[Inception & Shutter Island]

Throughout Inception I had this weird little parallel thing going on in my mind, all the superficial things about it that are similar to Shutter Island. Both star Leonardo DiCaprio, of course, and he’s operating in different levels of reality. He has a dead wife fucking with his head, and he may or may not be responsible for her death. They both begin on water and end with choosing a reality.

Both are structured like genre films: Shutter Island is noir (with Leo as the everyman cast into a world of dark characters) and Inception is heist (with him assembling a team to pull off one last big job). And one did not work for me at all, while the other is one of the best films I’ve seen all year (it being number 97, that’s saying something.)

Shutter Island was a maddening waste of talent, beautifully shot & wonderfully cast to no purpose at all. Enough doubt was laid from the beginning that I never believed anything to be true, and without any touchstones, I found I didn’t care.

In Inception, however, you know truth relatively. You might not know if you’re in reality, but you know about how far away from it you are. There are things that never made sense in Shutter Island, and there are things that shouldn’t make sense but do within Inception.

So, anyway. You should have skipped Shutter Island, but you should see Inception, ideally in the theater. The visuals are amazing, of course, but the sound design also really demands the theater experience. It’s definitely one of those films that I don’t want to tell you too much about; my plus one knew basically nothing about it, and I think her experience was probably even better. I will echo another blogger who saw it last night and expressed regret that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not going to be the new Spider-Man. I will say that the cast is fabulous, the first 20 minutes could very well feel mannered and confusing until you get into the flow of the film, and so just roll with it, and the payoff, in my opinion, was quite satisfying.

And now I totally want to see it again.

[In theaters, part the first]

I was stoked to get passes to a free screening of The Pursuit of Happyness because I am huge Will Smith fan. I can’t help it. And the film in particular had me all sniffly in trailers alone. He was great, and his son was fantastic and adorable as well. It’s interesting — the film has pacing issues and some meandering in the narrative drive, as it were, but I respect that the filmmakers didn’t change the particulars of Chris’s life to make for an artificially more compelling story, and, rather, let it be compelling in its truth. It’s the second most American film I saw this year (after Little Miss Sunshine) for its honesty — while not being preachy — regarding class in America.

Next up… I had been hesitant to see The Departed, not because I don’t like Scorsese…. or the cast, really… but because I was such a huge fan of the original. This definitely held up, though. I was completely invested in the fate of the characters and pulled in to the drama of it all, even though I knew how it would play out. Great script with very snappy dialogue, and good use of several bits and tells from Infernal Affairs. I’ve heard a lot of buzz around Leonardo, and it’s well-deserved, but he suffers in comparison to Tony Leung. Nicholson eats all the scenery, but that’s what he does, Mark Wahlberg got all the best lines, and I’ve always loved Matt Damon. All in all, pretty darn great.