Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception

The Takeaway: Great Googally Moogally! When I die, I'm gonna wake up and discover it was all a dream? And that could be another dream? And that could be another dream? And that could be a 7-year old boy making up a story to his best friend? Sweet! Well I should really plan a totally badass blastoff then. Who's up for a jump off the Empire State Building?

Format: IMAX

Christopher Nolan is a dreamer. He's an artist who paints with moving images, with theme, with story construction, with sound design, with pacing. He broke open the thriller flick with his destined-for-classic Memento, a simple, elegant, linear story shattered like the memories of its hero. He deconstructed the superhero flick and delivered a completely realistic almost crime drama with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And now he wows us with his latest - the 10 years in the making SciFi stunner, Inception.

The premise alone is genius. You can enter another person's dreams to steal vital pieces of information otherwise unattainable. But you can also do the opposite - you can place an idea in someone's mind, a tactic known as Inception. Some in Nolan's world claim this is impossible. After watching the film we are left to wonder whether or not it is. But more on that later.

Leo continues his hot streak. Seemingly he can do no wrong and he tackles the subtle complexities of his character, Cobb, with ease. His supporting cast is equally exceptional, proving Nolan has a gift for letting actors do what they must to convince us of these fantastic realities surrounding them.

Visually - Nolan crafts beautiful films, but this is his masterpiece. Some claim he's a modern Kubrick, but that's simply ridiculous. Nolan, while being both artist and master craftsman, doesn't have that final color in his palate to compete with Kubrick. In a Kubrick film, you can slice any frame out and hang it on the wall - it's a work of art. That's not to take away from Nolan; he's one of the most talented directors of this generation. But Kubrick stands alone.

Where Nolan excels is in tension. The second half of the film rockets off and I'll be damned if it didn't feel like it passed by in the blink of an eye - like a dream itself, from the outside of course. Inside a dream, that blink is an eternity; a fact cleverly exploited in the film. But there was so much tension in some points I was literally craning slowly forward during the builds and felt bad for whoever the dude was in front of me; surely I was impinging on his happy zone.

And back to whether or not Inception is possible. The beauty of the film is just that. Is it real? Is it possible? Where am I? And who? As layer after layer is peeled back, people will discover there is so much more to discuss. Before my son was born we held monthly movie nights and chose films that would easily lend themselves to a lengthy discussion. Our first film was Mulholland Drive, my personal favorite flick. That discussion twisted and turned like the film itself, and if memory serves (and we can never be too sure about that now can we, Mr. Nolan?) three hours had passed before the conclusion. Inception will fit nicely into this category as people go back into the film to unpack what they just saw, peel back the layers, and discover the emotional and existential truths that are hidden within.

What is a dream? A puzzle - your mind at work while you sleep - trying to come to conclusions about the world around you - your day - your life - your love...

If David Lynch is known for dreamlike cinema, so too will Christopher Nolan be in the years to come.

My rating is going to be lower than I suspect it to ultimately become as the years pass. I cannot deem a film a classic upon a single viewing. For now: Twilight Zone Marathon. But like, loaded with all the best episodes.

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