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INCEPTION! & My Top 7

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

‘Inception’ could go down as one of my favourite films of all time. It is smart, brilliantly constructed, and thoroughly entertaining. Most of all, it is a wonderful breeding ground for further discussion about dreams and dreamworlds, consciousness and subconscious motivations, architectrure (in terms of design, as well as the architecture of an idea), creative inspiration, and the idea of an idea. And surely, there is a whole lot more.

Christopher Nolan has explored so many topics, themes, and ideas in his seven feature films, it would take chapters to discuss them all. Instead, here is My Top 7 Christopher Nolan list… and it’s worth  noting that the idea for this list is not my own.

Number 7: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
This was a good film, but in my opinion, an easy choice for the bottom of this list. Quite simply, it’s just not up to Nolan’s standards. The whole thing is just too unfathomable, and although it’s not completely Nolan’s fault since he did not write the original story (based on a novel), I didn’t really buy it. That being said, it is still a very decent film, and Nolan’s direction makes it worthwhile to watch.

Number 6: INSOMNIA (2002)
‘Insomnia’ is an excellent film in a more or less boring crime drama category. The cast is fantastic, as usual in all of Nolan’s films, and it was very enjoyable to watch. The lines between good cop and bad/corrupt cop for Pacino’s character are blurred, and even his character doesn’t really know if he’s doing the right thing.  The distinction is complicated even further by the character’s feelings of guilt and his inability to sleep. Guilt and motivation seems to be a common theme in Nolan’s films, and the question/assertion that the end justifies the means.

Number 5: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
This may be the better of the two Batman films (to date) if not for Heath Ledger’s performance in ‘The Dark Knight’. Simply brilliant!

Number 4: MEMENTO (2000)
This was Nolan’s first breakout film, and it was a stunning achievement. The opening sequence with the fading polaroid was a clever touch to start the film, and you never really know what’s going on until the end. Nolan really loves messing with our heads. Just like ‘Insomnia’, he takes an often boring genre, a simple revenge plot in this case, and makes it extraordinary. And as we would come to see perfected in ‘Inception’, Nolan displays an uncanny ability to leave you wanting more at the end.

Number 3: FOLLOWING (1999)
‘Following’ is Nolan’s first ever feature film, and it is brilliant! It’s dark and deceitful, imaginative, and highly intelligent. And it’s a film noir, possibly my all time favourite film genre. As for the film itself, who hasn’t sat around watching other people, strangers, wondering where they’ve been and where they’re going? Nolan takes that fascination twelve steps further, and in a brisk 71 minutes, we see just how deep into desperation and despair one can go – or be taken – when trying break into the lives of others… sound familiar?

Number 2: THE DARK KNIGHT (2006)
Nolan did a wonderful job reigniting the Batman franchise with ‘Batman Begins’, and he continues to demonstrate his talents in ‘The Dark Knight’. And with all due respect to Mr. Nolan, Heath Ledger made this film! It was Nolan’s casting that brought in Heath, and Heath did the rest. Nolan’s character development for The Joker and Ledger’s unrivaled performance will live on in film lore. The opening bank robbery sequence is also one of the best opening sequences I can recall, and the terrorist-style Joker video is as chilling and spine-tingling as anything I’ve ever seen.

Number 1: INCEPTION (2010)
Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece? It’s possible. In time, we will see. ‘Inception’ is vintage Nolan, in regards to themes, ideas, layers, characters, casting, story-telling and cinematic achievement. He has incorporated elements from every film he’s ever made into ‘Inception’: from ‘Following’, going into other people’s lives and livelihood (through their dreams in Inception); from ‘Memento’, the motivations of a person that manifest to mask intense feelings of guilt; from ‘Insomnia’, questions of whether the end justifies the means, blurring the lines between what’s right and what’s wrong; and the ability to direct some of the most intense and imaginative action sequences, which he showcased in the Batman films. It’s all there! With ‘Inception’, Nolan does everything he’s done before, but better, and with greater imagination in script, story, and theme; and he did it all with an incredibly talented cast and top notch entertainment value.

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