I've stewed on this one for awhile, trying to reconcile my disappointment at it not being an earthshattering work of heartbreaking genius and my enthusiasm at it being a kick ass piece of thinking man(or woman¨'s entertainment).
At a narrative level I find no fault with the film. It functions like clock work building to an edge of your seat climax showcasing some of the most dexterous editing and narrative juggling as any film has before. But it seems, alas, Nolan tinkered with the story so long he neglected the characters. The things holds the film back from absolute greatness is the facile development of the secondary players (SPOILER in parenthese: and I'll forgoe the obligatory speculation as to whether the characters are cyphers because they are figures in Dom's dream or not because that there kinda of speculation leads down a rabbit hole which is, in the end, ultimately irrelevant to the meaning of the film).
In the end Nolan only delves deep into the mechanics of his premise, but not the psychology of his characters, which hampers what should have been his ascension into the patheon of all time greats. Because, as I reflected on the movie after I saw it, I found the images that recurred the most in my min were not the fast paced action scenes or the jaw dropping effects, but the images of Dom and Mal living and growing old together in the limbo of their dreams, a pair of lovers creating their own meaning of the nothingness around them. I feel nolan missed the boat when he favored action and the machinations of his heist plot over the moving tragedy which underlines the film. He could have given us a Solaris, instead he gave us a matrix.
In the end I might be being unfair for judging a movie for what I would have liked it to be and not what it was but I can't help but think of what could have been. What dreams may come.
A classic of both horror and drama genres containing not only the greatest sex scene of all time (and allegedly unsimulated-and damn me if the old boy donald don't have some moves on him) but also one of the most emotionally shattering endings of all time. I can liken the irrevocable sense of impending, inevitable doom to the atmosphere of a shakespearan tragedy, which is the highest praise any work of art can receive.
Some may watch the ending and find it opague but it is a perfect end for the film, and one, like the ending of 2001,that distills the thematic and narrative underpinnings of the story in a flawless sequence of images.
This is a case of me having to eat my words. The first time I saw the trailer for Paranormal Activity I had flashbacks to one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood: paying ten bucks to see the a film so abysmal I don't believe it can actually be described as a film in the strictest definition of the word. I'm of course talking about 2 hours of goddamn idiots ad-libbing in the woods some soulless executives tried to sell as an actual film known as the Blair Witch project. I've never felt more robbed in my whole life. I was fully prepared to never see Paranormal activity in the theatre lest I again had to suffer the indignity of being swindled again.
But then the hype train started and the positive reviews poured in. Against my better judgement and common sense I decided to give the film a try.
And fuck me if it isn't actually scary. While not a high-water mark of my favorite genre (when I want to just be entertained I reach for a horror film) because of its non-existent narrative, lack of thematic depth or psychological insight, Paranormal Activity achieves the fundamental function of a horror film: it instils fear in the viewer. The actors, director and, perhaps the most important element in the film's success, sound designer work to form a cohesive experience of terror.
The slight nature of Paranormal Activities' narrative and characterization prevents its admission into the upper echelons of horror cinema, a place populated by such films as The Shining, Don't Look Now, and (of course) The Exorcist, all of which meld terror with thematic resonance. However when a film accomplishes what it intended to do, and does so on a budget of no more than $15000, I consider it a small miracle.
Paranormal activity is the film the Blair Witch Project should have been.
ha ha ha. Are you fucking kidding me? Joseph Gordon-Levitt's camp heavy performance as Cobra commander saves this film from an ignoble 0%. I can't help but smirk every time he rasps about his insidious plans. And don't get me started on the fact he was an army private just four years before becoming the leading head of nano technology research. Did he get his degree taking night classes from the correspondence college of Tampa? Had everyone else in the film took Levitt's lead the film might have become an entertaining campfest. As it stands its a soulless commercial for toys. But at least it ain't as bad as Revenge of the Fallen.
My favorite line: After the destruction of the eiffel tower, "The French are upset". No shit. I'm surprised they didn't just have someone pop up on screen and announce France's unconditional surrender as soon as the tower started to topple.