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Raggedy Adams is an alien dwelling in Birmingham, living vicariously through the flickering of a projector on a white screen. He's drank the Kool-Aid of modern cinema. Will you?

Sunday, 15 August 2010


4. Inception

Alternate Title: "Does Christopher Nolan Dream in M.C. Escher-Vision?".

Cigarette intake since viewing: Zilch. Not looking forward to this.

Currently listening to: "I Disapear" by Metallica. Don’t ask.

The Gist: Heat via Total Recall with a splash of Neuromancer.

The Experience: By now, Christopher Nolan can make any kind of movie he wants, and it will make money. This was not always the case. Everyone and their dog knows him for his two entries into the Batman film franchise, but The Prestige was, in my estimation if no-one elses, an overlooked gem that suffered from the two-pronged curse of a) being the quirky post-blockbuster pet project that every director makes after their big studio breakout film, and b) that there were at least two other equally bland looking contenders coming out at the same time in the form of The Illusionist and Scoop. Memento and Insomnia were, despite critical acclaim and cult status, were not widely seen until a while after they hit DVD and rental. I still haven’t seen Nolan’s debut, Following, even though it has been out on DVD a while.

So my initial thoughts on Inception, when it was first being hinted at in the media, were guarded at best. This was, after all, Nolan’s next project after The Dark Knight, the biggest movie in the history of anything. He does have a habit of course of doing one massive movie, then doing something smaller and tighter and cleverer, then going even bigger, and so on. If this was not Nolan bucking the trend, it was certainly an interesting experiment.

The problem with describing Inception in conventional terms is that it risks shattering its mystique. Back in the days when twisty-turny plots in movies were a relative novelty, (i.e. before The Sixth Sense reared its ugly head,) it was much easier to keep plot points in films secret and let people judge for themselves, but the very fact that I’m able to post this on the internet for anyone to see completely invalidates that. So, from hereon, I will be keeping the plot summary as bare bones as possible. Besides, I feel like a challenge.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, professional thief and wayward father, who specialises in stealing information from people's minds through their dreams, and is hired by Ken Watanabe's rich Japanese industrialist stereotype to plant an idea (the titular act of "inception") in the brain of competitor Cillian Murphy. He hires Ellen Page to design a series of mental mazes with which to confound him, Dileep Rao to hook them up with the necessary anaesthetics and Tom Hardy to just be a general bad-ass. Wow. That was easy.

Yes, the basic plot is not the most complex in the world; in many ways its a standard heist movie through and through. I mean Christ on a crackerbread, they even have a scene where the main characters shout at each other that something "wasn't in the plan"!

For a film from someone who pretty much cornered the market in topsy-turvy storytelling in Memento, Inception is not trying to reinvent the three act structure. Instead, it takes the idea of a three-tiered lucid dream - a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream, if you will - and runs with it. Since, as the film asserts, time dilates within a person's dreams, one can theoretically spend days within them, giving a whole new dimension to people's concept of slow-motion filmmaking.

As I'm intent on not spoiling this movie's best sequences, (all I will say is this: "Zero gravity corridor",) I will have to wrap this up as quickly as possible or I'm liable to start blurting things out. The thing is, Inception defies easy categorisation, and so too does it defy conventional reviewing. Every once in a while, a movie will come along that confounds my intellect, but that I still have to respect for its sheer audacity. That I simply have to say "see it for yourself" as response. This is one of those films. It's also the only thing that makes this even remotely like The Matrix. Seriously, get over it, folks. The Matrix is not a catch-all term for "groundbreaking".

If Christopher Nolan wasn't one of the best filmmakers of our generation and hadn't made billions of dollars seemingly without breaking a sweat, he'd never have gotten past page one of this film. It would not exist. And I have to give a hearty recommendation to any blockbuster film comes completely out of the blue and makes people sit up and think for change. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen this ain't.

Oh, and Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Berenger, , Marion Cotilliard, Pete Postelthwaite and Sir Michael of Caine are in it too.

What? What else do you want?!

I drank the Kool-Aid already! Go on, get a move on!

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