Monthly Archives: July 2010

How they shot Inception’s hallway scene without CGI

Back in February I had a chance to talk with one of the crew members from Inception.  Turns out that hallway fight scene was not CGI, they did that for real:

However, more interesting were his comments on Christopher Nolan (a bit chaotic in his shooting style), since he worked with him on Inception and The Dark Knight. He showed me a video of the rig they used for a hallway scene in the film, which was larger than a semi-truck’s trailer, that completely rotated. He went on to explain that they rubberized everything inside and painted it so the actors inside could roll around and fight. They also locked down a camera inside the hallway and used a camera crane that could go inside the moving rig. Evidently I’m one of the only guys outside of the film industry to see his little cell phone video of this rig.

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Answer to the ending of “Inception”


A good chunk of us who have just seen Inception have started debating over whether Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Cobb is still stuck in the dream world.  The film’s final shot is his totem spinning on the table and before we see if it topples (a sign of being in the real world), it cuts to black.

Throughout the film we regularly see flashes of Cobb’s children as he remembers them right before he goes on the run.  His young daughter appears in a light red dress and his son in some plaid shirt.  Now, if we are to apply the A Beautiful Mind theorem, we might be able to deduce whether Cobb is awake or dreaming.

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“Inception” is one of the most cerebral, kick-ass, poignant blockbusters you will ever see. Period.

The main maxim of big budget Hollywood filmmaking is “Make it Safe.”  Don’t stray from basic storytelling tropes and structures, and don’t be too smart in case you go over the audience’s head.  In the end, you want to ensure that you will get a return on your investment. Thus, the prospect of losing hundreds of millions of dollars makes a lot of mainstream films ride along in the mediocrity lane of the film freeway. Continue reading

“Predators” is a damn fine sequel to the original

The original Predator (1987) is one of those films that is a defining moment for masculinity.  I saw Predator when I was 8 years old and the mixture of mass muscled men, “bad” words, bullets, and bravado introduced me to what it meant to be male. The film is not a traditional work of art, but like director John McTiernan’s Die Hard, Predator is a quintessential action/sci-fi film. Continue reading

In Conclusion: The Best and Worst of the Edinburgh International Film Festival

After almost two weeks of festival events and screenings, I have posted over 30 items about the festival.  So here is a breakdown of all the films, ranked along the scale: Awesome, Good, Eh…, Bad.  Click the title of the film to read the review.

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Arvin Chen discusses filmmaking, writing, and New Wave influences for Au Revoir Taipei

After seeing the delightful Au Revoir Taipei at the Edinburgh Film Fest, I had a chance to sit down and talk to the director about romantic comedies, French New Wave influences, and challenges as a writer. Continue reading