Film » Film Clips

Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Nov. 24

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INCEPTION Christopher Nolan's first film since the eye-popping success of The Dark Knight is a moviegoing marvel with the ability to get cineastes intoxicated on the pure pleasure and the pure possibility of the medium of film. Offering any sort of synopsis is a risky business, since this is one of those pretzel-shaped pictures that rewards the unaware. Suffice it to say that it's set in what appears to be the near future, when it will be possible to enter other people's dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best in the business of creeping into targets' minds and extracting valuable secrets for which others will pay a hefty price. But his latest assignment doesn't go exactly as planned. Tackling such prominent themes as (to borrow from dream expert Salvador Dali) the persistence of memory, Nolan has created a head-scratching one-of-a-kind that's both knotty enough and ambiguous enough to lead to conflicting opinions down the years. Nolan also slyly borrows from the classics of yesteryear, with particularly obvious nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Citizen Kane and select Hitchcock titles. It all adds up to a superb motion picture, one with the ability to infiltrate both our dream state and our waking life. ****

LET ME IN The world needed an immediate remake of Sweden's 2008 Let the Right One In about as much as it needed another vampire flick, yet the good news is that Let Me In can hardly be construed as a shoddy, cash-in-quick product. Crafted with extreme care by writer-director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), this is that rare retelling that pays the utmost respect to its predecessor — I'd be hard-pressed to single out even one frame that cheapens the memory of the original. As before, the setting is an apartment complex in a frozen environment (here, Los Alamos, NM), where lonely young Owen (The Road's Kodi Smit-McPhee) notices he has a new neighbor in the form of Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz of Kick-Ass). Picked on by bullies and exhibiting some disturbing character traits himself, Owen is happy to become friends with this strange girl who doesn't like candy and can only hang out with him at night. Reeves largely sticks close to the look and tone of the first film, but not in the annoying manner of Gus Van Sant's atrocious Psycho remake. While his slight altercations result in a picture not quite as powerful as its predecessor (particularly during the climax, a mesmerizing piece of filmmaking in the '08 take), he's to be commended for creating a film that ably stands on its own. ***

MEGAMIND 2010 has brought us two animated features about a supervillain who eventually discovers his long-buried humanity, yet viewers who check out Megamind needn't have seen Despicable Me to feel slightly let down by this similar outing. Will Ferrell handles vocal duties as the title villain, whose joy at finally destroying his arch-nemesis, the preening Metro Man (Brad Pitt), soon turns to depression once he realizes there's no one around to challenge him. He ends up creating his own superhero (Jonah Hill), but it isn't long before the supposed do-gooder realizes it's more fun to be bad and sets about destroying the city and kidnapping TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey). Megamind now finds himself in the unlikely position of having to save rather than terrorize the civilians who have long feared and despised him. Megamind is perfectly fine for the kids, but adults might find their own megaminds wandering at various points throughout a film that doesn't compare to The Incredibles when it comes to affectionately tweaking the superhero genre. Certainly, there are some moments of delightful inventiveness — I love how Megamind occasionally disguises himself as Marlon-Brando-as-Jor-El-in-Superman — but all too often, safe and sentimental scriptwriting proves to be this film's fatal Kryptonite. **1/2

MORNING GLORY Morning Glory is basically Working Girl for dummies. (Or Broadcast News for dummies; take your pick.) But even dummies need movies — and better ones than genuine rotgut like Due Date or The Bounty Hunter — and this comedy has enough charm, poise and class to satisfy viewers of all IQ levels in the mood for something lighthearted. Rachel McAdams stars as Becky, a TV news producer who's just been tasked with saving a cellar-dweller morning show called Daybreak. Her idea is to pair Daybreak anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) with former news giant (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), but he finds it beneath him to appear on a show revolving around mind-numbing nuggets of infotainment. Ford's been mostly squandering his talents in dismal efforts for well over a decade now, so it's a treat to watch him deliver an amusing and robust performance as an insufferable curmudgeon in a film that's actually entertaining. He's well-matched by Keaton, even if the movie fails to fully capitalize on the antagonism between their characters. The second half's increasingly busy plot mechanics drain away some of the fun, but McAdams remains engaging throughout, a young actress showcased in all her comedic glory. ***

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