Film’s Music (Off the Film’s)

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There are lots of films out there. Literally over a hundred different ones, from comedy to horror to comedy-horror. They all have soundtracks but usually they’re rubbish. Film directors should not be allowed to choose the music for their own projects. When they do you end up with a collection of songs that includes Zach Galifianakis singing Who Let The Dogs Out without apparent irony.

This piece isn’t about about film scores though. John Williams, Danny Elfman, Michael Kamen and Hank Zimmerframe have those nailed. This is about soundtrack albums; the selections of drab love songs, thuggishly mysoginistic hip-hop anthems and brain-meltingly dumb nu-metal dollops that we get a cheeky snippet of during the doe-eyed kiss/car chase/bit where Jason Statham jumps sideways firing two guns. As much as I love dark tales of horror and cheesy action extravanganzas, and I could name you a dozen of each with suitably punchy metal-by-numbers records that would fit neatly alongside, and so can you. So you can do that yourself in your own head. 

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What with all the films that have had crappy soundtracks, and all the albums that were really really dead good, but weren’t soundtracks, it got me thinking. I came up with an idea that almost two people liked, which was to re-purpose existing albums as soundtracks for existing films. Try to bear with it—it’s not quite as tortuous as it sounds.

Prometheus is a terrible movie. It was never going to live up to the expectations of those of us who grew up adoring the Alien franchise. Alien was a tense sci-fi masterpiece and Aliens: The New Batch was a tasty blend of action and horror. Sadly, no further sequels were ever made. No other Alien films exist. Definitely not.

The casting is great, the dramatic set pieces are perfectly adequate and the look of it is suitably Gigery, but then someone forgot to write a plot. Well, there was a plot but it had more holes in it than that type of Swiss cheese that has lots of holes in it. Flaws in logic, ridiculous leaps from one idea to the next and daft inconsistencies left this viewer rather depressed and underwhelmed.

But imagine if it had all been underlined with the aural misery of Celtic Frost’s Monotheist. Tom G Warrior punches you repeatedly in the soul and transfers his gloom into your naked mind with every jarring atonal riff. The visual disappointment of Prometheus marries perfectly with the mortal despair buzzing within A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh or Drown In Ashes. Try watching this with sound muted, whilst listening to this

No? Okay.Well, maybe try this one then.

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Paris, Texas, by stark contrast to Piddley Scort’s rubbish, is a cinematic gem. Wim Wenders’ subtle, wistful study of a distant family relationship and the essence of love, loss and broken dreams is worthy of a more thoughtful and emotional soundtrack than it was afforded. Harry Dean Stanton epitomises the minimalistic approach to acting, saying more with a silent stare than he could with a thousand words. The dusty, angry and ultimately hopeful feel of the film always seems to me like it would gel perfectly with Peter Dolving’s 2003 solo outing Bad BloodTaking a break from yelling over thrash metal in The Haunted, he creeps through your speakers and lays his soul bare in a joyously uncontrived heap of noises. Too obscure for the mainstream acoustic rock crowd and not metal enough for the headbangers, it sold poorly and never reached as many pairs of ears as it deserved to. Brake Or Bust and the title track would nestle in and amongst the barren scenery of Paris, Texas comfortably and the final moments of the story would resonate perfectly to the strains of When You Leave Me.

Next up, from out of my head, the wonderful Wes Anderson’s third feature length production, Rushmore, is a unique and fascinating essay on boyish obsession and being an outsider in the conformist world of high school. The almost autistic nature of the protagonist drags you along on a journey into his pseudo-intellectual world of unrequited love and arrogant pontification. Enter the shimmering genius of Keith (Mina) Caputo. Having come to prominence fronting hardcore underdogs Life Of Agony, he sheared off into the world of electro-indie-rock and jazzey-pop with the remarkable and catchy Die Laughing. A multiplicitous collection of wistful ballads, upbeat singalongs and mournful dirges, it bears repeated listens and could have accompanied so many of the pivotal scenes from Anderson’s characteristically quaint movie.

And so to the obvious and almost necessary part of this ramble through Hollywood’s musical errors—The Wizard Of Oz. It was well established lore for many years that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon synchronised perfectly with the Judy Garland silver screen classic. Many a mushroom-chomping hippie would swear blind it was a deliberate and carefully crafted effort by messrs Gilmour and Waters. It wasn’t. Many have further said that even though it may not have been intentional, the whole thing fits so neatly alongside every scene of the movie, that the effect is dazzling. But it doesn’t, and it isn’t.

One might wonder how I would know that unless I had been stupid and immature enough during my student years to try the experiment myself one evening after too much Benylin, skunkweed and whiskey, hoping for a total trip, man. Well, my only thought was how much better suited Music From The Elder by Kiss would be to the flying monkeys, yellow brick road and wicked witch montage. Pedants amongst you might point out that this record was technically a soundtrack anyway, crafted by the facepainted ones as a supposed accompaniment to an imagined book/film. It was a concept album of fantastically pretentious preposterousness, brought to us by a band famed for blaring out cock rock anthems, with a frontman waggling his tongue whilst not really playing the bass and then spitting fake blood whilst staring at the teenaged girls in the front row he was intending to bed later. I bet he regrets every moment of his life.

Kiss overstretched themselves without a doubt, trying to tell a detailed sci-fi story throughout the course of ten relatively short songs that were not catchy enough to please their fans and would inevitably be laughed at or merely ignored by aficionados of prog rock or serious concept pieces. Did they want to be Bowie? Rush? Who knows. However, if you cast aside your pre-conceptions of Kiss and forgive or at least overlook the arrogance of their ambition, then what you have is a half-decent collection of background dad-rock.

Imagine that bubbling under the munchkins’ freakish and unnerving cavorting and you’ll realise that I am typing this out way past my bedtime, that I have lost the thread entirely and that I am clearly hammering one of the final nails into Demon Pigeon’s coffin.

Night night.

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Guest Blog: Blood, Set & Fears Part Three

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Editor’s Note: 

Once again, we welcome back Miles Watts and his cohorts, of Zomblogalypse fame. We like it when Miles writes for us, because not only does the reflected glamour of his filmmaking adventures make us feel far more dynamic and accomplished than we actually are, he’s also really nice.

Some months have passed since his last chronicle from the infection zone, in which more unwitting dupes were turned by the Zomblogalypse plague. Join Miles as he charts, especially for us, the exponential spread of his unique bioengineered virus.

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A lot can happen in four months: Climate change. A full and manly beard. Nearly half a baby. For us at MilesTone Films, a lot has happened and a lot is promising to happen. Winter is coming, and that usually involves taking stock, sitting back in leather armchairs next to fires with our fingers steepled together and deliberating on the year’s successes and frustrations. For us filmmakers, November/December is typically a time for winding down and preparing for semi-hibernation (and a time when no-one answers their email) as next year’s plans largely remain a vague to-do list.

Except this year hasn’t been typical. Not in the slightest.

Our last two blogs detailed our trip to Cannes to shake things up and come back with a deal or two for our zombie web series Zomblogalypse. One sales agent and a few Top Secret (by necessity—sorry, fans of secrets) irons in the fire later, Zomblog: The Movie is on a steady course into production. Scriptwriting sessions galore, meetings, monster designs; it’s been all-zombies-go.

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Post-Cannes, we haven’t rested on our laurels, and in a slick, not-at-all groan-worthy segue, laurels were what it was all about for Whoops!, our ‘gory family comedy’ that premiered at the wonderful Raindance Film Festival in September. About 4% of feature films submitted get chosen for the festival, a statistic that did not go unnoticed (by us, because we kept telling people) as we watched the film with an appreciative audience, before heading to a very loud London pub to sleepily toast our victory.

A week later, producer and directors gathered to discuss what to do with the film, after (and during) the festival circuit. Our last movie, CrimeFighters, had a cinema and festival run and then… well, we decided to put that one up on YouTube for all to enjoy for free. Thankfully, the film acted as a calling card and started up a great relationship with a producer called Steve Piper who was looking for a new creative team.

Which brings us to now, and the possibilities that next year is currently shining in our faces.What we’d like to do is see Whoops! in cinemas and in people’s homes in 2014. We’re starting work on writing the follow-up movie with our other producer, Sam Robinson, as soon as the New Year hangovers fade. Zomblogalypse continues apace, and we have a glut of other movies we’d like to make and release over the next few years, with a group of filmmakers who share the same vision as we do: To blow things up in fields, torture actors and tell stories. Because that’s what it’s all about (mostly the middle one). Oh, and also to develop the York filmmaking scene and all that stuff.

Happy hibernating, and don’t forget to ignore your email!

Guest Blog: Blood, Set & Fears Part Two

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Editor’s Note:

Hello everyone. Please welcome back the chiselled and dapper Miles Watts of Zomblogalypse, today kindly acting as your undead annihilation correspondent.

When last we heard from him, he and his intrepid cohort of indie film makers were about to impress the socks off everyone at the Cannes Film Festival, which is in Cannes. But what happened next? Would Miles and his pals be forced to arm themselves with sticks to fend off a howling throng of glassy-eyed, mouldering movie moguls driven by hindbrain lust for a new underground smash?

Read on to uncover the truth!

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We got back from Cannes nearly a month ago and we’re still kind of processing what took place. First of all, there was a lot of free booze due to our producer’s uncanny skill for knowing where and when each party was happening. Champagne, nibbles and people we didn’t know from Adam flowed past us merrily on balconies, while in the glittering streets below, paparazzi and desperate fans clamoured to see DiCaprio, Cotillard and the Coen Brothers attend their various premières.

Those were cheerful, glitzy enough aspects of the 66th Cannes Film Festival—the elements I talked about last month as being the most superficial and the least interesting—but then I’m not a party animal. We were there to meet people who might be interested in the films we’d already shot—Amber and Whoops!and the proposed feature version of our cult web series Zomblogalypse.

After a few days of not quite knowing who was where and what the hell and why, we secured a meeting with Kevin Williams of KWA, an international sales agency whose catalogue is broad and interesting; everything from genre horror and comedy to action and art house. Thankfully he agreed that the Zomblogalypse movie fits in with their releases and, a few days later, this rather gorgeous little article appeared in Screen International.

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For those still in the dark, a sales agent is someone who can help get your film made but also get it out there when it’s done. Many people make films but then have nowhere to go with them; Kevin Williams Associates can get Zomblog to an international market. So yay to that.

The next great thing that happened is that some other—let’s call them ‘people’—saw the above news and got in touch with us about… well, we actually can’t say right now but it should hopefully take the movie a few steps closer to being made. After one or two very exciting meetings, we now await more exciting meetings.

The final bit of great news is that as we put the finishing touches to our last feature, Whoops! and submit it to some cracking film festivals, we may have also secured a sales agent for our previous feature Amber. None of this is set in stone yet, so as usual we remain hopeful yet realistic. If it all comes off, we’ll be soaring.

Right now we’re working hard, coasting along on our momentum, with the hopes of enjoying the fruits of our hard work and looking forward to a hectic and work-filled future. With hefty dollops of fun along the way!

Good on ’em, eh? You can follow Zomblog’s exploits regularly at oneandother.com and via their Twitter and Facebook streams of social babble. You can also watch the whole series of Zomblog at Zomblogalypse.com and see what you’re missing.

Prometheus

Meh.

The most disappointing thing about this film is that it began beautifully, teased me into thinking that it was going to be excellent, and then descended into a confusing tangle of okayblehmurrrggfppfft. Pfft. Pfh.

In essence, Prometheus is a film about a bunch of stupid humans trying to find out answers, and coming to an end in a spaghetti tangle of questions. Within this bunch of stupid humans are some disappointing but expected science-fiction archetypes: Inept Nerd, Swag Asshole, Twitchy McTriggerFinger, Neutral Black Guy, Minority Supporting Character(s), Replicant, and of course the (three!?) women: Sentimental Tree-Hugger Lady, Strong Female Frigid Boss and Scottish.

So the tree-hugger and the swag asshole find a bunch of letters from the aliens on their archaelogical digs, and a decade later, having not aged one bit, they’re suddenly on a spaceship travelling to the outer edges of the galaxy. It isn’t explained why they’re doing that besides “meeting the aliens” and I’m not sure why anybody thought that was sufficient. The thing that frustrates me about writing like this is that surely there should be a bigger purpose for an expedition like the one at the centre of this film. Surely it isn’t that hard to give the characters of the expedition an impressive and daunting goal to work towards – that might have helped to keep my attention for a little longer.

Prometheus doesn’t hesitate to inform the audience that “billions and billions” have been invested into this big space project, and there’s some strange plot running through the film about a family feud at the top of the company running the expedition, but whatever! We’re meant to be taken in by the idea that these characters are off on an adventure to the edge of the galaxy for a laff and a bit-o-banter with t’aliens.

If it seems bizarre that the entire adventure begins on an indistinct and uninteresting idea, it’s even more frustrating when they finally get there, and they’re told by Strong Female Frigid Boss they shouldn’t even give the aliens a wee nod of acknowledgement if they find them. What? Then what was the point of travelling out there? Why didn’t you say that before these characters spent two years asleep, hurtling through a vacuum?

There are instances where a discernible plot seems to be emerging, only to be smothered out by one layer of subplot, then another. There’s a moment where we’re told something fundamental to the main character Dr. Shaw – something that is meant to develop her as a character and maybe even (God forbid) make us care about her – but it’s skimmed over so quickly we don’t get enough time to digest it. Then there’s a little splash of sex scene and something else happens and something else happens, and that piece of information we got about Shaw is suddenly completely irrelevant. It’s washed away in a sea of HOLY SHIT ALEINEZ!!! BABY ALIENSE! GROASE!!!

As the film progressed, I was sitting on the edge of my seat gripped with frustration rather than tension. Oh your dad died? Ebola? Woah hang on; something else is happening – but wait – why was that anecdote even relevant? Do we ever get a mention of him again? Woah, woah, woah hold on. Who’s this guy? Why is he here? Why are you here? What’s going on? Why are you hundreds of years away from Earth on a whim? What the fuck are the questions you are even going to ask these aliens? How do you know their language? WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT. WHAT’S HAPPENING. What the fuck is this, LOST?

And then it was over. The credits began to scroll, the lights went up and I was surrounded by a bunch of bleary eyed people shrugging and looking at one another as if they’d been stealthily lobotomised.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t hate Prometheus. It’s a visually stunning film, clearly shot with love. The set designs (particularly those of the inside of the ship and the opening scenes in the Scottish highlands) really capture that powerfully vast atmosphere found in the original Alien and in films such as Moon and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. There’s some cool H.R. Giger-inspired bits and pieces. Pretty lights and holograms and shit, you know, the usual science fiction stuff. But for every whimsical CGI starscape there’s a frustrating black hole in the plot.

Did you see what I did there? I’ll bet you fucking did, didn’t you.

I think Prometheus does try, bless it. It works hard to impress the audience but the lack of substance to the plot is difficult to overlook. It’s a lot like the space it wants to depict: big and empty. And complicated.

Using the whole ‘not-answering-questions’ thing every now and again in a narrative isn’t a problem: it’s good for those internet foruming people with the clicking and typing about theories and endings and the symbolism and the metaphors and whatever. However, after it became apparent Prometheus would never supply any answers, only question after question after Fucking Question, I ended up pretty unsatisfied.

Red State

If you were to look up ‘unfulfilled potential’ in the Dictionary then, well, you’d have to look in two separate places. ‘Unfulfilled Potential’ is a collection of two seperate words that are not alphabetically close together. That is how a dictionary works, you see, with individual words, but then you knew that, right? If that was how a dictionary worked though, then the phrase ‘unfulfilled potential’ would doubtless have two images next two it. First would be a picture of the Demon Pigeon writing staff, the other would be a picture of Kevin Smith. Actually, that’s probably not true either. We don’t really have that much potential, as I believe I have ably demonstrated with this opening paragraph.

For many a year I considered myself to be quite the Kevin Smith fanboy, something that seems slightly embarrassing now to my slightly less puerile self. In my defence, when people think of Kevin Smith now they quite understandably think of the loudmouth idiot who makes subpar mainstream American comedies mainly as a way to keep up his profile enough to retain the level of celebrity that has somehow come to him. It wasn’t always the way; back when I was first entering the world of work as a part time employee of Blockbuster Videos, the dusty VHS of Clerks blew my mind. Nowadays it looks like a well written but poorly executed ultra low budget film, its impact diminished by every filmmaker who used it as a stepping stone.

To me it was as revolutionary as any film I had ever seen, and throughout my twenties Smith remained something of a hero to me. Yes his films became less relevant, less funny, less confrontational, but they did at least remain enjoyable watches. The caustic language may have remained but the rebellious intent seemed to diminish, Chasing Amy somehow managing to fudge its message of tolerance in a haze of lesbian jokes, Dogma losing its way due mainly to some very generic visual work and a messy plot. Then came Jay and Silent Bob strike back, which is all laughs and zero substance, as popcorn as all the eighties comedies Clerks felt like a rebellion against. But it was still funny at least, and as I watched it in hazy smoke filled rooms it still fit. Ever since though, Smith’s films have felt a bit like watching a drunk playing darts on ketamine;

Jersey Girl – double twenty!

Clerks 2 – 180! Good show fella, I knew you had it in you.

Zach and Miri – Oh, you appear to have missed the dartboard there old chap, maybe leave off the drinks, eh? Oh, nope, you’re going for the ketamine again are you?

Cop Out – Argh, my eye, my eye! What the fuck did you do that for?

For a while after the critical drubbing Cop Out received, Smith himself seemed to be distancing himself from films for a bit. He publically argued with every critic ever, he slagged off the distribution companies, even found the time to argue with an airline. He threw himself into comics, podcasts, Q&As and autobiographies; a man on constant transmit mode falling fully into all the things that had distracted him enough to ensure he hadn’t made a great film in years. I, like many of his fans, turned my back, my memories somewhat sullied. So where does that leave us for this, his return to the big screen?

Thankfully, the process of cleansing myself of all Smith’s transgressions clears the way for what is his best film to date. Dark, twisted, funny, violent, visual; this is an outburst of a film, a howl of rage projected on screen. The story starts with three typical Smith teenage voices, joking and awkward and girl obsessed, but soon they have fallen into a honey trap set up by a far-right religious cult. From our first introduction to Michael Parks as the grinning maniacal cult leader, in a monologue as good as has graced the cinema screen in a decade, you immediately wonder why Smith hasn’t been making films this intense the whole time rather than wasting time dressing up as Batman and running around with his friends. If Smith’s recent scripts have felt a little lazy then this is him at his invective best, the speech perfectly judged and excellently delivered. After this stomach turning speechifying and a oppressively dark payoff the film lurches up a gear, and when John Goodman and the ATF turn up the film powers into life. Either Smith has hired an excellent cinematographer or he’s finally learnt how to point a camera properly because the direction here is unlike anything he’s previously done, menacing and grubby and close.

For all its breakneck action, however, this is not a film about the power struggle between two opposing sides; it’s about the victims caught in the middle, through family, through foolishness or just dumb luck. This is America’s split personality in full flow, with neither side prepared to back down an inch no matter the cost to the little people caught in the middle. Everyone is locked into their roles and grimly approaching their fate with a crushing inevitability.

That Smith never feels the need to steer into the conventional resolution is to his eternal credit, and come the final credits this reviewer was left feeling a little punch drunk and off kilter, which was not a sensation I ever expected this filmmaker to engender in me again. The only thing about this film to disappoint (aside from a slightly jarring gear change to the final act and some slightly tedious gunfights) is the sense that Smith has been wasting his time all these years making comedies that balance out their saccharine sweetness with pointlessly course humour. Or maybe he needed to reach a certain point to find this kind of film from deep within him. Whatever the case may be, I sincerely hope this is the start of a new chapter in his career, and I can feel slightly less sullied by my appreciation of the man.

Mr Pervers

Mr Pervers is a curious film. It’s a mish mash, a hotch potch of strikingly different philosophies, and it doesn’t always hang together. For every moment that brings to mind the thrilling, maverick nonchalance of Lars Von Trier, Takashi Miike or Shinya Tsukamoto, there’s another that brings to mind the cynical, overcooked excess of Michael Bay or George Lucas. Nowhere is this dichotomy more apparent than in the performance of striking leading lady Susi Hotkiss. Susi Hotkiss as a performer blows hot and cold. In smaller budget, more independent films like Antichrist, Paris, Texas and Anal Farmyard 2 she’s proven herself an engaging, thrilling performer, bringing both sass and vulnerability to the characters she portrays. However in bigger budget fare like Jurassic Park 3, Transformers and Sheisse Auf Der Fuhrer she seems lost, unsure what to do in such an impersonal, money driven feature. She seems to be the latter here, looking lost when confronted with an 11 inch penis. Hotkiss isn’t the only problem though.

Mr Pervers is a high concept piece of drama, inspired equally by kitchen sink dramas like Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life and confessional americana features like Todd Solonz’s Happiness. It focusses on a young group of individuals who stay at a lodge in a relatively uninhabited countryside. These young people clearly seek respite and seclusion from the grind of their normal lives. So far, so typical. However things take a turn for the sinister when the caretaker Mr Pervers reveals himself to be a repressed, mentally ill sex fiend. This is where the film jars. In between the more tender scenes of exposition, confession and anal penetration, there are scenes where Mr Pervers runs in and ruins everything. One scene has him forcing a clearly disgusted Hotkiss to bring him to orgasm with her hand, and it detracts heavily from the carefully considered characterisation that preceded it. Just moments before, Hotkiss’s character and Gunther, her companion, had confessed for each other their mutual attraction. After taking a load in the face, Hotkiss and Gunther share a tender kiss and have a cuddle. The brutish sexality of Mr Pervers himself just is not inkeeping with the tone of much of the film.

Another example turns up later, when young Mindy, who’s just gone through a heart wrenching breakup, seeks solitude in her room. Mr Pervers, completely oblivious to her suffering , unsubtly sticks his fist right up her. It’s this callousness that casts a shadow over the few bright spots in the film.

It’s a mess aesthetically as well as thematically. First time director Eckhardt McFistus has talent, but he’s horribly inconsistent. Admittedly, he has a real eye for scope. He manages to capture the grandeur of the German countryside beautifully, and he frames Hotkiss’s heaving jiggling titties perfectly, but his lack of experience shines through during the stilted conversation scenes, which often feature actors staring vacantly out of windows, mindlessly going through their vacuous dialogue.

Maybe this is deliberate. Maybe McFistus is saying that we’re animals, that it’s impossible for any of us to really engage each other on a truly meaningful level. We’re pieces of meat, and trying to act otherwise results in heartache, ennui, and torn sphinctors. Whatever he’s trying to say, it’s lost, thanks to the muddled execution.

Film fans may find admirable traits about Mr Pervus, but as a hole, it just doesn’t add up.

Inception

It’s been quite something seeing the reaction to Inception, with the Internet filling steadily with an intriguing mix of lavish praise and bile. And since it’s already been out for a few weeks and most of you will have either seen it, or decided against it, I hesitated over whether to write a review, but fuck it, this is my site, and I figure we’ve been so light on updates of late that you’ll forgive me my tardiness.

On the interwebz there seems to be a perpetual echo chamber effect going on at the moment where as soon as anything at all reaches a certain size you are forced to take a position immediately, and the only options are available to you are two. Yin and Yang. Once something reaches a certain size it’s inevitable that you’ll have reams of people flogging the shit out of it, in some cases for no other reasons that to piss of the people who over-enthuse. On the other hand, you have the rabid fanboys, who are so heavily invested in liking it that they have elevated a film only a few weeks old to the greatest epic of our time. I only hope that by the time I end this review I haven’t fallen into either camp, but given my personal history with over-exuberance I wouldn’t count on it. But I’ve yet to hear a single person say that Inception was ‘kind of ok’ or ‘not bad.’

As I entered the cinema two weeks after release I had no idea what to expect, but given how much I’ve enjoyed every other Chris Nolan film to this point (Memento will always be a top ten film for me, and I adored The Dark Knight) I have to admit I was worried that the bubble would burst, and that by trying to bring the world of blockbuster together with the densely packed layered plot I’d heard so much about that it’d collapse under it’s own self important weight. And given some of the reports I’d heard that seemed to be the conclusion of a whole lot of people whose opinions I normally give some credence to.

I needn’t have worried. For the dizzying opening ten minutes Nolan simultaneously sets out his visual and tonal palate for the rest of the film and distracts you by making everything confusing as fuck, but Nolan then has one of his characters tell us they are ‘making mazes.’ This is then precisely what Nolan does for the next two hours, making mazes of complexity that are breathtaking and yet never hard to follow. Looking back on it now, it is clear just how manipulative a plot it is, but then that doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride, and for it’s duration it’s as good a ride as I’ve seen cinema offer. As with Memento and the Prestige, he tells you exactly what he’s going to do, then does it with zero excess. Recently he’s been compared to Kubrick but it seems to me the better comparison is with Hitchcock. The whole of Inception is plot, even with the scenes that carry the emotional heft, but as with Hitchcock there is never someone standing there explaining it to you, spewing exposition out of their face. With Nolan it’s always show and never tell. He never bothers to explain the technology involved because he (quite rightly) surmises that we are perfectly capable of taking a leap of faith, of following him on the journey.

As well as the frankly barking but brilliantly conceived plot, Nolan’s main other coup is to assemble a cast that are so perfect for their roles that one sees why they all jumped at the chance. As well as DiCaprio (in his best and most layered role in years, and that’s saying something) in the lead, the likes of Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and most of all Tom Hardy all manage to take roles that have very little for the audience to invest in and make them living breathing entities without ever doing being showy or actorly.

And then you have the visuals. Some of these you will have seen, from the bending over streets (which is far more impressive in full) to the zero g fight scene. The latter is probably the best effects work I’ve seen since Helms Deep, and it’s very clearly all in-camera and not CG, which makes it even more special. It’s brilliantly lit and shot of course, but then you expect nothing less from Nolan.

As the bewilderingly audacious final shot rolls by, everyone in the cinema with me sat stuck to their seats with mouths open and quizzical gormless expressions slapped across their fizzog’s, and this to me is why this film is worthy of the praise that comes its way. It’s not a perfect film, by any stretch (for one thing the dreams were not really what dreams are like, in my dreams I find myself walking from my room to the control deck of Babylon 5 with alarming regularity, but that didn’t happen once in this film, which was a shame) but what it is instead is a film unlike anything else you will see this year. Vast in ideas, swimming in complexity but also full of human warmth and with the fiscal and creative heft to back up everything that it sets out to do. I have very little doubt that this will top my end of year list.

Oh for fuck’s sake, I went and fell into the fanboy camp, didn’t I?

9/10