Movies

Top One Movie of the Week: Inception, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and The Concert.

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Our critics choose between Inception, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and The Concert.

Inception, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon Levitt

Inception

ANDREW: Okay, look, I’m not gonna beat around the bush, here. I am, as the young people say, totally on Inception‘s dick. It’s not just that it features Leonardo DiCaprio as a guy with the awesomely ridiculous name "Dom Cobb." And it’s not just that its storyline, about people invading each other’s subconscious minds to steal corporate secrets, reminds me of Dennis Quaid‘s great ’80s B-movie Dreamscape. (Which, incidentally, features a memorable wet-dream seduction scene involving a never-hotter Kate Capshaw, to which Inception will hopefully pay homage via either Ellen Page or Marion Cotillard… or both.) And it’s not even the fact the movie’s special effects actually look special for a change (instead of just fake and video gamey). No, the best thing about Christopher Nolan‘s latest brain-twister is that in a cinematic annus horribilis of half-baked sequels, retreads, TV adaptations, tween swill, and Katherine Heigl, mainstream Hollywood has finally coughed up an original, non-animated summer blockbuster I’m actually dying to see. (Of course, I’m guessing it still won’t be as good as Toy Story 3, but at least Nolan is trying!)

SCOTT: I’m one step ahead of you this week, as I just left a screening of Inception moments before writing this entry… or am I still asleep, and only dreaming I’m writing this entry? No, I seem to have my pants on, so I must be awake. Anyway, I don’t want to say too much about the movie’s specifics — I basically avoided the trailers and pre-release publicity as much as possible in hopes of having one movie experience this summer that wasn’t completely spoiled for me, and I’d like to extend the same courtesy to our readers. I’ll just say that Inception basically plays like Ocean’s 11 on Elm Street as written by Philip K. Dick, and that’s mostly a good thing. It’s a little exposition-heavy — necessarily so, in that there’s a lot of background we need to know — and it’s weighed down a bit by Nolan’s trademark psychobabble, but for the most part it’s a spectacular entertainment that requires you to pay attention with more than two percent of your brain, which puts it way ahead of just about every blockbuster this summer. Including, I’m guessing…

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

SCOTT: What fresh hell is this? Nicolas Cage in his tiresome manic mode, mentoring the ubiquitous Jay Baruchel in the dark arts? In what way is this a remake of the classic "Sorcerer’s Apprentice" segment of Disney’s Fantasia? Unless I see Cage in Mickey Mouse ears, training mops to dance, I’m calling bullshit on this… especially since it’s directed by the man behind Cage’s insufferable National Treasure movies, Jon Turteltaub. But perhaps you see some redeeming value here that I’m missing?

ANDREW: Well, to be fair, I’m pretty sure I saw at least one trailer with a shot of a flooded basement (and maybe even something akin to enchanted mops and buckets). And I’m always happy to see the likeable Baruchel (star of Undeclared, Judd Apatow‘s prematurely cancelled follow-up to the prematurely cancelled Freaks and Geeks) getting work. And, uh, Nicolas Cage in a movie isn’t always the kiss of death. Plus, I’d rather watch a film about dueling wizards than freakin’ airbenders any day of the week. But given that my past few sentences have pretty much been the definition of "damning with faint praise," maybe we should move on to Bachelorette #3…

The Concert

ANDREW: Again, I’m not pretending there’s much suspense about my Top One Movie this week (hint: it’s Inception), but The Concert is actually a surprisingly close runner-up, since I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be seeing it with my parents the next time they come to visit me. After all, for classical music enthusiasts sporting NPR tote bags on their way to the art-house, the premise is pure catnip: after being demoted to janitor status for hiring Jewish musicians during the Brezhnev era, a former Bolshoi conductor tries to "get the band back together," Blues Brothers-style, for a make-or-break concert in Paris. Hijinx, redemption, and romance (with Inglourious Basterds‘ oomphy Mélanie Laurent!) presumably ensue, if you like that kind of thing, which I actually do, especially when the folks are in town.

SCOTT: I can’t say this one has been on my radar at all, but the trailer does make it look like a potential good time at the art-house. Internationally, it’s had a mixed reception, with some critics finding it a bit too slapstick-y or sentimental, although nearly all agree that the climactic concert is a tour de force. Still, there’s no chance I’m recommending anything this week besides the movie I’ve already seen and enjoyed, and that’s Inception.

The Top One Movie of the Week: Inception