If you've seen Inception, you know what I'm talking about. I don't see many movies in the theaters these days; having three young children and a love for playing online bingo from 6:00 to midnight has cut into my flick time (for the record, I've never played online bingo. Seriously. Never. But now I'm tempted.)
Anyhow, this isn't so much a review as a short post saying, "Wow...that was quite the cinematic, storytelling experience!" I was much taken with Christopher Nolan's Memento, and, in a different way, am equally impressed with Inception. A couple of things I really enjoyed about both movies are the fascinating ways that Nolan (who wrote and directed Inception) considers memory and time, and how he does so without insulting the viewer's intelligence. He doesn't have those dull, plodding ten-minute scenes in which Mr. Geeky Scientific Sort explains to Mr. Hunk and Ms. Beautiful all of the mechanisms and devices holding the engine together. He lets you figure it out for yourself. Also, all of the astounding special effects are at the service of a really intriguing story, which works on several levels: psychological thriller, heist/caper movie, redemptive search, and so forth, all intertwined in an impressively cohesive fashion.
Does the story "make sense"? That's what a lot of viewers are asking, and I think that is one of the questions that Nolan wants them to ponder. What does it mean to "make sense" of reality? Can our perception of reality be trusted? If so, why? What is the relationship between will and emotion?
If you're not sure whether or not to see Inception, check out Steven D. Greydanus's review:
A day or two after seeing Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Inception, my head’s still reeling. I don’t think it will stop until I see it again. Once is not enough.
One thing I’m confident of: Inception is the most audacious and multifaceted Hollywood entertainment for grown-ups I’ve seen in years: a brainy, bravura achievement inviting comparison to the most inspired work of Hollywood visionaries from Michael Mann and Charlie Kaufman to Ridley Scott and the Wachowskis.
Some spoiler-free first impressions. One of the film’s most iconic images starts with two characters sitting at a cafe in a Paris street market talking. One of them has an epiphany, and the next thing you know the whole street starts to explode — not like a bomb site, but like fireworks and confetti, with flying chunks of vendor wares and debris hanging in mid-air and bursting anew until every square foot of space around the characters is strewn with suspended fragments of stuff, like a snow globe. The shot, which took weeks of preparation and testing, is a mirror image of the film itself, meticulously controlled despite a superficial impression of chaos, exploding in all directions at once, bursting with creative ambition.
Like an even more spectacular set piece in which an entire Paris neighborhood folds over on itself, the film’s narrative doubles down on itself three, four, even five times, with reality and unreality in layer under layer, like catacombs. On the surface, Inception is a glossy sci-fi caper film, an ambitious, mind-bending action thriller about an elite team of identity thieves hacking into a target’s subconscious mind through shared dreams — the ultimate in identity theft.
Read the rest. And, for the record, I didn't read his review until after I'd written everything up to it. So, great movie viewing minds think alike, although when it comes to reviewing movies, I'm Daffy Duck to Greydanus' Michael Jordan. For example, this excellent observation by Greydanus: "The film may not play directly on audience emotions, but it’s very much about emotions; we’re meant to think about them first, and only feel them second." Yes, exactly.