Cinecast Episode 175 – There is no Spoon

 
The gang is all here, with the addition of RowThree contributor Bob Turnbull to talk the glossy mega-budget blockbuster that has been getting a lot of folks yammering. Yes, we spend an hour plus dissecting the themes and complex plotting of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice to help you understand the significance…er…If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person? Inception has big dreams and those dreams look like action movies and video games. But what is hiding amidst the fancy wardrobe, the bombast and the talky exposition? Gamble, Kurt, Andrew and Bob investigate the meaning and magnificence of Christopher Nolan’s brain teasing Blockbuster SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! and throw out a few criticisms to temper the love in. While they are at it we rank our favourite Nolan pictures which leads to Kurt and Gamble in flat out war over The Prestige. There is another heady-dreamy-glossy science fiction picture sneaking in under the radar (if you are in Canada), Jaco Van Dormael’s busy mix of destiny, love and string theory (this one is Spoiler Free). Opinions on the film vary, but we all agree that Mr. Nobody should be seen on as big of a screen as possible. Matt and Bob talk docs on iconic personages (Joan Rivers and Rush). Andrew makes a case for The Rock and The Race to Witch Mountain. Gamble makes a case for micro-budgeted comedian driven cult mayhem in Operation: Endgame. To cap it all off, it is a Powell & Pressberger and Bong Joon Ho love-in on the DVD front.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_175.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_175-alt.mp3

 
 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…


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IN-HOUSE BUSINESS:
– Welcome, Bob who contributes here at RowThree but also at Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind and at J-Film Pow-wow

– Background music provided by Mr. Nobody OST and also Hans Zimmer’s score from Inception. Download alternate version of this Cinecast sans backing music here.


MAIN REVIEW:
Inception (R3view)
Mr. Nobody (Andrew’s Review) (Kurt’s Extended Thoughts)


WHAT ELSE WE WATCHED:
Operation Endgame (red band trailer)
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (IMDb)
Return of the Street Fighter (IMDb)
Only Human (IMDb)
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (IMDb)
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (IMDb)
Race to Witch Mountain (IMDb)
The Clash (Fantasia write-up)


RANK ‘EM – CHRISTOPHER NOLAN:

Bob:
7) Following*
6) Insomnia
5) The Dark Knight
4) Batman Begins
3) Inception
2) Memento
1) The Prestige

Andrew:
7) Following*
6) Insomnia
5) The Prestige
4) Batman Begins
3) The Dark Knight
2) Inception
1) Memento

Kurt:
7) Following*
6) Batman Begins
5) Insomnia
4) The Dark Knight
3) Inception
2) Memento
1) The Prestige

Matt:
7) The Prestige
6) The Dark Knight
5) Insomnia
4) Batman Begins
3) Following
2) Inception
1) Memento


DVD PICK #1:
        Andrew:
Mother
(Marina’s review)

       

Kurt:
Bong Joon-Ho Collection (IMDb)

       

Matt:
Mother
(Marina’s review)

       

Bob:
The Red Shoes
(IMDb)

DVD PICK #2:
        Andrew:
The Losers
(IMDb)

       

Kurt:
Memories of Murder

       

Matt:
The Losers
(IMDb)

       

Bob:
Black Narcissus
(IMDb)


OTHER DVDs NOW AVAILABLE:
The Runaways
Cop-Out

“Tin Man” [Blu-ray]


OTHER STUFF MENTIONED:
Shinsedai Film Festival
Line-up
Trailer round-up

Black Narcissus and Inception mash-up trailer:


Also, because it is very pretty, the Mr. Nobody Trailer

NEXT WEEK:
The Kids Are All Right
Salt


PRIVATE COMMENTS or QUESTIONS?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or email us:
feedback@rowthree.com (general)
andrew.james@rowthree.com
kurt@rowthree.com

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mad Hatter
Guest

Less than three hours!!?? Talk about 'phoning it in'…

antho42
Guest

My favorite non-action scene is the opium style shop for dreams. If this machine existed in the world, you can see this phenomena happening.

antho42
Guest

After all, is not the allure of the illegal drugs–the ability to distort reality and enrich imagination.

Marcus
Guest

Itunes isn't working

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Antho42, it's too bad that nobody brought up the 'drugs' and the 'dream-machine' stuff, so we never got into the minutae of that stuff in the film. It's not completely relevant to what the movie is about, but it might have been fun to speculate and talk about that.

Bob Turnbull
Admin

Hatter, yeah we coasted…That was only about 40 minutes of chat per person. Well, except during the discussion of The Prestige – Matt and Kurt kinda talked over each other during all of that, so that increases their number of minutes…B-)

I came for the film discussion, but I stayed for the warm, cuddly togetherness.

Antho, that was a great scene – it reminded me of an opium den. Particularly something out of "Once Upon A Time In America" – which, depending on your viewpoint, could also be interpreted as having a great deal of dreams in it.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Isn't the dream machine that dispenses the sedative kinda reminiscent of a multihosed community hookah pipe?

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

And if you believe the dream theory, aren't we all addicted to being the center of our own universes? In this case, the universe is indeed Cobb's sprawling subconscious, everyone subservient to his own narrative?

rot
Guest

I do like that the concept of inception in the movie, that it is incredibly difficult to persuade someone of an idea (to the point that it takes hold as their own) is indicative of our review debates, there are nearly insurmountable divides in opinion that no amount of outside persuasion can alter. We each tend to draw our line and stand by it… how often do any of us change our minds because of what someone else hear says? I need to get into Kurt's mind and plant the idea of how terrible a film Alice in Wonderland actually is.

Anthon42
Guest

Speaking about the Dark Knight, it plays in the same ballfield as Lord of Rings, Star Wars, original Die Hard, and Raiders of the Last Ark- in that, they are not great– but manage to successfully fulfill the fantasy of different segments of the mainstream.

They are heralded as universal classics by the public. When something becomes universal heralded, it becomes taboo to comment on the film's flaws. You become labeled as being a "contrarian" or an "idiot". I automatically get ostracize for pointing the film's flaws of Raiders of the Lost Ark and original Die Hard. People automatically become Matt Gamble-like ( The Prestige' discussion). They simply ignore your arguments, while mentioning that your arguments are invalid.

Jim
Guest

How come you can't subscribe to Row Three anymore in itunes?

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Rot, I can tell you that my wife convinced me in about 35 minutes that no, I didn't love Castaway, it's rather a piece of doodoo.

Likewise Twitch's Mr. X convinced me that The Dualist was a movie to re-consider on its own terms and gave me some of the tool-set to do so.

Furthermore, movies like Fellini's 8 1/2 'age' with the viewer and make for 'often' 180 degree assessments of the same movie. This is more or less you convincing yourself thru new eyes, rather than someone else 'incepting'

But think about it one way, every movie conversation (or any conversation about taking action or liking something, etc.) is a potential 'inception' from one conversant to another. But like sperm, there are millions of opportunities but only a few take, the rest of them simply die off in their own way.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I've certainly gone to town on certain Wes Anderson flicks, like THE LIFE AQUATIC or THE DARJEELING Ltd, but rather than laying on the gush or the bombast (two strategies that are fun, but rarely work), I merely implore folks to watch the film a second time.

This is also true of Jackie Brown, Miller's Crossing and Burn After Reading.

Chris Clemente
Guest

Wow…Hans Zimmer really rocked out with 99 Red Balloons…hahaha the switch in music caught me by surprise

John
Guest

Is Mr. Nobody going to get a DVD release (or even a theatrical one) in the United States? I'd love to see it!

Kurt
Guest

I imagine that it will not be too hard for Americans to import the Canadian DVD which I imagine will be out very shortly after Mr. Nobody fails utterly at the Box-Office (lack of marketing!) I'm thinking that this theatrical release is more out of obligation than any real enthusiasm by E1. Which is a real shame.

Oogway
Guest

Your shouting match over "The Prestige" sucked. Just accept the fact you disagree and move on, you two! You talked at cross-purposes there far to long and that's really not why I listen to this podcast. Someone needs to step in and moderate the argument next time sth like this happens on your podcast, otherwise it's just not enjoyable and a waste of everyone's time.

To end on a positive note: I liked the rest of the episode that came before, especially the discussion on whether what they're doing in Inception is ethical. And I hope I'll like the rest of it, particaularly the discussion of Mr. Nobody, once I'm through your shouting match (I'll probably skip over the rest of it …)

That said, keep up the good work, guys :).

Causing Trouble
Guest
Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Admittedly the reason why the argument over THE PRESTIGE failed, is because Matt was more interested in 'dismissing' the film than talking about it. For someone who gets off on sci-fi stuff like Moon & District 9, I find it fascinating that Gamble has a blindspot for the Prestige.

And Andrew is too caught up in the pretty pagentry of The Illusionist to want to delve into the sticky morass of human contradiction in The Prestige.

Bob is polite.

Yes, I'm passionate about this subject, and was mildly (but it is easy to 'forgive' Matt when he is 'in character' *SIGH*) miffed about how that went down. But then again, people seemed to liked the spirited Andrew/Gamble minutae-debate on Daybreakers, so maybe someone will find Matt and I shouting at each other entertaining.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

The APTLY named "Causing Trouble" we do not actively condone piracy here, but we don't censor either. Mr. Nobody is far, far, far better on the eyes (and soul) on THE BIG SCREEN than as a compressed computer file, but I understand the frustration of nobody (heh) distributing the darn film.

Carry on.

rot
Guest

Kurt, if they had got rid of the exposition in Inception you would have an anime film like Ghost in the Machine and, to each their own, but I find those stories completely standoffish, not in a good way. Primer works because it is a very small tight story, to have the scope of Inception without exposition would not enhance it, it would make it bloated and the pacing would give way because we would be no longer in step with it.

rot
Guest

Inception Spoilers***********************************************

I would say the alleyway narrowing, like the kids being framed from the back in the backyard at the end are not clues of it being a dream so much as Nolan wanting to inject a level of ambiguity to leave open the possibility of a dream.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Inception Spoilers***********************************************

Inception Spoilers***********************************************

Inception Spoilers***********************************************

Well, points for Nolan for injecting ambiguity by being startlingly specific! It's a neat trick!

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

There is also nothing wrong with having to hit a movie a few times to make sense of it. I appreciate what Nolan did by all the hand-holding in Inception (if it is a long-con, which I believe it is so, then doubly genius.) Yet at the same time, I think the movie would be a bit cult-ier if it was a bit more obtuse. I think if we are talking peoples psyches and denial, a bit more obtuseness is what the doctor ordered.

rot
Guest

I have now coined the term hyper-cinema for what Inception is and does. He takes the pure cinema of Hitchcock, the elevator, the zero gravity hotel, the back of the kids heads, but really its what he does with time dilation, the time and space between elements that is really like anything I have ever seen before… Memento being the most similar I guess. Its like he made a 3D film without 3D technology, spatially tiered in your mind.

rot
Guest

ok maybe I didn't coin it first

http://hyper-cinema.com/

rot
Guest

I LOVE that when the Prestige debate gets heated you have Zimmer on overdrive in the background.

I side with Andrew on the topic, I don't hate The Prestige but its a bit flat.

arjay
Guest

I'm new to the show and mostly loving it… except when Matt hates something. Karate Kid, Prestige, etc, at which point it becomes unlistenable. It's so arrogant when people confuse their opinion with fact ("i'm sorry, but the Prestige is just a bad film, it just is (sic)"). At one point he said something about not being able to understand how anyone could like the Prestige. Bingo. Matt doesn't understand other people's POVs. His opinions are highly subjective and he struggles to engage with those he disagrees with. My feeling is movie podcasts work best when people engage with different perspectives, rather than just defend their own opinions. Cinecast mostly does this, but the Prestige and Karate Kid segments were awful because one person was interrupted, sighing over the top of other speakers and generally being a massive pain in the ass.

Bob Turnbull
Admin

"Bob is polite."

Well, I am Canadian you know…B-)

I kinda wanted to jump in, but figured it wouldn't do any good at that stage (I suppose asking Matt to tell us "why we're wrong" may not have been the best tactic to kick things off…). If we were to discuss at more civil levels, though, we could get more into whether disliking the main characters in a movie is reason enough not to like it. Or whether characters have to grow or change by the end of a movie – in this case, if neither of them have changed, they sure have at least taken their obsessions almost as far as they can go.

Oogway, I hope you made it through the rest…

David Brook
Admin

As Rot said, it was the blaring Zimmer score that got me laughing through the whole Prestige 'debate'. Hilarious. Personally I liked the film, but wasn't blown away by it. I did watch it pretty late at night on a crappy TV though so it wasn't the best environment.

I thought this was a great Cinecast though, it kept me awake last night whilst I drove my better half to the airport (2 hours there then the same back straight away).

Matt Gamble
Guest

Admittedly the reason why the argument over THE PRESTIGE failed, is because Matt was more interested in ‘dismissing’ the film than talking about it.

We've talked it about it in the past and frankly, the movie isn't worth discussing at any great length. Its a nice little one-off that you've elevated to grandiose levels because you're Kurt and that's your thing. (see Southland Tales)

For someone who gets off on sci-fi stuff like Moon & District 9, I find it fascinating that Gamble has a blindspot for the Prestige.

Well two of those are great sci-fi and the other barely passes muster as sci-fi, rather its a painfully apparent "illusion" that has cursory plotlines on morality and science fiction. *yawn*

I’m new to the show and mostly loving it… except when Matt hates something. Karate Kid, Prestige, etc, at which point it becomes unlistenable.

Funny thing is I don't hate either of those films. Karate Kid was just plain lazy filmmaking and The Prestige is pretty mindless mainstream fare that really isn't going to harm anyone by watching it. Its more Kurt's continued insistence that its the greatest movie ever that I find ridiculous so I had no problem sabotaging any discussion on the film because we've talked about it enough already. I at least have the good sense not to go around yammering on about the amazing examination of the human condition that is Red Dawn because Kurt will blow a gasket but does he ever think about anyone else?

So yeah, its his damn fault.

Plus I'd been on really good behavior for like 3 or 4 episodes which has got to be some kind of record. And I stand by the fact that without all the yelling that my later accusations of Kurt's actions while watching the film wouldn't be half as funny. Or as uncomfortable for Bob.

Henrik
Guest

I always felt that Matt made the show hard to listen to, mainly because you can't argue that heatedly with somebody who's on skype without it leading to alot of akward silences and rude interruptions. If they were in the same room, I have a feeling it would be much more bearable, it's also harder to yell to a persons face than it is to yell at your computer screen.

arjay
Guest

Matt,

It's not about the films, or your opinion of them, or Kurt's. You're obviously a really bright guy with a lot of really interesting things to say about films. The problem is your unwillingness to be engaging. Kurt may love the Prestige but he doesn't try to angrily deny you the right to hate it. You on the other hand… You are saying that Kurt is "wrong" about the Prestige and should go back and watch it again, but this time, godammit, make sure he doesn't enjoy it and is bored by it. No. He enjoys it, so do a lot of others. Live with it.

Matt Gamble
Guest

You are saying that Kurt is “wrong” about the Prestige and should go back and watch it again, but this time, godammit, make sure he doesn’t enjoy it and is bored by it.

And this is a bad thing?

Henrik
Guest

"And this is a bad thing?"

It's just pretty tedious for the listener.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

One of these days I will attempt to write one of the most thorough reviews of THE PRESTIGE on the internets. I've seen the film upwards of 10 times now. It is certainly in my top 50 films, and I think the film has a lot more to say, a lot more on its plate, etc. etc. than it is given credit for.

Again people get hung up on the plot and the series of twists in the film, but the real film is about how and where people draw the line between fulfillment and happiness with that big ugly mess called 'obsession' mucking up the works. Unlike a lot of films, there are no clear-cut villains (this is quickly becoming a theme in Nolan's non-batman works) because all of these folks (Bordan/Fallon, Danton/Angiers) are at war with themselves moreso than their ostensible rival.

Seriously, Christopher Nolan should try making a movie about Golf or something, isn't that the sport that you 'play against yourself'? How about a Tiger Woods Biopic?

rot
Guest

it didn't help that Kurt was wrong 🙂

Henrik
Guest

"the real film is about how and where people draw the line between fulfillment and happiness with that big ugly mess called ‘obsession’ mucking up the works."

I can see where you're coming from, but you lose me when you say it actually has something to say on the subject. It's just a kickass movie about magic with solid acting from Hugh Jackman. The reason people get hung up on the twists etc is because the movie dwells on them so much that they take over any interesting ideas. Like Scarlett Johanssons character? She's a pure chess pawn in the movie, you can't mention that character without mentioning the plot because that all she does is affect the plot. Even a movie like Children of Men (which I like a lot less) does more to downplay it's plotline (compare the two endings) to let people focus on other things, that may or may not be more important. The Prestige reveals its true colors, it really is just an exciting movie, it has little to do with real life.

rot
Guest

I rewatched The Dark Knight last night, and did they correct the continuity errors in the film or something, because I didn't seem them anymore? At least the ones with Alfred in the new Bat Cave. When talking about pacing with Inception and than this, Nolan took a significant leap in improvement between the two films, Dark Knight, for all its great moments, really is ungainly, waaaaaayy too many balls in the air. It works at certain moments like the entrance of Joker to Bruce Wayne's Penthouse (which is intercut with two other events, a seeming Nolan signature now), but the writing is not nearly as tight as Inception. There is a lot of exposition in Dark Knight and it just hangs there. Such a shame because there are truly iconic moments in the film.

rot
Guest

I hope with Batman 3, if it is going to be The Riddler, Nolan goes jigsaw puzzle with the whole movie, a la Inception and Memento. Any battle with the Riddler is a battle of wits after all, scrawny as he is. no more love interest, no more mob story, just two guys going head to head with their psychoses, Gotham city resting between them. Dark Knight was the best when the Joker and Batman were sparring, make Batman 3 all that.

rot
Guest

great to hear you on here Bob, you held your own

Matt Gamble
Guest

it didn’t help that Kurt was wrong

See? And when rot and I agree you know we're right.

Kurt
Guest

Either you are right, or time is about starting to tick backwards. But agreeing that something is 'not great' is hardly a consensus. Now if you both absolutely would go to the wall for Tank Girl as being the best comic book movie ever made, then we'd be talking.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I guess I've gotten to the point with you guys where I just found the Matt-Kurt shouting match funny. Or else I'm the kind of person who just enjoys yelling. Which really isn't the case.

My Nolan ranking:

7) Insomnia

6) Following [I too don't remember that much about it, but I do remember quite liking it]

5) The Dark Knight

4) The Prestige

3) Batman Begins

2/1) Memento/Inception [I'd need to watch them both right together to choose which one I like more]

I think I have kind of the same thing with Batman Begins that Andrew does, where it was just so fresh an approach to the story after the last couple of debacles (Batman & Robin is one of the five worst films I've ever seen) that I loved it. Also, I just love origin stories – I've heard comic book geeks denigrate them and be glad for sequels where they could deal with, like, the best villains or storylines or whatever, and I get that, but since I'm not a comic book geek and haven't read any of the whole stories, I tend to like the origin stories best.

***SPOILERS for The Prestige***

As far as The Prestige goes, I need a rewatch, but I remember really liking the story and feel of the film, but I didn't see the end coming and I found the repeated suicide element quite offputting at the time. I expect that now, older and having experienced more film, I would be more appreciative of it and how willing to go to such a dark place it is. But to Matt, who kept scoffing at Jackman "killing clones," I think there's a real distinction to be made in that, yeah, he's cloning himself to do the trick, but each time, it's the version that is BEING cloned that is killed, not the new clone. That seems more disturbing to me in a way, because it's not you saying "oh, I'm just making a clone to be killed" in which case you could psychologically dehumanize the clone; each time you do the trick you have to commit suicide as the clone is being created. I am correct in that, yes? I haven't seen the movie since it first came on DVD. I mean, in a way, yeah, it's essentially the same thing – by this time they're both clones, and the trick destroys one of two identical people, but for some reason there's just something that gives me pause about the self-destructive cycle of it. Even though as I think about it, it's probably less inhumane to knowingly destroy yourself than to create a person solely to destroy them, but it hit me differently than that psychologically.

Henrik
Guest

Nolan ranking:

1. The Prestige

Good ones: Memento, The Dark Knight

Shit: Batman Begins

Haven't seen the other two.

I think Batman & Robin is a far better movie than Batman Begins. Liam Neeson vs Arnold Schwarzenegger? Is it really up for debate who is the better actor? Personally I think Arnold has given tons of memorable performances, and Dr. Freeze is another good one, Liam Neeson is boring and unauthentic. Whenever Arnold isn't on screen, I agree the movie is pretty terrible, but Batman Begins is terrible the whole way through.

The first time I saw The Prestige is was very disappointed with the ending. Mainly because they go so far to set up this bullshit universe where magic isn't real and you have to do this and that and dedicate yourself and bla bla bla, only to introduce the final twist where, guess what, it's real magic. Bet you didn't see that coming? That, coupled with the dreaded twin plot twist, made me dismiss it as being the usual nonsense. While I still think the movie is total nonsense, I can enjoy it now that I know it as a cool action movie, and Hugh Jackman is good in it.

David Brook
Admin

Please tell me you're just shit-stirring with that last comment. I think Batman Begins is overrated too, but come on – Batman and Robin? Agreed, Schwarzenegger's bits are the most memorable, but only because they are insanely dumb. The film is so campy it makes the 60's TV series look like Bergman.

Henrik
Guest

"The film is so campy it makes the 60′s TV series look like Bergman."

Yeah, but I prefer this to the utter stupidity in Batman Begins. I mean, "IT's not who I am but what I do that defines me" and shit like that? I much, MUCH prefer the Batman credit card and Arnold Schwarzenegger directing his freezing henchmen to sing "I'm Mr. Freezemeister". At least Batman and Robin played it silly, Batman Begins just gets on my nerves. "Do you know who I am?" "Practice." UGGGGHHHH

arjay
Guest

“The film is so campy it makes the 60′s TV series look like Bergman.”

Na-na na-na na-na na-na, na-na na-na na-na na-na Bergman

kurt
Guest

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

"but each time, it’s the version that is BEING cloned that is killed, not the new clone. "

I'm surprised I never picked up on Matt (potentially) missing this MASSIVE distinction in the film. Of course, Danton/Angiers is committing suicide and not simply killing clones. It's one of the keys to the movie, and folds in the symmetry with Borden/Fallon. It's also about as big of an act of faith of 'identity' and it also neatly encapsulates Fallon's child and when he starts messing with that (and perhaps the Tesla box) that Cutter cuts loose Angiers as a lost soul.

All these things are fascinating and interesting to me. Are they exaggerated takes on human nature? Yes, that is often what drama and theme does. I really love this film.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

"It’s also about as big of an act of faith of ‘identity’"

Exactly. Every time he's got to assume that the trick is going to work and the new clone will be created as expected. If not, he's committed suicide for nothing. And it also requires faith that the clone will be still him in a sense, still carrying on his identity and work, even though in another sense, it's a totally different person. Yeah, I'm going to rewatch this soon, I think.

And yeah, without Matt clarifying, I'm not sure what he really meant, but in this discussion anyway, it sounded like he was saying "he's killing clones, big deal," when really, he's committing suicide, hoping a clone is created to complete the trick. And the original Angier has no way of knowing whether it worked or not.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Exactly. Jandy. Exactly. Stuff like this makes THE PRESTIGE excellent science fiction.

Kurt
Guest

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

I don't think the movie was ever designed to be or had any intentions to be 'fun.' It's going to some pretty dark and dirty places in the human psyche. I actually think that the climax overall how the film plays out is 10x more interesting than if it was just some 'rooted-in-reality' explanation. I think the ending of the film is damn near perfect. We certainly part ways on this, oi!

And it doesn't go into 'fantasy' territory, it goes into full-on science fiction. (as Tesla says upon accidentally invention the cloning machine when trying to 'transport' matter: "Things don't always go as planned, Mr. Angier. That's the beauty of science." and "Exact science, Mr Angier, is not an exact science."

Kurt
Guest

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

If you cannot see the interesting human implication (and overall psychological difference) of killing oneself and hoping that the clone is 'you' (and for the entertainment of an audience no less!) and making and killing clones, then hmmm, we are indeed on vastly different islands in our love for and how we process science fiction!

Matt Gamble
Guest

Except the problem with that is you are making clones upon clones, that somehow all are exact replicas. That's pure fantasy Kurt and its paying lip service to what could be an interesting examination of human morals and the human condition.

I actually like some meat on my sci-fi, but then clearly you prefer something facile and simplistic. A "comic book movie" that plays in the sandbox of fantasy and only the most puerile of science fiction.

😛

John O'Neil
Guest

PRESTIGE SPOILERS

PRESTIGE SPOILERS

PRESTIGE SPOILERS

I think what makes the suicides interesting is that Angier is literally doing it for his art. He's so committed to the trick, to his own showmanship, that he kills himself every night. Similarly, the Borden characters keep their identity secret for their art. For both Angier and Borden, their obsessions eat away at their personal lives, to the point where they can't distinguish what's performance and what's reality.

As for the characters not being likable, I don't really care. Characters don't have to be likable for me to enjoy a movie. In fact, I love a lot of movies about completely reprehensible characters.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

****PRESTIGE SPOILERS****************************

Isn't it not so much magic but science that's so advanced that it looks like magic? Isn't that the point? That when you take tricks and the science that makes illusion possible far enough you blur the line between tricks/science/magic? Also, I like the thematic doubling – he's basically doing the same thing as Borden, but he has to create his own twin every time.

While everyone's ripping on Johansson and to some extent Bale and Jackman, I want to put in a plug for Rebecca Hall. This was the first film I saw her in, and out of the whole acting ensemble, she blew me away. I didn't mind everyone else as much as other people did (though, yeah, Johansson doesn't do anything for me here), but Hall was fantastic. I'm guessing I'm not alone in thinking that, since no one has mentioned disliking her, but I wanted to give her a positive mention.

Anthon42
Guest

When it comes to challenging science fiction–The Prestige is vastly superior to Moon. The Prestige has a better execution and more original social commentary . Moon is simply too blatant with its message and its themes. It does not surprise me that Matt Gamble loves Moon while hating the more subtle film. Gamble simply loves blatant films ( e.i. Kick Ass).

Matt Gamble
Guest

Isn’t it not so much magic but science that’s so advanced that it looks like magic? Isn’t that the point?

Nolan is stretching that point to absurd extremes and in the process dilutes the resonance of it due to the fact it rarely takes the time to actually linger on anything. For a film that "breaths" as much as Kurt claims, The Prestige sure is in a hurry to keep the plot moving forward so you can't focus on any of the minutia of the characters. Why? Because the film is designed like a magic trick, which is the true "point" of the film. Everything else is just noise to keep you from watching what the other hand is doing.

As for the characters not being likable, I don’t really care. Characters don’t have to be likable for me to enjoy a movie. In fact, I love a lot of movies about completely reprehensible characters.

The problem is the film keeps trying to redeem each of the main characters by tying them to flat story lines about the women they love. Those story lines are an attempt to humanize them and instead they just make them look even more like ridiculous caricatures.

Matt Gamble
Guest

When it comes to challenging science fiction–The Prestige is vastly superior to Moon.

Except The Prestige is a fantasy film, much like how the book it is based on is a fantasy book.

I do find it amusing that fans of the film keep trying to shirk the label of "fantasy" as if it is beneath both the film and them.

Anthon42
Guest

"Except The Prestige is a fantasy film, much like how the book it is based on is a fantasy book."

I strongly disagree. The Prestige is all about trying to achieve to the extroadinary without the use of magic.

"I do find it amusing that fans of the film keep trying to shirk the label of “fantasy” as if it is beneath both the film and them."

Fantasy has been underwhelming and been an underachiever in the "film" medium. Except for a few films ( Pans Labrynth, Miyazaki films, etc), unlike science fiction, there are not that many hard/cerebral films. The majority of fantasy films are aim at kids or teenagers ( e.i. Lord of Rings and Harry Potter). Where are the fantasy equivalents of Blade Runner, 2001, and Solaris?

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

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I still contend that what THE PRESTIGE is doing is far more science fiction (or steam punk, even) than fantasy. Clearly the whole duality expressed with the AC & DC current conflict put in the film is not by accident.

And Andrew's contention that it is all in the last 5 minutes. Clearly you've not watched the film enough, it is scattered all throughout the film. There is no 'cheating' here, the film actually has it all laid out on the table at all times. It is the execution that my somewhat 'distract' as in a magic trick, but that really is just in how you watch the film and it is a film about performers!

The whole film (Chinese magician, Borden, 'get your hands dirty' line, the wives (Johannson, Hall, Perabo), everything!) is gearing up to that ending. Clearly as these two elevate the art and what is possible, they are also 'diminishing' themselves as human beings. This is the point, and it is wonderfully executed (pun intended) by the clone killing the next clone, etc. for Angiers (the one magician who for so long resists getting his hands dirty, then falls completely over the cliff, to the point where he is even 'abandoned' by Cutter for the monster he has become).

This is Science Fiction the same way that FRANKENSTEIN is science-fiction. And it is magnificent.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I'm not trying to squirm THE PRESTIGE out of the fantasy film label, it is clearly at almost all times simply a period-science fiction film. These are exceedingly rare. And this is one of the best.

Anthon42
Guest

A proposition should be made between Kurt and Matt Gamble. Gamble would re-watch The Prestige, while Kurt would re-watch a film loved by Gamble that Kurt's does not like/love. ( Red Dawn, Spider man 2, etc). Then talk about their perspective reaction in a Cinecast episodeI( actually, The Prestige will be a great nomination for the Movie Club Podcast).

Matt Gamble
Guest

it is clearly at almost all times simply a period-science fiction film

You are a blooming lunatic.

Jandy
Guest

Matt, do you consider stuff like The Time Machine to be science fiction? (Or other H.G. Wells/Jules Verne type works.) If so, what separates the Victorian-era impossible time-traveling device from The Prestige's Victorian-era impossible cloning device? Or is it the way The Time Machine foregrounds the machine in the story rather than leaving it more toward the end that makes the difference? Or would you not consider Wells/Verne to be science fiction? That, to me, is what The Prestige is most like, but when those guys were writing, science fiction didn't really exist, so the lines are blurred with fantasy a bit. For me, I'm not sure I have a problem with that, though you're suggesting that I should if I want to defend The Prestige. Or perhaps you're just aiming that at Kurt.

Matt Gamble
Guest

I always aim at Kurt. Because I like to rankle him.

Wells writes plenty of science fiction, but he writes plenty of fantasy as well, same with Verne, Poe and Hawthorne and so on. I really have no issues with fantasy, but Kurt does because he feels its an inferior medium, which is why he keeps clamoring that The Prestige is a science fiction film, and hard science fiction at that. Which is patently ridiculous.

The primary theme of The Prestige is obsession, then the nature of illusion and then a cursory nod to science as magic (which is a bit of a ridiculous notion considering it occurs during a time period where science was well distinguished from magic but that's really not important). Kurt claiming its steampunk is clearly him lathering himself into near psychosis. I can't wait for his diatribe on how Sherlock Holmes is a science fiction action hero because he uses a microscope. Sometime I seriously wonder about his grip on reality (see Vinyan).

The film, and the book, barely dip their toes in science related affairs at all, as the primary focus of them is the obsessions of the two men (careers, magic, women, love etc) and how their only goal is to one up the other. And when they do discuss "science" it is in a fantastical form, as the works of Tesla they use are nothing like they are in real applications (but that's not really important either). And once again, the teleporting and the clones have little to do with the story outside of the big reveal at the end, and even then it is upstaged by the earlier reveal about Bale's character. Why? Because it is the final nail that cements these two men's obsessions, not the frame work. And that's the rub on why this isn't science fiction, as that tennent isn't central to the themes of the story whereas in true science fiction it would be. Hell, give me The Fly any day over The Prestige. Its a far better examination of obsession and ones inability to retain their humanity while succumbing to their base wants and desires. As an added bonus, Brundle Fly elicits far more pathos than either Jackman or Bale could ever hope to muster in the final reel of The Prestige. And that dude eats people.

Or is it the way The Time Machine foregrounds the machine in the story rather than leaving it more toward the end that makes the difference?

And that's it precisely. The Prestige dips its toe in science fiction and pays basic lip service to it when it feels like it forwards the plot of the story effectively. Its not something that is present through the film as it really has little to do with the film. You could make The Prestige with out the funny little Twinkle lights in Colorado or Wolverine *bamf*ing all over a stage and it would be just as effective a story as it is with all that cursory nonsense.

But even that I can just point to the fact that people far more into and knowledgable about fantasy gave the novel The Prestige was adapted from numerous fantasy awards. Prolly because it was a fantasy novel.

Can we be done with this yet?

Jandy
Guest

Yep, I'm done. Thank you for the detailed and cogent answer to my question. That's exactly what I was curious about.

Kurt
Guest

Finally, Gamble engages in the conversation!

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." – Arthur C. Clarke

And I think The Prestige to a degree is having it a bit of both ways. Sure it doesn't get into the nuts and bolts of Tesla's creation, but at the same time, they still look at it as a man-made thing, the product of an advanced (at the time) scientific mind. I do not think just because it won a Fantasy award that it is ipso facto fantasy. The novel was nominated for an Arther C. Clark award as well as the James Tait Black award for British Literature, so really, trying to pigeonhole this into Fantasy and put words in my mouth in how I said (which I didn't) that the fantasy genre is inferior is rather side-stepping the argument here. Just be cause you insist the novel is one thing, doesn't make it NOT the other.

Either way, I think the above conversation is enlightening on the themes and ins and outs of THE FILM. Admittedly it is not for everyone, not is it as clean (structurally, character motivation, etc.) as many of Nolan's other films. But for my money and attention, it is heads above the rest of his filmography. I never for a moment find this film boring or tedious or empty.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Finally, Gamble engages in the conversation!

Well I like Jandy, you I'm still unsure about.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Pppphhh! You love me.

Bob Turnbull
Admin

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"the teleporting and the clones have little to do with the story outside of the big reveal at the end…"

I don't quite get this comment or Andrew's take on the cloning. Sure they do the big reveal at the end, but when you watch the film again and KNOW what is happening (which is actually quite clearly layed out), it's still very effective. At the time of cloning (I don't actually like this term, but we'll go with it for now), each one of them thinks they are the original – but they both are. They are exact duplicates – so every night he survives AND he kills himself. And he does it by a method (drowning) that Cutter reminds him at one point is "excruciating". Call it Fantasy or Sci-Fi, the idea that someone would follow that through for their obsession is compelling to me. And on a rewatch it builds on that nicely and I think works more effectively than the first time with the reveal.

I do appreciate seeing where you guys have issues with the film though. It can be tough enjoying a film when you hate the characters (and the actors portraying them). But I found the obsession that drove both these guys to be compelling.

And Rebecca Hall was pretty damn great here.

rot
Guest

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I will give Nolan this, the one scene you see the clones together in a shot provides you with the information you need to understand what Angier knows will happen in the trick, but doesn't spell it out either… its not quite a leap of faith as I think Jandy said, when he tests out cloning himself, the other him immediately responds to the gun near his other self's side, as if he knew what his original had planned (hence transference of memory)… so he knew the clone would have the memory to finish the routine… in that respect its make sense… doesn't excuse the final scene or Fallon, but does show that Nolan can be sly when he wants to be with his storytelling.

Hans
Guest

I love your podcasts and I can listen to them back to back for several hours. And language is not a problem for me, at all. But everybody on the debate (ref. Prestige) should be open. And Matt, I enjoy a hard line on opinions, but it is very hard to take you serious when you behave like a child when someone try to champion who's the tallest kid on the playground.

Antho42
Guest

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The Prestige
From IMDB (Spoiler):

“It’s not a cloning machine at all. There’s no clone, each one of them is original Angier. It’s like Schrödinger’s cat, and the machine actualizes both possibilities of ‘teleported’ and ‘not-teleported’.”

Wow!

Kurt
Guest

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Exactly, but they are ‘different Angiers’ the instant they both exist. It’s all wonderfully realized in this NFB video:

It is well worth a watch, this is possibly my favourite NFB short of all time.

antho42
Guest

Wouldn’t the other scientist know exactly what the other one is going to do in the chess game? They are still “relatively” the same person. Its the “nature” vs “nurture” debate: there have been enough “nurture” variables to distinguish the reaction or mode of the thoughts between the two scientists.

Gamble, this is what makes the The Prestige hard-science fiction; The Prestige is far from being a simple fantasy story.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

‘Wouldn’t the other scientist know exactly what the other one is going to do in the chess game? They are still “relatively” the same person. ‘

One is playing the black pieces, the other moves first. Thus as each ‘copy’ plays the game he is reacting , each player would have some idea of what they would likely do, but the circumstances are different (perspective/point-of-view, etc.), and each one is reacting to the other, not making decisions in a vacuum! I think the chess match is a wonderfully evocative way to get at the ‘as soon as they are beside each other the sum of their experience has changed thus, they are different people’ argument behind this.

Damn I love this short. Damn, I love the Prestige.

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