29 September 2010

Movie roundup

Some movies I watched recently, in approximately decreasing order of enjoyment. Warning: includes what you could consider to be a spoiler for Moon.

Back to the Future. There isn't a single throwaway line in this film. I consider it one of the best screenplays ever written. Michael J. Fox's character is just so likable. You really want him to set things right. And the friendship between Marty McFly and Doc Brown is heartwarming.

Incidentally, it speaks volumes about human nature that we are so gripped by the idea of traveling to the past and righting wrongs.


Inception. I really enjoyed this movie. And I think what drew me in was its treatment of mind control. (Nora Jemesin puts it well.)

The plot driver of the movie (that in order to succeed, the protagonists have to inject an idea at a level beneath the target's conscious awareness) hints at something that every writer and teacher has wrestled with. The problem with our minds is that they are not wired to process evidence in a rational way. Planting an idea in someone's head is not just a matter of laying all the facts out in as lucid a manner as possible; it can require a bit of indirection, underhandedness, trickery, and elbow grease. Which is part of what makes writing (and teaching, and the art of persuasion) so intriguing, at least to me.

Also a very good screenplay, one of those technically well-constructed films where everything comes together at the end in a very satisfying way. Recommended.

Moon. I was looking forward to this movie. A cool premise and a set of interesting ideas are spoiled by poor execution. The major twist is exposed less than halfway in, and every potentially suspenseful development thereafter is deflated in an anticlimactic way (you can guess most of the developments after and possibly including the first big reveal). There is no rising action. The film just didn't work for me.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Clichéd and bland and mildly entertaining.

The Expendables. Lord knows, I love explosions as much as the next guy, but I actually found myself bored during the middle of this movie.

The American. Too much brooding. Incredibly slow and boring.

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