Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inception by Christopher Nolan

After hearing great pomp and circumstance about the movie Inception, I saw it today and found it to be fascinating, maybe great, maybe not great... but certainly fascinating on multiple levels.

Different vantage points that could be used to consider the movie begin with (a) director of the film (b) what he tried to do (c) how how well he did that and finally (d) what the response has been.


I don't typically post on movies... with this being only the third after one on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and then a post on Avatar.

One thing Inception and these films share is the involvement of a Director whose work I find interesting, if not groundbreaking. To Whit...

1. Curious Case of Benjamin Button by David Fincher - prior work including: Zodiac, Fight Club and Seven.
2. Avatar by James Cameron - who previously did Titanic... which a few people might have heard of. Also, Avatar had the distinction of bringing in an entirely new wave of technology. When I say these, I mean actual 3D, not the upconverted 3D that multiple movies since Avatar have been released in.
3. Inception by Christopher Nolan - previously did: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Insomnia, The Prestige and Memento.

Pretty heady stuff and these three guys along with M Night Shyamalan (yes, I am one of the people who liked Lady in the Water) are the directors whose new films I'm going to consider seeing based on filmmaker reputation alone.

Attempt made in the movie

If nothing else, Inception deserves huge credit for it's attempt. The movie is a visual tour de force ($160M can buy a lot of special effects), but where it differs from most other films is in it's layers of complexity. Stealing of dreams, dreams within dreams, 3rd level dreams within 1st and 2nd levels... lots and lots going on and me thinks Nolan as the Writer/Director should be commended for creating something truly original... especially in this era of the sequel as blockbuster movie.

Success at the Attempt

I found the action sequences (of which there were many) to be really solid and story arc of Leonardo DiCaprio's Dom Cobb character to be intriguing, but the aforementioned complexity made it harder for me to appreciate both the action and story. Just a lot of energy spent as the viewer trying to both figure out and validate that I knew what was going on. Additionally, I found myself wanting more back story about the dream infiltration concept in Inception... where it came from and why Ellen Page as a character introduced to it wasn't a bit more shocked by the idea. Was this a world where people knew all about the idea? If so, either I missed or mention could have been made of that.

Reaction to the movie

I hadn't heard about this prior to seeing the film, but there's been pretty interesting critical discussion of how good... or not good it was.

The long and short of it is some (seems to be many) critics really liked it and gave it huge credit for ambitious movie making and trying to accomplish something different. As the counterpoint to this, there's also been critics who thought it too muddled and perhaps overreached in it's attempt. Course, then the original positive camp critics criticized the negative camp critics... and on they go. Interesting stuff that's written about in the NPR piece "'Inception,' Art, Edelstein, And The Impossibility Of Accounting For Taste."

Perhaps the best way to go at this is for someone to say the movie tries something different and if it sounds of interest, to see that and then form an opinion... or simply see if you're entertained. Better this than to get worked up over whether someone else is of your same mind on the matter.

As Roger Ebert noted on his twitter page "Announcement: It is OKAY to dislike Inception"... which was in fact given four stars in Ebert's Chicago Sun-Time movie review.