part.)

* THAT GUY . . .

(Also stayed clothed.  SO NOT COOL, Mr. Nolan!)

*A major HEIST, the likes of which you have never seen.

No . . not even there.

*Hypnotic and mind-boggling special effects that will shock and awe even the most jaded of movie goers  (I know, because I am one of them.)

*Action sequences that will leave your heart racing, even if you generally have little patience for the “Golly gee, let’s blow stuff up for no reason,” nature of action flicks (Me again!)

*A tight, if slightly convoluted, plot that will hold your interest throughout the film’s entire 2 hours and 22 minutes run time, even if you don’t always understand what the f*ck is going on . . .

*Psychologically mind-bending concepts that will give your brain one big fat “O.” (Lord knows, our brains could all use a good roll in the hay these days.).  The movie will also undoubtedly keep you up all night contemplating the meaning of it all.

“Hmmm .  . . why DID they make Leo and Joseph keep their shirts on?

*A twist ending, whose biggest “twist” may very well be that it is not a twist at all

And romance?  Well, there’s a little of that too . . .

There are some who say that Inception is best experienced by people who know absolutely nothing about it’s plot.  Well, I don’t necessarily think that’s true.  Before I watched the film, I read a few non-spoilery reviews first, because I just couldn’t help myself.  Honestly, I felt that they helped me get a better handle on what I was seeing, while not spoiling any of the film’s big surprises.

What follows is the basic premise of Inception.  So if you are a spoiler phobe / movie purist, this is where I leave you . . .  I mean it, GO!  I don’t want to get yelled at later . . .

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an expert at navigating the mine field of the human mind through dreams.  He’s a white collar criminal of a very unique kind – one hired by the most dangerous and most powerful men and women in the world to perform a task called: Extraction.  Extraction involves entering into a person’s mind while he is sleeping, and “extracting” from it information that is guarded carefully by the dreamer, when he is awake.  The information in question is typically depicted as a locked safe, hidden in the deep recesses of the Dream World.

“No WAY you’re getting my secrets, Leo!  (Can I still dream about you though?)”

Following a deep personal tragedy in his life involving his wife Mal (played by Marion Cotillard), Cobb and his “partner-in-crime” Arthur (played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, who by the magic of good genes, just seems to keep getting hotter and hotter each year), spend most of their lives on the run.  Cobb and Arthur are constantly being hunted, both by enemies they have made in the field, and by Cobb’s own inner demons, the latter of which literally plague his unconscious as he “dreamwalks.”

 

But Cobb has two children he longs to see.  He desires consistency and the comforts of home.  A powerful business man named Saito (Ken Watanabe) . . .

 . . . knows this, and uses it to his advantage.  He makes Cobb the proverbial “offer he can’t refuse:”  One Last Job. (Where have we heard THAT one before?)

But this one’s a little different . . .

Saito isn’t interested in Extraction, what he desires is Inception.  Saito wants Cobb to put an idea in the mind of his business competitor, Fischer (Cillian Murphy – He of the beautifully chiseled porcelain face, and entrancing blue eyes, who, for whatever reason, always looks a bit evil .  . . but in a good way) . . .

This implanted idea will convince Fischer to break up his empire into little, less monopolistic, pieces.  To do this, Cobb needs a team:  his bromantic buddy Arthur is the hottest  most obvious choice.  But other key players are needed.

His father (played by Michael Caine), a professor of Dream Architecture, suggests that Cobb use his star student, Ariadne (How’s THAT for a name?  No offense to all you Ariadne’s out there, of course), played by Ellen Page.

Coolest.  Girl.  Ever.

Ariadne will build Fischer’s dream world. 

The next addition to the team is a chemist, Yusuf (Dileep Rao).  He will be responsible for crafting a sedative strong enough to put the “Dream Team” and Fischer in “Dreamland” long enough to complete the job.   You see, apparently, even though dreams only last a few minutes at most, our minds work faster when in REM sleep.  Therefore, time seems slower in dreams.  (Who said action flicks weren’t educational?)

“OMG, Leo is SO dreamy!”

And, finally, there’s Eames (Tom Hardy) . . .

 . . . a con artist and master at Deception.  His job is to make Fischer believe that the people and places in the dream are creations of his own mind, and not those of intruders, who are out to alter it.  This is an important job, because our minds have natural defenses to foreign ideas — and, in Fischer’s mind, these defenses are armed and dangerous. 

Get out, you evil Dream Crasher, you!

I had never actually seen Tom Hardy’s work before Inception.  But he stole my heart in this movie.  Aside from looking like THIS. . .

(He’s the one on the left, obviously, with the tatts . . .  and the abs . . . and the gorgeous . . .)

And THIS . . .

But not like THIS . . .

(That’s Thomas Hardy . . . as in, the dude who wrote those lame books you had to read in high school.  Nice try, Google Images, but you can’t fool a fangirl!)

Hardy’s Eames is just so friggin cool!  He exudes masculinity, confidence, and, most importantly, sex appeal.  He’s smart, without being pompous or geeky.  Plus, his subtle rivalry with Gordon Levitt’s straight-laced Arthur, is a joy to watch.  I never thought any male actor would have the ability to take my eyes off of Gordon Levitt or DiCaprio in this film, but Tom Hardy succeeded in doing it for me, BIG TIME!

What follows is a classic international crime caper with one major difference:  None of what is happening is technically REAL, at least not in the way you and I think of as real.  The film also poses some very interesting questions about the origins of our inspirations, and the ways in which our everyday lives are shaped by basic assumptions we hold about what is REALITY and what is FANTASY. 

What makes your waking life REAL, and your dream life FAKE?  And who says you aren’t dreaming right NOW?  (Admit it, I just creeped you out a bit, didn’t I?)

How does Inception end?  Well, let’s just say you’ll be thinking about it, and talking about it, for some time to come . . .

In case it isn’t COMPLETELY obvious by now, I ABSOLUTELY 100% recommend this film to . . . well . . . anybody with a pulse, actually.  (I also recommend TOM HARDY to any girl with a libido, and any producer who WANTS girls with libidos to attend their manly films . . . )

Just in case you forgot what he looks like . . .

Inception is in theaters now.  Have you seen it yet?  If so, what did you think?  I’ve been just dying to pick someone else’s brain about it, since I got out of the theater last night  . . . particularly about the film’s final scene.  Never has such a small and seemingly simplistic object seemed so intriguing . . .

 

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Lost: A Show About Science or A Show About Faith? – Thoughts on the END of Lost’s Series Finale “The End”

Last night, I wrote a blog entry, in which I discussed some of the lighter aspects of Lost‘s generally feel-good Series Finale, “The End.”  In it, I, more or less, completely refrained from discussing the show’s controversial ending, and promised to tackle that issue exclusively in another post.  Well, I’M BAAACK . . .

One Man of Science.  One Man of Faith.  The Island wasn’t big enough for both of them . . .  or was it?

In the last season of Lost, there was much talk and broohaha about this image, and all the ideas it represents . . .

Light versus Dark.  Black versus White.  Good versus Evil.  Heaven versus Hell.  And while that dichotomy was certainly central to the battle between Jacob and the Man in Black . . .

 . . . our Losties, for the most part, resided somewhere in between.  Much like the rest of us non-television characters, their morality was covered in shades of grey.   For them (and for us), the REAL battle for control of Lost island was one that was a lot less clear cut, making it a lot less certain who we should root for.  And, ultimately,  it was this battle, that took center stage during the final half of the Season finale. (After they, you know, got rid of that pesky Black Smoke thing  . . .)

Jack v. Locke – The Man of Science versus The Man of Faith

Although Lost undoubtedly featured many characters and their respective stories of redemption, at its core were the journeys of two men.  When we first meet Jack Shepard, he is the quintessential Man of Science.  He’s a surgeon, and about as left-brained as a person can get.  There is not a creative or artistic bone in this man’s body.  So, understandably, when it comes to matters of faith or destiny, he’s a complete Doubting Thomas.  For him, if an explanation doesn’t appear in a medical reference book, it just plain doesn’t exist.

John Locke, on the other hand, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants, Man of Faith, guy.  He’s Mister “Nobody tells me what I can and can’t do.”  A guy who sees absolutely nothing wrong with signing up for a “walkabout,” despite being completely incapable of “walking about.”  Upon crashing on the island, he suddenly regains use of his legs, and, thereafter, becomes convinced that the Island is his Destiny.  He is absolutely certain that some higher power has brought him to the Island; and that he is, therefore, meant to remain and do great things there . . .

For the first Four Seasons of Lost, pretty much up until Locke’s “death,” we watched these two men battle it out with one another, arguing for the righteousness of their respective ideologies.  Neither man would budge an inch with respect to his position.  However, upon REAL Locke’s death, at the end of Season 4, things change for Jack Shepard.  During the last two seasons of the show,  Jack slowly evolved from a Man of Science into a Man of Faith. 

First, after escaping the Island as part of the Oceanic Six, he returns to it, believing he is meant to rescue the others who remained thereon.  In Season 6, when the Losties are once again ready to escape the island, this time on a boat, Jack jumps ship, convinced that the island “isn’t done with [him] yet.  Then, in the penultimate episode of the show, Jack LITERALLY drinks Jacob’s Kool Aid, and agrees to remain on the island, throwing away his promising surgical career in order to “protect” what, for all intents and purposes, was a Giant Lightbulb . . .

Scientific Answers versus Mystical Answers  – The SHOW About Science versus The SHOW About Faith

When it really came down to it, I think Lost‘s journey as a show, was similar to Jack’s journey, as a character.  Lost started out as a Show About Science (Science Fiction, perhaps, but, science, nonetheless).  In the show’s early seasons, many of the Island’s mysteries were explained through quasi-scientific means.  Flight 815 was initially thought to have been brought down, as a result of the Island’s unique electromagnetic properties, which were inherent to the Island’s location, but were also exacerbated by a Hydrogen Bomb buried beneath its surface . . .  These electromagnetic qualities also allowed the Island itself, and its inhabitants, to move freely through the time/space barrier and . . .  basically . . . time travel.

Those all important numbers, which Hurley chose in order to win the lottery, and which Desmond was forced to repeatedly punch into a computer screen to prevent the Island’s destruction . . .

Were part of the Valenzetti Equation, derived by members of the Dharma Initiative, to determine the exact point in time at which all human life would cease to exist.  The Dharma initiative itself was, more or less, a scientific research group, which took advanage of the island’s unique electromagnetic properties in order to experiment with various facets of human life, from a woman’s ability to give birth . . .

 . . . to psychology, subliminal messaging, and mind control . . .

Then, Season 6 came around, and like Jack Shepard, Lost had to go and get all “Faith-y” on us.  Island mysteries, like “why the plane crashed,” which had once been explained by science, were now explained as being part of the “Master Plan,” in a battle between the God-like Jacob . . .

 . . . and the Devil-like Man in Black . . .

 . . . for control of the Island, and, by extension, the souls of its inhabitants . . .

Supernatural, and biblical-type reasoning was now used to explain Island mysteries such as why MIB couldn’t escape the Island, why Richard Alpert wouldn’t age . . .

 . . . why Jacob and MIB couldn’t kill one another, how Locke became Flocke . . .

 . . . and who Adam and Eve were . . .

The Last Ten Minutes of the Finale Episode of Lost – Flash Sideways of Science (Time Travel) versus Flash Sideways of Faith (Purgatory)

So, I guess, it shouldn’t really have surprised me (but it DID!), that the final Lost mystery, the reason behind the Flash Sideways, ended up being a faith-based reason (preparation for the afterlife / purgatory) . . .

 . . . as opposed to a science-based reason (an alternate universe created as a result of Juliet’s detonation of the hydrogen bomb at the end of Season 5).

And, I have to say, that the fact that this promo picture, released just before Season 6 began, didn’t give the religious implications of the finale away to me, makes me more than a bit mad at myself . . .

I guess, when it really comes down to it, how you felt about Lost’s final moments (MULTITUDE of unanswered questions notwithstanding), really comes down to which side of the Man of Science / Man of Faith debate YOU fall under.  Me, personally?  I’m a bit more of a “science” girl.  So, I was a little disappointed that the Flash Sideways World did not, in fact, end up being the hydrogen bomb-created alternate universe I had initially envisioned. 

Plus, Flash Sideways World just seemed so PERFECT!   And because I’d truly grown to love these characters, having spent six years with them, I really wanted this world to exist FOR THEM!  Because, without it . . .

Ji Yeon would REALLY be an orphan . . .

David Shepard would COMPLETELY cease to exist . . . Oh, and most of the Losties would already be DEAD!

 . . . including THIS GUY!

But, putting my personal feelings aside, the fact that the Flash Sideways World ended up being purgatory makes sense, BECAUSE everything was so perfect there.  In essence, Flash Sideways World gave our main Losties the oppportunity to redeem themselves from wrongs they felt they had committed during their actual lifetimes .  . .

Jack Shepard had a bad relationship with his father, who degraded his worth constantly, and always chose his work over him, so in Flash Sideways World Purgatory he was a supportive and understanding father to his son . . .

During his lifetime, Sawyer was a con artist, who shunned justice.  So, in purgatory, he was a detective, who fought hard to protect it.

Sorry! I know technically I should have found a “cop uniform” pic of Sawyer, but I just couldn’t help myself . . .

On the island, Kate unknowingly abandoned Claire, and ended up raising her child, Aaron.  But in Purgatory, she guides Claire through the birthing process, and allows her to raise her own baby . . . And, as for Claire, she gets to keep her kid, and not become a skanky haired wackadoo.  YAY!

In the real world, Sayid’s murderous lifestyle resulted in the death of the love of his life, Nadia.

In Purgatory, he lets his brother marry Nadia instead, and, in doing so, probably spares her life.

In the real world, Desmond loved Penny Widmore, but her father’s disapproval of him kept the two of them apart.  In Purgatory, Desmond works for Charles Widmore, and has gained his utmost trust and respect . . .

In Purgatory, Hurley isn’t a loveable loser who won the lottery and STILL can’t accomplish anything.  He’s a loveable WINNER, who get’s the girl and is rich enough to employ the ENTIRE CAST OF LOST!

Purgatory Ben is a kindly history teacher who saves Alex’s future, by sacrificing his own personal success to ensure her entrance into an Ivy League college, instead of . . . you know . . . GETTING HER KILLED!  And Purgatory Locke is a pretty nice guy too, and Ben’s BFF to boot!

And, as I mentioned before, Jin and Sun, actually get to raise their kid Purgatory World.  Plus, they successfully ditch Sun’s Asshat Dad.

Matthew Fox probably explained the whole “purgatory thing”  best, in his post-finale interview with Jimmy Kimmel, when he said something to the effect of: “There’s a school of thought that, after you die, you go to a sort of ‘waiting place’ in which you encounter everyone who was important in your life.  Once you have reunited with, and reconciled with, these people, you can truly accept your own mortality and . . . move on.”  (And you just KNOW Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse fed him those words, because Matthew Fox may be smart, but not THAT smart!)

I’ll have to admit that when Christian Shepard (and if THAT’S not a “Man of Faith” name, I don’t know what is) . . .

 . . . . appeared in that Non-Denominational (or, rather, ALL Denominational) Church / Temple, OUTSIDE of his own coffin, and replied to Jack’s question of “How did you get here?  Aren’t you dead?” with . . .

 “How did YOU get here?”  . . .

I screamed at the television . . .

“YOU PROMISED THEY WEREN’T DEAD THIS WHOLE TIME, J.J. ABRAMS!  YOU LIAR!  I JUST WASTED SIX YEARS OF MY LIFE FOR YOU!”

But then, when Christian explained that, “Everything that happened on the Island was real . . . Everyone dies eventually . . . Some of these people died before you, some long after you .  . .” I calmed down a bit . . .

And in the penultimate scene of the show, when Jack stumbles out from the cave, lays down on the ground next to doggie Vincent, watches his fellow Losties successfully escape the Island on a plane, and, subsequently, CLOSES his eyes in death, just as he had opened them so many times during the LIFE of the show, I thought to myself, “What an appropriate ending . . .”

But then they HAD to show me this . . .

While the producers didn’t go as far as I feared they would, by showing me a heap of dead bodies lying amongst the wreckage, they showed me enough to make me wonder if I was being f**ked with.  And I couldn’t help but be reminded of ANOTHER intriguing, but unnerving, Open-Ended Series Finale that left me with more questions than answers . . .

(Special thanks to njean666 for this fabulous clip)

They never make it easy for us, do they?

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True Blood Minisode 2: Vampire Jessica is Hungry! (Parental Discretion is Advised)

Hey fellow Fang Bangers!  The second True Blood minisode has finally hit the airwaves, and it’s a doozy!  This one features Newbie Vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) on a night out at the local casino.  By the way, if you haven’t viewed the first minisode yet, you can do so, by clicking here.

If you recall, Jessica was a god-fearing teen from an abusive family, who Old Vampire Bill was forced to turn by the Vampire Council at the end of Season 1, as his punishment for killing one of his own kind.

Vampire Jessica started off the show as your typically bratty and rebellious teen, a real thorn in Vampire Bill’s side.  But then, during Season 2, she met the sweet and virginal Hoyt Fortenberry (played by the adorable Jim Parrack) . . . and the two entered into a relationship that was about as healthy and innocent as a coupling between a human and a bloodsucker can get!

Unfortunately, toward the end of Season 2, things went sour for these two, when Jessica sort of / kind of tried to eat Hoyt’s closed-minded vampire- hating mom.

So, Hoyt dumped Jessica.  And, although he would eventually reconsider, it seemed to be too late.  Our Scorned Newbie was already off on a TOTAL blood rampage!  Presumably, this minisode kicks off where Season 2 left off, with a hungry Jessica out on the prowl.  There’s some REAL strong language in this one, so put the kiddies to bed before watching, please . . .

(By the way, if for any reason they disable the below video, you can also catch this new minisode at Movieweb, by clicking here or Daily Motion, by clicking here.)

What did you think?  Pretty intense, huh?  I don’t know about you guys, but I kind of preferred this one to the first minisode.  It was a bit meatier and more revealing.  Plus, the fun twist at the end was one I didn’t necessarily see coming. 

 True Blood returns to HBO on June 13th.  Be there, or be eaten by vampires . . .

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