Premium Rush

Let me just say, I really enjoyed Premium Rush – a movie about a reckless cycle courier who picks up the wrong package and is thereafter at the mercy of the cops – crooked and otherwise. Starring He-Who-Does-No-Wrong Joseph Gordon Levitt, it’s kind of breathless, hi-octane energetic (but admittedly no-brain) fun. It VERY New York, and locations flit all over the city, including Canal Street, Central Park and Columbia. Great stuff.

The Dark Knight Rises

I enjoyed Batman Begins but I absolutely loved Batman Returns; I still think it’s one of the best action-thrillers ever. And having seen a conversation with Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas at the Produced By Conference this June (did you know they made their first film for $6000 only in 1997….) I was looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And what a film it turned out to be. I can’t really explain the plot, but I can tell you it’s the most amazing, disturbing, discombobulating piece of theater. And I don’t just mean that it’s a flawless artwork – though it absolutely is. Every scene is meticulously rich in detail. It’s the political dimensions to the film that are so thought-provoking – the anarchy, the random, vicious violence, the one percenters on trial and chucked into the streets or arbitrarily judged and executed by a braying mob. No, not a fun ride at all. But brilliant nonetheless.

Of course from a locations point of view, Gotham City is New York City and it looks great here – even though a lot of the actual filming took place in Pennsylvania, California, London and elsewhere. Wayne Hall is Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire in the UK, prompting the BBC to predict massive tourism increase to the property.

I should add: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is just outstanding. Outstanding. It’ll change your opinion of her. Joseph Gordon-Levitt too. Outstanding. Only downside: Tom Hardy. It’s like Sean Connery meets Darth Vader.

Inception

OK, so you gather I’ve been somewhat excited about Christopher Nolan’s new movie Inception. But does it live up to its hype? Answer: Yes. And no.

Yes, in that it’s a visually astounding piece of art – parts of Paris rolling up and over itself is a stand-out, and the gravity defying-bits you’ve seen in the trailers: mindblowingly awesome. But no, too, in that it’s hard enough for most filmmakers to weave one or two complex parallel plots together, but Nolan attempts five – a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. Within a dream. Get it? That’s an awful lot to hold together, and to his credit he does just about manage it. But we spend so much time marvelling at the spectacular visuals of set-piece after set-piece, all the while trying to keep track of the intricacies of the plot, that there’s little chance to engage with any of the characters or their emotions. So: wondrous to watch but tedious too, both a masterpiece AND a clunker: how about that for alternate realities?

As for locations, Jerry Garrett again has a lot of interesting stuff, here on the ski resort that’s the penultimate dreamscape…..

The Fortress Mountain ski resort has fallen on hard times, since its use in the 1988 Winter Olympics in nearby Calgary. Alberta’s provincial government closed the resort in 2008 over unpaid taxes and other bills. By 2009, it had degenerated into just exactly the kind of seedy, forelorn, eerie aerie that Mr. Nolan loves to film (remember “Batman Begins”?). Set builders enhanced the area’s cement-gray buildings with an austere fortress of the mind (miniature models of it were what was later blown up)…..

Inception

OK, so clearly there’s not been an awful lot of movie-watching going on, what with the World Cup and all on our very doorstep. Hence another look at what’s coming at us down the pipe. Inception looks awesome.

Mind-shifting thriller. Tick. Ellen Page. Tick. Joseph Gordon Levitt. Tick. Music by Hans Zimmer. Tick. Christopher Nolan directs. Tick tick tick. Oh, I am so looking forward to this one….