Inception

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7394
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:43 am

Just saw a midnight screening of this film. There was a viscerally positive reaction to the final shot of this film and an eruption of applause. My friends absolutely loved it. And me...?

It's usually recommended you have your first colonoscopy at the age of 40. Christopher Nolan just got his out of the way at 39. However, this is the first colonoscopy I do want to watch again. But on first viewing, I'm not sure if my opinion is going to change. I had no human reaction to this film on any level, and it has nothing to say about dreams at all. Every shot in the film is about a second long so you can't linger on any images or feel truly drawn in. There are a few intoxicating moments but they're few and far between. I don't claim to be any kind of intelligent person and I did have an incredibly long day before I saw it, but halfway through the film I completely lost track of what and why any of this was happening (by which I mean, why was this worth anybody's while and literally what was happening).

What's Inception about? It's about a van falling off a bridge for an hour. Those who see the movie will understand. Christopher Nolan wants to take us to the limit. Inception features a dream within a dream within a dream, and, within all of that, the perilous dangers of limbo. And I found very little of it to be truly exciting. The purpose of each individual character remained unclear to me, ciphers all. Nolan is the coldest wunderkind of the past decade, and with Inception he outdoes himself. I'm down-diggity with his oeuvre. I love Memento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight, and found glimmers of brilliance within Insomnia and Batman Begins (Following is yet unseen). But Inception is beyond cold. It's a stunt. Almost half the film is a sustained heist of abstract importance that I found myself exhausted of outside of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who remains any movie's MVP regardless of how slicked back his hair is. Ostensibly the film is a dream-state existing to reconcile Leonardo DiCaprio's Cobb with his wife Mal. While he and Cotillard are given a lion's share of time to observe, I found myself completely removed from both of them. DiCaprio does largely the same thing within Shutter Island and I much prefer the wonkiness of his performance in that film. Both actors are quite good, and DiCaprio maintains the best track record with directors on paper, but you cannot take any resonance between them seriously one way or another.

Until I watch Inception again (and, glutton for punishment, I will), I'm calling this one a colossal disappointment, something that I can't say I enjoyed on any real level. I seem to be alone in a crowd of nerds, praising Nolan for his daring, his accomplishment, his vision. I don't think we have many directors working on his level today. He's such a brilliant guy that I wish he would have trusted his brother on this one. The entire film reeks of the kind of bullshit your friend who took a Screenwriting Class won't shut up about. With $200 mil, you can make your bullshit fly. Like zero gravity.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Greg
Tenured
Posts: 2735
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 1:12 pm
Location: Greg
Contact:

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:16 pm

"Wall Street is not the solution to our problem. Wall Street is the problem!"

Ronald Reagan, corrected

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6501
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:11 pm

I wouldn't describe McCarthy's review as not liking it, just dissatisfied (though I didn't read every word, since I'm trying to avoid spoilers). I'd certainly want to see the film he describes; it sounds like something worth having an opinion about.

To add to what you say, Sonic..I wonder if this second round of reviews is wrtten in response to that initial wave of gush. Some print critics -- already a nervous species -- seem to have their backs up about how this buzz was created without their having input.

Sometimes I think the current boom/bust environment has made it almost impossible to get credible in-the-moment criticism, positive or negative -- half the time it seems to be about the crush of the deadline, not the film. I'd almost rather people wait a month before posting their reactions; they'd be less subject to mood.

User avatar
Sonic Youth
Laureate
Posts: 7436
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:35 pm
Location: USA

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:44 pm

Big Magilla wrote:Todd McCarthy, now writing for IndieWire didn't like it either:

This uneven review would have been the first one I posted had McCarthy still worked for Variety, with Screendaily's negative review shortly afterwards. The expectations this would set up might have been rather different, at least initially.

Just a thought.
"What the hell?"
Win Butler

User avatar
OscarGuy
Site Admin
Posts: 12546
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:22 am
Location: Springfield, MO
Contact:

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:49 pm

I'm wondering if this is going to be one of those films that "print" critics aren't terribly impressed with but the internet critic sects are over the moon for. I'll be seeing it Sunday, I think, so I should know better then, but I think we could see another one of those vast divergences in the works.
Wesley Lovell
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15733
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:21 pm

Todd McCarthy, now writing for IndieWire didn't like it either:

It’s possible that, to even come close to comprehending everything that goes on in the bracingly dense “Inception,” one would need to imitate Leonard Shelby, the protagonist of Christopher Nolan’s second feature, “Memento,” and write everything down. It’s not difficult to understand in a general sense what this gargantuan, immaculately made memory thriller is about. But to confidently grasp exactly what’s happening at any given moment, and to perceive how a particular scene links with the ones that come before and after it, might be possible only for those who pulled a perfect SAT score.

Some people are tickled by the challenge of dealing with a work they suspect might be beyond their reach, while perhaps more are inclined to reject something that sustains a furrowed brow and makes them work too hard for too little return. Fortunately, $200 million (I refuse to believe Warner Bros.’ $160 million budget figure) buys a lot in the way of seductive palliatives, such as stupendous special effects and a colorful cast, so it’s not as if customers won’t feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth. One also senses that Nolan is a serious, responsible sort of guy disinclined to jerk the chain of either his financiers or the public; after making a hit on the scale of “The Dark Knight,” some directors would be tempted to follow up with a picture just “for themselves,” something that more often than not results in folly (“The Last Movie,” “Sorcerer,” “Heaven’s Gate,” et al.). But not Nolan, who has set himself the imposing challenge of making a movie to satisfy three distinct constituencies—his “Memento” followers, the wide international audience and himself.

Indeed, the film concerns itself with the penetration of three levels of dreams and, as I see it, makes three principal demands of itself—to function as a thriller, as a melancholy portrait of a man’s attempt to recapture a lost love and as a contemplation of the cinema’s ability to structurally, sensorially and emotionally reproduce or, at a minimum, evoke the dream state.

Unlike the budget, I have no trouble believing that it took Nolan ten years to work out the film’s story, which might deserve to assume the mantle long held by “The Big Sleep” for possessing the most confounding movie plot. In honor of the occasion, and fully acknowledging the possibility of getting too many details wrong, I will happily forgo an extensive attempt to try to recapitulate it. The premise is certainly intriguing: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb (a name that reads as though it should be an anagram for something), a fugitive criminal whose specialty is breaking and entering people’s minds. This clever notion is certainly rife with possibilities—consider such a thief who would steal from the mentally rich and give to the imaginatively impoverished, which could well be an analogy for what Nolan is doing on our behalf—but the film assigns Cobb’s talents to the corporate and financial realm, where much is undeniably at stake.

But the the idea of dream capture is far too simple for Nolan, who forced himself to tell “Memento” in reverse order. Here, he compels Cobb not to extract information from his victim but to implant it, and in such a way that the fellow believes it was his idea. This requires the assemblage of a sizable support team, notably including his factotum (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a forger or fabricator of dream states (Tom Hardy), a designer pharmacist (Dileep Rao) and an architect (Ellen Page), who can fashion dream worlds.

As in a “Mission: Impossible” installment, Cobb, at the instigation his ultra-rich contractor Saito (Ken Watanabe), hops the globe (Japan, Paris, Mombassa, Los Angeles) assembling his crew in preparation for putting the screws on the heir expectant to a vast fortune (Cillian Murphy), all the while exploring visions of how (in the film’s most original effects) the city of Paris might be folded alongside and atop itself, engaging in a motorized gunfight down Wilshire Boulevard and, on some level, experiencing encounters with his wife (Marion Cotillard), possessor of the ominous name of Mal.

Nolan and his editor Lee Smith shuffle this thick deck of developments as dextrously as might Ricky Jay, albeit to an end that produces moderately less gape-jawed astonishment. As actions and developments either parallel each other or are enveloped one dream within another and then another, the relevance of any particular event, such as a death or an awakening, becomes uncertain. I have no clue as to what Gordon-Levitt is attempting to do while climbing around an elevator, nor am I at all clear how the forger and the architect actually do what they do.

What is evident, however, is that the succession of meticulously executed pieces of action cinema encloses a thematic core about lost love that must contain a beating heart to be moving and convey its intended thematic weight. One could ask for no woman more entrancing than Cotillard to embody a romantic ideal or a woman you’d want back, but unfortunately this whole aspect of the film seems like an intellectual conceit rather than a deeply felt impulse; specifically it would seem to be a hybrid of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” the near-great James Bond film in which the woman the hero has just married is killed, and “Vertigo,” which so hypnotically explores the possibility of retrieving or reviving a love presumed gone forever. Here, the emotional component feels like just one part of a vast puzzle or game, albeit perhaps the most important piece.

As to replicating the dream state, “Inception” is particularly alert to the nature of the beginnings and ends of dreams, to the rapid and bizarre changes of imagery, to the alarming and abrupt onset of violence and juxtaposed images and to the feel of cutting, or “editing,” in sleeptime reveries. The film does not deal in subconscious or mind-altered visions such as those served up in Salvador Dali paintings or abstract experimental films but, rather, in concrete and essentially realistic images. But these all come quickly and purport to serve specific purposes, so they contain, unlike the plot, meager mystery, little that is inchoate or haunting and nothing that reflects the doubts and fears of a moralist or the soul of an artist. Impeccably made as it is and, like “Vertigo,” blessed with an indispensable score, unquestionably the best thing Hans Zimmer has ever done, “Inception” plays like the film of a brilliant mathematician, scientist or engineer rather than a work by someone who, in another era, would have been a novelist, poet or philosopher. Nolan is a thinker, all right, a very busy explorer of mind functions, but capable merely of diagrams when it comes to the heart and soul.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6501
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:15 am

Ah, Rex Reed -- proudly resisting cinematic innovation for almost 50 years.

User avatar
Eric
Tenured
Posts: 2722
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 11:18 pm
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Contact:

Postby Eric » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:36 am

Okri wrote:D'Angelo was unimpressed, and he's a pretty big Nolan admirer.

Which, given MD'A's anti-barometer credentials w.r.t auteurs he likes, probably only confirms its crossover appeal.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15733
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:37 am

By Rex Reed
July 13, 2010 | 8:08 p.m
Can Someone Please Explain Inception to Me?

At the movies, incomprehensible gibberish has become a way of life, but it usually takes time before it's clear that a movie really stinks. Inception, Christopher Nolan's latest assault on rational coherence, wastes no time. It cuts straight to the chase that leads to the junkpile without passing go, although before it drags its sorry butt to a merciful finale, you'll be desperately in need of a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

Writer-director Nolan is an elegant Hollywood hack from London whose movies are a colossal waste of time, money and I.Q. points. "Elegant" because his work always has a crisp use of color, shading and shadows, and "hack" because he always takes an expensive germ of an idea, reduces it to a series of cheap gimmicks and shreds it through a Cuisinart until it looks and sounds like every other incoherent empty B-movie made by people who haven't got a clue about plot, character development or narrative trajectory. Like other Christopher Nolan head scratchers-the brainless Memento, the perilously inert Insomnia, the contrived illusionist thriller The Prestige, the idiotic Batman Begins and the mechanical, maniacally baffling and laughably overrated The Dark Knight-this latest deadly exercise in smart-aleck filmmaking without purpose from Mr. Nolan's scrambled eggs for brains makes no sense whatsoever. Is it clear that I have consistently hated his movies without exception, and I have yet to see one of them that makes one lick of sense. It's difficult to believe he didn't also write, direct and produce the unthinkable Synecdoche, New York. But as usual, like bottom feeder Charlie Kaufman, Mr. Nolan's reputation as an arrogant maverick draws a first-rate cast of players, none of whom have an inkling of what they're doing or what this movie is about in the first place, and all of whom have been seen to better advantage elsewhere. Especially Leonardo DiCaprio, who remains one of the screen's most gullible talents. After his recent debacle in Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese's dopey insane-asylum bomb, one hoped for something more substantial from the easily misled Leo, not another deranged turkey like Inception. He should have stayed in bed.

I'd like to tell you just how bad Inception really is, but since it is barely even remotely lucid, no sane description is possible. Let's see. It opens with crashing waves on a beach. In the middle of a July heat wave, I wanted to jump in, but the thrill didn't last. Cut to the battered face of Leo, looking like a 14-year-old washed ashore facedown from a toy sailboat. He has come from another location conjured up in a dream, and is fond of muttering jabberwocky like "I am the most skilled extractor of dreams." In other words, he can close his eyes, enter somebody else's dreams with his pock-marked baby face and blow up China. The excellent Marion Cotillard, who has spiraled a long way down from her Oscar-winning role as Edith Piaf, growing a wart in the center of her forehead in the bargain, is the ghost of his ex-wife. Leo lives in a state of guilt for her death. He is also a thief, plowing his way through dark kitchens waving guns with silencers to relieve locked safes of their contents. Living in a continual dream state, he wants only to get home to his father (Michael Caine in a walk-on of fewer than a dozen lines) and two kids, but first he must, according to the production notes, "extract valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state when the mind is at its most vulnerable." To this end, Mr. Nolan works in something about the world of corporate espionage that turns Leo into an international fugitive. Now, Leo and his team of special "extractors" must achieve "inception"-meaning that instead of stealing dreams, they must plant some. If you're still awake, you're one step ahead of me. I dozed off ages ago.

Policed around the globe by anonymous forces, Leo is aided by a pretty college student (Ellen Page from Juno) with a kinetic knowledge of dream therapy who acts as a "brain architect" (whatever that is); a loyal assistant (a big waste of charismatic Joseph-Gordon Levitt) who floats through space without gravity; a two-fisted barfly (Tom Hardy from Guy Ritchie's abysmal RocknRolla); and assorted villains who sometimes double as saints (Tom Berenger, Cillian Murphy and Japan's Ken Watanabe from The Last Samurai). The script is gibberish: "We extracted every bit of information you had in there." "This isn't gonna work-wake him up!" "I'm not in your dream-you're in mine!" Every new dream brings to life a new picture postcard. One minute they're flying over Manhattan ("Our ride's on the roof!"). The next, they're heading for Buenos Aires by helicopter. In Mumbai, they join people sleeping on cots in a sort of opium den where the patients pay to wake up. "I'm getting off in Kyoto," says Leo, leaving the bullet train, and I wanted to shout, "Take me with you-and the movie, too!" In Christopher Nolan movies, I never know whether he's going to find an ending or not, but I never have any problem finding the exit.

Through the use of computer-generated effects, buildings fold like cardboard containers, cars drive upside down and the only way you can wake up within the dream is death. None of this prattling drivel adds up to one iota of cogent or convincing logic. You never know who anyone is, what their goals are, who they work for or what they're doing. Since there's nothing to act, the cast doesn't even bother. It's the easiest kind of movie to make, because all you have to do is strike poses and change expressions. It all culminates on skis in the middle of a blizzard, as Leo is pursued by machine-gun-equipped snowmobiles, but you don't even know who's driving them. I have no idea what the market is for this jabbering twaddle-probably people who fritter away their time playing video games, which I'm willing to bet pretty much describes Christopher Nolan. He labors over turning out arty horror films and sci-fi action thrillers with pretensions to alternate reality, but he's clueless about how to deal with reality, honest emotions or relevant issues.

Inception is the kind of pretentious perplexity in which one or two reels could be mischievously transposed, or even projected backward, and nobody would know the difference. It's pretty much what we've come to expect from summer movies in general and Christopher Nolan movies in particular, but I keep wondering: Can he do anything of more lasting value? He's got vision, but creating jigsaw puzzles nobody can figure out and using actors as puppets who say idiotic things, dwarfed by sets like sliding Tinker Toys, doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment to me.




Edited By Big Magilla on 1279085988
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2609
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Postby Okri » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:16 am

D'Angelo was unimpressed, and he's a pretty big Nolan admirer.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6501
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:29 pm

Jeff Wells has a bunch on online reactions posted, most of which fall into full-on-gush territory. I'm a bit distrustful of this for now because 1) I still believe in "real" critics, who are mostly yet to weigh in; 2) alot of these people were in the "Dark Knight was robbed by the Oscars" camp, and may be advocates rather than dispassionate observers about this latest step in Nolan's career; and 3) The Dark Knight was of course hosannah'd to the skies and wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

However...I certainly think Nolan's a director of intelligence and talent, and hope this can live up to or at least approach the hype. This movie is clearly the one mainstream Hollywood effort of the summer that might be both exciting and original (however good Toy Story 3 is, it automatically falls short in the second department).

User avatar
Sonic Youth
Laureate
Posts: 7436
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:35 pm
Location: USA

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:15 pm

Screendaily's review is not so hot.

Inception
5 July, 2010 | By John Hazelton
Screendaily

Dir/scr: Christopher Nolan. US. 2010. 147mins



As a slick, all-out action thriller Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Inception delivers its share of tense drama and more than its share of eye-catching spectacle. As a piece of psychological sci-fi, though, the Warner/Legendary project never quite achieves the mind-bending quality that distinguishes the most successful examples of that genre. So it may still take all of Warner’s marketing savvy and Leonardo DiCaprio’s star power to turn this pricey - reportedly $170m or more - venture into a significant profit maker.

The risky proposition gets its first test when it opens on July 16 in North America (with a PG-13 rating) and the UK. Competition will be especially stiff in the US and with stars apparently counting for less at the box office this summer Warner’s deliberately cryptic marketing campaign will need to prove effective.

In other markets (most of which get the film during the second half of July) DiCaprio and the big scale action will certainly sell tickets and the international locations and internationally-flavoured supporting cast should provide an additional boost.

DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb is a top drawer ‘extractor,’ a corporate spy who steals business secrets by sneaking into the subconscious minds of executives during shared dream experiences. For reasons that are only revealed as the story unfolds, the globetrotting Cobb can’t return to his home and family in the US. But when a powerful client offers to rectify that situation Cobb agrees to take on a special job - planting rather than extracting an idea by performing the nigh on impossible task of ‘inception.’

Working from his own, apparently long in the works, screenplay, Nolan structures the film’s first hour like a heist caper, though the mostly sombre mood is more reminiscent of the writer-director’s 2008 Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight.

As Cobb assembles his team of specialists - among them a trusted lieutenant (Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 500 Days of Summer), a sassy architecture student (Juno’s Ellen Page) and a sleazy forger (Bronson lead Tom Hardy) - the film goes through a few too many scenes of silly-sounding explanatory dialogue and awkward attempts at humour.

Much more arresting are the scenes in which Cobb and his team enter their own or others’ dreams. The dreamworld effects - particularly the shots of the city of Paris folding up on itself - are flawlessly realised and extremely impressive, though not as frequent as the film’s trailers and ads suggest.

In its final hour, Inception becomes more conventional and less imaginative. The rules of the dreamworld still frame the action - to complete their task Cobb and co have to enter dreams within dreams, risking descent into a long-lasting dream limbo - but they provide fewer surprises, for the team or the audience.

Instead, the dream backdrop allows the film to become several films in one, with three action strands - one of them involving another impressive set-piece, a zero-gravity fight sequence - being intercut as the story approaches its climax.

Threaded into the action, and crucial to the denouement, is the story of Cobb and his late wife (played by La Vie en Rose’s Marion Cotillard). The strand is clearly intended to give the film more emotion but it only partially succeeds in warming up an otherwise chilly-feeling tale.

DiCaprio gives the same sort of intense but one-note performance that he has recently provided to such thrillers as ShutterIsland, Body Of Lies and Blood Diamond. The supporting cast - which also includes Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Tom Berenger (Platoon), Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine (both from Nolan’s two Batman movies) - is too big to give any of its members much time to shine. Cotillard seems justifiably uncomfortable with her brief and operatic role.

In line with Nolan’s other projects, Inception is impeccably designed and shot. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas (Agora) gives the action a rich visual palette and Nolan’s regular director of photography Wally Pfister makes almost every image striking. The only misstep in this area comes in the form of Hans Zimmer’s overbearing score.
"What the hell?"

Win Butler

User avatar
Sonic Youth
Laureate
Posts: 7436
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:35 pm
Location: USA

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:03 pm

Variety and Hollywood Reporter are in awe. This could be a sensation.

(Spoilers hidden as best as I could.)

Inception
(U.S.-U.K.)
By JUSTIN CHANG
Variety


If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood's most inventive dreamers, given the evidence of his commandingly clever "Inception." Applying a vivid sense of procedural detail to a fiendishly intricate yarn set in the labyrinth of the subconscious, the writer-director has devised a heist thriller for surrealists, a Jungian's "Rififi," that challenges viewers to sift through multiple layers of (un)reality. As such, it's a conceptual tour de force unlikely to rank with Batman at the B.O., though post-"Dark Knight" anticipation and Leonardo DiCaprio should still position it as one of the summer's hottest, classiest tickets.

As a non-franchise follow-up to the enormous success of "The Dark Knight," this long-gestating project reps something of a gamble for Warner Bros. at a time when sophisticated original entertainments are neither as common nor as bankable as they once were. Availing himself of the resources that come with a studio's confidence, Nolan places mind-bending visual effects and a top-flight cast in service of a boldly cerebral vision that demands, and rewards, the utmost attention. Even when its ambition occasionally outstrips its execution, "Inception" tosses off more ideas and fires on more cylinders than most blockbusters would have the nerve to attempt.

[color=white]Our guide to this world of high-stakes corporate espionage is Dom Cobb (DiCaprio), an "extractor" paid to invade the dreams of various titans of industry and steal their top-secret ideas. Cobb plunders the psyche with practiced skill, though he's increasingly haunted by the memory of his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), who has a nasty habit of showing up in his subconscious and wreaking havoc on his missions.

That's what happens during a dream-raid on wealthy businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe), who is in fact merely auditioning Cobb for a far riskier job. The target is Saito's future rival, billionaire heir Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), and the goal is not to steal an idea but to plant one -- the "inception" of the title -- that will lead to the dissolution of Fischer's empire.

In Nolan's hands, this ingenious conceit becomes no more implausible than that of a caped crimefighter, as the writer-director grounds his flight of fancy with precise methodology and an architect's attention to detail. Indeed, Cobb retains an actual architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), and teaches her how to mentally construct every street, building and room in the artificial world (essential if the dreamer is to be deceived) in a series of visually playful scenes whose trompe l'oeil quality brings Magritte and M.C. Escher to mind.

In classic heist-movie tradition, various brainiac specialists round out Cobb's dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his longtime organizer; Eames ("Bronson's" Tom Hardy), a "forger" who can shapeshift at will; and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), who supplies the powerful sedative that pulls Fischer and Cobb's gang into a collective stupor.

As the motley crew comes together, so does our understanding of this strange, mercurial world (which owes something to the virtual-reality dystopia of "The Matrix") and the rules by which it operates: the consequences of dying in a dream; the nature of dream time vs. real time; and the perils of layering ever more elaborate dreams within dreams. Numerous laws and paradoxes come into play once Cobb and Co. plunge down the rabbit-hole, at which point "Inception" takes on dizzying levels of complexity as the characters navigate the chambers and antechambers of Fischer's mind.


It's heady, brain-tickling stuff, and like the spinning top that serves as a key plot device, it seems forever on the brink of toppling over, especially toward the end of the nearly 2 1/2-hour running time (editor Lee Smith has his hands full, at one point cutting feverishly among four parallel lines of action). The sheer outlandishness of the premise may open it up to some narrative nitpicking -- why do these dreams, for instance, so closely resemble action movies? -- and attentive viewers will have a grand time "aha!"-ing at certain points and poking holes in others.

But even when questions arise, one so completely senses a guiding intelligence at the helm that the effect is stimulating rather than confusing. Never one to strand the viewer in a maze, Nolan remains a few steps ahead, keeping total comprehension just out of reach but always in view; like a mechanical rabbit on a racetrack, he encourages us to keep up. As dreams go, "Inception" is exceptionally lucid, especially compared with the more free-associative nightmare logic of David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." or "Inland Empire." Those were movies to get lost in; here, it pays to stay focused.

Like Nolan's 2001 indie breakthrough, "Memento," the film toys with themes such as the blurry line between perception and reality, the insidious nature of ideas, and the human capacity for self-delusion; significantly, it also focuses on an antihero captive to the memory of his dead wife. Because the picture privileges the mind over the heart, Cobb's unresolved guilt, intended as the story's tragic center, doesn't resonate as powerfully as it should, though the actors certainly give it their all: Cotillard is a presence both sultry and menacing, and DiCaprio anchors the film confidently, if less forcefully than he did the recent "Shutter Island" (in which he also played a widower at the mercy of dark visions).

Supporting roles are thinly written but memorably inhabited: Gordon-Levitt cuts a dashing figure; Hardy tears into his smartass supporting role with lip-smacking gusto; Watanabe brings elegance and gravity to his corporate raider; and Murphy plays the unsuspecting dreamer with poignant reserve. Page's repartee with DiCaprio could have been sharper in places, but the appealingly plucky actress makes Ariadne an ideal stand-in for the viewer.

Shot across four continents by Nolan's regular d.p., Wally Pfister, and outfitted by production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, "Inception" is easily the director's most visually unbridled work; its canvas stretches from the skyscrapers of Tokyo to the bazaars of Tangiers, from an amber-lit hotel corridor to a snowy mountain compound (a setpiece that plays like an homage to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"). Pic has arresting effects and images to spare, such as the sight of Paris folding in on itself like a book or Gordon-Levitt's Arthur performing a fight scene in zero gravity (the explanation for which is even more dazzling).

Hans Zimmer's surging score trumpets danger and excitement with near-operatic fervor, at times suggesting the world's most portentous foghorn, while Edith Piaf's recording of "Non, je ne regrette rien" serves as an ironic motif (and sets up a nice inside joke with "La Vie en rose" star Cotillard).

If "Inception" is a metaphysical puzzle, it's also a metaphorical one: It's hard not to draw connections between Cobb's dream-weaving and Nolan's filmmaking -- an activity devoted to constructing a simulacrum of reality, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave a lasting impression. Mission accomplished.

--------------------------------------

Inception -- Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt, July 05, 2010 06:00 ET
Hollywood Reporter


In a summer of remakes, reboots and sequels comes "Inception," easily the most original movie idea in ages.

Now "original" doesn't mean its chases, cliffhangers, shoot-outs, skullduggery and last-minute rescues. Movies have trafficked in those things forever. What's new here is how writer-director Christopher Nolan repackages all this with a science-fiction concept that allows his characters to chase and shoot across multiple levels of reality.

This is, in some ways, a con-game movie, only the action takes place entirely within the characters' minds while they dream.

Following up on such ingenious and intriguing films as "The Dark Knight" and "Memento," Nolan has outdone himself. "Inception" puts him not only at the top of the heap of sci-fi all-stars, but it also should put this Warner Bros. release near or at the top of the summer movies. It's very hard to see how a film that plays so winningly to so many demographics would not be a worldwide hit.

Not that the film doesn't have its antecedents. "Dreamscape" (1984) featured a man who could enter and manipulate dreams, and, of course, in "The Matrix" (1999) human beings and machines battled on various reality levels created by artificial intelligence.

In "Inception," Nolan imagines a new kind of corporate espionage wherein a thief enters a person's brain during the dream state to steal ideas. This is done by an entire team of "extractors" who design the architecture of the dreams, forge identities within the dream and even pharmacologically help several people to share these dreams.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a master extractor, who is for what initially are vague reasons on the run and cannot return home to his children in the States. Then along comes a powerful businessman, Saito (Ken Watanabe), who offers Dom his life back -- if he'll perform a special job.

Saito wants Dom to do the impossible: Instead of stealing an idea, he wants Dom to plant one, an idea that will cause the mark, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), to break up his father's multibillion-dollar corporation for "emotional" reasons.

Meanwhile, you meet the other team members -- Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Dom's longtime point man; Eames (Tom Hardy), the forger; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the chemist; and Dom's father-in-law (Michael Caine), who is not on the team but the professor who taught Dom to share dreams.

Dom's late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), haunts his own dreamworld like a kind of Mata Hari, intent on messing with his mind if not staking a claim to his very life. He doesn't let on about this, but Dom's new architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), figures it out -- which makes her realize how dangerous it is to share dreams with Dom.


A good deal of the first hour is spent, essentially, selling the audience on this sci-fi idea. As you witness an extraction that fails and then Dom's recruitment of his new team around the world, the movie lays out all the hows, whys, whos and what-the-hells behind "extractions."

If you don't follow all this, join the club. It will perhaps take multiple viewings of these multiple dream states to extract all the logic and regulations. (At least that's what the filmmakers hope.)

Something else might come more easily on subsequent viewings: With incredibly tense situations suspended across so many dreams within dreams, all that restless energy might induce a kind of reverse stress in audiences, producing not quite tedium, but you may want to shout, "C'mon, let's get on with it."

This is especially true when the hectic action in one dream, a van rolling down a hill with its dreamers aboard, causes a hotel corridor to roll in another, producing a weightless state in the characters. Even Fred Astaire didn't dance on the ceiling as much as these guys do.

Probably what "sells" this tricky movie is the actors. In his second consecutive movie to question reality -- "Shutter Island" came earlier this year, remember -- DiCaprio anchors the film with a performance that is low-key yet intense despite hysterical chaos breaking out all around him.

Page too displays sharp intelligence and determination in the face of this absolute jumble of reality. Especially surprising is Murphy as the mark; you find yourself genuinely sympathetic to a guy who just wanted to catch a little shut-eye and finds his mind kidnapped.

It also is nice that Nolan strives to keep CG effects to a minimum and do as many stunts in-camera as possible. This photo-realism certainly helps to keep the dream realities looking more plausible.

Credit cinematographer Wally Pfister with so neatly blending the real and surreal without any hokey moments. Ditto that for production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas and the various stunt coordinators and effects teams. Meanwhile, editor Lee Smith does a Herculean job of juggling those different realities.

Sometimes originality comes at a cost though: At the end, you may find yourself utterly exhausted[/color]



Edited By Sonic Youth on 1278378559
"What the hell?"

Win Butler

Greg
Tenured
Posts: 2735
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 1:12 pm
Location: Greg
Contact:

Postby Greg » Mon May 24, 2010 11:49 am

Inception looks like it could be the first great film of 2010.

Here's the trailer.

http://inceptionmovie.warnerbros.com




Edited By Greg on 1274720015
"Wall Street is not the solution to our problem. Wall Street is the problem!"

Ronald Reagan, corrected


Return to “2010”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest