Christopher Nolan, “Inception” (2010).

Sep 10 2010 Published by Benito Vergara under notes


By now the pleasures and contradictions of Inception have already been enumerated and dissected to exhaustion: that damn spinning top, floor plans of its dream architecture, the way Hans Zimmer’s trombone-heavy soundtrack is really “Je, ne regrette rien” slowed to a dreamlike sluggishness, how it violates screenwriting principles by unthinkably burdening it with exposition for four-fifths of the movie, the way the film realizes engineering impossibilities, Nolan’s supposed failure to portray the inherent surreality of a dream, the film’s similarities to Kon Satoshi’s Paprika, the distinctly analog nature of its technology, and so on. It’s gotten to the point that I’d think I have an original idea about Inception, only to discover that I’d already read it somewhere and filtered into my unconscious — either by sheer osmosis or, well, a kind of “inception.”

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I’m Making A List And Checking It Twice: Towards a List of My Favorite Movies of the Decade.

Sep 06 2009 Published by Benito Vergara under Uncategorized

Laiya, Batangas, August 2009.

Is it time for a Best Films of the 2000s list yet? (Because if not, I’ll be reposting this at the end of 2010, and removing the two films below from 2000.)

The list will probably undergo numerous revisions — obviously because the films from the second half of the decade will get short shrift, and I’ve probably forgotten a title or two, plus I can’t make up my mind about Mysterious Object at Noon or Linda Linda Linda just yet, and I’ll probably sneak in a Favorite Horror Movies sub-list — but in any case, here’s my list, in alphabetical order:

- Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)
- The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
- Evolution of a Filipino Family (Lav Diaz, 2004)
- In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
- The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001-2003)
- Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
- The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

I’m a little wary of including anything I haven’t seen at least twice, but Diaz stays up there. (Oh, what I’d do for a second viewing…)

I was also surprised to find that the other movies that immediately came to mind — Goodbye, South, Goodbye; Irma Vep; Magnolia; Dead Man; Satantango; Taste of Cherry; The Matrix; and A Brighter Summer Day (only seen once) — were all from the previous decade! Nuts. (But hey, along with Trust, Life Is Sweet and Reservoir Dogs, that’s a mighty fine Best Films of the Nineties list right there.)

Anyone else out there making lists yet?

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From the Wiretaps.

Sep 16 2008 Published by Benito Vergara under notes

A sampling of topics from my e-mail and IM conversations of the last seven days:

- the Joker as the Übermensch

- Gotham = Baghdad

- “Is Batman a Jack Bauer-like Republican vigilante figure, who takes the hatred of the world upon himself to do the necessary work of getting rid of terrorism, or a slightly-more-liberal figure who represents the moral gray zones surrounding every good action?” [quoting my friend Eleanor here without permission]

- “I was just watching Les Miserables… here was the symptom of postmodernity if there ever was one — a musical phenomenon that hit the world globally as the… faith in revolution declined. Now that there ain’t large metanarratives, all we’re left with is Harvey Dent…” [quoting my friend Kiko here, also without permission]

- Alfred as servant and father figure

- the burning of currency and postmodern chaos

- Bruce Wayne is to Harvey Dent what the Batman is to the Joker — or a different configuration altogether?

- Does power still lie in the hands of “the people” (including, paradoxically, the incarcerated), and do they ultimately correct the extralegal excesses of the state?

- The Dark Knight, the new iPhone, queues, obsessive consumer mentality, and the demise of national ritual, secular and otherwise

- IMAX and the aesthetics of scale

- Christopher Nolan quoting Michael Caine in Entertainment Weekly: “Superman is the way America sees itself, but Batman is the way the world sees America.”

- and Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero”

I haven’t responded yet to Gladys’ comments, on female identification and Wanted — it’s over at my American Pop entry — but more food for thought: according to EW, 48 percent of the audience at The Dark Knight were women. (I can hear your answer already, though: “Christian Bale, duh.”)

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Guillermo del Toro, “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” (2008) / Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight” (2008).

Sep 16 2008 Published by Benito Vergara under notes

Almost five hours of movies (Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight) and four hours of sleep later, I find that I can barely string together a coherent review. (This is also a break from my usual Two Movies That Have Nothing To Do With Each Other series, because they’re pretty similar.) I’ll leave the real reviews up to Barb, who (we’re such nerds) just posted hers within minutes of my posting this [WARNING: SPOILERS in her entry!] and Oscar, so here are some random notes instead. I tried keeping this under 1000 words, but no dice:

1. As great as Hellboy 2 was, The Dark Knight blows the 2008 summer movie lineup out of the water. Easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year. I missed seeing Iron Man and Hancock, and sure, that X-Files movie won’t be out for another week or so, but The Dark Knight was simply fantastic. Leave work early, find babysitters, cancel unnecessary meetings, even promise to see Mamma Mia or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 as a trade — just go.

2. The guy at Jack London Square Cinemas told me last night that 600 people were coming to the midnight show. People were lined up before 10 pm, so strategize!

3. Selma Selma Selma, lovely as ever. (My friend Jane once said, “Selma Blair?? Ugh! She looks like some Comp Lit major from Radcliffe!”, or words to that effect, to which I answered, “Exactly.”)

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Christopher Nolan, “Batman Begins” (2005).

Aug 22 2008 Published by Benito Vergara under review


(Image stolen from Beyazperde.)

Not much about Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins either: people have said it’s the best of the Batman franchise — followed almost always by “Which isn’t saying much,” although in this case it is. It’s an excellent popcorn movie, and there’s real visual pleasure to be had at the glorious mess of metal and fire and steam at the end (the Poeta kept calling that part “sexy,” and I think I know what she means).

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