Why Inception is Worth All the Buzz

Christopher Nolan, known for directing the legendary movies Memento, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, has done it again with his new movie Inception. The writing, direction, special effects, and ability to create a believable reality within the science fiction genre, make Christopher Nolan a force to be reckoned with, and certainly an Oscar contender.

As a writer, plot is very important to me. One of the most disappointing things about movie-going is to see an action or science fiction movie that lacks a good story. For example, and I know some people will have my head for this, but Avatar, despite it’s amazing special effects and new advancements in CGI technology, lacked an original storyline. I felt like I was watching Fern Gully; it was a recycled plot about the exploitation of natural resources, with a typical “star-crossed lovers” love story.

However, Inception delves into the sci-fi of the dream world in a unique and even realistic way. What the characters deal with psychologically and emotionally is plausible, and the actors do a phenomenal job of unravelling the complexities of coping with the human psyche. There are symbolic elements in the movie to make the story even sharper, such as the “totem” which determines whether you are in a dream or in the real world. The classic representation of the subconscious as the open sea – wild and unpredictable – is also aptly done.

The repetition of phrases and emotion-filled memories replicates what many people experience in the dream state, or when they are dealing with emotional trauma. Further, the use of silence and visual cues, expertly conveyed by the actors, contributes to the overall mysterious atmosphere of the movie, where you are never truly sure what is real and what is imagined.

Although some elements of the plot and action are derivative of The Matrix series, I think of them as more of a commemorative “toast” to the Wachowski brothers, who pioneered so many new ideas and techniques in their movie making. Like The Matrix, Inception explores the choice between living in a world we create through our imagination, or to live in the “real” world, with all of its limitations on both morality and mortality. In addition, Nolan’s film organically creates action scenes; using wires and an infinite number of cameras, characters fight mid-air in a hotel hallway, similar to the subway station scene in The Matrix. This gives the movie a more natural feel than CGI.

The comedic conflict between Arthur and Eames will certainly have audiences laughing out loud, while home-grown Ellen Page delivers a stellar performance as an innocent student whose intelligence and gumption lead her to a better understanding of the human mind than most characters in the movie. To me, Leonardo DiCaprio is a seasoned actor who is as good as it gets, and he lives up to the high standard he set for himself in movies such as The Departed and Shutter Island. Other standout performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (from 500 Days of Summer), Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard, are not to be missed.

The Real Pizza Experience at Pizzeria Libretto

Well, ladies and gentleman, I have found it. The pizza crust that true pizza lovers dream about can be found at Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington. It’s thin, melts in your mouth, and has that natural taste that only real pizza ovens from Naples, Italy can bring. This pizzeria is the only certified “Vera Pizza Napoletana” in Canada, translated as a “true Neopolitan pizza” experience. When you taste pizza like this, you wonder how places like Pizza Pizza can even claim to be selling the same thing. They should be ashamed of themselves!

Unfortunately, I’m not the only pizza aficionado who feels this way about Pizzeria Libretto. It is a hugely popular spot, so expect to be waiting at least half an hour to be seated. We went on a Monday, thinking we could avoid the line, but we still had to wait 45 minutes before we got a table. The convenient thing is, and it makes you wonder why every restaurant doesn’t do this, they take down your cell phone number to call you when the table becomes available. That way, you can go for a drink elsewhere while you’re waiting.

And it’s worth it. Your taste buds will be satiated while you wait for the pizza, with fresh bread and olive oil with a dash of chilli spice. I sampled two pizzas: the “Hot Peppers” and the “Duck Confit”. The first pizza consisted of house made sausage, fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella in small concentric slices, and of course, hot peppers. Being a fan of spicy food, I will say that I could have taken the hot peppers a little hotter, but otherwise, the pizza was terrific. The sausage was fresh and had some kick to it, and I just couldn’t get enough of that crust. On the other hand, the unique duck confit pizza with pears and a white sauce was a sweet alternative to the more traditional tomato pizza, and the flavours were expertly combined.

We ordered two bottles of red wine between six of us, and each ordered our own pizza. Even with the alcohol, it was a very affordable meal, at approximately $36 including tax and tip. The service is friendly, and they are gracious about taking any leftovers home. You might wonder how I avoided eating the whole pizza right then and there; it was challenging, but my will power paid off for a delicious lunch the next day.

When the pizza crust is right, my favourite thing to do is fold the pizza over itself, for a multi-layered bite; my friend Nicole like to roll hers up like a wrap, and let the olive oil drizzle down. Whichever way you like it, Pizzeria Libretto will live up to your expectations.

Pizzeria Libretto: 221 Ossington Ave., Toronto, just south of Dundas.

Recommended Summer Reads

Here are a few summer reads to get your list started. There is a focus on Canadian historical literature so far, but I will add more titles soon.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
This historical novel is based on the true story of Grace Marks, a servant girl from Ireland and a celebrated murderess, who divided social opinion in the mid-1800s, as many believed she was innocent. It takes place in Richmond Hill, Toronto and Kingston, and Atwood does a meticulous job of weaving Grace’s tale with accurate details from the social and economic realms of the time. Dr. Jordan has a curiosity for the ebbs and flows of the human mind and memory, and interviews Grace, to see if he can recover any clues to her innocence. Grace narrates her tale, full of trial and tribulation; a girl who just happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. She tells of precise memories both believable and inconceivable, leaving the reader to decide whether Grace is speaking the truth. A real mystery, this novel plunges the reader into a colourful time period, rife with superstition, spirituality, and extraordinary theories about the landscape of the human mind.

The Birth House
by Ami McKay
Set in Nova Scotia in the early 20th century, this novel focuses on a young woman named Dora Rare, who is learning the secrets and mysteries of being a midwife from the wise, spiritual Miss Babineau. It explores the tensions between old world medicine and new world ideas from Dr. Thomas, who pushes to open a clinic for pregnant women near the small town of Scots Bay. This novel explores Dora’s journey from a young, easy influenced teenager, who must deal with town gossip, the trials and upstarts of young love, and the tragedy of losses both big and small, to an experienced, confident woman. McKay’s descriptive, historical prose, and insight into the hearts and minds of women at the time, make this an indelible summer read.