Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ranking The Best Pictures: Films #2-3

Catching you up on William H. Dirkness' past MovieTox:

The Introduction of William H. Dirkness

Ranking The Best Pictures: Films 8-10

Ranking The Best Pictures: Films 4-7

Without further ado, here w'go....

3. The Social Network

Once upon a time, I was made fun of by my friends for wanting to see "The Facebook movie." Yea, well, who's the crazy man now?!? This really made me take notice of an interesting paradox existing within my generation, which ironically, parodies this very movie. Despite the universal participation of Facebook, any mention of it in the real world gets you a seat at the loser table. It's very uncool. In fact, the only time you do hear about it is when people brag about how little amount of time they spend on it or how much they hate it. The social networking site has almost become socially unacceptable. People have long been obsessed with being perceived as cool, and to tie this all together, perhaps no movie better captures the essence of that chase than The Social Network.

The heart of the movie can be traced to whether you feel sympathy for the main character, exquisitely played by Jesse Eisenberg. Personally, I do. All Mark Zuckerberg wanted was to be liked and accepted (see what I did there?). He's noticeably filled with a tremendous amount of insecurity. Obviously, some of his actions came off as evil-natured, but I don't think he was ever trying to purposely hurt anybody, but rather he's just vulnerable to being taken advantage of. At the head of that was former Napster creator Sean Parker, who is the perfect embodiment of 'cool,' magnificently casted as Justin Timberlake (finding out the dude from Napster had anything to do with Facebook was one of the nice surprises of the flick). Parker introduced Zuck to the big time, showing him what it was like to be cool, seemingly giving Zuck what he had always lacked: (In the irony of all ironies) Friends. In fact, The Social Network contains so much irony wrapped up into one movie that I felt anemic afterwards.

I have to mention the two brainchilds behind it, Director David Fincher (who my buddy, CS Mofo, would light me up if I didn't mention has a background in music videos, not to mention Fight Club), and writer Aaron Sorkin (who my buddy, Leftover Taco, still jerks off manually). That dream team made this movie a near can't-miss. There's also the Winklevii, who (through one actor, I might add) offer the comic relief of the film, and provide the best line of the year, "I'm 6'5, 220, and there's two of me." The movie oozes with so much relevance that it would be hard not to enjoy, especially because the story is relatively unknown. I will be cheering hard for this film to emerge victorious over The King's Speech come Sunday.

IMDB Nugget: During one of the depositions, it is mentioned that the invention of Facebook made Mark Zuckerberg "the biggest thing on a campus that included nineteen Nobel Laureates, fifteen Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians, and a movie star." One of the lawyers then asks, "Who was the movie star?" and the response is, "Does it matter?" This movie star was, in fact, Natalie Portman, who was enrolled at Harvard from 1999 to 2003 and helped screenwriter Aaron Sorkin by providing him insider information about goings-on at Harvard at the time Facebook first appeared there.

2. Inception

It's a shame that this film was released in the summer and is no longer fresh in people's minds. Even I started to question my own previous enjoyment of it until I rewatched it just the other night (which resulted in zero-gravity like slobber bubbles). It's like the College Football player in the Heisman race who dazzles at the beginning of the season, only to be forgotten when his team falls into irrelevancy at the end, and never sniffs the trophy. In other words, Inception is Denard Robinson. I believe Christopher Nolan got hosed on a Best Director nod because of this, and that this may be his masterpiece.

Most people's first focus is on the ending, which is hard for some because it is left open to interpretation and people are forced to think for themselves, but I'm gonna start with my favorite scene of the movie, when Leo Dicap's character is explaining the "rules" of inception to Ellen Page's fine piece of tail. A few of them were simply brilliant, and here are my favorites...

  • I really like how people's biggest secrets are hidden into safes that can be very difficult to discover
  • I thought having characters from your subconscious out to hurt the people around you was a fantastic representation of how your past affects your present
  • Recreating past memories in your dream world is the best way to lose grasp on reality
  • People can have defense systems implanted in their mind to protect them from extraction, also referred to as being "militarized"
Now let me take a stab at my very own interpretation of the ending (SPOILERS). Let me start by saying that the question everybody wants answered is if Cobb is still dreaming or if he has actually gotten back to his kids in "reality." While that aspect of the ending was very thought provoking, and extremely fun to debate, I believe Nolan's ultimate message was that he didn't care about whether he was dreaming or not anymore. He doesn't stick around to witness the verdict of his totem, but rather walks out and plays with his kids, accepting whatever state he is in as reality. That's the evolution of his character in the movie.

Now for what I believe? I think he was still inside his limbo, deep into dream world, to a point where he was convinced it was reality. To take it even further, I believe the Asian dude, Saito, possessed the capabilities to help him achieve his faux-reality. The key was eliminating the idea of trying to keep his wife alive in his subconscious, and this may have been what Saito had promised to him all for his incepting con-job on the business dude. But you never see Cobb being "kicked" through the different dream stages (brilliantly differentiated with different settings - rain/snow/subconscious shores) like the others, he just wakes up on the airplane. And from that moment on, none of the other characters ever say anything to him, but instead just look at him like they are his "projections." And the biggest decider in my mind was how the kids he came "home" to hadn't aged at all, and were identical to his memories of them. This all led me to believe that he was still dreaming, but was ready to accept it as his reality regardless, which in a way, might be what we all do from time to time.

IMDB Nugget: The first letter of each of the main character's first names - Dom, Robert, Eames, Arthur/Ariadne, Mal, Sato - spell the word DREAMS.

IMDB Double Dose: Not counting flashbacks, Cobb's wedding ring only appears in scenes where he is dreaming. Was he wearing it in the final scene??

Only one movie left to go on the list, which you can wait a day or two for, or decipher on your own by digesting the rest of my list, the choice is yours.

William H. Dirkness


The Leadoff Man said...

First off, huge applause to WHD for being a doubtless Mofo and knowing without hesitation that Black Swan is the best picture of the year. No doubt. Never would I even consider anything more worthy. (I actually had to delete a huge paragraph I just wrote about Black Swan cuz I'll save that til you've crowned it).

Yes, on CS Mofo's behalf, as his attorney and prime benefactor, it was wise for WHD to share that completely relevant snippet about Fincher. Never forget it, sheik! If it wasn't for Paula Abdul's fine '80s ass & black and white 35mm film, we would not have the same director as we have now. His background completely shaped his expertise and that's why I am always lookin for the next music vid/commercial director to jump into feature.

Here's some examples of 1st time feature films primarily music vid directors which completely exemplify the epitome of the style I wanna see in movies:
--The Runaways (Sigismondi)
--The Wackness (Levine)
--Constantine (Lawrence)
--500 Days of Summer (Webb)
--Hard Candy (Slade)
and you better be gearing up for...
--Hesher (Susser)
along with Snyder's "Sucker Punch" which is gonna be phenomenal.

Yes, directors should be praised for their stylistic choices but the Cinematographers that jump from music vids to films are usually more influential to me. Nothing gets better than Fincher working with DP Jeff Cronenweth (they created shots in Fight Club that render me speechless) and of couse they made sure Social Network was exquisitely shot...

It's a little creepy how much DiCaprio and Nolan are looking identical these days. And we can't forget that fake-ass DiCaprio from Boardwalk Empire...

His Dirkness said...

fake-ass DiCaprio from Boardwalk Empire???

Not sure what that means, but I haven't seen them, so don't expand on it if it plays into the show somehow.

I knew nothing about (Devin) Hesher but just looked it up and it looks pretty rad. Although there may be something bigger going on here that we're both developing big time crushtox's on JGL. I think you and him must be related from a great-great-great Hungarian grandfather because you both share an affinity for music movie cinematography videos.

Constantine is the kind of movie that draws the line between you and I, while you can be shot to the clouds by the visuals of a movie, this pantha-man needs something more than Keanu dumbfoundedly staring into my soul.

Your boy Slade seems to have been corrupted by the seduction of teenage girls with his eclipse ventures, but I won't hold it against your very convincing list.