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A Trio of Dramas
owleye
lil_shepherd
I said I wouldn't say anything more about Sherlock but I've suddenly realised that there is a description of this production that sums up my dislike - this is a post-modern version of Holmes. I have problems with post-modern, which seems to me to be all about style over substance.


The Deep

Episode One of this BBC serial had a number of things going for it. It had surprisingly reasonable special effects, and some great sets. It also had decent acting, at least from the principals, and it held me until the end. I'll be watching next week.

I'm withholding judgement on the plot until I know exactly what it is about and how many twists it is going to throw at me. It reminds me of any number of things, but, in particular, the beginning calls to mind James Follett's Ice a 1980s radio play which also had a research submarine going down to track a lost submersible (though that was in the Antarctic rather than the Arctic and there were no geo-thermal vents.) Also half a dozen episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea but, in particular, the superb Submarine Sunk Here and The Sky is Falling.

I do have a number of quibbles, though. In particular, while I applaud making the pilot of the lost submersible and the captain of the research submarine women, I am less keen on the characterisation where both are slaves to their emotions and their men. There are still opening for redemption here, though.


Inception

First things first: this is an excellent summer blockbuster and certainly does not insult your intelligence. The SFX was superb. While I am not a great Leonardo DiCaprio fan, this was a decent performance, and Ellen Page was excellent as Ariadne (I loved the fact that she wasn't anyone's love interest!) - though Michael Caine stole both scenes he was in and left everyone else standing.

However, many years of reading tricksy SF and detective novels meant that I had no difficulty following the plot, or what 'level' we were in, and shrugged at the ambiguous ending, because it was so obvious. It was interesting, but by no means baffling, and you didn't have to pay the sort of attention that Mark Kermode insists you need to follow it.

I loved the concepts and the idea of architects as heroes (and gods) in the dream worlds, and the way actions in one carried through into the other(s). The sub-plot involving the hero's wife was more original and interesting than the main action plot, though.

Which brings us to what I think is a problem with Nolan as a director, and one that was apparent in The Dark Knight. He is no good at chase sequences, particularly car chases, and he lets them all go on far too long. This is because all the chases are pretty repetitive. A good car chase keeps building and surprising. (For a great example, see the one in New York at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum - Greengrass is one of the world's great action directors and Nolan isn't.) Inception needed much sharper work on the cutting room floor.

This is a great pity, because it is the difference between a very good action/SF movie, which it is, and the great SF/action movie, which it could have been but is not.

Four out of five stars.
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(For a great example, see the one in New York at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum - Greengrass is one of the world's great action directors and Nolan isn't.)

Unfortunately Greengrass's method for directing of car chases seemed less than helpful when he came to do a chase sequence where everyone was on foot. The chase towards the end of Green Zone was thoroughly disappointing. (Even ignoring how that chase ended.)

Were there car chases in Inception? Certainly there was a van being chased at one point, but it didn't seem like a car chase per se.

There's the car chase that's interrupted by the freight train (which does, admittedly, 'surprise!') And the muddled and interminable snowmobile chase (which has been done better by Bond lo these many years ago (and, indeed, by Top Gear...)

Actually, I thought the chase towards the end of The Green Zone was exemplary, in that you knew at all times who was chasing who and where. I personally held it up as an example to James Cameron for the godawful fight at the end of Avatar.

Yes, there was a car chase (and that it was a van makes no difference.) It went on for bloody ever, as did the lift sequence. I know what he was trying to do, but I was looking at my watch. As for the snow sequence, and the snowmobile chases, these were far too confusing. I defy anyone to tell me who was being shot and who was being chased at any particular point.

in that you knew at all times who was chasing who and where

You did? I hadn't got the foggiest.

Yes, there was a car chase (and that it was a van makes no difference.)

Oh it wasn't the fact that it was in a van which made me disinclined to call it a car chase. It was more the fact that it wasn't a matter of a single bad guy chasing after them. They have different people all around them trying to chase after them and its mainly the maze-like nature of the dream that is keeping them at bay. In a chase I would expect to have very definite chaser(s) and chasee(s), but Inception only really has the latter.

It went on for bloody ever, as did the lift sequence.

Of course it went on for a long time. It went on for the vast majority of the movie. (Unless I'm misunderstanding.)

And as for the lift sequence, I must say that it took the majority of that whole sequence for me to work out what Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character was attempting to do. By the time I'd got the message, he was nearly finished.

I defy anyone to tell me who was being shot and who was being chased at any particular point.

Isn't that because they are in a dream, so the bad guys could come from pretty much anywhere? Or am I clutching at straws there?

a) Yes, I did. Green Zone had an absolute clarity, at least for me. (And Ina. She was the one who grabbed the DVD the instant it appeared on the shelves.)

b) I don't see that a car chase has to have a single bad guy, either. What annoyed me here was that all anyone did was shoot at them. (Was there supposed to be any logic about who was hit and who survived? If so, it wasn't apparent. Most of those flash-into-level-one sequences could have been cut by about 70% and still conveyed everything that needed to be conveyed.) I have to say that the tunnel chase in The Dark Knight suffered from the same problem, and there are no excuses there.

c) Pay attention! This had been explained.

d) That they are all in a dream is a given. However, you are expected to have point of view characters in a movie, and feel identification. If you don't, you don't care, and it becomes boring. If you do care, you have to know who is being shot or not, or it also becomes boring. It takes a couple of shots to establish 'dream' - it takes a lot more to make you care. If you can't see who is being shot, you don't care.


I should have taken your brief before-the-cut criticisms of Sherlock to heart. Didn't mind the first episode, but the second was just a waste of valuable time that I could have spent sleeping. Not that I didn't doze off during it too.


I didn't think Inception was that hard, either. It was a bit mind-spinny if you thought about it, but it all held together without being scrutinised.

Haven't seen them in a while, but I think I disagree with Greengrass's credentials. He's not as bad as whoever directed the latest 007 film, but I spent most of that chase through Algers? (a North African place, at any rate) trying to work out which suited young man was being hit. But I may well be amalgam-ing it with Quantam of Solace.

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