] provides proof for the usefulness of remakes by great talent (if anything, the '69 original is now a better film that it can stand alongside this one), the Coens' True Grit
also functions as an equally somber and hilarious criticism/correction of racism past. As a nearly-definitive cinematic representation, one doubts it will ever be contested.” Agreed. Don’t miss True Grit
4. The Fighter
The Fighter is based on the true story of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Dicky was on his way to boxing super stardom after fighting Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he knocked down in a fight. But Dicky soon developed a drug addiction and threw it all away. Micky tries to make a name for himself in boxing with his brother training him and his mother managing him. The real story of this marvelous film is not about boxing but family, culture and coming to grips with life in the rough.
Films about boxing are common. A number of good ones come to mind, much more than for other sports when I think about it. But another boxing film was not what Hollywood wanted, which is why it took so long for The Fighter to get off the ground according to my research on this project. But The Fighter is one of the most powerful films about family relationships I’ve seen. It is situated in a part of white Boston that is every bit as unique as anything I knew growing up in the deep South. Wahlberg and Bale as brothers with a love-hate relationship give stellar performances throughout. It almost seems like this was the role they were both born to play together. Bale is especially powerful as a drug addict who lives in his past.
The supporting cast is just as strong as the two stars. Amy Adams plays Wahlberg’s girlfriend, a far cry from the polished, educated beautiful girls she’s previously portrayed, which proves the range of her acting ability. But, the real star here has to be Melissa Leo, who is the manic, loud, control-freak mother of eight kids. She ought to win an Oscar for best supporting actress.
The Fighter is a gem. It is a down to earth cinematic experience and a film that I was not prepared to like as much as I did.
Almost never does a summer film rate a Top Five for me but Inception was an exception, no pun intended. Inception suggests a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a single idea within one's mind can be the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset. You will never think about your dreams the same way again after you see Inception.
Someone has said: “Watching a movie in the theater is one of the ultimate shared experiences, described as an escape from real-world concerns by many—something like a dream, if you will.” Well, Inception lives up to that statement about community and dreams for sure. It is a richly textured brain-teaser featuring some of Hollywood’s top stars.
Before seeing Inception you need to know that you will lose yourself in the labyrinthine layers of storytelling. You're probably going to be confused. As one critic notes: “The film's characters are perplexed half the time.” You will be too.
The writer and director of Inception is the maker of The Dark Knight. While Inception has that film's epic feel from the beginning, this is actually Christopher Nolan's first solo original screenplay since the powerful film Memento. It echoes that film's exploration of how a person perceives what is real and what is not.
This is a science-fiction story. It centers around Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a thief for hire whose gift is extracting people's dreams and stealing their ideas in their deep sleep. Going into someone's subconscious when their mind is at rest, as you might imagine, is a valuable skill set for corporate espionage. Sin lurks in everything and everyone in Inception.
This is tricky business for Dom since the practice has ripped apart his family and made him a fugitive from authorities. DeCaprio is not stunning but he plays the role well.
Nolan puts the audience off balance right from the beginning but in the process he draws you into ideas and imagination in a very powerful way. The central idea behind Inception is the process of implanting an idea in someone's mind. As if the concept of Inception is not already complex enough, the film takes you into a world where a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream becomes routine stuff as multiple realities grow dim and blurry.
One of the relatively easy ideas to comprehend in this film is the notion that ten seconds of real time equals about three minutes in our dreams world, which could equal about one hour in a dream-within-a-dream context if you follow me. If you can't wrap your mind around such a notion then join me in a “this was a really hard concept to fully grasp” response. If you want to fully process this film, and begin to figure out some of the truly oddest connections, you will want to see it several times I’m sure. I think it may well be worth the effort. It certainly kept me riveted throughout with no sense of a complete resolution at the end.
Inception has been described as “seriously wonky, and the confusion induced is part of the puzzle.” What we see in the dreams here can be difficult to interpret, just as our own dreams don't always make sense to us. But then I pay more attention to my dreams than most of my friends. (Does that mean I am “wonky” or just odd?) Example: Did you know that you never die in your dreams? You always wake up just before you die.
Visual treats abound in Inception. CGI is used well but real acting trumps most of the computer stuff over and over. Leonardo DiCaprio's role is the only one that allows any real depth of character despite the incredible length of the film, 148 minutes. Films like Inception leave your head reeling and stay with you for a long time.
Special Mention: Temple Grandin
Golden Globe-winning actress Claire Danes shines brightly in this fact-based story of an autistic woman who became an unlikely hero to America's cattle industry–and to autistic people everywhere. Based on the writings of the real Temple Grandin, this HBO Films production is an engaging portrait of a stigmatized, misunderstood young woman who learned to channel her unique gifts into a brilliant career as a scientist, author and groundbreaking animal advocate. Catherine O'Hara co-stars with Julia Ormond and the almost always compelling actor David Strathairn. Directed by Mick Jackson; the screenplay is by Christopher Monger and William Merritt Johnson. The film is based on the books Emergence by Temple Grandin and Margaret Scariano and Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin.
The movie gives a powerful message that people with special needs can be highly creative, extremely bright, and make substantial contributions. It also shows how having a supportive community of family, friends, and educators is instrumental in developing the strengths of autistic children and adults. Temple Grandin powerfully reveals how overcoming obstacles and standing up for yourself and your ideals in a positive and consistent way can result in significant achievement. This is a truly inspiring film. One friend, who is the parent of an autistic child, told me of how moved he was by seeing it. (He could not watch it all in one sitting because of the powerful emotions he felt.)