Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Waking up from "Inception"

NY Magazine film critic David Edelstein thinks the hoo-ha over Christopher Nolan's "Inception" is evidence of the same sort of mental tampering explored in the film:
"For the record, I wanted to surrender to this dream; I didn’t want to be out in the cold, alone. But I truly have no idea what so many people are raving about. It’s as if someone went into their heads while they were sleeping and planted the idea that Inception is a visionary masterpiece and—hold on … Whoa! I think I get it. The movie is a metaphor for the power of delusional hype—a metaphor for itself."
I've been ambivalent, myself, even after a second viewing. There's just enough cleverness (e.g. the "Give me a kiss" scene, the use of slowed-down Edith Piaf to create the menacing score motif, the folding Paris, the brilliant notion that each layer of dream-within-a-dream expands relative time) to keep me on board despite the clunky exposition, the anemic characterization, and the eerie, not-fully-conscious - in fact, quite dream-like! - feeling that lots of things are not quite adding up.

So many people are proclaiming genius that I've tipped that way, as well. But I was pretty effectively de-programmed by a read through A D Jameson's
Seventeen Ways of Criticizing Inception (note: read only if you've seen the film!). I don't agree with everything Jameson says, and he could stand to dial back some of his scathing pique*, but he makes some great points, particularly re: Nolan's prosaic filmmaking and blockheaded literalness.

this page, where Inception-obsessed fans attempt to answer the film's unanswered questions, is an even more effective red pill. The labors these true believers endure to explain plot holes make a persuasive, if unintentional, case that the film really doesn't hold together very well.

* - among the useful, if hard-won, truths I gleaned from years spent refereeing a huge crowd trading opinions is that the angrier the refutation, the more biased that refutation usually is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I took a look, I can't make it through 17 reasons (plus some more on other pages, not laying off blame, it's my bad)... but I did want to say something, so apologies if somebody else said this...

I thought it was good sci-fi, I wasn't blown away by its mind bending nature.

But I thought they missed something huge that was actually more interesting than what they did:

after drilling down so deep, dreaming through so many layers, I thought he should have discovered something subtle down there, to come back up with the unshakable conclusion that his wife was right all along, to surprise us by killing himself to pop one more frame off the stack and be reunited with her. That's what I thought they suggested when his wife's little top kept spinning at the end... but then they didn't do anything with it.

A similar/alternate idea is that there is no reality, masters of layer crossing can travel up and down and create whatever reality they want.

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