Inception: Explanation of the ending scene

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Year 2010: Christopher Nolan new film, Inception, is released. The sci-fi thriller fascinated cinema fans just as much as it confused them. As if the plot wasn’t complex enough, the last scene left audiences wondering about its meaning. You know what I’m talking about, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Cobb, finally arrives back home after successfully carrying out his job. There he spins his top for one last time, but immediately leaves to see his children while the top is still spinning. When it seems that it’s about to topple, the ending credits roll causing a huge debate about whether Cobb is still in a dream or is indeed in reality. Although Christopher Nolan stated that the significance of the last scene is that Cobb doesn’t stay to check if the top topples because he has finally reached the reality he chose, the debate still lingers. Well the truth is that Cobb is most certainly in reality and here’s why:

1. The wedding ring

If you pay close attention to Cobb’s left hand throughout the entire movie you will notice that every time he enters a dream he is wearing his wedding ring, but when he wakes up and is back in reality he doesn’t. Probably this is because Mal exists in his dreams and so he is still married to her. After he wakes up in the aeroplane, he doesn’t wear his ring. This can be noticed both in the airport when he is handing his papers and in the last scene when he’s with his children. This means that he either is in reality at the end or he is in a dream in all the other scenes he appears to be in reality. In other words, if Cobb isn’t in reality at the end, then the whole film is a dream.

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2. The spinning top

Although we never see the top falling, it is pretty clear that its spinning is quite ‘real’. Instead of the perfect spinning observed in the dream world, the top in the last scene is unsteady and even wobbles just a second before the ending credits roll. This would not happen in a dream.

3. Christopher Nolan’s direction

Christopher Nolan is a director who likes to give away small hints for his audience. He did it again in Memento and The Prestige, although I’m not gonna comment on these movies so not to spoil anything. The point is, they also contain confusing parts which can be explained by small details in some scenes. Now the only way Cobb is not in reality at the end of the film is the entire movie being a dream. In such a case, not only would it be impossible to prove either theory, but it would make Nolan’s small hints useless. One could argue that it would make the whole plot useless. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that such a plot would contradict Nolan’s style and direction.

4. The children’s age

For all those who believed that at the end Cobb is still dreaming, I understand that you may have not been convinced by the first three points because you still have an ace up your sleeve: the children at the end are the same as the children before Cobb left. This is definitely the no.1 argument for the dream theory. The children at the end are exactly the same with the same clothes whereas if Cobb was in reality the children would be older. Well, this is actually wrong. The children are not the same, they are indeed older  in the last scene and this can be seen in the credits.

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There are two different pairs of children in the screenplay. The pair Cobb sees in his dreams is 3-year-old Philippa and 20-month-old James whereas at the end, the children are older by two years (the time Cobb spent outside the US) and are played by different actors. Even their clothes are slightly different (Philippa wears a white shirt inside her dress and James wears shoes instead of sandals).

So, it is pretty clear that Nolan intended for Cobb to be in reality by the film’s end. Anyway Cobb could have stayed in limbo where he could have both his wife and his children if he wanted. You can still argue of course that the film is fantasy and rules mean nothing at all, but if so I can’t do anything about it. In any case the point of the film is that reality is subjective and that we have to chase the reality we believe in. As Christopher Nolan himself put it in a speech in Princeton University:

“In the great tradition of these speeches, generally someone says something along the lines of ‘Chase your dreams’ but I don’t want to tell you that because I don’t believe that. I want you to chase your reality.”

The greatest moments from the 89th Academy Awards

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The 89th Academy Awards ceremony was definitely a fascinating one. There were surprises, mistakes, lots of fun and of course lots of stars. Here’s a list with the most memorable moments from last night’s ceremony.

Suicide Squad won an Oscar

As one member of the studio pointed out last night, we can now refer to Suicide Squad  as “the Oscar-winning movie”, joking that it had more awards than The Shawshank Redemption. Yes, the superhero (or I should say supervillain) film has gone against the odds to win the Academy Award for “Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling”, becoming one of the lowest rated films to do so. I’m an ignorant when it comes to hairstyling, so I’m not going to judge the decision although we have to give it to the Academy for recognizing a good aspect in an otherwise bad film.

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Jimmy Kimmel’s bullying at Matt Damon

Matt Damon had predicted that his presence in a ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel was “going to probably be ugly”. He was right. Jimmy Kimmel did everything to hit on Damon reigniting their infamous feud. Kimmel called him fat, selfish, a jerk, joked about his acting, he even took over as conductor to play him off while he was trying to announce the “Best Original Screenplay” nominees.

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Casey Affleck’s win

Casey Affleck did not only beat Denzel Washington to win the Oscar for “Best Actor in a Leading Role”, he also beat his brother and childhood friend Matt Damon, the latter’s first nomination dating back in 1998. Affleck was among the favourites, especially after winning both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for his performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. However, even if his performance was widely acclaimed, many felt that he should have never been nominated after the controversial sexual harassment lawsuits against him in 2010. The incidents resurfaced a few months ago when Manchester by the sea  started gaining the public’s attention, but  apparently they weren’t enough to persuade the Academy

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Viola Davis’ acceptance speech

Davis was the frontrunner for the “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” category, so her win was not a surprise at all. A powerful and emotional speech was also expected by most and the acclaimed actress didn’t disappoint. Her acceptance speech left everyone speechless with many in the audience crying and Jimmy Kimmel joking that her speech had earned her an Emmy.

Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist, and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.” – part of the speech.

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The records that were broken

It was a night filled with records. Damien Chazelle became the youngest person to win the “Best Director” award at 32 years. OJ: Made in America won the statuette for best documentary becoming the longest film ever to win an Oscar with a running time of 7 hours and 47 minutes. Redemption came at last for Kevin O’Connell who won an Oscar after being nominated for 20 different films in the past with not a single win. This was the biggest losing streak in the Oscars’ history. Finally, even though it sounds surprising, Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim ever to win an Oscar for an acting category.

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Asghar Farhadi’s message

Iran won its second “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar last night for The Salesman, but sadly, the director of the film, Asghar Farhadi, didn’t attend the ceremony. The reason was Donald Trump’s ban that denies entry to the US to citizens of 7 countries including Iran. Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari accepted the award on his behalf and read a message written by him for the occasion. Farhadi’s expressed his frustration over the controversial ban calling it disrespectful and inhumane.

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La La Land won best picture, oh wait…

The night was almost over. There was only one award remaining: “Best Motion Picture of the Year”. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were summonned to announce the winner with La La Land  being the favourite. Warren Beatty opened the envelope, paused and after a puzzling look, he passed it over to Dunaway who announced La La Land as the winner. The winners (Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt and Fred Berger) began their speech and the ceremony was reaching its end. But no, it couldn’t end like this. The night had a plot twist worthy of a Hitchcockian thriller. Horowitz announced that the real winner was Moonlight. Among disbelief from pretty much everyone, the content of the winner’s envelope was revealed. It was plain: “Best Picture – Moonlight”. I was trying to figure out if a mistake did happen or if it was another of Kimmel’s jokes, when Beatty said that he was given the wrong envelope and specifically the one for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”. Now Emma Stone had won the award for that category. That explained Beatty’s puzzling look. However, the envelope was passed to Faye Dunaway who just said “La La Land”. This might well be the biggest mistake in the history of the awards and it is definitely one of the main reasons we will remember this year’s ceremony.

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You can see the results in detail on http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2017

Congratulations to all the winners!

Top 10 most promising films of 2017

Another year has come and passed. Surely, as far cinema is concerned, 2016 wasn’t the best year, but it gave us some pretty good movies nonetheless. The question now is what should we be expecting for the next year? It is already clear that 2017 seems like a quite promising year and there are lots of films that are already highly anticipated.

10. The Dark Tower

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.

Stephen King has written more than 50 books that led to almost 100 adaptations in cinema and television. Still, one of his most acclaimed works and the one he himself called his “magnum opus” hasn’t had its chance in the big screen…until now. Yes, after almost 10 years since the first rumours about a film adaptation, the epic fantasy series is set to be released in late 2017 starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. The film’s director is Nikolaj Arcel, the man who also directed a Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s crime thriller “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” in 2009. The series consists of 8 books and draws inspiration from J.R.R.Tolkien’s masterpieces and Sergio Leone’s western films. What material exactly the film is based on is yet unknown. Although one would assume that the film will be an adaptation of the first or maybe first two books, there are several sources and rumours that deny this. It is even possible that the film will be more of a sequel to the books than an adaptation. In any case, this is probably going to be one of the highlights of the next year for the series fans and cinema lovers alike.

9. The Lego Batman Movie

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In 2008, some guys at Warner Bros. thought it would be cool to make a Lego-based movie and the rest is history. Six years later, The Lego Movie hit the theatres exciting the audience worldwide. Critics praised the animation, the witty humour and the voice cast and upon its release the film was the most commercially successful animation of Warner Bros.

It is therefore no surprise that a spin-off created by the same team is highly anticipated. This time the main character is the world’s most popular super hero, Batman who has to face his arch enemy, the Joker, while struggling to build a family model for the young orphan he recently adopted. The voice cast consists of Will Arnet, Zach Galifianakis and Ralph Fiennes among others and the director is Chris McKay who also took part in the development of The Lego Movie. Hilarious one-liners and countless cult references are to be expected along with a story that aims to deliver a deeper message. Morgan Freeman, who lent his voice to Vitruvius in The Lego Movie and also took part in The Dark Knight trilogy, has gone so far as to declare the Lego Batman as his favourite incarnation of the character ever. Another spin-off titled The Lego Ninjago Movie is currently in the filming process and is to be released later in 2017, but right now The Lego Batman Movie coming in February is the most anticipated animation film of the year.

8. Weightless

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Weightless is the upcoming film of acclaimed director Terrence Malick set for release in March. Now, unless you’re one of Malick fans, you’re probably reading this with some skepticism. Terrence Malick seems out of form after the Tree of Life. His two feature films released since then received mixed reviews and had disappointing figures in the box office. However, one could argue that this is the good thing about this director, that he sticks to his artistic visions instead of trying to create the next blockbuster. As Roger Ebert stated in his review of The Tree of Life, “There were once several directors who yearned to make no less than a masterpiece, but now there are only a few. Malick has stayed true to that hope ever since his first feature in 1973”.

Weightless is going to be a drama revolving around two intersecting love triangles. It features one of the greatest ensembles we will see next year including Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender and Rooney Mara. It is set, and was filmed, in Austin, Texas and producer Ken Kao said that it is grounded in the city’s music scene. Whether it will be another masterpiece remains to be seen. Considering the potential of both the director and the actors though, Weightless is not a movie to be missed.

7. The Snowman

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Jo Nesbø had been a footballer, soldier, economist and charts-topping musician before becoming a writer. Commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first novel, The Bat. This was the first book of a series of crime thrillers with the brilliant, but troubled detective Harry Hole as the main character. By 2016, after 9 more books were published, the series had been translated in 40 languages and sold more than 23 million copies. One of the best books of the series and the one that was most successful is now in the post-production stage and set for release in October 2017.

Martin Scorsese was for a time involved with the direction of The Snowman, but eventually Thomas Alfredson, whose last work was the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, was hired for the job. The film stars Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole with Rebecca Ferguson, J.K.Simmons and Charlotte Gainsbourg co-starring. The story revolves around a serial killer who abducts and kills women leaving snowmen behind and if it’s anywhere near the book, it’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. This is the first time a Jo Nesbø novel is adapted in an English language film (an adaptation of Headhunters became the highest grossing Norwegian film of all time in 2011). The long wait is over for Harry Hole fans and even if you’re a stranger to the series, the film is expected to be one of the most exciting thrillers of the year.

6. Star Wars: Episode VIII

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I believe I was not the only one who was doubtful about the success of yet another Star Wars film when the first reports about Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in 2012. It didn’t really work with the prequels and the news that George Lucas would not take part in the film’s development made things even less encouraging. I couldn’t be more wrong. Unlike the prequels, the 7th installment of the series remained faithful to the scope and vision of Star Wars. Figures speak by themselves. The film was the third highest-grossing film of all time and received universal acclaim. Specifically, in Metacritic it has the highest rating of a Star Wars film since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. A spin-off prequel (Rogue One) has just hit the theatres as we wait for the next film of the sequels trilogy to be released.

Star Wars: Episode VIII continues where the previous film ended with Rey, Finn and Poe going on with their adventures now joined by Luke Skywalker. J.J. Abrams will be an executive producer this time with Rian Johnson taking charge of the direction. The previous film’s cast will return with some new names including Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern. Good or bad, every single Star Wars film since 1977’s A new Hope has been highly anticipated by people all over the world and of course Episode VIII  is no exception.

5. T2 Trainspotting

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Yes, after more than 20 years, Trainspotting will be back and guess what, the original cast returns. The Scottish masterpiece that explores the youth subculture with all its power, energy and rawness during the Britpop era is finally getting a long sought sequel. Irvine Welsh, the author of the novel that inspired Trainspotting, had published a sequel of her novel back in 2002. The book was titled Porno and involves the same characters 10 years older continuing to lead pretty much the same life, only focusing on pornography instead of drugs.

Reportedly, Danny Boyle expressed his interest in adapting Porno about 10 years ago, but said he was waiting for the actors to “age visibly enough to portray the same characters, ravaged by time”. Disputes with lead actor Ewan McGregor, who was reluctant to the idea of a sequel, further delayed the project. Finally, in 2016 the film was given the green light and filming started in Scotland with the feature set for release in March. Considering the success of the first film and the cult following it build, delivering an equally successful film won’t be an easy task, but both Danny Boyle and Irvine Welsh have said that they want to protect the legacy of Trainspotting. Let’s hope that T2 will indeed prove to be another dark comedy masterpiece that will inspire people for years to come.

4. Blade Runner 2049

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2017 will be a year filled with movie sequels that seem out of place. Fast and Furious 8, Cars 3 and Pirates of the Carribean 5 are just some of the titles. There are also several cases of films that attempted to resurrect older classics (hoping to resurrect their box-office success too) with no success. So why should someone be expecting anything great of a Blade Runner sequel 35 years after the Ridley Scott science fiction masterpiece was released? Well, first of all, unlike cases such as Psycho or Jaws where the original director didn’t take part in the making of the sequels, Ridley Scott will be involved in the film, only as a producer. Then who will direct the film? Denis Villeneuve, the Canadian auteur who gave us Prisoners, Enemy and the more recent Arrival. Suddenly, the idea of a Blade Runner sequel doesn’t sound so bad after all, does it?

The film is set in 2049, as the title implies, thirty years after the events of the first film. Ryan Gosling will star as an LAPD officer who sets to find the long missing Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Reportedly, a sequel (or prequel) to Blade Runner was long sought by Ridley Scott, but financial reasons among others denied him the chance. Well, the long wait is over and considering the huge cult following the film has build over the last 35 years, next October will see theatres flooding with fans.

3. Dunkirk

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In May 1940, during the battle of France, almost 400.000 French, British and Belgian troops were surrounded by the Germans in the northern coast of France. Defeat seemed inevitable and it was decided that the best option the Allies had was to attempt to save the forces by sending ships to carry them to England. Dunkirk, a small village, was chosen as the best location for the evacuation plan. In the course of 8 days, Allied navy ships, joined by a significant amount of unarmed civilian-sailed boats and small ships, managed to rescue 338.000 soldiers while the last remaining French forces kept their defensive lines in a fierce battle with the Germans, allowing enough time for the evacuation plan to be carried out. The significance of the battle has been the subject of numerous discussions, books, documentaries and films including the 6 Academy Awards winner Mrs. Miniver. Now, a new film focusing on these events is being created by none other than Christopher Nolan.

The acclaimed director’s first feature film since 2014’s Interstellar seems a colossal project with filming taking place in the original location of the battle and production reconditioning actual warships. Nolan is also the writer of the screenplay and co-producer of the film that stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh among others. Surprisingly, the lead role was given to the largely unknown, 19 year-old, British actor Fionn Whitehead. A 21st of July release has been announced and now all we have to do is wait.

2. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film

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Paul Thomas Anderson, one of my favourite directors,  is about to start filming his untitled as of yet film with Daniel Day-Lewis in the main role. The duo behind the stunning There Will Be Blood reunited after almost ten years for a new film that marks the multiple award winning actor’s first role since Lincoln in 2012. The plot is unknown, but it is reported that the film is set in London in the 1950s and focuses on the fashion industry. The project seems an ambitious one with Deadline reporting that after a ferocious battle, Focus beat Fox on acquiring the rights of the film which has an estimated budget of $35 million. This makes it more expensive than There Will Be Blood by $10 million. In fact, it is Paul Thomas Anderson’s biggest budget film since 1999’s Magnolia. You should expect more information arriving over the next months, although the fact that Paul Thomas Anderson directs a film starring Daniel Day-Lewis alone should be enough to get you pumped up.

1. Silence

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When one of the greatest directors of our time finally delivers a film he supposedly wanted to make since 1990, it is definitely something to expect. Martin Scorsese’s historical drama has actually premiered in 2016, but only for a limited release. Most people will have to wait until early January to watch Silence, which makes it eligible to be on this list. Martin Scorsese has said that the film has been an obsession and since the first time he thought of making it, he has given us Casino, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street among others.

The film is set in Japan and stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuit priests on a religious mission in 17th century. The events are an adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s film of the same title. The film has already received praise and has been flirting with awards. However, the fact alone that it constitutes Scorsese’s 25 year-old obsession, has built a hype which is almost impossible to resist. Let’s hope that Silence lives up to our expectations and makes for the perfect opening of the upcoming cinematic year.