Floating and bundling
a stack of sleeping bodies
Only in a dream.
We caught the matinee of Inception at the NYC AMC Loews in Lincoln Center yesterday, to watch the movie in real IMAX format. The marketing folks have done their job, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been this drawn to see a film.
By the way, I’ll be talking about the plot of the movie quite a bit here, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading…
Maybe it was all the various temporal trickery that’s discussed in the dream-within-a-dream mechanics, but I couldn’t believe how quickly the two-and-a-half hours passed by. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as surrendering yourself to the big screen to the point where you lose track of time. Even though Inception details a fair amount of exposition via Ariadne, it also has plenty of action to keep it chugging along nicely, and as a popcorn movie, it succeeds brilliantly.
My first gut reaction was astonishment, astonished that Christopher Nolan was able to get funding to make a blockbuster with brains. Inception is not as complicated or ingenious as Memento (and therefore ultimately not as rewarding), but how in the world did he convince the producers to drop that much cash? Of course he’s proved his big-budget chops with the two Batman movies, but still, major kudos.
There was lavish praise heaped upon the film before it even opened, and though some of it is justified, I feel that the accolades were also a by-product of the terrible movies that have populated the theaters this summer so far. Because as interesting and creative as Inception is, I didn’t feel knocked out by it, unlike some of the previous films that traveled similar territories: Dark City and The Matrix. But those movies didn’t have the hype machine working overtime, either, so there’s the expectation factor to consider.
Still, I’d take a single Inception over a thousand Transformers any day.
Favorite part of the movie: Arthur’s floating sequence in the hotel, where he ties up his sleeping compatriots in preparation for the “kick.” More than any other part of the movie, that bit seemed so utterly dreamlike.
Unintentional recall of another film: When Cobb lets go of Mal, I was reminded of the scene in Titanic, where Rose lets Jack go. I guess it was Leo’s turn to do the letting go this time.
Unintentional recall of a TV show: The final scene with Fischer and his father, which takes place inside the vault, reminded me of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s holodeck in its deactivated state.
Minor linguistic complaint: I’m a fan of Ken Watanabe, but his accent was difficult to decipher at times. The funny thing is, he had a large part in The Last Samurai, and I don’t recall having trouble understanding him at all back then. Did he have a better dialect coach for that movie or something?
Congenial ambiguity: In all the forum posts I’ve read, the reaction has been remarkably similar. When the film cuts before the top stops spinning, there were light chuckles all around our theater, too. Why is it that people didn’t rage against the ambiguous ending, like the way so many did when The Sopranos silenced to black? Is this good or bad? You can take it either way, I suppose. Perhaps the audience didn’t care enough about the characters or the movie to have a strong reaction. Or perhaps they were content with not knowing, happy to leave the theater with a question mark. Whatever the reason, I love the idea of all the people exiting the shared dream of the movie’s fiction with satisfied smiles on their faces.