30 July 2010

Dinner for Schmucks

Steve Carell, left, and Paul Rudd are shown in a scene from "Dinner for Schmucks."
Why the title, "Dinner for Schmucks"?

To my recollection, no one in the film ever uses the word "schmuck." In fact, the event of the title quite often is referred to as a "dinner for idiots," to which each of a group of financial executives brings a guest to (unknowingly) compete for the distinction of being the biggest idiot of the bunch.

That's one of the multiple head-scratching facets of the film.

The most problematic is that it takes two of our most gifted comic actors, the great Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, and turns them—and everyone else in the movie, for that matter—into obnoxious cartoons whose behavior is determined solely by the needs of the plot.

16 July 2010


Marion Cotillard, left, and Leonardo DiCaprio are shown in a scene from "Inception."
Where to begin when discussing "Inception," Christopher Nolan's mind-bending, jaw-dropping summer masterpiece?

To say it is the best movie so far in 2010 is inadequate.

The writer-director's finest film to date? Now we're getting somewhere.

I don't know if any review truly can do justice to the achievement of "Inception." I could describe the plot beat by beat, and it still would not accurately convey what the film is about and the experience of taking it all in on the big screen.

You've seen glimpses of the spectacle in commercials—Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page calmly walking through the streets of Paris while the city folds over on top of itself; the same two actors sitting at a cafe as their surroundings explode; a freight train barreling through a city street; a zero-gravity action sequence in a hotel hallway.

The technical virtuosity pouring from every frame is astounding.