Something is wrong with our planet, the fuel or food supplies are drying up and everyone is acting like the place is doomed. Farmer and former astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives a quiet existence on a farm with his son and daughter, until following stories of a ghost in his daughter’s bedroom, Cooper discovers a communication signal hidden in the dust and various books falling from the shelves. The strange anomaly leads them to follow co-ordinates one night that leads them to a secret underground NASA base. Headed by Michael Caine, that’s where Cooper is then given the opportunity to return to space on a mission that just may be the answer to mankind’s future.
Give it to director Christopher Nolan for tackling big ideas. No stranger to presenting bold concepts to the viewer, as we saw in the dreamscape epic Inception, and this sci-fi drama is no different. We get black holes, deep space, other dimensions and strange new worlds. Yes McConoughey is boldly going where no man has gone before, and I was fully along for the ride. He is supported well by Anne Hathaway as a scientist and fellow astronaut, and the ideas at play here were particularly fascinating, borrowing to a large extent from Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey but throwing in enough personality and visionary-wonder to stand on it’s own. This is a stunning looking movie, Nolan using his various locations and his love of I-Max to wonderful effect, and various scenes just swept me up in their sheer majesty (the tidal wave…the ice planet etc.). This is helped no end of course by Hans Zimmer’s at times intense and sweeping score. Trust me watch this on a decent sized screen in surround sound and you’ll be blown away.
I can’t say I understood it all, and it get’s rather mind-boggling towards the end – in a good way. Yet with a strong, emotional performance from McConoughey and good turns from Caine and also Jessica Chastain who turns up half way through, I really got a kick out of this. It’s long at over two and a half hours, but it’s profound questions on humanity, love and life needed time to breathe, and so I can’t say I was bored one bit. One of my ‘movies of the year’ without doubt.
I had previously only been aware of Japanese animation guru Satoshi Kon after seeing the brilliant Perfect Blue some years ago, and on hearing of his passing in 2010 from pancreatic cancer, I always promised myself I would seek out anything else he had made. Paprika, adapted from the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, follows the story of an experimental device that enables therapists to enter the dreams of their patients in order to help them. When the device is stolen, chaos erupts as reality and the world of the dream collide.
This is a startlingly visual experience, awash with colour and imagination. Kon’s movie assaults the senses and really blew my mind. It plays with your perception of what is real and what isn’t, much like he did in Perfect Blue, but this time its much more avant garde and limitless, showing a director at the top of his game. Sad it was to be his last feature. Yet Satoshi Kon has left the world on a glorious high note, delivering one of the most beautiful and imaginative animated movies I have ever seen. The detail and wonder on display here, along with utterly freaky music and sound, is often quite breath-taking (the reoccurring image of the parade, the gloriously weird theme tune etc).
Ok, it’s quite hard to follow with the kaleidoscopic style and imagery at times overwhelming, but conventional story structure is not the big selling point here, more the look and ideas, with many visual references including classic Japanese TV show ‘Monkey’, and Disney’s Pinocchio. Christopher Nolan has cited it as his inspiration for the similar Inception, and also in my opinion it has much in common with David Cronenberg’s Videodrome.
A unique, brain-melting event of a movie that I urge you to seek out immediately.
You have to give it to Christopher Nolan. He has quickly become one of the most respected directors in the business, and you probably know him best from his reinvention of the Batman franchise. Yet this highly imaginative and skillfully made movie bares more of a resemblance to his earlier, intricately plotted Memento – especially for its audacious concept. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an agent who uses stolen military technology to jump into the dreams of high-powered businessmen and steal their inner most secrets. Joined by a bunch of colourful partners in crime, he transports us into another world, and this is where the movie really shows its golden feathers, bringing dream-logic and mind-bending surrealism to life with the aid of some wonderous effects (honestly, some things here I have never seen done before). When a Japanese businessman hires DiCaprio and his team to plant an idea into a rival business man’s head, DiCaprio is at first reluctant, as stealing ideas is one thing, but planting them, as in ‘Inception’ is much harder and more dangerous. Yet with the offer to be able to return home to his children dangled in front of him, DiCaprio can’t help but sign up.
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