Sunday, January 9, 2011


I know I'm six months behind the rest of the world but I finally watched Inception last night. My spoilery thoughts after the jump.

First off, we watched at Michael's house. And while I love and adore Michael and his house, he has a fancy new flat screen on which everything has the texture of a Spanish language telenovela. It's like...hyper real. Which doesn't always work for me. Film should have feel. You should feel removed from it, not in the center of it, ya know? (There was a New Yorker article on this subject a few years ago but fuck if I can find it now.)

Anyway, once I got past that I had to get past Dave's prattle. I like silence when I watch a film. And when people ask questions about something which I have no more solid information about than them, all I can really say is, "Keep watching...they'll explain it." Or they won't and then it's up to you to fill in the blanks. Save your questions til the end and I'll answer them then, mkay? Dave was mostly adorable and the questions were mostly manageable 'til about the last 30 minutes when I think Dave had just given up on the film and didn't care anymore and was just making comments to make comments. His main complaint was "Why is gravity the only thing that doesn't work?!?" Oh, and, "But what happens when the van crashes!?!?" Me, "They're not IN the van!"

I liked the's complex, thought not necessarily deep. It's also a bit obvious. You're gonna name Ellen Page's character Ariadne? For serious? Anyone with a cursory knowledge of greek mythology should have picked up on that (which even as I say it I realize most people don't have cursory knowledge of greek mythology, and most people didn't question the character's name).

I also thought the choice of the name Eames was somehow important to the other character. This of course led me to questioning the significance of all the characters' names and what they might mean or symbolize. Arthur? Cobb? Fischer? Does Saito mean something? Marion Cottilard's character's name (Mal) means "bad" in French, even evil if you want it to. They kept saying her name as "Moll" in the movie and this bothered me because it sounded like it was short for Molly, which is decidedly not a French name, so I looked up how it was spelled on IMDB while we were watching and I was like "Ohhhh."

Now, I could be reading too much into things here. But. Once upon a time I wrote fiction and I would agonize over names and their meanings so I have a hard time thinking Nolan, who allegedly took ten years to write this film, was being flip with the names, picking them out of thin air. And if you paid attention to that I think you got the gist of a lot of what was going on, what each characters role in the dreamscape was.

I think the film was visually arresting. And the layers complex. Trusting and figuring out what was real and what wasn't was hard. I probably need to watch it again to more fully appreciate all of that.

Now for my minor quibbles:
Ellen Page is going to have a hard time ever being in anything where she needs to be like the leading lady ever. She's just not even a little bit sexy and she looks so young it's hard to take her seriously. Indie buddy movies and maybe a TV dramedy should be her thing. I didn't get why Leo's character was so willing and so quick to trust her. I realize it was a long movie and things undoubtably got cut but there needed to be more of a foundation on which their relationship of trust was built. She just looked straight up ridiculous holding a gun all dressed in white in the climax.

The character Saito goes from corporate bad guy to master dream walker in like five seconds. Where'd his skill come from? They teach Page's character but you don't see them really teach him.

The motivation for undertaking the whole endeavor by the other team members was also glossed over. Was the money fantastic? Even in you regular heist movies there is some payoff, either revenge or money. But these guys all were called upon to do something incredibly dangerous and were like, "Eh, sure, why not?" when we don't even know WHY they would do such a thing. This is one of Dave's quibbles that I actually agreed with. For the Cobb character I could see his motivation and didn't really think his goal was to ever GET back out of the dreams, he would have been fine with being trapped there with the projection of his wife. But for the others? I needed some greater explanation. Even Saito's explanation for why he wanted the inception done was a little less than convincing. Like there isn't some other way to get this corporate espionage thing done? I have to believe there is.

Even with that willing suspension of disbelief "Sure! We're all in all the time!" I wanted to have a more tangible bad guy. Someone taught both Saito and Fischer how to protect themselves. Who? Why? Where else in the world are these people? Is the power of dreams well known?

I guess my problem was that even in a two and a half hour movie, I wasn't really invested in the mythology surrounding this whole thing.

So. Yeah. I think I need to rewatch.

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