Inception ending: Christopher Nolan finally discusses the meaning behind that spinning top


 

inception.jpg

Christopher Nolan has discussed the controversial and ambiguous ending to his film Inception, which saw a spinning top rotating and wobbling a little before cutting to black.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t just say “it was all a dream” and then drop the mic, but gave a more nuanced explanation of what it was intended to symbolise, during a speech made to a graduating Princeton University class.

He started off with a pre-amble about pragmatism:

“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.

“I feel that over time, we started to view reality as the poor cousin to our dreams, in a sense….I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with – they are subsets of reality.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, he then went on to link this idea to the conclusion of Inception:

“The way the end of that film worked, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Cobb — he was off with his kids, he was in his own subjective reality. He didn’t really care anymore, and that makes a statement: perhaps, all levels of reality are valid. The camera moves over the spinning top just before it appears to be wobbling, it was cut to black.

“I skip out of the back of the theater before people catch me, and there’s a very, very strong reaction from the audience: usually a bit of a groan. The point is, objectively, it matters to the audience in absolute terms: even though when I’m watching, it’s fiction, a sort of virtual reality. But the question of whether that’s a  dream or whether it’s real is the question I’ve been asked most about any of the films I’ve made. It matters to people because that’s the point about reality. Reality matters.”

It’s an elegant and thought-provoking explanation, though perhaps not as clear cut as some would like.

Then again, they never are. Sopranos creator David Chase has been asked to explain his big cut-to-black ending repeatedly for a decade now, and rightly insists that its beauty lies in its ambiguity and lack of closure.

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Things You Didnt Know About Titanic


1912 marks one of the biggest tragedies ever – a tragedy we know as the Titanic! It is heartbreaking to even recall all that we’ve read about it or seen in James Cameron’s brilliant adaptation of the same. But, here are 21 facts about the Titanic you probably never knew before.

1. Kate Winslet refused to wear a wetsuit while filming the iconic water scene from the film. But staying in water for such prolonged periods of time made her fall sick with pneumonia.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

2. According to a recent theory, the sinking of the Titanic could have taken place because of a full moon that occurred months before the disaster happened. It is said that it created strong tides and changed the position of some icebergs that may have come in the way of the ship. It is also believed that it was no common full moon. Earth hadn’t seen such a full moon since 796 A.D. and wouldn’t ever, until 2257.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

3. There was a ship called Californian in the vicinity of Titanic that could have saved its passengers. But, Californian’s wireless operator went off to sleep early that night, while the Titanic sent out distress signals, one after the other, hoping they would get a response. It is said that even when the crew of Californian tried to wake the wireless operator up, he did not issue any orders to help Titanic. But thankfully, another ship called Carpathia came to the rescue and saved as many people as it could.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

4. Leonardo DiCaprio used to carry his pet lizard to the sets of the film. It once got ran over by a truck but Leonardo gave it a new life by taking good care of it.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

5. Milton Hershey, the founder of Hersheys chocolates was supposed to be on board in Titanic. But fortunately, he cancelled his reservation at the end moment!

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

6. A film based on the sinking of Titanic called ‘Saved From The Titanic’ was released just 29 days after the disaster. It featured Dorothy Gibson, one of the survivors. She wore the same dress on the sets of the film that she did on that unfateful day the Titanic sank. Reliving those moments affected Dorothy’s health so adversely, she had a mental breakdown.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

7. The movie had a scene showing the musicians on the ship still playing as it sank and people drowned. That actually happened when the real Titanic sank. Those musicians played for hours and none of them survived.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

8. When Titanic sank, the first draft of the London Daily mail wrongly reported the incident claiming that no lives were lost! It was later updated.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

9. Robert De Niro was approached for the role of Captain Smith but he declined the offer because he was suffering from a gastrointestinal infection.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

10. The chief baker of the Titanic had consumed a lot of alcohol the same night the ship sank. As a result, his body was warm enough to keep him alive in the cold for 2 hours till he was rescued.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

11. Matthew McConaughey was the production studio’s first choice to play the lead but director James Cameron insisted that they sign Leonardo DiCaprio instead. The rest, as they say, is history!

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

12. Of the 1514 people who died, only 336 bodies were found.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

13. Gloria Stuart, the 87 year old woman who played the old Rose, was the only person in the movie, who was alive in 1912, when Titanic actually sank. She also became the oldest person ever to be nominated for an Oscar with this film.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

14. While the film was being shot, someone on the sets spiked the cast and crews food with PCP (also called angel dust). It was reported that most of them had hallucinations that day and about 80 people were hospitalized.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

15. James Cameron didn’t even know a passenger called J.Dawsom had actually died in the Titanic disaster in 1912 when he wrote Leonardo Di Caprio’s character.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

16. Titanic, the ship, was actually constructed for $7.5 million, which would approximately be equivalent to $150 million in 1997. The film, Titanic, shot in 1997, cost more than $200 million!

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

17. The scene where the Grand Staircase room gets flooded had to be shot in a single go because the sets would be destroyed.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

18. The sketches that Jack makes in the film were actually made by James Cameron himself! The hands shown sketching in the movie were not Leo’s but James Cameron’s. What a man!

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

19. Director James Cameron and the Studios considered a lot of actresses like Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz, Sharon Stone to play Rose, before they zeroed in on Kate Winslet.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

20. The scene where Leonardo sketches a nude Kate Winslet was one of the most beautiful scenes in the film and the director and the actors wanted it to be perfect. Just to make the scene a little less awkward, Kate Winslet flashed Leonardo DiCaprio the first time they met on the sets.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

21. The film was originally going to be called ‘Planet Ice’.

Things You Didn’t Know About Titanic

 

 

The Secret Money Behind ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’


Investigators believe much of the cash used to make the Leonardo DiCaprio film about a stock swindler originated with embattled Malaysian state development fund 1MDB

Despite the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese, the 2013 hit movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” took more than six years to get made because studios weren’t willing to invest in a risky R-rated project.

Help arrived from a virtually unknown production company called Red Granite Pictures. Though it had made just one movie, Red Granite came up with the more than $100 million needed to film the sex- and drug-fueled story of a penny-stock swindler.

Global investigators now believe much of the money to make the movie about a stock scam was diverted from a state fund 9,000 miles away in Malaysia, a fund that had been established to spur local economic development.

The investigators, said people familiar with their work, believe this financing was part of a wider scandal at the Malaysian fund, which has been detailed in Wall Street Journal articles over the past year.

The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, was set up seven years ago by the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. His stepson, Riza Aziz, is the chairman of Red Granite Pictures.

The 1MDB fund is now the focus of numerous investigations at home and abroad, which grew out of $11 billion of debt it ran up and questions raised in Malaysia about how some of its money was used.

Leonardo DiCaprio as a partying Jordan Belfort in a scene from the 2013 film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’
Leonardo DiCaprio as a partying Jordan Belfort in a scene from the 2013 film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ PHOTO: PARAMOUNT PICTURES/EVERETT COLLECTION

Investigators in two countries believe that $155 million originating with 1MDB moved into Red Granite in 2012 through a circuitous route involving offshore shell companies, said people familiar with the probes. This same money trail also is described by a person familiar with 1MDB’s dealings and supported by documents reviewed by the Journal.

The story of how “The Wolf of Wall Street” was financed brings together Hollywood celebrities with a cast of characters mostly known for their connections to the Malaysian prime minister. It detours through parties in Cannes and aboard a yacht, and spending on such embellishments as a rare, million-dollar movie poster and an original 1955 Academy Award statuette.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued subpoenas to several current and former employees of Red Granite and to a bank and an accounting firm the company used, according to people familiar with the subpoenas.

“Red Granite is responding to all inquiries and cooperating fully,” said a spokesman for the company, based in West Hollywood, Calif. He said it had no reason to believe the source of its financing was irregular.

The 1MDB fund and Mr. Najib’s office didn’t respond to questions about Red Granite. In the past, both have denied any wrongdoing. Representatives of Messrs. DiCaprio and Scorsese didn’t respond to numerous requests for comment.

The film grossed about $400 million and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture. There is no indication any profits from it flowed to 1MDB or Malaysia.

Producer Riza Aziz, left, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie arriving for the U.K. premiere of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ in London in 2014.
Producer Riza Aziz, left, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie arriving for the U.K. premiere of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ in London in 2014.

The movie, heavy on depictions of Wall Street debauchery, wasn’t distributed in Malaysia after authorities there demanded more than 90 cuts to comply with local morality laws, a Malaysian official said.

Red Granite Pictures was set up in 2010 by Mr. Aziz, the Malaysian prime minister’s stepson, now 39 years old, and  Christopher McFarland, a Kentucky businessman who is 43.

Mr. Aziz had worked in finance in London, left to travel and ended up in the U.S., he once told the Hollywood Reporter. Mr. McFarland, called Joey, invested in various ventures and moved to Hollywood to try to make movies, people who know him say.

The two were introduced by a mutual friend: a peripatetic Malaysian businessman named Jho Low, who became a fixture on the party circuit in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York starting in 2009. Mr. Low gained media attention for a lavish lifestyle that brought him into the orbit of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

Mr. Low knew Mr. Aziz from the U.K., where both had studied, and forged ties to Mr. Aziz’s family, including Prime Minister Najib. In Malaysia, Mr. Low, whose full name is Low Taek Jho and who is 34, played a role in setting up the fund that became 1MDB.

Messrs. Aziz and McFarland worked for a time out of L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, a luxury hotel owned by a company Mr. Low founded. The aspiring movie moguls later set up an office on Sunset Boulevard that they filled with Hollywood memorabilia.

These included a poster for the 1927 Fritz Lang science-fiction film “Metropolis,” a rare original that cost $1 million, said people familiar with it.

ed Granite burst on the scene in 2011 by throwing a million-dollar beach extravaganza at the Cannes film festival with fireworks and performances by Kanye West, dressed all in white, and Pharrell Williams. A few months later its first movie was released, “Friends With Kids,” starring Adam Scott and Kristen Wiig.

“They definitely came off as high rollers when they started,” said Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, the distributor of Red Granite’s first film.

Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland and Jho Low.
Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland and Jho Low.

In the insular movie business, many were surprised to find the high-energy but inexperienced Mr. McFarland overseeing dealings with filmmakers. “Joey is their mouthpiece, and Riza—he said maybe 20 words to me,” said Charles Wessler, a producer of a later Red Granite-backed film.

Messrs. Aziz and McFarland next turned their attention to “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Mr. Low, the Malaysian financier, made a key connection: He knew Mr. DiCaprio and introduced him to Red Granite, according to people familiar with the introduction.

Mr. DiCaprio had long been interested in a movie based on the memoirs of a penny-stock operator who went to prison for fraud, Jordan Belfort. But the actor and other boosters couldn’t find a studio that believed a film so expensive and potentially offensive would find a big enough audience.

Red Granite was willing to take the risk.

Shooting began in August 2012. Three months later, when Mr. DiCaprio had a birthday, the Red Granite principals forged a closer tie to him with an unusual gift: the Oscar statuette presented to Marlon Brando in 1955 for best actor in “On the Waterfront.” People who described the gift said the statuette had been acquired for around $600,000 through a New Jersey memorabilia dealer.

Marlon Brando’s 1955 Oscar for ‘On the Waterfront’ was presented as a gift to Leonardo DiCaprio.
Marlon Brando’s 1955 Oscar for ‘On the Waterfront’ was presented as a gift to Leonardo DiCaprio.

Mr. Aziz, asked about Red Granite’s financing in a 2014 New York Times interview, identified the main investor as a businessman in Abu Dhabi named Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny. “There was no Malaysian money,” he said.

Mr. Al-Husseiny is an American who then headed Aabar Investments PJS, which is an arm of an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund known as IPIC. The state-owned firms did business with 1MDB. For instance, IPIC guaranteed some of the Malaysian fund’s bonds.

In connection with the IPIC guarantees, 1MDB reported in corporate filings that in 2012, it sent $1.4 billion to Aabar as collateral.

Investigators believe this money never got to Aabar in Abu Dhabi but went instead to a separate, almost identically named company that Mr. Al-Husseiny had helped set up in the British Virgin Islands, called Aabar Investments PJS Ltd., said people familiar with the probes.

The investigators believe about $155 million of this money then flowed to Red Granite Capital, a firm Mr. Aziz had formed to fund the film company.

Documents reviewed by the Journal show three transfers to Red Granite Capital: of $60 million, $45 million and $50 million in 2012.

The $60 million and $45 million transfers were booked by Red Granite Capital as a loan from the British Virgin Islands company that had a name almost identical to Aabar Investments.

Most of the $50 million moved to Red Granite from that same British Virgin Islands company, via intermediaries, the investigators believe.

Among the intermediaries, according to people familiar with investigations and the person familiar with 1MDB: Telina Holdings Inc., a company that had been set up in the British Virgin Islands by Mr. Al-Husseiny and his boss, Khadem Al Qubaisi.

Representatives of the two men, who have been removed from their posts in Abu Dhabi, declined to comment.

Financing ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

The 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio film came from little-known Red Granite Pictures. Investigators of a Malaysian state fund called 1MDB believe much of the film’s financing originated there and moved circuitously to Red Granite.

Red Granite Capital

British Virgin Islands firm set up to fund Red Granite Pictures

$105M

$155M

$50M

About $50M

Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.

via intermediaries

1MDB

Red Granite Pictures

British Virgin Islands firm named nearly the same as a firm 1MDB did business with

Telina Holdings

Another British Virgin Islands firm

Note: Red Granite has said these were loans that are being repaid and that the $50 million is already repaid.

Sources: Malaysia’s Attorney General; people familiar with investigations

A November 2012 loan agreement from Telina Holdings, reviewed by the Journal, shows the $50 million was to fund “The Wolf of Wall Street.” This loan has been repaid, said people familiar with it.

The spokesman for Red Granite said it “has been repaying and will continue to repay all of its loans in accordance with their terms.”

It isn’t clear to whom Red Granite could repay the $105 million loan. The British Virgin Islands firm that extended it was liquidated last June.

“Red Granite had no reason to believe at the time that the source of Aabar’s funds was in any way irregular and still believes the loan to be legitimate,” said the film company’s spokesman.

Once “The Wolf of Wall Street” was in production, Messrs. Aziz and McFarland were sometimes on the set and involved.

On Dec. 31, 2012, around the end of filming, many of those involved celebrated New Year’s festivities in Australia and then flew to Las Vegas on a rented jetliner in time to celebrate it again, according to people familiar with the trip, who said the celebrants included Messrs. Aziz and Low, “Wolf of Wall Street” stars Mr. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, along with singer and actor Jamie Foxx, an acquaintance of Mr. Aziz. A representative of Mr. Foxx declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Hill didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Six months after the movie’s debut, Messrs. DiCaprio, Aziz and Low attended the Brazilian World Cup and spent time on the Topaz, a 482-foot yacht owned by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund IPIC, according to people familiar with the excursion. Sheikh Mansour, who is also deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, didn’t attend, they said.

The success of “The Wolf of Wall Street” established Red Granite as a player in Hollywood. It went on to produce “Dumb and Dumber To,” a sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels comedy, and another comedy, “Daddy’s Home,” with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It is planning to bring out a film about George Washington.

Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’
Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ 

Investigations of 1MDB “will not affect our ability to move forward with the exciting projects Red Granite is developing,” the firm’s spokesman said.

‘The Revenant,’ Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Is the Most Breathtakingly Beautiful Film of the Year .


Leonardo DiCaprio stars in THE REVENANT, an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit.

‘The Revenant,’ Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Is the Most Breathtakingly Beautiful Film of the Year
This 19th-century survival epic is awash in stunning vistas and features an uncompromising, award-worthy turn from its star.
Don’t judge a film by its production problems—a lesson established years ago by James Cameron’s Titanic and reconfirmed now by another big-budget Leonardo DiCaprio project, The Revenant.

Writer/director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s follow-up to his Best Picture-winning Birdman is an old-school western that arrives on Christmas Day upon a wave of ominous press about its torturous production. Those difficulties reportedly included a budget that spiraled from $95 million to a supposed $165 million; a shoot complicated by Iñárritu’s desire to make the film sequentially and to use only natural light; and incessant weather-related delays that necessitated a relocation from Canada to Argentina, and forced co-star Tom Hardy to drop out of his subsequent role in Suicide Squad. From the sound of it, The Revenant was an arduous chore to make. And as the final product proves, it was definitely worth the trouble.

Inspired by Michael Punke’s 2002 based-on-real-events novel, Iñárritu’s latest is, on the surface, a straightforward revenge film.
It concerns 1820s explorer and fur trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), who’s mauled by a ferocious grizzly bear in the American wilderness and then left for dead by his comrade John Fitzgerald (a captivatingly cold-eyed Tom Hardy)—albeit not before Fitzgerald, more interested in self-preservation than loyalty or honor, kills Hugh’s half-Native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) in plain view of the crippled Glass. It’s an especially brutal blow to Glass, who, as seen in surreal flashbacks, already lost his Native American wife to American soldiers, one of whom he killed in order to protect his adolescent offspring.

Though horrifically clawed to pieces, Glass literally rises from his own grave (the first in a series of resurrections) and sets out across the harsh land in search of Fitzgerald. His subsequent mission plays out with few plot twists, as Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith’s script, devoid of the intertwined-strand message-making that plagued the filmmaker’s Babel, proceeds like a single-minded B-picture about one man’s unrelenting quest for the vengeance he craves, and deserves.

That resolutely one-way trajectory makes The Revenant, in a basic sense, a throwback to old school pulp fictions—especially the back-from-the-dead Point Blank and The Limey. While the director doesn’t complicate his familiar genre tale, he does embellish it in ways that both enhance its visceral thrills, and deepen its themes.

This 19th-century survival epic is awash in stunning vistas and features an uncompromising, award-worthy turn from its star.
Working with famed cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (an Oscar winner each of the past two years, for Gravity and Birdman), Iñárritu delivers one breathtaking snapshot of suffering and tenacity after another, in the process making The Revenant the most awe-inspiringly beautiful film of the year. The duo’s camera begins by gliding in and out of a chaotic battle with fluid ferocity, moving in to close-up and out to grand, expansive panoramas (and back again) with a masterful grasp of spatial dynamics. Such aesthetic virtuosity is ever-present, with Iñárritu and Lubezki crafting a bevy of prolonged single-take centerpieces that vacillate between intense intimacy and large-scale wonder and terror, all of them shot with a naturalistic splendor—the majesty of forests coated in fresh snow, the formidable iciness of roaring rivers, the gnarliness of torn-to-shreds human and animal carcasses—that has a rugged, tactile quality to it.

In other words, you can just about feel the grit, grime, spittle, blood, and tears coating everyone—and everything—in The Revenant, which conveys precisely what it would be like to exist in Glass’s weathered shoes. Despite its A-list pedigree, Iñárritu’s film is an out-there experiential work that situates viewers in a very particular time and place, fighting through the elemental forces—external and internal—preying upon Glass. In that regard, it has something in common with Gus Van Sant’s Gerry and Elephant, experimental indies that articulated unspoken ideas through atmospherics.

Iñárritu’s many breathtaking compositions, meanwhile—gazing up at swaying treetops, at lone figures amidst barren landscapes, at heavenly sunrises and sunsets, and at rushing water (not to mention a canteen decorated with a spiral-circle design)—are all directly modeled after the work of auteur Terrence Malick, as are the hushed voiceovers from unseen characters and oblique flashbacks to moments of bliss and desolation.

Such sights invariably come across as borderline plagiaristic, just as Iñárritu’s single-take shots resonate as Birdman-ish look-at-me gestures. In The Revenant, however, Iñárritu’s brazenly showy tendencies are justified by his imposing formal artistry, and by the way his visuals work in tandem with his story’s weightier concerns. Be it the up-close-and-frighteningly-personal bear attack that leaves Glass at death’s door, a sequence where Glass takes shelter from a storm by disemboweling a dead horse and climbing inside its hollow body cavity, or a magnificent flight from Native American attackers in which the camera mounts up alongside Glass on horseback, and then hovers over the gorge he plummets off of, the film captures the harsh, unforgiving exquisiteness of the untamed American wild. It also, crucially, gets at the grueling nature of survival: how persevering requires suffering; how physical pain can be dwarfed (and negated) by emotional agony; and how God cares little for pleas of help and salvation, if He even exists at all (other than in the next morsel of meat tasted by a famished tongue).

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in THE REVENANT, an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit.

Bolstered by a cracked-lip, mouth-foaming performance of anguish and fury by DiCaprio, in a physical role that often requires him to go long, silent stretches crawling about the ragged earth like a newborn (re)learning to walk, The Revenant is laced with protective-father undercurrents but, at heart, is about the primal impulse to endure. Glass dons the fur coat of his bear attacker but eventually becomes an animal in man’s clothing. That ironic twist speaks to the film’s portrait of survival as an instinct shared by all living creatures, and which, as seen in the actions of Glass, Fitzgerald, or a Native American chief looking for his kidnapped daughter, supersedes notions of morality, fairness, or decency.