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Inception

tn_inceptionWow, I must’ve really misread the ol’ zeitgeist. I thought for sure with that depressing new Ben Stiller indie drama having come out on DVD last Tuesday GREENBERG was gonna be all anybody had on their minds for weeks. But the comments thread there almost makes it seem like you guys are more interested in this “Inception” business.

Director Christopher Nolan first made his mark on cinema with the black and white
mp_inceptionnah, don’t worry, I’m not gonna go over all that shit. Also I figure all of you have already seen INCEPTION three more times than I have so I’m not gonna worry about spoilers. To be honest it would take alot of effort to spoil this one because it’s so complicated to explain what’s going on in order to give it away. But still. Don’t read this until after you’ve seen it. Goofus would read this before seeing the movie, but Gallant would wait until after he saw it and then come back and read this.

INCEPTION is a thought provoking movie, a story full of ambiguity, of possible interpretations, of ideas and questions. The main question it makes you ponder, judging from most of the reviews and comments I’ve seen, is “is this a full-fledged masterpiece, or is it just a really fucking good movie that’s only partially-fledged and therefore not technically a masterpiece although very close in my opinion but it depends on the definition of masterpiece you’re going by which of course varies wildly but if you ask me it’s like obscenity, I know it when I see it?”

It’s funny when that’s the biggest disagreement. Yes, it’s a super fucking excellent film, the best I’ve seen in ages, one that made me shiver and break into a cold sweat and thank the Lord for giving me eyeballs… but a masterpiece? Come on. Let’s not go very slightly overboard here. Again, I want to reiterate it’s a great, great movie that I love and cherish.

It seems most everybody really digs this one. That doesn’t really fit established patterns. Nerds eat their young, they gotta destroy what they love. I thought DARK KNIGHT was so popular there had to be a huge backlash against Nolan on his next one, but I don’t see it yet.

I guess part of the masterpiece debate is whether or not a masterpiece needs to say something profound or emotionally relatable (can it just be a masterfully crafted piece of entertainment?) and then if applicable whether or not it does say something profound or emotionally relatable. I’m leaning toward “yes” on the parentheses part and “probly not” on part B.

I love that it’s based around an idea being a weapon like a bomb or a poison. You sneak in and plant it in the right spot and boom. Consciousnesses maimed. This concept of the idea changing the world, or changing lives, just by being thought is more cool than deep, I think. But I also don’t think that matters. Deep is better, but cool is acceptable. (Deep and cool is the best, see THEY LIVE or ROBOCOP or THE MATRIX.)

If the movie’s a masterpiece it’s because the script is a work of genius. It’s constructed more meticulously than the “dream levels” in the movie. The first hour throws you in, sets you up and lets you flounder a little trying to understand what’s going on. Then as you feel you’ve caught on it turns into a heist and it’s the best of both worlds: the beloved familiar of the classic caper movie structure meets the fresh and new of this weird “sneaking into people’s dreams to give them ideas” concept. I always love a good Assembling an Elite Team and of course what kind of an asshole doesn’t get a kick out of a good Going Over the Plan? You always see this in a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE or an OCEAN’S movie, you got the mastermind giving a big speech about what all the obstacles are to get past and how they’re gonna do it and you’re excited about how clever their idea is and suspensed about knowing it’s not all gonna work as planned and they’re gonna have to come up with some new shit on the fly.

The Assembling an Elite Team and the Going Over the Plan are like Parliament-Funkadelic vamping for 10 minutes before setting off The Bomb. They’re establishing a rhythm and a groove and you’re nodding your head along with it and you’re into it and part of the reason is because it makes you anticipate what’s coming next. You smile bigger and bigger the longer the groove goes on because you know eventually it’s gonna explode. And in INCEPTION it explodes into what must be pretty much a straight hour of action and suspense scenes.

You know what, let me switch analogies on you. I know it’s kind of sudden but if you’re smart enough to follow along with INCEPTION then you can follow my rambling. INCEPTION is like that board game “Mouse Trap.” Nolan takes his time setting up that complicated Bill Goldberg device and it’s worth the time it takes because when it’s all finished he lets that metal ball roll and you just sit back and watch all the contraptions do their thing.

I gotta admire that this movie can cut between three sets of characters existing simultaneously in three dream worlds where we understand that time passes at different speeds… but we can pretty much follow what’s going on. Also, I’ve given Nolan some shit about his action direction before, because especially in BATMAN BEGINS I think some of those fights should be better choreographed and shot. But once again the guy proves that he does know his shit when it comes to the vehicle chases.

Also there’s some spectacular effects in here that are so well done I honestly don’t know how they did it. I think I heard they built a giant rotating hallway (like the bedroom in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) for the incredible fight scene where they fight on all the surfaces, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like Joseph Gordon Levitt really did that shit. (He doesn’t rewind it and tell us he really did that shit like THE HUMAN TORNADO does when he jumps naked off that ledge, but it sure looks real). I was even more impressed by the weightlessness, that whole DePalma style suspense scene where he had to tie up a bunch of people and float them into an elevator to provide the feeling of falling without gravity (!). I haven’t been an astronaut for a long time but that looked authentic to me so until proven otherwise I’m gonna assume they actually went into space to film all that stuff.

And there are plenty of smaller things that are impressive. The whole cast is great. One character that was more interesting than expected was Ellen Page as Ariadne (was that really her name? That’s what IMDb says). I like how she starts out as the newcomer, the one used as an excuse to explain to the audience how things work. But she’s so smart she quickly gets ahead of the explanations and figures out things that the other characters haven’t picked up on yet.

(Ellen Page’s character fills in a job vacated by Lukas Haas, and then you got Levitt and DiCaprio… it’s some kind of War of the Babyfaces.)

Tom Hardy steals alot of the movie as the, I don’t know… dandy badass master of disguise I guess we’ll call him. I’m happy Hardy did it ’cause I feel much better about him playing Mad Max now. I mean of course he was good in BRONSON but it’s impossible for me to think of that movie, character and performance without being tainted by my feeling that it’s a poor man’s CHOPPER. So when he got the Mad Max gig I couldn’t help but think wait a minute, Bana’s the rich man’s Bronson, he’s actually Australian and in real life he drives the same car from MAD MAX in dangerous high speed races. And you’re going with Tom Hardy? But now that I’ve seen this I get it, I believe he can pull it off.

Also great to see Ken Watanabe in a bigger role than I expected. And at first you think he’s some corporate asshole, but he’s part of the team so they respect him and you like him. Glad to see Tom Berenger on the big screen again too, though I gotta admit I was kinda surprised how he looks now. I guess he was already an older gentleman when he was playing all those badass roles in the early ’90s. Time had to catch up to him eventually. Anyway hats off to Nolan for continuing his DARK KNIGHT crusade to put our DTV heroes back on the ol’ silver screen.

As for DiCaprio, he’s great as always but I do think he should try to mix it up soon. He’s so good at being the intense star of big expensive movies by great directors, but those roles are starting to blend together. You can’t help but notice this guy’s not totally different from his character in SHUTTER ISLAND who’s also dealing with some reality bending and is haunted by memories of his wife’s death. It’s not a problem for this movie at all and I’m sure he’s worried he’s gonna dilute his power if he tries to loosen up and do an Adam Sandler movie or something. But I do think he’s a good enough actor it would be interesting to see him in a goofy comedy or playing a show-offy supporting nutball character or of course a despicable villain. He did try to play AMERICAN PSYCHO right after TITANIC but somehow he’s never ended up getting a role like that. I can’t help but think of a different world where it was him playing the Joker in DARK KNIGHT.

Nolan really won my respect with DARK KNIGHT, to the point where I almost forgot he was the guy who did MEMENTO. That’s a movie I only saw once a long time ago. Back then I thought it was plenty good but a little overrated. I thought it was a clever idea executed well, nothing more, nothing less. Some day when I watch it again maybe I’ll feel the same, maybe I’ll discover new depths that everybody else was seeing in it that I was missing. Either way, it makes sense that INCEPTION is the movie that guy would make ten years later. He gets more skills, more money, more ambition, he comes up with this crazy, complicated shit and gets a studio to bankroll it. Everybody’s making phony stories now about the Riddler being in the next Batman movie. Maybe it’s true though, because this guy is the Riddler. These are some crazy fuckin puzzles he’s making through the medium of the movies. And making it the movie of the summer.

I mean, let’s not lose track of the fact that this is a big summer blockbuster about a world where CEOs are specially trained to secure their subconscious so that corporate spies can’t break into their dreams to steal their ideas and a team of dream thieves uses this fact against one CEO so they can pretend to be part of a security force he’s dreaming so that they can trick him into having an idea that another CEO wants him to have in order to prevent a monopoly on alternative energy so they have to bring him into a dream within a dream within a dream to make him think he thought of the idea himself. (SPOILER.) I mean, some summer movies are about trying to survive an earthquake or finding a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. This one requires some paying attention. Even if you compare it to the greats like ALIENS, JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and what not… I wouldn’t say it was better or even quite as good. But I think it’s kind of more challenging. It asks more of you, requires you to be attentive.

I will admit, I got a pretty good brain but not the fastest processor. So maybe it’s easy for most of you but I did have to work the ol’ brain muscles to keep up, I felt like I was running along behind it. Not as out of breath as Clint following the president’s limo in IN THE LINE OF FIRE, but not that much better. But I felt like I kept up pretty good and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the script for helping me out with that. I felt like they had the Goldilocks-approved just right amount of exposition. Every once in a while a character says one sentence or so of explanation of what’s going on, but no more. It’s kind of like a talk radio guy resetting when he comes back from the commercial. He reminds you what the topic was but he doesn’t get into all that “22 after the hour, showers expected tonight” and all that bullshit. Just enough to keep you up to speed.

But I like to think I’m a pretty adventurous moviegoer. I like Brian Bosworth but I also like to be challenged. I like weird shit and alot of times I like movies that everybody else hates, including but not limited to various Matrixes, Star Warses, Hulks, Crystal Skulls, Brown Bunnies, etc. We, the ladies and gentlemen of the internet, seem to fall in love with movies like CHILDREN OF MEN that aren’t necessarily gonna catch on with the type of people I was watching INCEPTION with. Alot of teens, alot of text messaging going on as the movie started. I thought I was gonna have to break some bones and phones. During the movie there was alot of shifting around in the seats. I remember this sound from the remake of SOLARIS. I was being one of those elitists I guess, I was thinking man, it’s great Chris Nolan got to cash in his DARK KNIGHT check to make this one on a big budget, because this is asking too much for normal people to follow along with.

But then in that last scene, the moment when it cut away (even though come on, you knew that had to be where it was going, right?) I heard about 150 simultaneous gasps across the theater, and some laughing and clapping. I guessed everybody was bored and waiting for it to be over, but in fact they were riveted. The only time I ever remember an audience reaction like that was when I saw BATMAN BEGINS at a preview screening. I really liked it but I convinced myself everybody else was bored with the exploration of Bruce Wayne like they were with all that psychodrama I loved in HULK. But then when Gordon pulled that Joker card out it was like a bomb went off the response was so loud.

By the way, good one Nolan, putting the title right at the end again. I don’t know if it’s his touchdown dance or his “that’ll do, pig.” But he get everybody riveted and then drops it on ’em. Bang. Fade to black. INCEPTION. Yeah, that’s right, that’s the title of the movie that just knocked your socks off. Now you know who to complain to if there’s any damage to your socks.

The other complaint I’ve heard besides “by my definition of ‘masterpiece’ it doesn’t quite qualify” is about the dreams being so normal. It definitely occurred to me too – for a movie all about dream worlds it’s sure not very surreal at all. It could use some of the ol’ Cronenberg lumps of technology. Or it wouldn’t even have to be that weird. If it were my dream I’d use my flying powers, there’d be creepy weird animals who know how to talk and alot more fuckin goin on.  But as Mr. Majestyk pointed out it’s important to the plot that the constructed dream worlds pass for reality. And also the dreamy shit been done many times before. All kinds of filmatists have had their hand at weird dream shit – which themselves don’t usually remind me of actual dreams. I kind of like that his dream worlds are normal until they become unstable. It’s avoiding the obvious approach.

In conclusion, masterpiece I guess. I don’t know, I’d have to see it again I think.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 at 3:23 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

435 Responses to “Inception”

  1. I can sort of fly in my dreams, but it’s more like swimming in the air and I can only get about 30 feet high.

    Last night I was being pursued through a giant nursing home where all the rooms were the same so in the end I jumped out of a window and found I was on the bottom floor anyway.

    As for the film, I thought it was awesome but I really do need to see it again. That’s a great hook Nolan built into the film to help box office because it is a bloody expensive film. I have stratospheric hopes for Batman 3 now, how is he going to meet them?

  2. Masterpiece? Close. Nolan’s definitely solidified his status as a hybrid action/mentally-stimulating star auteur. He’s among the very few artists for whom I absolutely always pay money to see.

    The only thing I didn’t like about Inception was Ellen Page. Maybe you’re right to suggest the “babyface” thing, Vern, like the film called for a contrast between sets of characters as blatantly young-seeming and blatantly old-seeming. Still, though it’s not her fault, her casting was a mistake.

  3. But was it all a dream or not? Where do you fall on that one, Vern?

    I don’t think it matters either way. Great movie. Great review.

  4. Excerpt from Vern’s Match.com profile:

    “I like Brian Bosworth but I also like to be challenged.”

  5. Allow me to repost some stuff I posted on Jim Emerson’s Scanners blog:

    The first thought I had after INCEPTION was that it had to have contained the most literal minded depiction of “dreams” in film history. The dream worlds in the film are not particularly dream like at all, at least not in the way I experience dreams.

    That said, I didn’t care. The film did not explore the nature of dreams. What it did do is use the dreams in to build an absurdly, awesomely layered heist movie plot. It allowed Nolan to play around with time, spacial relations, parallel action, gravity, and so forth, all maintained within the general parameters of the thriller genre.

    I loved it. I don’t think Nolan has much skill for shoot ’em up type stuff (the Ice Station Zebra shoot out scenes in particular were indifferent and sometimes a little hard to follow), but I think he has a real knack for complicated set pieces (i.e. Gordon-Leavitt’s escapades around the zero-G hotel). And I like the editing and sense of pace. Once the “inception” job kicks in during the second half, the film becomes relentless. The editing and cross-editing between scenes is like a pulse that quickens as the action keeps building.

    I’m excited to see it again at some point, but I suspect that a repeat viewing won’t be nearly as exciting. Inception is, like, wall to wall exposition. It was fun hearing them explain it through the first time, but hearing it all again might prove a little tedious. We’ll see.

    Jumping off of Vern’s thoughts here, I think the whole “masterpiece” argument is kind of moot, as there is no objective standard for it. I greatly enjoyed INCEPTION, it will be on my best of the year list. I also think it has flaws (Nolan is still no good at filming shootouts; it could have used more surrealism/less literalism; though it has a few eye-popping visuals, Nolan strikes me as more skilled in the story and editing departments than in the visuals). I think that folks have underrated the strength of the film’s emotional core (I was reasonably invested in Leo’s backstory with his wife, even if I didn’t find him to be a likable character), but on the same token I think people have overrated it in terms of any deeper themes or greater resonance (just because there are a few playfully ambiguous elements that leave the story open to interpretation doesn’t mean its infinitely complex; 99% of it is still literal and explained).

    I guess my point is that I don’t need to insist on the label “masterpiece” just because I loved something.

  6. DirkD13 – Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but my dreams are like movies. Usually thrillers for some reason. One random dream I had in high school was “waking” up to find my dick got ripped off, and that it was on the floor. Like a dropped remote or something.

    That made me quit masturbating. For a time.

    Mouth – You can blame Evan Rachel Wood, she was Nolan’s first choice but she said no. Or for that matter, James Franco was supposed to play the JGL part. He had to drop out because of commitments to…..a Joel Schumacher movie.

    Oh the irony!!!

    JGL and Hardy are those guys just on the cusp of insanely breaking out and who knows maybe will become as “big” as Leo or Page within 5 years and we all will think how lucky Nolan was to get those “stars” at good discount prices.

    Vern – Certainly most creative “ticking timebomb” motiff you’ve seen in a good while, yes?

    BTW, I kinda thank you dude for not repeating about how INCEPTION isn’t a comic book adapted or remake or prequel or reboot or TV show adapted or adapted from a lunchbox or whatever. Its true sure, but everybody else has played that record.

    INCEPTION I basically understood, all the essential shit to know since the editing really is what keeps together that whole let’s admit it, some confusing shit. The little details though of how this and that…yeah maybe I’m not sure. Like why did Ellen Page make her last “jump”?

    Chuck – As I said on the other thread we all hijacked, Nolan was ripping-off BLADE RUNNER.

    BTW, Nolan recently said he would like to do a Bond movie. I think certianly that whole OF HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE snow fortress shit shows that he could totally pull it off. Imagine him and Daniel Craig.

    Then again, EON are infamous pricks for refusing to cede money and creative control. Shit they turned Spielberg down several times in the late 1970s, when he was the biggest hippest director in the world. And they said no.

    So he went off and did that Harrison Ford movie, the one where he wears a hat.

  7. AGH and another board I can’t read without risking being spoiled. :( I might go out to the movies tonight. This one seems worth it.

  8. “Bill Goldberg device”

    Took me a second there Vern. Well played.

  9. Great film.

    Its foundation, the plot, was wonderful and original and interesting and easy-enough (relatively) to follow.

    The acting was fantastic, though I actually thought Ellen Page was the clear weak link on the team. DiCaprio I’ve become used to being wowed by. Leavitt is quickly becoming what Shia LeBeef wishes he could be, Hardy is charming as hell and I buy him as a badass, Wantanabe was slick and cool and the fat chemist guy was fun too.

    The special effects/action were great. I mean really really great. As far as special effects go, the city folding over itself was amazing, water shooting through windows, zero-gravity. All of it done just right. Action wise, fucking awesome. Sweet shootouts, a couple great fights, chases, etc.

    And that ending? Shit man, that was great. Leaving the theater I was bursting with questions: did it fall, if it was a dream whose was it, etc.

    Best in-theater experience since Children of Men. Coincidentally, another movie with all the same components, just a bit less SFX dependent.

  10. ***SPOILER***

    My favorite scene was them all waking up on the airplane and kinda looking at each other in wonder like “Yeah, we fucking did it” and then Ken picking up the phone with this “holy fuck” look on his face.

    It had heart, that scene did.

  11. I kept all my opinion out of the Greenburg discussion cause I knew your review would be coming eventually. And I only saw it last night and those dudes were spoiling the shit out of it in that thread for the last few days.

    You nailed the weird “Is it or isn’t it a masterpiece” debate going on right now, everyone loves it… but if they didn’t physically orgasm in their seat it’s not a masterpiece?

    I’m in the masterpiece camp of course. How could you not be? Someone mentioned Children Of Men earlier, and that’s a fair comparison. Both are brilliantly directed movies , thought provoking and with some expertly crafted action sequences. That Joseph Gorden-Levitt spinning hallway fight had my jaw dropped.

    I don’t buy this concept that the entire movie was a dream though. I read the review on Chud by Farcaluci or w/e his name is and I thought the dude was grasping at some pretty weak ideals,His main arguement seems to be that we never see the audiences totem. That when they wake up in the train that they are actually just in a different layer because we didn’t see how they got to the train. Ok, well with that logic even if they had shown them at the train station boarding the train couldn’t you just ask how they got to the train station. Or then how they got in the car that took them to the train station. You could go on forever like that. I mean at some point is a character supposed to break the fourth wall and tell the audience” Hey all kidding aside, THIS is the real world”. He also points to the fact that Leo’s employer shows up in Morocco just at the right moment to get Leo out of a shitty situation. Well that may be cliche’ but I hardly feel it proves anything. I mean this is a movie where the protagonists avoid all but one of the thousands of rounds that are shot at them, but a last minute rescue is somehow so surrealistic it makes the entire movie a dream sequence? I just don’t see it.

    I haven’t seen anyone else mention it yet but I thought the fact that it was raining in the first layer cause the dude forgot to piss, was extremely funny. And Gordon-Levitt suckering Paige out of a kiss got a laugh from my crowd too.

    My one complaint would be that the skiing scene in the mountains of the third layer was incredibly cheesy in a James Bond kind of way. I read that it was Nolan’s tribute to Her Majesty’s Secret Service but that doesn’t excuse the fact that a dude was mowing down henchman with an uzi while skiing backwards. Contrast that with the Joseph-Gordon weightless fight scenes and it’s like two different era’s of movie action. But that’s a minor issue and it’s still a masterpiece of film-making.

    And Vern I think you need to re-watch Bronson. I watched Chopper and Bronson both for the first time back to back a few weeks ago and I can’t believe you think Bronson is the poor mans Chopper. Other than the ear-cutting scene and the surrealistic stabbing,which were both shot in a really un I though Chopper was incredibly forgettable. I will never forget seeing buck-naked Bronson try and fail to beat the shit out of six guards bare-handed.
    I haven’t seen anyone else mention it yet but I thought the fact that it was raining in the first layer cause the dude forgot to piss, was extremely funny. And Gordon-Levitt suckering Paige out of a kiss got a laugh from my crowd too.

  12. this site needs an edit button, jesus Vern, get on that

  13. I understood the purpose of the ‘assembled’ team but given how Lukas Haas’ character is replaced by a new architect; but because she’s included in the dreams – does her presence in the dream(s) create, literally, all the architecture (mise en scene) of these dream scapes? Other than passing a drawing test where she designs a maze, I don’t recall anywhere in the film where she is shown doing anything ‘architecturally.’ I understand why Leo and Hardy’s characters are in the dreams and why they include Watanabe’s character, but to include the guy who creates the sleeping drug agent, in addition to Page’s character – so she can look over the design?, why? Also that Lukas Haas’ character is replaced because the carpeting is wrong – most architects don’t deal with carpeting other than suggesting carpeting would be used in a space. Interior design is usually the task of an interior designer…

  14. I was able to understand most of INCEPTION but I found one part kind of confusing, maybe some of you can clarify it for me: if you can make a fight scene as good as the flippy room fight, why would you not do it in your Batman movies? Was that question ever addressed in the film? Or did Nolan leave it intentionally ambiguous to let the viewer decide the answer for themselves?

  15. dieselboy, I’m in the Bronson over Chopper camp as well. Other than Bana’s performance, the movie didn’t caress my scrotum kindly.

  16. Meh, your concerns were all answered. Page wasn’t supposed to go along; she muscled her way in because she was the only one who knew about the problems with Leo’s subconscious, and he conceded that he needed a confidant on the team in case anything went wrong. As for bringing along the guy who administers the sleeping agent, well, he had to do it again in the dreams, didn’t he?

  17. Meh-The Chemist had to drive the van. Shit gets deep in them dreams.

  18. While I didn’t much care for Inception, I will say that there is an aspect of it that I think is genuinely interesting; (SPOILERS) The Cillian Murphy character’s reconciliation with his father. It seems like a lot of people walked away from that thinking it was ultimately a good thing, as if the characters had helped him in some way (which seems to be the intent of the film-makers). But, isn’t what Murphy goes through completely manufactured to seem like a positive experience? It’s like Nolan mind-fucked the audience the way the characters mind-fucked Murphy.

  19. Jake – I think that BATMAN action cinematography, for good or ill, Nolan wanted to show what perhaps either would be like to see such a ninja monster in motion, or be in the middle of it. First I think makes sense, the other is just Bourne/Bay routine status quo.

    Really I’m pleased Nolan put away the shakey cam shit and I suppose tried his hardest to be pre-shakey cam Bond-stylized action filmmaking. As for the backwards Uzi stuff…..well, only in a dream could JGL could win a fight. C’mon, only a projection could get beat up by the kid from 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN. Thus only in a dream could a guy go backwards uzi. And lets admit it, I would have done the same. Except only in my underpants.

    “I thought the dude was grasping at some pretty weak ideals…”

    The story of Devin’s film criticism career.

    BTW, you all read that bit about Armond White blaming Roger Ebert for the “death” of film criticism?

    http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/07/20/armond-white-i-do-think-it-is-fair-to-say-that-roger-ebert-destroyed-film-criticism/

    “I’m a pedigreed film critic.” – Armond White

  20. Mr. Majestyk – I don’t think he needed to administer any drugs in the dreams, but I think he was needed in the dreams to make it down to the limbo level. Unless I’m mistaken, he was the first level dreamer, Levitt the second, Hardy the third and DiCaprio the fourth. They couldn’t use Watanabe or Page since they were amateurs, and as you point out Page wasn’t even supposed to be there. Now obviously they didn’t plan on going to the limbo level originally, so you could argue Rao’s inclusion in the dreams was a little convenient scriptwriting, but I think he it makes sense they would have an extra dreamer just in case.

  21. Has Vern reviewed The Prestige?

    I’d be interested in his views on it.

  22. Vern-“I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like Joseph Gordon Levitt really did that shit.”
    That’s because he DID. He spent weeks training in that rotating set and it apparently left him battered at the end of the day a lot. So bravo to him.
    You’re spot on about people’s disagreement on “Masterpiece” too, that was a good one.
    I just realised, when Tom Hardy is posing as Tom Berenger, doesn’t that make him the SUBSTITUTE SUBSTITUTE?

  23. RRA – Yeah, I heard that’s what he was going for, and while watching the dock fight during BATMAN BEGINS I thought he achieved it, since to those petty crooks he would seem like a blur. But I didn’t really buy it for the other action scenes. I don’t think Ra’s al Ghul would have the same fear of him or be disoriented by him. Even the training scenes were filmed in the same shot, reverse-shot, “Let’s shoot action like it’s a dialogue scene” style that so many Hollywood films use.

  24. Please tell me Faraci was being ironic when he described the movie as being “presented in woefully retro 2D.” So that’s it? 2D is the way of the past, anachronistic and a relic? (Lord knows 3D is a new invention and hasn’t been a gimmick since, like, the 50’s or anything).

    I wonder if he thinks black and white cinematography is “woefully retro” as well?

    I don’t normally read his reviews, and that first paragraph of his INCEPTION review alone was enough to remind me why.

  25. But the real question is this: How many years are we going to have to wait until we get the DTV sequel, INCEPTION COP?

  26. Dan: That sounds like sarcasm to me, a way to backhandedly comparing it to the hundreds of crappy 3D movies coming out this summer.

  27. Fair enough, I’m probably just not giving him enough credit because of my previous distaste for his writing. Advantage Faraci.

  28. Guys I must admit, the hype is getting a tad fucking silly. Its damn good movie, maybe masterpiece but I won’t use that word knee-jerk. But either way, its not framed as something that may or may not come off as such to many folks now.

    Dan Prestwich – Devin’s problem has always one I’ve had at times….He’s terminally hip. He tries to be natural witty, but instead comes off as snobbishly silly. Think Armond White but without the batshit insanity. Then again Devin’s INCEPTION review, he did hit upon what others have about how refreshed they might have felt after seeing it. So I still don’t care for the guy and his opinions usually, but he can be right sometimes.

    Nobody is perfect.

    Mr. M – Or the Hustler-produced porno spoofs like INSERTION? I wonder if Larry Flynt is willing to spare the money for a wire-fu fuck scene on the ceiling? free-floating cum shot!

  29. There could be three concurrent sex scenes, one of them in super slow-mo, and they all have the money shot at the same time.

  30. there could be a sequence where the Ellen Paige character gets kicked into 4 simultaneous layers of money shot.

  31. RRA,

    It’s not Faraci’s opinions that bother me; I disagree with plenty of my favorite film critics on a regular basis. It’s more he suffers from the same problems a lot of internet critics do; he doesn’t show his work enough. He confuses his enthusiasm with analysis, talks endlessly without elaborating enough, goes on tangents about his ideas about films instead of actually discussing their content. He’s certainly not the worst offender on the internet in these regards, but enough so that its hard to appreciate what he’s trying to say. And then there’s just the general problem that plagues internet criticism: no real sense of authority or sophistication. When I read a film critic, I want some sense that they have a superior understand of the medium, or at least of the particular genre/style/era that they are focusing on. Faraci seems to me about as knowledgeable as me, my friends, pretty much any schmo on the street. In other words, what’s the point? If I want Joe Schmo’s opinion on a movie, I’ll ask a coworker. Or read a message board, or whatever.

    Plus, he’s just not a naturally entertaining writer, like an Ebert or a Vern. Which I can be forgiving of, if the writer isn’t guilty of the above listed flaws.

    Phew, don’t know why I just decided to dump on Faraci like that. Just working out my disappointment with online film criticism I guess.

  32. By the way, what’s the consensus around here on Ellen Page? Me, I like her. I thought she was phenomenal in Hard Candy, Juno had its problems but she certainly wasn’t one of them, and she was fucking adorable in Whip It. Why does she get so much hate? Is it that old warhorse about how women who are not drop-dead gorgeous but seem confident and intelligent get slagged by insecure jerkoffs who can’t handle a woman who is more than the sum of her tits? The Zoe Bell Curve?

  33. Majestyk,

    I think that, and the massive wave of hype her JUNO performance rode in on have caused a little Page backlash. I think she’s been good in everything I’ve seen her in, especially HARD CANDY.

  34. (By the way, if any of you don’t like Ellen Page just because you don’t like Ellen Page, I apologize for implying that you were an insecure jerkoff. I didn’t mean you, I meant those OTHER people. The ones on IMDB, which is an appropriate name, since posting there is basically you saying “I’m a DB.”)

  35. Majestyk –

    My personal issue with Page? Just like my issue with Juno co-star Michael Cera, Page always plays the same person it seems. Cera is always geeky, sweet, awkward yet charming. Page is always smart, cool, confident yet alternative… all good qualities but mix it up a bit, Ellen.

  36. Mr. M – I think people hate her because they confuse her for Diablo Cody. Or something. Certainly I guess Page did good in capitalizing finally on her JUNO shit with INCEPTION, because while like Vern I liked WHIP IT too, that one didn’t help her. I think her deadpan sense of humor in interviews piss off a few people. Not a hipster act, unless she’s that good of an actor.

    Dan Prestwich – Yeah I think you’re more accurate about the guy. Then again Armond White sure swings his authority dick around, despite being small and flaccid. Of course INCEPTION isn’t a masterpiece like LITTLE MAN.

  37. Bob Vila – Can’t the same sad for Clint Eastwood?

  38. said, not sad.

  39. boy, i feel like crap because i haven’t seen this movie three times. i don’t have a big long post. oh, and i don’t think i really want to see the movie. might give it a try. maybe. i’m hopped up on pain meds from surgery so the movie might be a bit much for me right now.

  40. dieselboy – “Your mind is the scene of the bukkake.”

  41. RRA –

    Yeah, I guess it could. But Clint Eastwood is a once in a generation type of talent, and has the Cool to pull it off. Hell, Page may prove to be just as great as Clint (color me fucking skeptical though) but till she does, thats my reason.

    And I should state – my issue with Page is minor. Sure, she could benefit from taking on new challenges, but at least her perpetual character is an interesting one.

  42. Vila – Fair enough, I do agree on another point brought up somewhere that Leo needs a slight change of acting scenery. I get it Leo, you want to be taken seriously and not just that walking female orgasm like you were in TITANIC. You did it buddy, its ok.

    Hell Robert Downey Jr. has that DUE DATE comedy coming up.

  43. I really like this movie, it’s dang good.
    To add my two bits, for me its weakness lay in some of the characters’ dialogue. When Leo gets the offer from Ken to do an impossible-except-it’s-possible job, he flipped so quickly from refusal to acceptance that I thought he was setting up Ken as a mark. Likewise, in the scene where Ellen Page first gets introduced to the dream world, she doesn’t freak out too much as it’s being explained to her the first time (though she does have that little hiatus afterwards), she just goes with it. These and other moments seemed to rush the characters’ decisions, which I guess was cause there was so much story to get through. Maybe Nolan could have pulled a Clint-style jump cut from Leo thinking about Ken’s offer to already being in the chopper rather than showing him speaking and changing his mind about the One Last Job. Maybe Ellen Page was supposed to already know about the dream thieving industry in general, and I didn’t get it from her expressions. I was in the front row, it was kind of hard to tell.
    Also, here’s another vote that one of the strengths of the movie was that it was not “surreal” in the sense that we don’t see a grin with no cat or a gun made out of gristle that shoots teeth. I’ve never seen a movie that’s supposed to evoke a dream state by showing weirdness like that which seemed believable to me. Maybe it’s because no matter what is put on the screen, unless you’re under the influence of some narcotic or alcohol etc., your waking consciousness is very different from your sleeping, and I don’t know how to suspend my belief enough to really buy that I’m having a subconscious experience while watching a fake dream. Frederic Raphael, in his Eyes Wide Open book, said that onscreen dreams don’t work because there’s a frame around them, and I think that has something to do with it too. Like, I’m not able to feel disoriented or unable to think ahead for the length of time the movie wants me to think it’s a dream. Anyway, I guess I’m trying to say I think Chris Nolan made the right decision in making the dream world have rules and fit in with the waking, simply because selfishly I wouldn’t have enjoyed a surreal one as much. And I think there’s plenty of movies that have tried to go at it the other way, to varying success.

  44. I’m heading into Seattle to see the movie again today, but this time in IMAX. I managed the local theatre here for 6 years, and even I walk out disgusted by their inability to project a film properly.

    That said, ten minutes into inception I pretty much forgot that shit isn’t supposed to be blurry and improperly framed. My brain couldn’t keep up with 5 layers of reality AND presentation complaints. I’d have probably been riveted on an iPhone.

    That ending noise Vern mentioned is an amazing thing. Audible proof that the audience doesn’t need to be talked down to. And proof is necessary. They made both Alvin and the Chipmunks movies blockbusters.

    On the Ellen Page argument, I personally am a big fan (and someone who thinks she does occasionally fall into the gorgeous category). The Michael Cera comparison was apt. They both do seem like they’re playing similar characters a lot. But I LOVE those characters. I love John Cusack too, and he’s usually playing the same guy (my love of Cusack goes far above my love of Cera or Page, to be clear). A lot of actors have a shtick, but they’re doing more of the indie / hipster movies so I think they’re being called out for it more. They’re perfect for them though. I don’t want Michael Cera playing Thor.

    Or do I…?

  45. I definitely do.

    “Hey, so, um…I’m gonna, like, crush you now…with my hammer? If that’s cool? You know, cuz I don’t have to…”

  46. Never thought that the kid out of Third Rock From The Sun would be in the best fight scene (viewed at the cinema) of the year so far !

  47. JGL hasn’t been the kid from Third Rock From The Sun to me since I saw BRICK. Even if you hate the stylized dialogue and Max Fischer Players gimmick, you gotta admit that nobody of his generation could be understatedly world-weary hard-boiled badass better than he could. Then he did THE LOOKOUT and instantly became my favorite young actor. I loved that he was the cool-as-a-cucumber right-hand man in INCEPTION, the one you can always count on to keep his shit together and snap the necks what need snapping when it’s crunchtime.

  48. Good call on The Lookout Mr. M, I’ve never seen Brick but his acting in The Lookout shattered the notions I had of him being a sitcom kind of actor. I still haven’t seen 500 Days of Summer but I heard he’s amazing in that as well. I’m just a little burnt out on indie romance to sit through it.

  49. I agree completely. After those two movies my view of JGL changed completely.

    I’m thinking Tango was referring to French Stewart, who plays Jet Li in Expendables.

  50. Don’t mock. French is a master of squint-fu. He learned it at the feet of Sensei Gilbert Gottfriend.

  51. JGL also played an Iraq war veteran with marital trouble and violent tendencies in the movie STOP-LOSS.

  52. And he played a redneck sociopath in KILLSHOT, eating up all the scenery before Mickey Rourke even got a chance to put on his bib.

    Tragically wasted in G.I. JOE, though.

  53. Anyone else seen JGL in MYSTERIOUS SKIN?

  54. I was waiting for your review, Vern! Nice job describing the somewhat absurd comments I’ve read about the movie trying to pin it down to where it is on the “masterpiece” scale. It’s good, it’s great, it’s smart, it’s efficient, it’s thought-proving, it drives along at a pace designed to pull the audience headlong through a non-stop ride. That alone makes it worth watching. No need to muddle about trying to find the right word for how good it is.

    I had many thoughts about the movie after watching it and it felt like it dealt with quite disparate but yet somehow interlocking concepts: dream levels, memory, death and loss and the dealing with it, the substance of reality, and even the breaking the fourth wall by tying our perception of viewing a movie to dream logic. It all internally hung together while exploring the real inner mind of Cobb while the heist to plant a false seed in Fisher’s mind was ongoing.

    Although we didn’t get to see much of the real world as shown in the movie, we saw enough that it actually did have some surreal touches that were actually pointed out by Mal. Cobol Engineering agents chasing him through the streets of Morocco? Yeah, that did have a touch of a dreamlike state. And the fact we simply accept that this reality with dream connecting technology exists is us being pulled into this dream and all the logic that it inherently defines. I also particularly liked Cobb asking “How did you get here?” which could be addressed to the audience since we never once question basic film editing. We go from one scene to the next with nary a transition and we accept it all and the moment he asks that, we question it ourselves and start to notice the machinery that holds the scences together.

    Even before the final shot, which I thought was perfectly done, I was already hoping to hell that this story we were invested in was not a dream. But the fact that we become aware of how the movie works and that reality and dream can be confused if you are not careful actually serves to plant that seed of paranoia in us that Mal had. That nothing is real and if that’s the case… the movie effectively became the virus it so elegently described to us through its narrative. By thinking all these things, Nolan infected all of us. What he did to the characters in the story we watched is being done to us just by watching it.

    Damn, he’s good.

  55. I take the ending to mean that Cobb had finally beaten his demons. That he spins the top, but doesn’t stick around to see if it stops means he has come to terms with Mal’s death, and has finally accepted this world as reality (something dream Mal was trying to make him doubt). Whether or not he’s right is beyond the point.

    That last little moment is wonderful, as the top…just…starts…to… wobble…

    A wonderful wink from Nolan.

  56. Mr. Majestyk, considering how important the function of the ‘architect’ is, not showing any of that process of the design and then explain to the team and that’s it’s just done with exposition – weak.

  57. Dan Prestwich—That’s also how I took the ending. Since Cobb/Leo doesn’t care to look at the top but focuses on his children, whose faces he finally sees, so the audience too should realize that’s what matters about the film, and if they can’t then they’ve become like Mal- preoccupied with the tease of unanswerable questions at the cost of living life

  58. Jek,

    You said it better than I could.

    It’s why a lot of the speculating about what’s real and what’s not is amusing to me. It’s fun to think about in a Philosophy 101 sort of way, but its left deliberately ambiguous. If Nolan wanted to give you the “answer,” he would have; the point is that you don’t know. And, more importantly, that Cobb has accepted that.

  59. Meh: Would a drawing montage have pushed it over into masterpiece status for you? Because for me, the hows of it all were completely unimportant. I actually thought all of that breathless exposition was kind of funny. They rattle off all of this terminology so rapidly and self-seriously that I almost thought it was a meta-joke about exposition. I just let it all wash over me, thinking, “I’m sure I’ll understand it when it happens.” And you know what? I did, because the filmmaking told the story. Who cares about the how if the what makes perfect sense?

  60. I seriously got nothing to say about this movie, because I haven’t seen it and probably won’t until it hits DVD. I’m just here to ask Vern politely to review Monkeybone, because I saw it today on TV, can’t believe that such a mix between visually stunning fantasy worlds that are full of psychological symbolism and references to greek mythology, sex- and fart-jokes that are at same time completely immature and a smart and prophetic parody of the mainstream success of gross-out “adult” cartoons and a scene in which the re-animated corpse of Chris Kattan rips out his organs and throws them at Brendan Fraser seriously exists and even contains a Harry Knowles cameo. But I’m glad it exists and I hope that there is a longer director’s cut somewhere, that not just gives us even more breathtaking visuals, but probably makes at least a little bit sense storywise.
    So, if you are in the mood to watch one of the most fucked up studio failures of the last decade, watch Monkeybone.

  61. How did I know this thread would turn into a dissection of Monkeybone……

  62. A lot of intelligent, considered, and considerate commentary here. Good job, Outlaw film-lovers. I love to dissect & discuss, but sometimes with good movies, especially those that I know will survive & thrive in its audience’s minds for a long time regardless, it’s best for me to just let it be and let others enjoy without my 2¢.

    The only remaining point I’d kindly like to make about Inception is that 50 years as an immortalesque dude in a dreamworld with Marion Cotillard is an idea I can certainly get behind.

  63. Didn’t like MYSTERIOUS SKIN. I appreciated JGL’s performance more than I enjoyed it, but then he was playing a preternaturally selfish dick in it…

  64. CJ Holden- In some old reviews from around the time of the film I remember Vern describing MONKEYBONE as “just about the worst movie I’ve seen” or something so I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    Me? I liked it. I also like COOL WORLD; I must have some mental illness which causes me to enjoy totally misconceived PG-13 mixes of animation and live action seemingly aimed at five year olds with disturbingly advanced sex drives. SPACE JAM, however, can bite me; that film is just plain evil.

  65. PacmanFever: And I can totally understand why anybody would think that about Monkeybone. Because it IS a totally fucked up failure, but one of the more fascinating ones. Like I said: I can’t believe this movie seriously exists!

  66. I don’t know if this movie is a masterpiece or not, but I do know that when I walked out of the theater I thought: “That movie achieved 100% of what it wanted to do.” I don’t know how many movies do that. So it’s golden in my book.

  67. All I remember about MONKEYBONE was Stephen King cameoing as himself, stuck in the dreamworld because he was in a coma from his real-life car accident.

  68. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors > Inception.

  69. Daniel Strange,

    Care to elaborate? I’m not really sure what you mean.

    1) Do you have some sort of master list of all of all of the films goals (narrative, visual, artistic, etc.) with a check mark and Christopher Nolan’s initials next to each one?

    2) If I make a movie, and it’s only goal is to show someone eating the contents of a used diaper, and I accomplish that goal 100%, should my film be praised on the level of INCEPTION?

    Okay, I’m being a little cheeky. But I’m not sure your praise makes a lot of sense to me and I’d like to see you flesh it out a bit.

  70. Dan — good point about the end of the film. The fact that he spins it out of habit but deliberately does not wait for the results actually says something a little interesting. I walked out thinking that the trick was that he was now incepted with the same idea he gave Mel – -you can kinda see it on his face as he wakes up, but then he just sort of accepts the ambiguity and goes with it. What that means in context of the film’s message… I’m not quite sure. Given the film’s odd assertion that the fake, manipulative “reconciliation” with the father was a good thing, maybe Nolan is actually suggesting that what is and isn’t reality doesn’t actually matter much at all, which interestingly is pretty different from what the characters themselves seem to feel (except arguably at the end of the film)

  71. Subtlety,

    I think it’s a symbol of closure; Cobb has finally let Mal go (it’s her totem that he’s ignoring at the end, after all) and regained his faith in his world’s reality.

    Nolan could have shown the top fall over, or he could have cut to black with the top spinning perfectly in perpetuity. Instead, he shows it wobble. Cobb could spend the rest of his life obsessing over whether or not he’s in the real world and never no the answer. But, to get all new age-y or whatever, he’s learned to live in the now and appreciate his life.

  72. These are all good points, guys. I was so concerned with the audacity of that final cut happening at just the right moment where you couldn’t tell if the top fell or not (and if it did, would that prove anything? Didn’t they say that if you were in someone else’s dream, they wouldn’t be able to get your talisman perfectly right so it wouldn’t work?) and puzzling out where I thought the various strata of dreams started that I didn’t even consider what Cobb thought about the whole mess. Him saying fuck it and enjoying the reality presented to him is an interesting parallel to Fisher’s story, where he really does seem happier with this fiction he’s been fed than he was with reality. That gives the movie a little depth that I wasn’t sure it had (and didn’t really care, either).

    Honestly, though, I didn’t really think much about what Leo’s character thought. He was just sort of the Dude In Need Of Redemption™ that all this shit happened to. I kind of thought he was the weak link, actually. He didn’t detract, but I have a hard time connecting to him. As an actor, Leo is always solid, but he’s never spectacular. I guess I just don’t really buy him in these grizzled suit-and-tie roles. He does his best, but I’d rather see somebody who inhabits that persona fully and isn’t still ten years later trying to play against type. We get it, you’re all growed up. So am I, but I don’t have to dress like a 1940s reporter to prove it.

    And to echo what somebody else said, would it kill him to smile every once in a while? It’s like he’s having a threeway glower-off with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.

  73. Majestyk,

    I can understand your feelings about Leo in the abstract, but I’m sure, performance wise, what more you needed out of him. What would have made him “spectacular” instead of just “solid”? What could he have done with that character (as written) that would have made it jump out more for you?

    What I’m getting at is that maybe your blaming the actor for problems you have with the character. I think he played Cobb to the hilt. The role required a watchable leading man who could project despair while still being a man of action, with an eventually redemption, and I thought he nailed. But then, I was reasonably compelled by the character’s personal story, and it sounds like you weren’t, so that’s probably the difference right there.

  74. Dan Prestwich,

    1) You cheeky bastard, if it makes my statement clearer, I will amend it to say that “it seems to me like” or “as far as I can tell” or [insert some other qualifier here that makes it explicitly obvious that this is my personal opinion as opposed to stated fact], Nolan achieved the goals he set for himself. Namely (disclaimer: again, my opinion, not based on insider information), to make something that was smart, emotional, fun, thought-provoking, technically accomplished, and functioned both as a stimulating intellectual exercise and as action-y popcorn entertainment that blows your balls off. I admit that I don’t have a signed checklist from him that proves he was setting out to accomplish these things, though, so you’ve caught me there. I guess it’s entirely possible that those were not his goals and that it was just a lucky accident that he achieved them anyway.

    2) Personally, I wouldn’t praise your “Eating Out of a Diaper: The Movie” quite as enthusiastically as I’d praise Inception, but in some ways, yes, the principle holds. You should be commended if you make a film that perfectly achieves your vision, regardless of whether other people agree or disagree with that vision. If that vision is someone eating the contents of a diaper, more power to you. I support you.

    I see your point though, I could have been clearer that what I find so impressive about Inception is that – it seems to me like, as far as I can tell, etc – Nolan set his goals really, really fucking high. Admittedly he did not cure cancer or whatever other nitpicks could be leveled at the film. But in comparison to the vast majority of other movies, which set their goals much lower and can’t even achieve 100% of those, I think Inception is pretty fucking awesome.

  75. My favorite scene in Monkey Bone; the dog’s hallucination that hillbilly cats have put a shotgun to his head and are about to neuter him with garden sheers.

    That’s a movie that seems compromised (Whoopi Goldberg? WTF?) but I still love it.

  76. Jack Burton < Correct

  77. I read Vern’s review first thing this morning, when there were only two comments posted and still was not yet ready to chime in on this movie.

    Now I am.

    I consider this movie one of the most technically dazzling productions I have ever seen. I enjoyed the last hour. But I thought the movie was a complete failure as a film and as a story.

    I understand that this movie has sparked debate all over the connective tissue uniting this world known as the internet, but really, honestly, truthfully, what is this debate about?

    Great ideas, great works of fiction, non-fiction, dissertations, essays and the like ask and offer many interpretations in response to some pre-existing condition or aspect of society. What does this movie hold the mirror up to? Absolutely nothing except itself. Much like when Leo found himself in the middle of two mirrors in the movie. It stretches on and on, yet you only see replications of the same thing.

    Everyone is debating this movie ad nauseum, but the debate seems to hinge around one of two questions – 1) Just how great or bad was it? and 2) Was the whole movie a dream, was part of the movie a dream or was it all played in this reality?

    So again, my question is what exactly are we debating? Are we debating our underlying destructive psychological impulses? Are we debating how easy it is to get lost in the web only to realize we are powering it? (Oh yeah, that was the Matrix. and the first question of this paragraph asks that you see the Lost Weekend) The sole debate I see going on right now of any so called merit is that debate of who got it and why versus who didn’t and why.

    I found this movie completely hollow and alienating in that I didn’t give a rat’s ass what happened besides watching the special effects. This had been my pick for the year, until I saw it.

    This was a jigsaw puzzle that existed solely as a jigsaw puzzle. No underlying meaning, no actual thought provoking ideas. Just can you keep up and make the pieces fit together. Now there are people out there who are more than happy to do any jigsaw puzzle in the world because they love the challenge. Good for them.

    Then there are those people who choose their puzzles based on their desire to see something of beauty or some sort of resonance to their soul when they have successfully placed all of the pieces together. Count me in this camp. And when the pieces snapped into place for this movie, I realized I was looking at the visage of a man running a shell game down on the corner. It never mattered what shell the pebble was under, because it was never about the pebble. That to me is manipulation of an order I cannot abide in movies and I do not like getting asked to indulge some director’s ego to create the ultimate shell game.

    The funny thing is how the internet is burning this up and battle lines have already been drawn. So be it. But let me posit this one question. Of all of the films that deal with alternate realities and/or dreams. Back the Future. The Matrix. Nightmare on Elm Street. (Fill in the rest of the list film geeks.) But in all of those movies, there are consequences for dying or certain actions in that alternate reality. But this film promotes self-immolation and suicide as a method for “escaping”. Even going so far as to refer to suicide as one form of a “kick”. Is this the idea?

    Now I am not a movie harpie. I love violence, watching Bruce or Sly tear some motherfuckers up and do not think that it is irresponsible filmmaking in the slightest.

    But this movie, in which the concept revolves around planting an idea and the notion that an idea is the most dangerous thing in the world. Then the filmmaker plants the idea that suicide or murder is okay, based on the belief that your reality may not be your reality and people need to escape. Seems a little macabre. (I make no statements regarding responsibility because I remember those assholes that laid in the freeway after watching Varsity Blues. Darwin was right, the herd will thin itself)

    That was the only idea I found worth debating in this film, so again I ask everyone, what are we debating – Nolan’s shellgame and the various theories surrounding it or are there any fundamental truths or questions that got lost in the heartless exercise.

    And for all of those people who think this movie has heart, Nolan even said himself in all of the time working on this (10 years) he struggled because it lacked emotion and then suddenly he inserted the kids and whammo, emotion. That seems like the entirely bassackwards way of building an emotional story. To me. But maybe I am the one dreaming.

  78. Daniel,

    “I guess it’s entirely possible that those were not his goals and that it was just a lucky accident that he achieved them anyway.”

    I must acknowledge when I have been successfully, thoroughly burned. I tip my hat to you, good sir.

    I agree that the film is all the things you say it is, my assholish point only being that its not possible to claim that a film accomplished 100% of its goals (for all you know, Nolan aimed EVEN HIGHER than you realized and failed to realized 50% of that vision).

    And I still have to disagree with you on one point… I’m not one to moralize much about films (or art in general) but I don’t think accomplishing goals is praise worthy in and of itself, if for example those goals are reprehensible. To make a completely absurd, unfair comparison, imagine if someone you knew said “I just saw TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. I don’t know if it is a masterpiece or not, but I do know that when I walked out of the theater I thought: ‘That movie achieved 100% of what it wanted to do.’ I don’t know how many movies do that. So it’s golden in my book.” One might have cause to balk at that statement.

    Not that INCEPTION was reprehensible (I’m one of the folks who loved it). Just that it didn’t seem like a valid reason to praise it.

  79. MDM,

    I think I have to reject your premise here:

    “What does this movie hold the mirror up to? Absolutely nothing except itself.”

    EVEN if that’s true (I don’t think it is; plenty of peeps have discussed it as a story about dealing with grief and learning to appreciate your life, or as a metaphor for cinema, etc etc), so what? Plenty of great art doesn’t (or doesn’t seem to) hold a mirror up to anything. Is art, in your esteem, simply something that can be boiled down to a easily understood thesis?

    Is there not aesthetic value in admiring a work’s craft? Is it not enough that people had an emotional reaction to the film (in this case, excitement; just as valid an emotion as happiness, sadness, etc.)? Is an entertaining story not worth telling if it doesn’t have immediate, obvious socio/political subtext? I think maybe you and I have some divergent opinions about art.

    I think some of this talk of “masterpieces” and whatnot is a little overheated, considering people are discussing a movie they just saw like 4 or 5 days ago. BUt is it somehow, I dunno, invalid for people to want to discuss elements of the story, or explain what they liked about specific set pieces, or what have you? I’m just not sure what you’re so incensed about.

  80. I dunno MDM, but I connected to it on a visceral, intellectual, even somewhat emotional level. Of course I would say all the same for 2001, which most folks (even top critics) usually never mention “emotion” with it.

    INCEPTION is no 2001, I won’t commit such context-lacking, nearsighted blasphemy, but I said elsewhere which my man Gwai Lo backed me up on: INCEPTION I thought is a good reminder of what movies can be.

    Not what movies should be or gonna be, but a good…familiar smell, not the same stale smell of ass we’ve really gotten this year in the blockbuster mainstream release arena. What with fucking moronic CGI action/comedy mindless wankery like ALICE IN WONDERLAND or CLASH OF THE TITANS or whatever bullshit this year that made a ridiculous amount of money, or from what otherwise (save for TOY STORY 3) has been one unremarkable summer of I don’t give a fuck.

    Christopher Nolan isn’t the beginning and end of filmmaking excellence, then again neither was Steven Spielberg in his prime. He just…might be the best one from his generation right now in the epic public landscape.

  81. “Is there not aesthetic value in admiring a work’s craft?”

    I’d just like the apologize for that sentence. I think you understand what I was trying to say well enough, but its mix of pretension and incoherence is rather Armind White-ish.

  82. And for all of the people that do connect with this movie, I would be ecstatic to discuss this film at that level. I admire what Nolan tried to do with this film, but it ultimately seems flawed in the execution.

    Dan Prestwich, I agree that art should culminate in the reaction it stirs in the viewer or audience. But that notion of dealing with grief, I do not buy on any level in connection with this film. As previously stated by the director, that was added almost as an afterthought. And if I want to watch a movie about a director indulging his every fetish, I will watch 8 1/2, even though I do not really like Fellini. At least I felt like I was seeing something personal there instead of manipulative.

  83. Leo Thinks He's Jack

    July 21st, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Someone on Ain’t It Cool posted this:

    “Saw it last night, and despite being unable to convince any of my friends, my theory was that the Cobb was the target of the Inception from the get go and that the team was being orchestrated by Michael Caine’s character in order to help Cobb come to terms with Mal. Caine eventually lead him to his dream world to be with kids that probably never existed outside of Cobb’s mind. It seemed to that Watanabe’s character was calling Caine’s when he awoke to let him know that the inception was successful, hence him waiting for him at the gate and the children appearing to not have aged in the all the time Cobb was apparently “gone”. Need to see it again, but, for me personally, seemed like a more satisfying conclusion. In any case, the fact it’s inspired such intelligent debate means Nolan did his job.”

    Now, that occurred to me, too, but in the end just about any argument can be made for any interpretation because Nolan’s gift (which I dislike, by the way–but he’s good at it) is giving you just enough information IN THE ORDER THAT HE WANTS IT DELIVERED IN because he knows that, otherwise, the movie won’t have much true drama or logic.

    It was an interesting movie, but like MOMENTO, it just glosses over to much critical story explanation (which you really don’t NEED or think about while watching it). Plus, no one in the film could really die while in the dream-state, so so gives a shit about all the dumbass shooting? Not me. And, truthfully, I laughed outloud along with several others in the theater when the scene abruptly changed to Leo & crew in Artic snow gear; that was just silly…a big glaring WTF!? Why? Why the snow gear? How’d they get it? If the created it via “dream architecture”, why not pick something more reliable and easier to work through? I mean, DIEHARD 2 did all that snowmovile stuff much better.

    I hope Nolan gets over this type of shit. He’s turning into M. Night…and once you know his methods, it kind of makes him boring.

  84. I tend to agree that there are some flaws with the film. The most interesting criticism of the film is that the dreams are way too orderly. But let’s put that aside for a moment. I liked the world that Nolan created, but I felt that in order to describe this world to the audience he relied very heavily on exposition. Maybe it is just me, but it felt like half the film was just characters explaining how things worked.

    Nowhere was this worse than with Ellen Page’s character. She’s essentially just there to explain stuff to the audience. I didn’t see why she was the one who would uncover DiCaprio’s inner turmoil. There was absolutely no connection between the two, and I think this stems from the fact that she is barely a character.

    This is true of the wife, Mal, as well. We never know her before she loses it, so there’s no real connection. I didn’t particularly care about her relationship with DiCaprio. There are plenty of things to like in this film, and the good definitely outweighs the bad, but I would merely call this a good summer action flick, rather than a “masterpiece.” In fact, I could probably name at least a dozen other films that deal with similar themes and subjects that are easily superior to Inception.

  85. “so so gives a shit about all the dumbass shooting?”

    Leo – I think its that they could deter or screw up the critical timing for those kicks or whatever which could fuck their chances of actually returning back to land of reality, and didn’t it mean you could get trapped in limbo if you get “killed”?

    “She’s essentially just there to explain stuff to the audience. ”

    So is every sidekick in the history of comic books, DOCTOR WHO, and any other medium where exposition needs a mouth, or ears to give technobabble bullshit to. Whether Page stands out as more than a mere plot device, that is the debate.

  86. I like the theory that the whole movie is a dream, and that the dreamer is Nolan. DiCaprio looks like Nolan in the movie, one of the kids was one of Nolan’s kids, and there are references to his other films throughout (Cobb’s name, the white van from TDK). It’s Nolan dreaming about movie making.

    The great thing about the “everything is a dream” theory is that it filters out any complaints about the movie. Thin characterizations? The characters are all projections of the same subconscious. Dreamworld too literal for you? Maybe it’s how Nolan dreams. etc. etc.

  87. Levon,

    See, you just explained perfectly what I hate about “it was all a dream” endings in movies.

  88. Which is totally understandable. When I said, “great,” I guess I meant from Nolan’s perspective maybe. Of course, you could always believe that it’s not all a dream, the ambiguity is the point, blah blah blah.

  89. If it were all Cobb’s dream, I might agree that everything being a dream is kind of cheap, but if it’s all Nolan’s dream I think that’s a little more interesting.

  90. MDM,

    Thanks for the response. If you didn’t connect with the movie emotionally and want to argue why that was, then great, Please, by all means, chime in. It just sounded like in your original post that you were saying… I don’t know what, exactly, but I guess claiming that the movie made no such attempt to connect on that level, and that it loses its status as art (or whatever) because it supposedly didn’t appeal directly to the emotions or make some sort of timely social criticism. Also, I don’t really understand your repeated point about Cobb’s backstory being a relatively late addition to the screen play. So what? Does that somehow negate that (rather large) portion of the story? Again, feel free to argue that its poorly done or insincere or however you feel about it(and citing examples helps), but regardless of whether that part of the movie was in the first draft of the script, the 50th draft, or improvised on set… it’s still in the movie!

    Also, I’d like to hear you talk more about your complaints of the film being manipulative. I think that might get at a fundamental reason for our disagreement… I think manipulation is a BIG part of what thrillers are supposed to do.

    Levon,

    Still not grasping the appeal of this “Nolan’s dream” theory. Not to get too fruity, but aren’t ALL good films a representation of the director’s dreams about movie making? Aren’t all movies just in their heads? This “theory” doesn’t add anything thematically, and it certainly doesn’t help explain it narratively.

  91. “I hope Nolan gets over this type of shit. He’s turning into M. Night…and once you know his methods, it kind of makes him boring.”….. Comparing M. Night to Nolan isn’t even comparing apples and oranges dude, that’s like apples and hammers.

    “Who cares about the dumbass shooting?”- It’s explained that being killed in the dream wakes you up. So if the dude driving the van in layer one while everyone is sedated gets shot, how is he supposed to “kick” them awake. Same for JGL in layer 2. If he gets taken out in the zero-g fight he can’t detonate the elevator. They only get one shot at planting the ideal so none of that shit can go wrong. So yeah, the shooting matters.

  92. And regarding it being Nolans dream, that’s even less obvious than the whole movie being Leo’s dream. Are casual movie-goers really supposed to be like “Oh theres that white van from TDK that was so important to that film and I vividly remember!” or “Did they say his name was Cobb? Isn’t he the dude from that movie Following that most people have never seen?” “Hey I think in the credits I saw one of the kids from the movie had the same last name of the director. I bet that was a really important clue in the movie”….

  93. Dan Prestwich

    Your point is taken that there could be exceptions to movies being “golden” if they achieve 100% of the goals WE PERCEIVE them as setting for themselves. But let’s also be honest with each other, I believe most people would reasonably assume that I was not talking about movies featuring people eating out of diapers or movies about the supremacy of the aryan race, at least not in the context of a discussion about Inception. I’ll admit that you have the semantic high ground, though, if that pleases you. However, I still maintain though that even with these examples you cited, you could still *admire* the films (without liking them) if they achieve their goals effectively. Take the movie Happiness, for example. Not my favorite movie, and I’m not a pedophile, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring how Solondz was able to achieve his goal of making a movie where the viewer finds himself sympathizing with a pedophile. Would I proclaim the movie “golden” for achieving this goal successfully? Perhaps not – and again, I hate to sound pedantic here, but I believe most readers would reasonably recognize that as hyperbole – but I still respect it for achieving what I PERCEIVE AS the interesting goal the filmmaker set for it.

  94. Edit: “Your point is taken that there could be exceptions to movies being “golden”, *even* if they achieve 100% of the goals WE PERCEIVE them setting for themselves.”

    What a difference a word makes.

  95. Dan (Prestwich, not Strange): No, I had no problem with the character as written, or with his arc. And really I had no problem with Leo’s performance. Like I said, it was solid and didn’t detract from the movie in any way, and he did the job a hell of a lot better than a lot of comparable actors would. It’s just a matter of charisma and energy, and Leo’s doesn’t really do much for me. We don’t really connect. It’s not like Clooney or Bruce where I’m just naturally predisposed to be on their side and interested in them because of the aura they bring. That’s a natural gift they have, and it’s something that, for me anyway, Leo has to work hard to achieve. It’s like a singer who can hit all the notes and has a good voice but for some reason it doesn’t appeal to you that much. It’s such a minor quibble, though, that I’m almost sorry I brought it up. I don’t want to recast the movie or anything. It’s fine as is.

  96. Daniel,

    Yeah, I’m probably just being a cock and arguing semantics, and my Nazi comparison was completely unfair (which I admitted at the time). But, personally speaking, even if I recognize a work as successfully achieving its goals and have a certain degree of respect for that, I still don’t think it’s a strong argument for heralding the film. I greatly dug INCEPTION, but that had not only to do with the film meeting/exceeding what I perceived as its goals (or, more accurately, what I wanted from the film), but because I also admired what those goals were. Still, I think you have the high ground here for not being a nitpicky bitch like myself, and I still respect your burn that I mentioned before.

    Majestyk,

    Yeah, it’s hard to argue intangibles like that. Sometimes performers just stand out and its hard to put your finger on why. Leo doesn’t have that for you/ Doesn’t really have it for me, either, but maybe I didn’t think this role needed “it,” whatever that is.

  97. And in other news, there is now INCEPTION fan fiction. I guess some folks got burned out on writing their own STAR WARS and TWILIGHT stuff. Let’s see the summary of one of them:

    “When Eames watched Ariadne and Arthur leave the airport together he threw away any dregs of hope he had kept behind and made sure no one was looking before narrowing his eyes in to a glare at their backs.”

    I can’t make this shit up.

  98. A couple of ideas here. I’ll throw them out and see what sticks.

    The last shot – Irrelevant. Cobb took his wife’s totem as his own. Even if it fell over in that stage, it doesn’t prove anything. His totem is flawed because if he was dreaming when he obtained it (which if his wife was not crazy is very likely he was dreaming at the time) then he would only be able to prove that he was at that particular level of dreaming and not necessarily at reality.

    Ellen Page – I think she’s actually Cobb’s wife coming back for him. She learned the achitecting pretty damned fast and was able to read Cobb better than anyone else despite knowing him for a short time. Also her reaction toward him before she jumped out the window (much like his wife did earlier in the movie) seemed to have more history behind it that those two characters should have had. Especially considering how much Cobb was jeopardizing everyone’s sanity and possibly their life, it would make more sense that Ellen Page would just finish the mission and say to hell with Cobb. But if Ellen Page were really his wife… Besides, we already know that they can disguise themselves as other people, the only thing I don’t get is why, if Ellen Page was indeed Cobb’s wife, would she disguise herself?

    I just realized though, that if he’s dreaming and his wife “comes back alive” all the projections would attack her and I suppose that would make things difficult and probably screw things up more for Cobb.

    I don’t know? It was a cool movie that’s for sure. I also think that any movie that can both, get a good portion of the audience to give a collective, “What the fuck?!” over something seemingly arbitrary as a top falling or not falling over AND a movie that makes me question my own existence gets a masterpiece seal of approval in my book. Fuck, if that doesn’t qualify then I don’t know if my brain can handle a TRUE masterpiece. Just sayin’.

  99. Vernon. You’ve knocked my socks off.

    “Thought I was gonna have to break some bones and phones.”

    Quote of the year.

  100. Man, I guess I’m just not in tune with a lot of you guys anymore. If INCEPTION isn’t what you want from movies, what is? I have a sense that the thing holding people back from this is that Nolan’s reach MAY have exceeded his grasp. But jesus, is that fair to hold against a director? If you try for the stars and manage to hit the moon, isn’t that still pretty god damn good? (And I’m still not quite willing to accept that he didn’t hit the stars anyway.)

    A few comments upon a second viewing:

    1) Ellen Page actually deserves a lot of credit here. I can’t speak to her possible typecasting (as I haven’t seen JUNO or anything else she was in) but she makes what is basically a Miss Exposition character into something cute and acceptable. She plays smart and curious very well.

    2) Really, who played the worst for me was Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard; if we exclude lust from the consideration I don’t think she did particularly well in this movie. That may have been part of the point; as a mere “shade” of her former self she wasn’t meant to be particularly deep, but an idealized portrait of the character… still, she stuck out like no one else in this movie.

    3) I thought the last “level” was supposed to be a hospital. What happened? What did I miss? Why was it the mountain fortress instead?

  101. RRA : You MUST be making that shit up !

    Mr Majestyk : Agreed on JGL, I fucking love BRICK, but I amused myself more with the thought of the 3rd Rock JGL being in the best fight scene, rather than the Brick JGL or the Lookout JGL.

  102. A strange perspective, but after Don’t Look Now, I was terrified of seeing the kids’ faces.

    I struggle to understand if Mombassa was a dream though – the squeeze through the alleyway was the most dream like thing in the entire movie for me – felt the most anxious and out of control, like teh dreams I have.

  103. Sure, on some level you could say any film is the director’s dream, but Inception makes it explicit. I see the movie as about movies, mostly, which it would not have been if it seemed like just Cobb’s dream. But there are clearly a number of totally valid interpretations. As far as not noticing those small things, I was in 8th grade when I saw Memento, and I’ve been a huge Nolan fan ever since, so I guess I’m sort of ideally suited to notice those things. I remember coming to school one day all excited that they had announced Nolan would direct the new Batman, and all of my friends were like, “Who?”

  104. Armond White is a retarded troll, but at least the guy puts the effort in. You can’t help but laugh at a lot of it.

    RE: Salt

    “Yet the film perverts Jolie’s sex symbol status, making her a strangely androgynous enigma: Costumed in unconvincing blonde and brunette wigs, dieted to anorexic thinness, she plays a fast-thinking, 85-pound killing machine.”
    http://www.nypress.com/article-21440-supermom-with-salt.html

  105. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 7:05 am

    M. Casey: I can’t speak for the others who were lukewarm to INCEPTION, but I would say that your phrase “Nolan’s reach MAY have exceeded his grasp” is the exact opposite of my experience. I think it is unfortunate that Nolan made the decision to ensure that his audience would never suffer a moment of disorientation while watching the film, and that he lacked the narrative skills to do this in anything but a heavy-handed way, ie. wall-to-wall exposition, painfully obvious visual cues and symbols. It is film-making with training wheels for an implied audience that Noaln feels isn’t very bright.

    I also think it is unfortunate that his well-crafted action sequences are tethered to relationships that we’ve seen over and over. Majestyk described this well as Di Caprio’s standard dude in need of redemption. We have this neat idea of impregnating memory, but the best plot we can hang this thing on is a romance worthy of Nicholas Sparks? Maybe this wouldn’t bother me if we had characters, but I only remember the actors in this film based on their functions: we have van driving potion guy, corporate sponsor guy, guy in waistcoat who does the heavy lifting, and Dora the Explorer.

    Also, I think there is a key visual element missing from all of Noaln’s films. We can call it style, if you like. I’m not one of these guys who think the dreams should have talking goats and stuff. I mean, the poster for the film has the slogan: THE DREAM IS REAL. I think it was Nolan’s intention to make the dream world very normal. But my objection is that Nolan doesn’t have the visual skills to distinguish between normal and prosiac. Frankly, his style is bland and ugly, and not in a DANCER IN THE DARK kind of way, but rather in a made-for-t.v.-movie kind of way.

    I think it was an entertaining film, and I liked it more than DARK NIGHT, but I wasn’t seduced or even charmed by it.

    Majestyk: You say you have no problem with Di Caprio being cast as the lead, but how do you think Nic Cage would have fared?

  106. Jareth: Cage would have been all the talking goat this movie needed.

  107. Holy crap, have you guys seen the reviews SALT is getting? Who the hell saw that coming?

  108. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Majestyk, I came across this quote in a SALT review that kind of hurt my head:

    “It’s like a John le Carré double-agent yarn compacted into comic-book pulp as if by the makers of Con Air.”

    All I want to know is if SALT marks the beginning of a genre that I’ve long dreamed about: lespionage.

  109. That would require Angelina to allow another female into a movie she’s in. That’s not likely to happen. She tried it in GIA and decided she’d much rather only make movies where an entire cast of men is chasing after her.

    I’m hoping that when they catch her, they forcefeed her a hamburger. Bitch needs protein like whoa.

  110. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 8:11 am

    She shouldn’t be so concerned. She won her Oscar by appearing in a Mickey Mouse Club version of a Russ Meyer women in prison film. So close, and yet so far.

    And yes, she looks dangerously underweight. Maybe she’s preparing for a live-action CORPSE BRIDE.

  111. Bless you guys. I’m tired of everyone on the planet going off about how hot they think Skeletor’s bride looks. She’s not, she looks like she should star in an educational ad on the dangers of malnutrition.

  112. The thing is, she’s still got a gorgeous face, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when you see the vaguely woman-shaped wire hanger sculpture she’s got hanging beneath it. She used to be a stunning specimen from head to toe. What torturous combination of bizarro body issues and insidious showbiz machinations makes a healthy woman do that to herself? I mean, have you ever heard anyone say, “Man, Angelina looks great now that she lost all that extra weight”? Who exactly is she starving herself for?

  113. “3) I thought the last “level” was supposed to be a hospital. What happened? What did I miss? Why was it the mountain fortress instead?”
    I don’t remember them saying it was meant to be a hospital, but it makes sense as a fortress because they were presenting it as Berenger’s subconscious that Fischer had to break into. Basically to convince him that he wasn’t being played, they had to make him feel that it wasn’t too easy.

  114. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Majestyk: In addition to a lovely face, Jolie has a neat repertoire of action hero faces. You never doubt that she’s committed to her roles, sometimes even roles in films that don’t deserve the effort.

  115. I was expecting the last level to be a hospital too. I guess by hospital they meant hospital bed inside a vault inside a mountaintop fortress.

  116. Mr. Majestyk: I’m not really sure what you mean vis a vis SALT reviews, I looked up Rotten Tomatoes and it’s getting a straight down the line 58% with a 5.5/10 average. That’s about what I’d expect.

    Also, and this a wierd thing for me to post but on the IMDB news there’s a headline reading “Poor Jen! First She Had To Endure ‘Salt’ Fever & Now She Barely Made The Top 10 List Of Best Summer Bodies!” Yeah, how does that woman cope? I mean, someone who is married to someone she used to be married to has a movie out, and some magazine say that she _only_ has one of the ten best bodies in the world. We better put her on suicide watch lads.

  117. Sorry, I meant to add are there any particular reviews you mean? I have just noticed Ebert gave it 4/4, but we probably all know he has a tendancy to be lead by one organ. I guess you don’t work for Russ Meyer without it rubbing off (so to speak) on you

  118. Pacman – Good to know that with all his health problems in recent years, some of his parts still work.

    See this is the big difference (among others) between Ebert and White. If White has intellectual low self-esteem, always having to act like everybody else is fucking insane or stupid, Ebert has the self-confidence to admit he liked SALT because it gave him a boner. Without coming off as a bonehead.

    I suppose SALT is probably much more disposable than Ebert makes it out, someone told me it was the retarded remake of NO WAY OUT.

    And lets admit it guys, Phillip Noyce you can’t exactly depend on. For every good thriller like a CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER or RABBIT PROOF FENCE, he does bullshit like BONE COLLECTOR or PATRIOT GAMES.

  119. I haven’t read any negative reviews yet, and the first two I saw gave it four stars, which is when I posted that comment. Considering I was expecting it to get the standard two-and-halfer “adequate entertainment if you’re a mouthbreather, which I am not” type reviews, I was pretty surprised. I think I’m going to see it. I like movies where people shoot each other.

  120. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    RRA: Not to take anything away from your theory about Ebert’s boner, but all the press I’ve read about SALT has mentioned how they went out of their way to de-sexualize Jolie in this particular film. Apparently at one point she even SPOLIER dresses up like a man and at another point she ANOTHER SPOILER has her face mashed in like MONSTER.

    I’d propose an alternate theory: Ebert liked SALT because his comfort zone as a viewer is in middle of the road, pedestiran, status quo corporate film-making, like Pixar. Stuff like Von Trier isn’t his bag.

  121. Or maybe he just liked it because it was well-made and entertaining. He appreciated it for all the things we keep asking for: comprehensible editing, steady camerawork, decipherable spatial relations, etc.

  122. Ebert has given very positive reviews to several Von Trier films, including ANTICHRIST, DANCER IN THE DARK and BREAKING THE WAVES (which, if I recall, he called one of the ten best films of the 90’s). So you need a better example.

  123. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Fair enough. I submit his review of FIGHT CLUB for consideration. He seems to have missed the point of the film entirely.

    Interestingly, RRA’s boner theory applies to that review; Ebert scolds the male characters in the film for preferring fist fighting to boinking Helena Bonham Carter.

    He also liked WANTED for many of the same resons he liked SALT. I don’t think he noticed the ugly wish fulfillment aspect of WANTED that Mr. Subtlety so adroitly mapped out in another thread.

    But hey, I hope he’s right about SALT. A girlfriend is taking me to see it on the weekend.

  124. Jareth – If I recall correctly Ebert did “get” what Fight Club was about, but he didn’t think a lot of people would understand the subtext and most red neck guys would just be all “kewl violence” and because of that he gave it a low score.

    …I mean yeah I think that’s pretty stupid, but it’s a different kind of stupid than not getting it. Though Ebert does dwell on audience reaction to films fairly often, if I recall he hated I Spit on Your Grave so venomously because the audience of men he saw it with were whoopin’ and a hollierin’ during the rape sequence, which would obviously colour your view of how the film was presenting it.

  125. I don’t think Ebert’s taste can be accurately pinned down (which is why my SALT + Boner= 4 Stars theory probably doesn’t pan out). Even if you look at his reviews within one series, it can be confusing. Take Bond for example; he didn’t like THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS seemingly because it was too down to earth and serious, but liked the even more down to earth and serious LICENCE TO KILL. Later he praised THE WORLD WAS NOT ENOUGH and the Bond series in general for its comforting, check-list mentality, but welcomed CASINO ROYALE as a breath of fresh air. But he didn’t like QUANTUM OF SOLACE, and his review essentially boiled down to “where are the jokes?” And Ebert was one of the few high profile critics to be a fan of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS films (films I have no interest in so maybe my perspective on _his_ perspective is skewed) and liked the first three for basically “doing what they say on the tin” but panned the fourth for the same reason. He seems to have his rules, but he doesn’t really stick to them. Like most of us, probably, if we’re honest.

  126. Ebert liked SALT because his comfort zone as a viewer is in middle of the road, pedestiran, status quo corporate film-making, like Pixar.

    there are so many things wrong with this sentence

  127. and so many things wrong with my ability to complete an html tag

  128. Jareth,

    There is indeed an irony in the fact that he condemned FIGHT CLUB for its macho, wish fulfillment fantasies while completely ignoring them in WANTED. I recall that he screened FIGHT CLUB one time for a Cinema Interruptus event (where they go through a movie practically frame by frame) and he said that he gained more respect for the film’s craft, and even less for its message. He’s always been something on a holier-than-thou moralizer when something pisses him off, which can be annoying enough, plus as you point out, he’s an inconsistent one at that.

    To be fair, though, I don’t think not liking FIGHT CLUB is a sign that one is a supporter of “middle of the road, pedestiran, status quo corporate film-making.” I enjoy FIGHT CLUB, but… c’mon. It was a $60 million film starring one of the world’s biggest celebrities that’s (to steal a phrase from David Bordwell) “strategically ambiguous” about its socio-political message. Just because it makes overtures to stroking the egos of anti-consumerist viewers doesn’t mean that it isn’t exactly the thing that it is (supposedly) decrying.

  129. Jareth – I was fucking around, joking in response to someone else.

    If you want my theory, Ebert is deliberately baiting Armond White in response to his attack. Good luck on the fishing Roger.

    Dan Prestwich – Or for that matter, Ebert just reviewed MYSTERY TRAIN as part of his Great Movies essay series. And that shit aint pedestrian. Plus it got Joe Strummer. And Steve Buscemi.

    As for FIGHT CLUB, I always suppose that critics from Ebert’s generation subconciously didn’t like it because it reminded them of how as the Flower Children from the 1960s, they fucking sold out and got corporatized and became whores for the same money and bullshit which they railed against as young people.

  130. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Yeah, I apologize for pushing Ebert into the middle of the road like that. If I had given it more thought, I’d have recognized that his attitude toward FIGHT CLUB is completely in line with his mini-freak-outs over V FOR VENDETTA, BLUE VELVET, WILD AT HEART and KICK ASS: as GoodBadGroovy pointed out so well, Ebert tends to anticipate audience reactions, and Ebert observes violence/terrorism/revolution in films with way more caution than people of our generation are inclined to do. That’s an understandable posture for a critic to take.

    And RRA’s is right; anyone who has championed Jarmusch from the beginng like Ebert can’t be entirely pedestrian.

    Having said that, his FIGHT CLUB review is quite clearly wrong: he’s one of those guys who considered the film “fascist,” the same guys Norton and Fincher spend much of the film’s commentary track effectively arguing against.

  131. Ellen Page is the good. Ellen Page can read a script on an empty stage and I’ll watch it. Ellen Page is fucking gorgeousness and gorgeosity in an age of anorexics and/or pornstar enhancements. Ellen Page is the anti-Megan Fox. Ellen Page . . . well, you get my meaning.

    I didn’t think it possible to not see that all of INCEPTION is a dream, from start to finish.

    And, in a final analysis, the film is not as smart as it appears. It reminds me that really, really bright girl I once dated. She could dazzle with everything she knew and she had mad rhetoric skillz but no LIFE WISDOM to back that shit up. More than an hour of INCEPTION is nothing but boom-boom and fisticuffs. I know we’re supposed to excuse that by saying some profundity about the cost of making the movie needing to be offset for the TRANSFORMERS crowd but that’s a point in Nolan *disfavour*; i.e. he can’t commit to making a really smart movie on a tiny budget.

    A movie driven by ideas. And ideas are the most resilient parasites.

    I won’t go into a debate (boring anyway) about S. Soderberg but he’s about the only director I can think of who goes from FULL FRONTAL to SOLARIS. If you really can’t get past him, think Kubrick: LOLITA and 2001, then FULL METAL JACKET, then EYES WIDE SHUT. Point is: the man had many canvasses. Nolan and Peter (THE LOVELY BONES) Jackson lost their ballsacks to the comforts of mega-budgets.

    I had a really good time at INCEPTION. It’s the only “summer” movie made for me in 2010. But it’s still just a summer movie. For contrast on the same dream/reality ideas, try to catch ABRE LOS OYOS (a.k.a. OPEN YOUR EYES, a.k.a. the movie remade as VANILLA SKY) and see what happens when you don’t have $150M to fall back on.

    Peace out.

  132. Budget means nothing. How many directors have $150 mil at their disposal and manage to make nothing of value, not even any pretty pictures that linger in the mind longer than the monster-size Coke you drank stays in your bladder? If all you had to do was “fall back on” a massive budget, why do so many big-budget movies suck?

    By that same token, how many low-budget movies suck, too? You can whine and say that the filmmakers didn’t have the funds to fully realize their vision, but that’s their own damn fault for biting off more than they could chew and not finding creative, cost-effective ways to get around their limitations. The difference in budget between THE EVIL DEAD and, I don’t know, SCALPS, is negligible. The difference in talent, though, is formidable, and it will out, no matter the cost.

  133. Jareth Cutestory

    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Majestyk: I’ve always wondered if certain directors, like Ridley Scott, often thrive in adveristy, particularly with budgets. The quality of his later work seems to suggest that.

    Also, it blows my mind that ERASERHEAD was made for $10,000. $10,000 is spent on catering these days.

  134. Well, looks like we’re past INCEPTION and onto SALT now, but I just wanted to summerize my feelings from the GREENBURG forum before I move on, just so I can get some personal closure and state my feelings for the record.

    As much as I admire the technical craft and engrossing, imaginative storytelling of INCEPTION, I have to admit I ultimately left the theater feeling just a tiny bit let down. It’s not that I felt that any particular part was mishandled (the emotional core is a little weak, but I’d let that go given the film’s smashing success as a top-notch thriller) but rather that I couldn’t quite let go of the fact that the film never quite ends up getting the most out of the cool ideas it introduces. To whit:

    It’s a film about the subconscious and dreams, which doesn’t have any real dreams in it or any particular exploration of the subconscious. It’s all completely static and literal (so much so that his subconscious guilt is expressed by having the person he feels guilty about appear and act hostile.)

    It’s a film about infiltrating the mind with an idea, but all they do is construct an elaborate lie. It has nothing to do with the mind or with convincing. The other big “inception” is even more literal and dissapointing, all you have to do is find someone’s subconsious safe and stick an idea in there and presto-chango!

    It’s a movie about overcoming guilt and keeping it from creeping into your life. But all you have to do is go into your subconscious and explain to your wife that you already lived 50 fake years so deal with it. Or, that failing, you can just shoot her.

    Its a movie about figuring out what’s really going on, that doesn’t give you the tools to actually figure anything out. You don’t have enough puzzle pieces to conclusively put it together any particular way — some people like that it’s open-ended with many possible explanations, but to me it just makes it feel a little hollow. Arguably, this is part of Nolan’s point about reality, but it makes the excersize in trying to figure out what’s really going on pretty meaningless. The fact that I’ve seen at least 15 equally plausible arguments for what is and isn’t a dream and who is and isn’t dreaming doesn’t seem like genius to me, it seems like it makes it a kind of pointless mental excersize, especially since its an entirely semantical argument. It’s kind of fun to imagine different ways it could all add up, but it doesn’t really mean much.

    Again, the movie’s a lot of fun. But to me, it just seems like it wastes a lot of interesting, complex ideas by making them literal and straightforward. All the complex things end up feeling kinda shallow, even though the plot is quite complex. Not that it doesn’t have some cool concpets and fun gimmicks in it, but I left feeling just a little cheated on the promise of the central concepts. I hate to be a big hater fanboy, and I’m still glad to have seen the thing, and glad that such a crazy, clever movie got the budget and the response it’s getting. I only say these things because I find this a useful forum to gather my thoughts and exlpore why things ended up feeling a little underwhelming to me. I hope you’ll excuse my indulgence, and have a nice day.

  135. Subtlety,

    To give a very brief response to your thoughtful points, I understand what you mean about the movie not really exploring its ideas by making everything literal. I know personally, before I saw the movie, I was expecting more surreal or abstract touches, a more dreamlike feel, and so forth. But if Nolan had gone for that, he wouldn’t have been able to make an entertaining thriller; he would have gotten lost down the rabbit hole and made something more akin to Lynch or Bunuel. Nolan isn’t those people, he’s himself, and what he does is make mainstream action/thrillers. (His last three have been pretty damn good, in my esteem).

    I think its best to view the film as, in structure, a traditional heist movie/thriller that uses the gimmick of dreams to play around with time, space, gravity, parallel action, etc, in crafting its major set pieces. So you can chose to view it as a film about dreams or dream states, and be very disappointed as it falls short of major works in that realm. Or, if you view it is a heist movie with a unique gimmick, then I think it shines as a superior entry in the genre.

  136. Mr. S, you seem to be in the position I was in for THE DARK KNIGHT. Everyone loves it, and you can see all the good in it, but something in you insists that there’s something wrong, and it won’t let you enjoy the movie. In trying to work it out, you come up with a million theories and examples, but none of them are really the answer. But because the movie is so beloved and discussed, you can’t let it go, and you feel the need to defend yourself. There’s a long road ahead of you, and there will be plenty of people discounting your opinions as petty spite, no matter how well argued they are, or assuming that because you don’t like this one movie that you must be an idiot. I say stick to your guns. Stay immune to their consultations. You’re quite aware of what you’re going through.

  137. Man some of you are just so pretentious.

  138. We prefer the term “elitist” around here.

  139. CH-CH-CH-CH CHANGES!

  140. Here’s something that’s been bothering me about Inception: why make a movie about the subconscious and completely avoid the id?

  141. If INCEPTION is not a movie that achieves 100% of it’s goals, then i don’t know what is.

    One of the posters brough up an interesting thign about the movie: Cobb’s kids don’t seem to have aged a day since he last saw them. And from the indications the movie gives, it looks as if it was some years since Cobb left the USA and went on his criminal career long enough to gain a reputation and known a lot of people in his line of work to make a network of conenctions. That is the kind of stuff that takes years, if not even a whole decade or more. And the kids never aged since. Peculiar detail, if you ask me. Damn peculiar.

  142. HOLY MOTHERFUCKING CRAP THAT WAS A GOOD FILM.

    (Just got back from seeing it.)

    I’ll read all the spoilerific comments, plus Vern’s review, a little later on, then I’m sure I’ll have more to say.

    BTW I think the last film I actually went to the cinema to see before this one was “The Dark Knight”. (At least with DVDs and Netflix you don’t start off with thirty minutes of adverts. Damn, they haven’t got any less annoying.) Two for two Mr Nolan.

  143. I don’t think you guys are elitist at all. Just often times pretentious. I’ve read some comments that seem to be really deep yet don’t say anything at all. Like they’re criticizing the movie but responding in the same way they criticize the film. or something.

    I saw it. It was awesome. It’s one of the best summer blockbuster movies since, I don’t know really. The Matrix?

  144. I really really enjoyed this movie. The best of the year so far, and a contender for Nolan’s best movie. And while I agree that there is something a little… sterile? calculated? about Nolan’s work, it doesn’t bother me because the overall experience of watching all these clockwork layers play out is very satisfying. And watching Ellen Page all chic’d out in a pencil skirt with her hair in a bun is equally satisfying. What I’m trying to say is, Inception good.

  145. So I go hiking and kayaking and watching the annual fireworks and drinking beer and whatnot for a couple of days without checking the internet and of course an INCEPTION review arrives with a massive talkback before I can make an appearance and get some good insights in edgewise. Anyway I read all your comments and as usual, good work gents, really sharp stuff here. Glad I at least got a good amount of words into the GREENBERG talkback where we were supposed to be talking about that mopey asshole with the lasagna fetish.

    I’m a regular on a screenwriting forum where at least 50% of the posters in the INCEPTION post hated the thing. I put up a staunch defense but the main sticking points seemed to be:

    a) too much exposition
    b) no real villain (apparently Fischer, the mark, doesn’t count as Lonnegan does in THE STING, nor does Mal, as Hari does in SOLARIS)
    c) no stakes

    Anyway I got plenty of kudos for my debating skills in that thread, but the “too much exposition” argument, when coming from pedantic screenwriters, is like arguing with a brick wall. So I was quite pleased to see Vern’s take on it, and quoted him all the way from: “I always love a good Assembling an Elite Team and of course what kind of an asshole doesn’t get a kick out of a good Going Over the Plan?” to “Nolan takes his time setting up that complicated Bill Goldberg* device and it’s worth the time it takes because when it’s all finished he lets that metal ball roll and you just sit back and watch all the contraptions do their thing.”

    Of course I threw that * in there to explain that Vern was being facetious and knows he’s talking about a Rube Goldberg machine, because the first thing these dinks would do is jump on that like it’s a mistake. In fact, someone immediately did, asking how I knew he was being facetious, and then came back 30 seconds later after to admit I was probably right after they Googled Bill Goldberg.

    Anyway, I have very little to contribute at this point. But since I’m here I will say that Tom Hardy was the sharpest dresser in the film. I want everything he was wearing. More support for the theory that he was gay, I guess.

  146. Ok here we go.

    1) I had no problem with Ellen Page or anybody else. I thought they all did great jobs. I also thought Page “fit” her character very well, blending intelligence and naivety perfectly.

    2) I had no problem with the exposition, because it was done so well. Come to think of it, I saw the movie less than four hours ago and for the life of me I can’t recall a single scene where the characters spell out the premise of the movie or the various things done in it.

    3) This is yet another case of “the soundtrack maketh the movie”. It was frikkin’ fantastic.

    4) I loved “The Dark Knight”, but I could still quibble at points (although, let’s be clear here, they are very, very minor points). I really don’t think I can with “Inception”. More to the point, I don’t want to. It’s good enough that I don’t want to start picking up “flaws”. The last movie I could say that about was probably “Juno”, and before that “Lost In Translation”. That’s how good I thought this film was.

    5) Between “Memento”, “TDK” and “Inception”, Nolan might very well be my favorite modern director. And as great as “Dark Knight” was, I really don’t want him wasted on a third “Batman” sequel, any more than I wanted to see Sam Raimi do another “Spiderman” one.

    So yeah… my vote goes to “masterpiece” for this one, and I hope it makes megabucks so Nolan can keep producing and directing films with this much intelligence and (in the case of this one, certainly) heart.

  147. Also somebody should design a “Bill Goldberg” machine. I’d watch youtube videos of that one in action.

  148. boy, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to join the official Inception discussion till now, but I’ve been feeling under the weather these past few days and haven’t been able to do much of anything

    I’ll sum up my thoughts though

    1.Inception is hands down one of my favorite movies of the last ten years

    2. I don’t know about modern day Jolie, but I know that Gia era Angelina Jolie was mind blowing, in fact I still whip out that movie sometimes for impure purposes

    3. I wish more movies were as good as Inception these days

  149. Just watched it yesterday. I echo the ‘dream wasn’t weird enough’ complaints. someone on another forum said that The Matrix and Inception should have split plots and that’s pretty true. The Matrix FELT like a lucid dream. why didn’t the Chemist soup up the car or pull out a bigger gun like Tom Hardy did? and the ski chase was just kinda boring. reminded me of Goldeneye

    but otherwise yeah really well-made movie

  150. I wonder how differently we all dream. Because I certainly don’t have any Tim Burton/Terry Gilliam style hallucinogenic trips. My dreams don’t look like THE CELL or even NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4. Usually I do find myself thoroughly convinced what I’m experiencing in a dream is real, the discordant elements are usually just things that aren’t true in reality. Like I’ll have a dream that I’m at an exam I haven’t studied for (I’m done university) or living in a hippie commune (I live on my own) or rescuing a cute girl from the perils of heroin addiction (that was last night’s. Huh?) I occasionally have dreams where I have superpowers, or the reverse of superpowers. A common one is that I can’t escape from slow motion, like I’ll try to run and my legs will barely move. So I found Nolan’s dreamworld to be closer to what I experience in my own dreams than THE CELL or something, and also found enough instances of dream logic to make up for the lack of dream visuals. And considering the context of the narrative: all of the dreams we see are not meant to alert the dreamer to the fact that they’re in a dream, I wasn’t bothered by the lack of the fantastical. I also don’t really think Nolan has any surreal in him. Even the fear gas scenes in BATMAN BEGINS, while effective, seem like they’re the product of a mind that has never been under the influence of psychotropics.

  151. All right kids, thinking about your responses I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a bitter dude whining about why the movie wasn’t about the things he wanted to see like all those guys who annoyed by by complaining that X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE didn’t have any aliens, as if that was some sort of glaring narrative flaw.

    And I got to thinking about how fucking jazzed I was during the entire second half of the film, I admit I can’t think of another movie I’ve seen in a real long time that just got me so damn excited wondering what the fuck was gonna happen next. So I’m throwing in the towel. I’m ready to love again. I admit that I had a really fantastic time watching INCEPTION and even though it didn’t bring me to the next level, I admire its craft and ought to stop whining and be glad that at least someone this summer had the ambition to make a movie that cool. I’ll probably always think of it as more PREDATOR than ALIEN, but that’s hardly an insult. Keep ’em coming, Chris.

  152. I commend you Mr. Subtlety.

  153. To those who claim INCEPTION didn’t have enough “dreamy” dreams…

    Would you have prefered Burton/Gilliam-esque “dream” shit which yell I’M A FANTASY, A DREAM! WOO HOO! Really guys? God knows I’m through with the Burton production design wankery after ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Yet that bullshit made a billion.

    OK the MATRIX contrast makes sense. You’re right there I guess.

    Dodge This.

  154. The funny thing is that I don’t think any film has ever really captured what it’s like to dream. Nolan’s more particular and reserved vision is as close as any wacky “ooh there’s a giant chicken talking to me now” dream sequence we’ve seen in a million other films. I think one of the reasons for that is what Nolan addresses in the film “dreams never seem weird when you’re in them” which is a feeling near impossible to replicate. Though I’d perhaps argue that the “the dreams are like films” argument helps Nolan to do this because sequences that seem a little ridiculous and contrived – Cobb getting chased through the streets and rescued by Saito – we go along with during the film because it’s a blockbuster and it’s a fairly typical contrivance, but by the end, if we are to suspect that the whole thing is a dream, then being chased by faceless goons and the coincidences suddenly take on a different angle, we’re suddenly seeing something we accepted as logical as illogical.

    Things that really remind me of dreams that I rarely see in cinema – being inside of a building and outside simultaneously, switching between a third person and a first person perspective.

  155. I think that The Prestige makes a better case for Nolan as a genius than Inception. There he took Christopher Priest’s novel and improved upon it, and everything in The Prestige is about the subject matter, if you see what I’m saying.
    Inception was good but it’s just so INCREDIBLY AWESOME that the spectacle gets in the way a little (for me, anyway). I did like the foxed gravity and zero-g sequences were great.

  156. I like how “Great” and “Awesome” are now seperate independent terminology now apparently.

    Its like what that Stephanie Zacharek said recently:

    “If the career of Christopher Nolan is any indication, we’ve entered an era in which movies can no longer be great. They can only be awesome, which isn’t nearly the same thing.”

    What exactly does that mean?

  157. RRA: Use the COMMANDO test. COMMANDO is by no means a great film, but its awesomeness cannot be denied.

  158. Speaking of Nolan’s new Batman, what do you guys think of Joseph-Gordon Levitt taking on the role of the Riddler? I think it’s great casting personally, I can really see him bringing something new to the character. It’s not confirmed yet but he’s on the list of possibilities and everyone knows Nolan likes his regulars.

    And I’m sure like me some of you were upset at not seeing Eric Roberts make an appearance in Inception. I was pretty bummed about that till I saw the new SHARKTOPUS trailer for the SYFY channel and BLAM there he is! His agent should get a raise, fuck Inception.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2HGoR8pSps

  159. The most accurate depiction of dreams ever was in The Sopranos.

  160. Majestyk – You’re right. COMMANDO is awesome. Awesomely gay.

    dieselboy – Its an interesting idea, even if the concept of a Riddler serial killer really sorta bores me. Didn’t work in the comics, and really wouldn’t that be a watered down retread on Ledger’s Joker.

    But hey, I trust Nolan at this rate. To doubt him is to like doubt Stallone in a RAMBO movie at this rate. IN NOLAN WE TRUST.

    Jones – You might be right.

  161. RRA

    ‘Great’ and ‘Awesome’ were always independent of each other – it’s fairly recently that awesome = great. I meant awesome in the strictest sense – the jawdropping imagery in the film is so outstanding it (but really of little importance, only a demonstration of the ‘reality’ of the dream) that it overshadows the story.

    Like never mind the quality, feel the width (although with Inception, the quality is there, there’s just so much more width)..

  162. RRA: I disagree. It’s gaily awesome.

  163. Majestyk – Whats wrong with being Awesomely gay? Queen awesomely gay too you know.

    Limey – To be honest, I don’t get that. Maybe the only analogy that makes sense to me your point is for Pink Floyd discography. Dark Side of the Moon is GREAT, Meddle is GREAT, Wish You Were Here is GREAT, and THE WALL which isn’t as great as those, but its AWESOME.

    Does that make sense?

  164. In New Wave Of British Heavy Metal terms:

    Iron Maiden: great

    Def Leppard: awesome

  165. Jones – good call on the dream sequences in THE SOPRANOS. Another one that came tangentially to mind when you mentioned that is the opening scene of 8 1/2 where guy floats out of his car while stuck in traffic.

    Anyone hear the latest rumor that Jonathan Nolan is topping the list of potential directors for the SUPERMAN reboot? Good lord, can Hollywood even handle two Nolans with mass amounts of clout?

  166. Omar from THE WIRE is awesomely gay

    OK, you caught me, I just wanted to name drop THE WIRE, as usual

  167. Gwai Lo, you said that “the fear gas scenes in BATMAN BEGINS, while effective, seem like they’re the product of a mind that has never been under the influence of psychotropics”. Well, let me tell you what Nola does know about which is something which i also suffer from: fever allucination. Whenever i suffr from high fever, i allucinate, and all those allucinations ar enot about seeign weirdh shit floating ahad of me, but they manifest in a different way, which is, things around you lose spacial perspective and they start to wooble. and not only is that scary, but worst, it’s disconcerting, and it occupies all your waking minutes. you just can’t stop thinkign about it, seeing there’s thigns always wrong about everything. What nolan portaited in BATMAN BEGINS is a perfect representation of fever alluciantion.

    Another thing, my drems are also realistic, for the lack of abetter term. They always fool me into thinling i’m in a real life situation and the differences are in details which when you wake up it’s easy for you to see they make no sens ein reality, but in the dream they make perfect sense and are not distracting enough to break the dream world illusion. most dreams are about things that are normal in daily life and which one has desired or know in some way, or wish to know. It’s common for me to dream i welthy and life a nice rich man’s life, or that i own cars or apartments i dream of, or doing great dream jobs, or that i ended up dating a girl or girls i wish i had. The nightmares are always prety much based on my common fears and disconforts, mostly about losing teeth to root, or public humiliation, being in a car accident or being mugged. And sometimes, sometimes, a dream whole movies, with soundtrack included, many times it’s altenative versions of movies that i have seen or want to see and haven’t yet. My most elaborate dream i ever had was that i was Batman in a Batman world very much like Nolan Batman movie.

  168. Jareth Cutestory

    July 23rd, 2010 at 10:38 am

    RRA: When using the word “awesome” to describe things, it helps to adopt Cartman’s voice, particularly from the Casa Bonita episode.

  169. AsimovLives – actually that’s a pretty good point about fever dreams. I haven’t had a bad fever for at least twenty years so I had completely forgotten about it, but one of the few nightmares I’ve had in my life was due to a fever. Every time I shut my eyes I’d see this Edvard Munchian face that would open its mouth and scream. The screaming would get louder and louder until it woke me up. That shit was terrible, and now that I think about it that scene where Scarecrow sees Batman as some all-black ghoul is kinda similar.

  170. When I was a child, I had a fever. My hands felt just like two balloons.

  171. my hands felt just like TUBA LUBE

  172. Majestyk, did you also catch a fleeting glimpse?

  173. What has been Vern’s biggest talkback so far BTW? This INCEPTION talkback is pretty out of control.

  174. Yeah, out of the corner of my eye. But it was just a passing phase, one of my bad days.

    And yes, those are all my guitars.

  175. k just checking

  176. Hmm… Potpourri has 425. Does that one really count though?

  177. was I really the only one who felt 2 steps ahead of this movie? I guessed the ending and almost all the twists during act one.

  178. RRA — regarding the “Dreamy” scenes… yes, I’d have actually much prefered a Gilliam or Cronenberg or Gans to a Nolan in this case. Considering Gilliam did just make a movie about going into people’s dreams, I’d call his the more successful and interesting exploration of the topic. I don’t actually agree with the assertion that the dreams here had to be literal and “realistic” in order to be confusable with “reality” — as the MATRIX shows (as as the Mombasa sequence indicates), you can make your reality pretty surreal and still have the audience use cues to distinguish it from the dream sequences. I’d rather have had them hew towards the surreal in reality than skew the dreams towards the literal. I believe Nolan to be completely incapable of visually depicting sequences of extreme emotional intensity when it’s not entirely literal, and that’s mostly what dreams are (see also: the “fear” parts of BEGINS, Pacino’s nebulous breakdown in INSOMNIA, Harvey Dent’s transition to two-face in KNIGHT). These sequences would have benefitted from a director who had a better sense of how to use cinema’s ability to sensorally reorder reality to reflect a mental state. Nolan steadfastly and almost dogmatically resists any deviation from a depiction of a visual literal reality (even in INCEPTION, every single surreal shot represents a cold hard visual reality). PRESTIGE is the only film that has even a hint of visual poetry, and its still extremely minimal.

    But that’s not Nolan’s style. He has a true genius for high-concept, grimly self-serious suspense pieces, and that’s a rare gift in itself. Gilliam could never have milked the 4-timeline split for the amount of tension Nolan wrings from it. Croneberg couldn’t really have structured a story with so much exposition and conventional character arcs. So you know, it’s give and take.

    incomplete list of best movies that IMHO get that dreamlike feeling (even if they don’t necessarily represent dreams. Dreamlike feel may be whole or part of the movie. Your milage may vary. Consult your doctor before regularly consuming.)
    SUSPIRIA
    INFERNO
    SILENT HILL
    FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
    DARK CRYSTAL
    BRAZIL
    TIDELAND
    IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSAS (final dream only)
    LOST HIGHWAY
    MULLHOLLAND DR
    VIDEODROME
    DEAD RINGERS
    UZUMAKI
    VERTIGO
    KAIRO
    TRAINSPOTTING
    JACOB’S LADDER
    PI
    STALKER
    THE MATRIX
    ABRE TUS OJOS
    RISKY BUSINESS
    NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
    SPIRITED AWAY
    CORALINE
    PAN’S LABYRINTH
    SUMMER OF SAM
    2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
    THE SHINING
    HOLY MOUNTAIN
    THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE
    WEEKEND

    So that also is more a less a list of my favorite movies, so I suppose you can see why I’d be a little sad that INCEPTION won’t be making that list. Even in most of these, though, you get a a little surreal flavor that makes you feel off-balance and more connected to your subconcsious — not the all-out reality shifts and inexplicable weirdness of true dreams. I might argue the closest is the profound weirdness and exteme highs and lows of BRAZIL. As you can see from the list, it seems that it is much easier to make a nightmare than a dream. Very curious. Your thoughts?

  179. Mr. S, Nolan’s visual style was one of the main things I didn’t like about the Batman films. It worked for the world of the movie to make Gotham look like a real city, but you can’t just point a camera at a guy in a batsuit and expect it to not look ridiculous. You gotta put a little extra sauce on there.

    But I liked it for INCEPTION.

  180. Mr. Majestyk – But the child has grown, and the dream is gone. *gue guitar solo*

    Vern nerds to review THE WALL. EVen if I doubt he cares much for Mr. Pink Floyd.

  181. I would love for Vern to review The Wall

  182. Jareth Cutestory

    July 23rd, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: It didn’t bother me so much that Nolan didn’t give INCEPTION’s dreams a Gilliam or Cronenberg touch; it bothered me that he moved his characters around as nothing more than expository devices within his dream world. I swear, when Dora the Explorer was first introduced into Leo’s head she was moving shit around with about as much interest as she would if she was shopping for canned goods at the grocery store.I would have liked him to have achieved something that approximates the sense of wonder and dread that was achieved when Neo first chose his pill. Instead, I just felt like I was listening to those headphones they give you in museums to explain the history of the artifacts you are looking at.

    Sticking with THE MATRIX, it also would have been nice to give the secondary characters a few defining characteristics, like all those dudes on Morpheus’s team were given. At least I cared about them when they died.

    Also, for a major Hollywood production, I’m surprised at how little attention seems to have been paid to lighting. It seemed very flat to me.

    Also, your list is awesome. If you haven’t seen it, I’d nominate A SNAKE OF JUNE for
    consideration.

  183. He probably doesn’t even know which one’s Pink.

  184. Jareth Cutestory

    July 23rd, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Careful with that axe, Majestyk.

  185. One of these days

  186. Two questions: Cobb’s kids seemed exactly the same age as the memory of them he had, with the boy still being especially young. Surely even in one year they would have both grown significantly, and have changed somewhat. Yet with all the time spent in the dreamscape, did it feel like several years to Cobb since his wife died? And this is assuming, as I do, that the end is in fact reality.

    Also, how did both Cobb and Saito get out from limbo? I’ve seen it twice and I honestly have either missed a line of dialogue or am just really stupid.

  187. Jareth — Agreed. I wasn’t necessarily looking for, I dunno, Ellen Page to turn into a flock of geese or something. The MATRIX is a great example of how some light surreal touches (green tint, mysterious persecutors, lightly stylized sets) can create a very dreamlike feel. It’s all atmosphere and editing to play to your most basic emotions (a much better way of accessing the subconscious than going inside and building a fortress to invade, IMHO).

    Now that I think about it, INCEPTION has almost no atmosphere — probably the reason it felt so literal and static to me. The nifty lantern-ceiling room where Cobb and Saito meet and the creepy zero-g fight hallway are the only real exceptions (and what do you know? They’re the only ones with lighting even a bit interesting). Everything else is rather generic and antiseptic, and shot with the intensity and passion of a debt consolidation commerical (of course, for all I know up there in Canadia you’ve got debt consolidation commercials of pure visual poetry, but down here they’re a bit lacking).

    On the other hand, you gotta admit they had you biting your nails during the entire time the van was falling in the water, huh?

    BTW, have not seen SNAKE OF JUNE. Will remedy that ASAP.

  188. I think INCEPTION is a much better film than THE MATRIX. There, I said it. And on a purely visual level I’m willing to bet 11 years from now INCEPTION will look a lot less dated than THE MATRIX does today. I hold green tint partially responsible for this alleged datedness. INCEPTION looks timeless, like it could have been produced in the seventies with a few tweaks to some of the effects. THE MATRIX is firmly 1999. You see generic and antiseptic, I see refined, elegant, and sophisticated enough to show some restraint.

  189. Gwai Lo – I never thought the Matrix was a great film; I thought it had many great qualities. There’s a difference there. I think your last post hits the mark perfectly.

    (Although it has to be said, I can still watch The Matrix and get a helluva lot of enjoyment out of it. “Not earth shattering” in this case doesn’t equate to “bad” or “boring”!)

  190. Hey Vern! Have you seen the new Redband Machete trailer? Seagal has an amazingly badass moment.
    http://movies.ign.com/dor/objects/14343587/machete/videos/machete_trl_trailer_red_band_72210.html?show=hi

  191. DirkD13 – If I remember right, its because Saito remembers that he is in a dream, that limbo, because Cobb was there to remind him.

  192. I’m not really sure if this is a masterpiece or not. What I do know is that this is the first movie in a long time that has actually caused some real good discussions. It was great for that reason alone.

    On another note, this is getting far less hatred on IMDB then I would have expected. Normally you have the fans voting 10 and the haters voting 1. I noticed that the amount of 1’s is very small for the amount of votes. I usually don’t care how much money a movie makes but this is one I hope does huge blockbuster numbers. We need more original movies like this on a large scale.

  193. I think I’ve always reacted to THE MATRIX in the way that Mr. Subtlety is reacting to INCEPTION. If anything though, the tick tock of time, two piss-poor sequels and hundreds of imitators have worked my minor issues with it into a lather, and I don’t hold it in the relatively high esteem I did in 1999 anymore. Back then I was impressed enough with whiz-bang effects to forgive the visceral gut feeling of “yeah, it’s OK.” 11 years on and the impressiveness of the effects is all but gone.

    I see the hallmarks of greatness. In theory I feel like I should love it, it’s become a textbook example of polished storytelling and it really reaches beyond its genre trappings and tries to be profound science fiction. I mean it takes philosophical discourse, messiah allegories, symbolism and metaphors for all sorts of academic type business and wraps everything up in a commercially appealing action movie package. But every time I watch it (and I must have watched it at least 8-10 times now, and have watched RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS 2-3 times apiece) I hope to like it more than I do and come away from it feeling like the proverbial stick in the mud. It’s mostly superficial, but I am not down.

    So what do I have against it? Well let’s start with what I already mentioned: I hate the fucking look of the thing. Tint your movie green and it’s likely that I will hate it on a Pavlovian make me want to puke gut level. The SAW movies provoke the same response. I think it’s a terribly ugly aesthetic.

    I also can’t shake this pervasive feeling of silliness running throughout the whole thing. There’s all this rave culture, which I find freaky. Everyone wears tacky leather outfits, cool shades and slicked back greasy hair, but only in the matrix. In the “real world” everyone dresses like patchouli farmers. The whole concept is predicated on machines using human beings as batteries. For some reason the machines have been kind enough to create a pitch perfect pseudo-reality for human beings to live in, instead of just saying tough shit, you’re all vegetables. Once you escape the matrix it’s apparently kinda easy to get out of your battery pod. While you’re in the matrix you need to use a telephone to get out. I feel like there’s a lot of “make it up as we go along” type devices, although truthfully most of them start arising in the sequels: the architect, that keymaster guy, that guy who makes that woman’s TRONgina get wet, the asian guy who dresses in white, hell even the fucking Oracle. I know they all stand for philosophical constructs or whatever but it’s like the telephone thing. Oh you need to receive a telephone call to get out? Oh that guy is just going to whip up a key and now here’s some ugly dude on a subway train who’s more powerful than Neo? It all just seems so fucking arbitrary, like there’s about 20 deus ex machinas running around the trilogy making it all work. I also don’t feel like the rules to all the powers are firmly established. I mean Trinity has time to say “dodge this” before blowing an agent’s circuitry out of his head but seconds before he’s dodging bullets like a champion.

    And while I admit this is all pretty superficial, there’s one last thing that causes a big emotional disconnect for me:

    I empathize more with Cypher than Morpheus. Cypher has the right idea in my opinion. If the machines created a perfectly good reality for us, in fact, one that’s pretty damn close to our own reality that I currently enjoy, WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO LIVE IN ZION? I mean sure, those sweaty raves are a gas, but no thanks. Morpheus, on the other hand, seems like a religious zealot. The real world is just not my scene at all, man. I know it’s the principle of the thing, that once you’re aware of the wool over your eyes you’re not supposed to just stand by and let it be pulled and etc. But good god, who would choose the real world over the matrix were it not for some bordering-on-zealotry set of principles?

    Also I think the acting is terrible across the board, especially Carrie-Ann Moss

    But I understand why THE MATRIX is so revered and wish I could join you guys on the other side of the fence. And I’m nitpicking on a level that’s comparable to the nitpicking INCEPTION is receiving right now. And I find some of those nitpicks to be frustrating examples of tunnel vision in some cases. So I really don’t blame you if you read this whole ramble of a post of mine swearing and cursing the day you ever crossed paths with Gwai Lo.

  194. My problem with MATRIX in retrospect is that its two really damn good first acts, carefully setting up a creative* universe with its rules and stylish art/costume design. Mr. S has a point about the lucid fakeness of that world. It certainly looks more and more like a dream after the big reveal.

    But then the 3rd is just the action action save the day, save the girl, fulfill the prophecy all that usual genre stuff. And really, am I the only one who is fucking sick of Movie Prophecies?

    INCEPTION could have been like that and I assume it was initially. That’s one of the big differences between the two for me if you ask.

    *=Not necessarily original, but shit wasn’t it nice to have a compelling cyberpunk movie asides from STRANGE DAYS and I guess BLADE RUNNER?

  195. Gwai Lo – it’s interesting you made the point about sympathizing more with Cypher than with Morpheus. I think Cypher made the first movie. Without him, it would just have been pretentious and overblown, but his character made it what it was. He was the real antagonist, not Smith; and it was Cypher who was there to remind us that it was corrupt human beings who made the machines that built the Matrix, and similarly it was the lack of a character like Cypher that was in my opinion the most damning thing about “Reloaded”. (There’s a lot of damning things, but the lack of a truly “human” character was probably the worst.)

    Plus you gotta have a pervy villain, and Cypher is nothing if not pervy. Laurence Fishburne has practically made a career out of playing the black half of the classic duo “antagonist black guy who’s really honorable and there to test / mentor the protagonist**, coupled with friendly ineffectual white guy who turns out to be a duplicitous traitor”, but Cypher is probably the best example of the white half of it that I can think of.

    And no, you’re not the only one who’s sick of prophecies, although I think it’s more a case of videogames with that trait than movies that annoy me. (Oblivion’s “You are the chosen one” guff in particular.) But just as bad or worse are protagonists in movies who ACT like they’re the “chosen one”. They have no fears, no emotions, no worries, etc. This kind of protagonist is the sign of a badly written movie.

    (**Also see – “Mission: Impossible 3”, “King of New York”, “21”, “Assault on Precinct 13”, and probably just about every other film he’s ever made. Hell, he even played “Othello” once, and that was probably the first example of this pairing ever.)

  196. Co-sign Gwai’s feelings on the first Matrix being a toweringly OK achievement (though from one heretic to another, the lively pseudo-reality was to stimulate the brain for more chemical flow for the battery charger, amirite?) My biggest beef is Neo and how he’s employed by the W’s to pander: Hey, viewer, has your unfulfilling life convinced you that the world is wrong? Well it is – but don’t despair, magic people know you’re actually a mega-important being, and the way to unlock your all-powerful ability is to accept your superduperness.

    Re Inception being suitably dreamy or not, the levels did feel like what passes for real life tone in movies rather than dream tone in movies. But I think movie dream-tones (btw, great list, Mr. S.) put another filter between the viewer and the events depicted onscreen; the viewer becomes a little more evaluative, giving up a little involvement with what happens to involvement with how it happens. Inception’s dream levels are presented in a way that make them easier for *us* to perceive them as reality – or, what moviegoers perceive as reality when presented typically by a film. The characters, if they’re like us, might have more oddity in their dreams (sometimes), but Nolan might be cheating so that the “filtered” audience gets the realish sensation he intends for his characters to have.

  197. Jareth Cutestory

    July 23rd, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Gwai Lo: My prediction: the anachronisms built into the visual style of THE MATRIX will look as good in ten years as BRAZIL’s similar style looks today; maybe a bit rubbery, but still inventive. It really helps that weather and decay is rendered so well in Matrix-land. INCEPTION, on the other hand, will look like as dated and as staged as THE DEMON SEED. INCEPTION simply doesn’t breathe. This wouldn’t be an issue if Nolan had Kubrick’s brilliant compositional skills to go with his antiseptic aesthetic, but obviously he doesn’t.

    Having said that, I totally get your objections to THE MATRIX. I think you short-change the effort it must have taken for Carrie-Ann Moss to have said some truly silly lines so convincingly, but I can see your point. And I completely agree with how exhausting all the knock-offs are. That shit got old quick.

  198. RRA & Paul – I didn’t really get into the prophecy messianic aspects, but that’s another thing I’m getting sick of as well. When it works it works (STAR WARS), and THE MATRIX was a bit ahead of the curve as far as the recent spate of these films goes (THE LAST AIRBENDER), but I think we could all live with a moratorium on all that Joseph Campbell Hero’s Journey monomyth jazz for a while. Especially in its most rudimentary form. The problem with THE MATRIX and this arc is that I feel Neo got pretty close to being The One at the end of the first movie, but then when they made the sequels it almost seemed like they had to pull back the reins a bit and sow some more doubt, along with making Agent Smith more powerful and coming up with more formidable opponents like those homosexual albino twins. It’s obvious he’s The One but we gotta suffer through two movies where he’s still figuring shit out to some extent. They did come up with other ideas to offset the importance of this arc, like how he begins to obsess over his premonition of Trinity’s death, coming to grips with the possibility that maybe he can’t do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, but I think they already let a lot of the hot air out of the balloon by that point.

    Inspector Li – OK, you also bring up a good point in that diehard Matrix fans are some of the worst that fandom has to offer. There was this kid in a neighborhood I used to live in that looked like McLovin’s ugly little brother but dressed like Neo: all black, trenchcoat, sunglasses, (attempted) slick hair, etc. I never saw that kid moving at anything less than a dead sprint. In fact when he was halted by the natural features of the landscape, like a busy intersection, he would leap up onto things like bus stop benches or swing around poles to maintain perpetual motion. Fuckin weirdo that kid was. And then there’s friends I’ve had that insist the movie is the greatest thing to happen to humanity since antibiotics and whatever. But I’m glad we have such an even-tempered collection of scholars posting on this websight who can discuss these fan boner films rationally and agree to disagree from time to time.

    Jareth – DEMON SEED looks dated? I’m pretty sure I missed some sort of memo… OK I kid, some of those computer interfaces look cheese, but I don’t think THE DEMON SEED holds up so poorly compared to other films from its era. I thought INCEPTION had a lot of beauty in it though, like the slow motion falling van interiors, the Kubrickesque bedchamber of Pete Postelwaithe, the much celebrated zero G fight, Cobb asleep in the surf, Saito’s place, the limbo ruins, the exploding Paris cafe, etc. Again none of this is that surreal, but I found the movie on a whole more “polished” than “antiseptic”. Can we at least agree that the teams’ outfits will not age as poorly as Matrixwear? But I think visual aesthetic is probably pretty subjective, for instance I thought that shot of Heath Ledger hanging his head out of a car window from THE DARK KNIGHT was probably one of 2008’s most striking cinematic images. I like Wally Pfister, in my opinion he’s often able to transcend Nolan’s mandate for stark realism and create some truly memorable photography.

  199. Inspector Li – so what you’re saying is, “The Matrix” was some kind of fictional precursor to “The Secret”? What on earth would Oprah have to say about that?

    And enough with the clothing criticisms please. I’m about as straight as it’s possible to be without being some kind of slide-rule, and even I want a Carrie-Ann Moss-era black PVC jumpsuit.

  200. Wasn’t the original pitch for the MATRIX “franchise” being that one movie be a prequel, another a sequel? Maybe when WB quashed that, that is when it went to hell.

  201. This movie was masterful except for the fact that we the audience had no clear goal of what we were ultimately rooting for during the whole finale/last act. I guess it turned out to be “get Scarecrow to the vault so he can reunite with his (imaginary) father and take a pinwheel out of a safe,” in which case they should have clarified that from the outset, during the big briefing scene or whatever.

    On another note, Vern, this thread has passed two hundred posts! Congrats! A new record for you?

  202. I hate to interrupt this talkback, but holy shit, vern, what d’you think of this:

    Steven Seagal long ago got a greenlight for a second season of his basic-cable reality series “Lawman,” and Moviehole now reports the aging action star is also shooting 13 episodes of a scripted police drama titled “Southern Justice.”

    Moviehole’s description:

    Seagal plays Elijah Kane the leader of an undercover group of cops that chases down the bad guys in the Seattle, Washington area.

    So, that’s Steven Seagal administering thirteen episodes worth of southern justice in your stomping grounds. Seemed like something you’d wanna know about.

  203. Paul – The Secret crossed my mind, but it seemed like a low blow. From what I know about The Secret (thanks Vern!), you have to visualize/wish for the world to operate in your favor. In The Matrix I suppose external change comes from both recognizing the system and then having to do some specific something or other to alter it. Then again, once Neo acknowledges the reality of the Matrix, his big struggle seems to be to get out of his own way so he can do something vague (instantaneous code analysis and perhaps self-code rewriting, no?) and change the world with his innate unvalidated superabilities. Maybe my problem is that I’ve had both lucid dreams and non-lucid ones that felt real, so I could place myself in the shoes of the (thin) characters in Inception – but in The Matrix, I didn’t connect much with what Neo actually *did*. He gets exposed to the truth and has to reprogram his mind, but I don’t have a real-life correlary to defeating my enemies and the laws of physics primarily by altering my perception. The action between perception and success is nebulous, but I think The Matrix gets a pass because empowerment fantasy — especially when presented with craftsmanship and the trappings of cool — strokes its viewers, some quite perfectly. Maybe there should be a crossover reboot: The Secret Matrix.

    It’s like the “I know kung fu” gag. Kung fu would still be enjoyable to look at if it was the result of an instant download, but for me the substance of it is that someone worked like hell to get to that level of ability. Neo’s shortcuts prevent me from being significantly invested in his road to inevitable victory. At least Reloaded is less proscribed.

  204. HackNike – thanks for the tip, I hadn’t heard that one. Geez, the eventual updating of Seagalogy is getting harder and harder.

    It’s funny, I almost compared Inception to The Matrix in my review but I thought that was one too many tangents. If I had to choose one as being better I would have to go with the Matrix. I think that one really does work symbolically to reflect alot of issues that are interesting to me (propagandizing and distracting people from the real problems, working from within the system to fight the power, all that shit) but also you can ignore all that and it’s an awesome sci-fi movie with great fight scenes. Kind of the rich man’s They Live or something. Although Reeves is the poor man’s Roddy Piper.

    I love that they made a movie about that but also made it a kung fu movie. But it’s great to have Inception as sort of the more cerebral (that means brainy I think) approach to a sort-of similar concept. Instead of being all about the fight it’s about the plan.

    Sorry I haven’t posted much this week. I’ve got some shit going on but I’ll probly have an avalanche of reviews coming some time during the week.

  205. I bet it was INCEPTION that inceptioned that avalanche metaphor in your head, Vern.

    Are you really gonna update SEAGALOGY? You could also just wait until he retires and then do SEAGALOGY 2: DARK TERRITORY

  206. Well on the subject of the (small multitude of) movies I seem to have “hated on” recently… the first comparison that came to my mind was “Existenz”. And I think it’s obvious what side of that debate I’m on.

  207. Well I saw SALT and you know if INCEPTION reminds us of the potential what summer blockbuster movies could be, well SALT is what they’re usually are.

    $110 million budget star vehicle with a strong supporting cast, but like every other Angie Jolie actioneer, I can’t say it was good or worth seeing. In fact its even worse than WANTED, which at best was certainly watchable to a degree.

    SALT is forgettable, I fact it reminds me of another Phillip Noyce picture PATRIOT GAMES. Good cast, technically-well crafted action choreography, some nice details, but ultimately irrelevant.

    There was a movie years back called TRAITOR, a good one with Don Cheadle which had a similar (if less mindless bang bang and more topical politick) plot where until the climax, you’re never quite certain if Cheadle as the double agent is with the terrorists or on our side trying to undermine the terroritsts.

    With SALT, I never really felt compelled by her or her problems. Does that make anysense? Its like the difference between the pretty good THE FUGITIVE and the worthless U.S. MARSHALS.

    And wait, some guys will post now that they thought USM was pretty awesome or something.

    I give SALT two and half Brads out of 5.

    That said, I give SALT points for that moment when Angie goes to a public restroom and cleans out a wound with a maxipad.

    Girl power?

  208. RRA – “US Marshals” was, indeed, worthless. Can’t argue with you there. There was a reason why the detection club specified that “the criminal must not be the investigating officer”. It’s just lazy plotting, especially nowadays.

    I enjoyed “The Fugitive” but one thing about it bugged the hell out of me. At a time when DNA testing was getting more and more people released from Death Row – most of them black, poor and often with mental health problems – the “fugitive” in question is a WASP medico with a trust fund. Maybe it’s just because it’s based on a TV show (which to my knowledge was never released over here in the UK, so I know nothing about it) but I don’t know why this kind of stuff gets a “pass” while films like “Cheaters” and “21” get critically savaged for their inaccuracies. Does that mean that it’s ok to take a problem that almost exclusively affects the poor, and largely ethnic minorities, and make the afflicted protagonist a rich white guy instead, just as long as it’s not based on a single actual event or human being? Because to me that kind of thing is beyond patronising. I don’t need a middle-class white protagonist in every single film, thanks.

    Oh well, I enjoyed it, it’s an effective thriller, and everyone in it does a good job. It’s well-paced and well-directed. I’d just enjoy it more if it didn’t seem to assume that its viewer is a small-minded idiot who wouldn’t go to see a film unless the hero was a white guy.

  209. Well my nationalistic pride suggests that perhaps a foreigner couldn’t possibly understand what makes The Fugitive so damn great. Or you could just be way overthinking it.

  210. Paul – For 1993, that part could have been played by Denzel Washington and it probably would have been just as good and maybe just as popular.

    I don’t see the race problem here as you do. Sorry mate.

    Then again FUGITIVE the tv show and I guess movie, there is something fun about a WASP country club, upper level guy in comfortable living forced on the run, eat out of trash cans, sleep on trains, take menial jobs, and oh yeah prove his innocence.

    The movie was stuck by the 2 hours thing, but the TV series was fun. Repeatedly ripped off. One of the more popular of its day, and unless I’m wrong, its series finale was the most watched TV episode up into the 1980s.

  211. RRA – Yeah, Salt is pretty blah. If a thread for that happens I want to ask people about a giant plot hole that tanks the whole premise; someone’s gotta set me straight and confirm or deny. Until then, a little plot hole: How in the world did she get onto that private flight with no problems? How’d she even learn about it?

  212. Li – If you mean the one in the 3rd Act, I think that whole rendevue (spelled wrong) was set up by the Russian mastermind since that NATO liason to the White House was one of his moles and that plane assumingly was either NATO or Czech property which that liason was using thus…

    Oh fuck it, SALT aint worth the bullshitting. It aint no INCEPTION.

  213. SPOILERZ!!!

    When Angie tear off her male mask off, didn’t someone in your audience yell in AUSTIN POWERS-accent “He’s a Woman!!!!!!” Some asshole at my screening did. Except alot of us laughed. Sorry.

    LEts try to get 250 posts here. Record time bitches.

  214. Also a friend of mine saw this tonight and he dismissively PMed me, calling it “a retarded actiony remake of NO WAY OUT.”

    Which I must say, I think he’s right.

    At least NO WAY OUT was a good one, made back when people actually paid to see Kevin Costner in a picture (and not the other way around) and when “Sexy” and “Sean Young” wasn’t a cruel joke and when Gene Hackman played Gene Hackman in most movies.

    Good tension, escalating in the pressure to near choke level by director Roger Donaldson, and a kickass memorable ending. And if I remember right, only one considerable action scene. Remember when thrillers didn’t need action up the ass to be thrilling?

    I give NO WAY OUT three and a half Fields of Dreams out of 5.

  215. Come on, everybody! If we make it to 300 comments, there’s a hospital bed and a safe with a pinwheel in it at the end.

  216. MattmanBegins – I’m in, as long as none of us get incepted with suicide. Because that would suck.

  217. hey you all want an INCEPTION sequel?

    No? Me neither.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRSOc6VbKMs&feature=fvsr

  218. RRA – I didn’t say it wasn’t fun (it is). It’s a very effective thriller and IMO well worth watching. I just think that, again knowing nothing about the original TV show, the whole thing of having a middle-aged middle-class white guy a fugitive from Death Row in a movie made in 1993 looks incredibly patronising. Like they turned all the Asian kids into Caucasians in “21” and made it a morality tale.

    I also liked “No Way Out”. I hope that you didn’t just give away “Salt”‘s ending though, I was hoping to see that one unspoiled when it comes out on netflix / DVD rental.

    Great Kevin Costner movies? For me, “Thirteen Days” comes close. Very very very good biopic about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I’m not feeling the “Field of Dreams” hate either (and I couldn’t tell you what the rules of baseball are, let alone who plays it, so that’s quite an accomplishment. Although maybe if you DO know about baseball or something it just comes off as incredibly unrealistic, I don’t know.) That was a mega-hit over here when it came out, and to quote a great man: “Sometimes things are popular for a reason. Because they’re good. Or because Will Smith is in them.”

  219. RRA – the Pink Floyd analogy is good.

    Everything great until the greatness is being thrust upon you with a self-consciousness about how great it is, which is when it becomes awesome – although The Wall probably feels more ‘personal’ then Inception. Actually The Wall (album) vs. The Wall (show) is probably an even better example of great vs. awesome.

    I still didn’t get the ‘dream’ quality with the exception of the chase in Mombasa. That chase felt like a dream – unidentified minions chasing through mazelike streets and the ‘shrinking’ alleyway. That scene actually had tension. Still don’t understand if that was meant to be real or if it was the best indicator that the whole thing was in the mind.

  220. Inception – I admit that I don’t respond to Chris Nolan’s film-making; I don’t think his movies have what might be considered, in a formal sense, “shots” in them, just this roving unfocused quality that’s supposed to be realistic but, to me, is at odds with the kind of Hitchcockian suspense sequences he’s trying to pull off. But, I can forgive that (The Dark Knight). What bothers me about Inception, and what was pretty much the deal breaker, is that I didn’t like the characters, thought the goal they were trying to accomplish was creepy and awful, and therefore had no vested interest in their survival when they were getting shot at. To me, the film noir set up of the movie jibed badly with the James Bondian action scenes that happen later.

  221. Paul – I think I spoiled it no more or less than the trailers/TV spots have.

  222. RRA – that’s why I don’t watch trailers. :(

  223. Oh darn it. Guess we won’t be making the three hundred post milestone then, eh?

    I come to mourn the passing of this thread, not to bury it…

  224. nabroleon_dynamite

    July 25th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I’ve never been in the 200’s in a talkback before.

    *soaking it in*

    Ok, I’ll get to reading comments now…

    P.S. I haven’t seen inception yet. The bootleg cat is on that bullshit. Mississippi is mad slow. I miss new jerusalem dun.

  225. C’mon guys we can do this. YES WE CAN!

    BTW notice how SALT dropped on sunday. The word has spread, this is not SALT but MRS. DASH!

    You know that analogy absolutely makes no sense at all.

  226. Richard Roeper discusses the INCEPTION ending “theories” floating around the Internet.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1iT6y9eeWE

  227. The Wall had the best dream sequences. Everything from pure surrealism to time shifts ( the fascism bit) to emotional pain
    Realized lately that my dreams have been pretty normal/realistic…

  228. And holy shit…I couldn’t post this from my phone ’cause the Submit Comment button disappeared… Until I flipped the phone around. Perspective changing shit

  229. Brimstone – I would add that the whole film section with Comfortably Numb/In The Flesh/Run Like Hell/Waiting for the Worms there was never a pause, a moment to let the audience take a breath inbetween all that intense as mother fucking hell. Almost like the worst fever dreams we’ve gone through which they aren’t just intense, but also persistant.

    Fun Fact: THE WALL is still banned in South Korea because of the school-burning down shots. Hey Korea, leave those kids alone!

  230. I just saw SALT and thought it was pretty solid, for a going through the motions style actioner. When it started to really twist itself into a bunch of knots I thought “this doesn’t make sense” a couple of times, but the movie ended up providing movie-logic explanations for most of what I found nonsensical by the end. There were still a few instances where characters seemed to go about their objectives in the most difficult way possible (in fact the whole movie hinges on something like this) and a few instances where the characters seemed to rely purely on their killing/asskicking skills as part of their meticulous plans, but I guess that’s to be expected in something this twisty.

    And that final SPOILER railing-hop-strangle move she does was badass.

  231. Gwai Lo – You gottta admit, those real-life Russian spies in America that got busted just a few weeks ago gave SALT some free PR like this side of Three Mile Island and that tosser anti-nuke melodrama.

  232. Not to sound xenophobic again but it’s possible those that don’t like Field of Dreams either have an irrational hatred of Kevin Costner or are not from America so can’t relate. Perhaps if it was soccer.

  233. Yeah you’re right, because I must have thought about ten times over the course of the film: “Russians? really? This movie is at least 25 years too late.” but then I remembered that news story.

  234. Lawrence – I would think outsiders wouldn’t get Earl Jones’ speech about Baseball at least, even if I suppose you could argue football/soccer carries that same societal function in most of the rest of the world. If you see it in that context, then the speech works. Maybe?

    Of course the movie in itself is purely American, that whole Reagan schtick of the time about if you fight hard enough for your dream, it will come true or whatever. But also that whole Baby Boomers grown up melodrama, with the J.D. Salinger-esque recluse author in Jones. I can see maybe why foreigners wouldn’t like it.

    That said, least they could dig (I would suppose) the whole father/son ending? Wanna catch?

    Man that one line, God knows how many grown men repeatedly cry at that moment.

    Still pretty good movie. I think it even got a Best Picture Oscar nod, which sorta surprised me.

  235. Vern – You ill or something buddy? Or just taking a break?

  236. Jareth Cutestory

    July 26th, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I’ll second the general disdain toward SALT expressed earlier in this thread, with the exception of the two moments already mentioned: the maxi pad moment (cool) and the manner in which the antagonist was killed at the climax (badass). The only entertainment I got out of the film was imagining the film if Tom Cruise had stayed with the project – it would have been much funnier. Anyone who likes to riff on that old cliche about Cruise running in all his films would have had a good laugh at this one.

    The other game I played during the film was Spot The Bournisms. I lost count in the 20s.

    Also, I take back my earlier remark about Jolie having good action hero facial expressions. Most of the time in SALT should looked like she was floundering, probably because they took sex out of the equation.

  237. Someone mentioned in this talkback or the previous one the inevitable DTV sequel: INCEPTION COP. I want to see this now. Preferably with 10-15 minutes of the 80 mins running time taken up by avid farts when jacking in/out of or moving up/down dream levels. Coolio as the bad guy.

  238. That was me, john. If it happens, it’ll be because I inceptioned the internet.

    I liked SALT, more or less. The action was gibberish (it was like they went out of their way to never show a punch connecting) but the plot contortions were ludicrous enough to keep me laughing. As soon as Lee Harvey Oswald was evoked in the first eight minutes I knew this was going to be the kind of overcooked trash I could get behind.

    Trivia: Every day I walk past the exit ramp by Silvercup Studios (best known as the scene of HIGHLANDER’s climax) that the big car crash scene was set at. I don’t know if that was movie magic or not but I don’t know how they managed to shoot a bunch of cop cars falling out of the sky without me noticing.

    Bonus plot hole: There is no good reason for the cops to have been driving her to Long Island City from Manhattan in the first place.

  239. Jareth Cutestory

    July 26th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    By the way, before SALT they played a trailer for some film where Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich play retired old badasses. WTF?

  240. Back to Inception, I came across this quote from Chris Nolan from American Cinematographer: “The underlying idea is that dreams feel real while we are in them, which is actually a line in the film, ” says Nolan, “That was important to the photography and to every aspect of the film. We didn’t want to have dream sequences with any superfluous surrealism. We didn’t want them to have any less validity than what is specified as being real world. So we took the approach of trying to make them feel real. There are times when the characters didn’t know what they’re seeing is a dream, so the visual difference between reality and dreams had to be seamless, except in specific places where we wanted to communicate that difference to the audience. Often the surrealism in the movie comes from the environment rather than the camerawork. By maintaining a realistic feel, we believed we could introduce a bizarre or unsettling feel very subtly when we wanted to, without taking the viewer out of the story.”

    This is what made the dreams “dreamlike” for me: that I felt dream-type emotions, and I was happy there wasn’t a bunch of visual weirdness to achieve that, since that takes me out of the movie. I’m sorry Mr. S didn’t get that enjoyment from it, but as he noted there’s lots of other movies that have real strengths that don’t do that.

  241. Kudos Mr. Majestyk, if the plot could somehow tie the dreams to the realms or domains of Buddhism Seagal might even be interested.

  242. I think the fame and attention that goes along with creating a movie discussion thread approaching 250 posts may have caused Vern to pull a Dave Chapelle and take a movie review hiatus.

  243. Lawrence – I can’t remember James Earl Jones’ speech, but I’m not American, don’t live within four thousand miles of America, and have never seen or played a game of baseball. I couldn’t even tell you the rules. I remember enjoying “Field of Dreams” loads, and getting quite sentimental over it at one point, so it had to be doing something right. Of course, it’s been a while since I saw it. My shell of cynicism has calcified somewhat since then (hence my comment about “The Fugitive”, which was actually a movie I really enjoyed.)

  244. Mr. M — I sorta figured that’s what Nolan had in mind and it’s nice to have it confirmed that he was shooting for a pretty realistic style, but I’m still not sure it was as effective in accurately communicating a dream, even a realistic one. It’s not just realistic, but static and almost compulsively grounded in explanation and continuity. I find it quite odd that he claims there are dream-like emotions in there; that would have been a good way to do it but I just don’t see any hint of that in the final product (except the Mombasa chase, as everyone pointed out). Everything else is quite businesslike and again, compulively logical. Likewise his claim that the environment is dreamlike is baffling to me. Where? Even the “limbo” sections are just sort of oddly buily literal environments (not even particularly expressive or evocative)/

    As before, I have to cite the MATRIX as a film which successfully cultivates a very believable realistic-feeling “reality” which still manages to feel dreamlike. I’d argue it actually DOES cultivate a dreamlike emotional state (along with its very very slight stylistic touches, which are mostly the same things Nolan is claiming), which INCEPTION quite simply does not do for me ever. I’m actually more amenable to the explanation that the “Dreams” in the movie are not really dreams at all but carefully constructed virtual reality playpens for the mind and hence not really comperable to real dreams. But as I said, I’m done hatin’ on the thing, so no harm, no foul. Next time I watch it, I’ll have a few glasses of wine and see if it doesn’t feel a little more surreal.

  245. Mr. S– The thing is that any time a movie tries to depict a dream-state onscreen, it can never be the same as a dream, and I can’t suspend my belief into thinking my eyes are closed while watching the movie. Since no movie can equal a dream one to one, I think all movies take qualities of dreamland that we can describe and then try to include those elements in the film so we get an experience that at least communicates that it’s representing a dream. Movies like THE MATRIX depend more on set and costume design to communicate that they are similar to a dream in that they don’t look quite like the normal world. And I can see that and other things that add to an atmosphere that feels like a dream are important to you. But I still think that in INCEPTION if was right NOT to emphasize that stuff because it allowed for other dreamlike qualities to be more developed and forceful: We the audience could see how the characters often didn’t know they were in a dream because dream “atmosphere” was not obvious, we could have a feeling of disorientation which was focused on point of view, not bizarre locations (like the hallway scenes), incongruous elements (like the train in the street) were more disturbing because they contrasted with an otherwise orderly setting, the nightmarish sense of dread of the uncontrollable out to hurt or destroy something we cared about (Mal, in several scenes) was starkly defined against the backdrop of whatever else was going on that aroused a different set of emotions. So for me, the decision to make the movie this way made those dreamlike emotions more intense because I was really focused on what caused them, since the atmospherics were less up front. And I think that’s no less legit than other methods of creating a dream for cinema.
    Question: What would you have thought about the feel of the movie if it didn’t take place in dreams, but just I don’t know, “the subconscious”, “the mind”, “the spacial/visual lobe”?

  246. on the whole movies-that-feel-dreamy tip, no love for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Is it illegal to like a Jim Carrey film on this board?

  247. Gilmore – I once dared MR. Majestyk, but he wouldn’t do it. I was a weiner too though so yeah.

  248. I’ll see your ETERNAL SUNSHINE and raise you a THE NUMBER 23, which could become the new I KNOW WHO KILLED ME is y’all would just give it a chance.

  249. Mr. M – The difference is that I KNOW WHO KILLED ME, asides from the movie itself, was marked for death with the whole Lilo thing. Hell without her, that movie would have made no bigger noise on release (good or bad) than a mouse’s fart.

    Really Razzies I bet help give a rental bump.

  250. Does this board really poo-poo ETERNAL SUNSHINE? I love that movie.

  251. I don’t think we’ve hated on ETERNAL SUNSHINE. I know Vern is a big fan of Gondry and Kaufman, but I guess he didn’t review it.

  252. I thought Eternal Sunshine was good. In fact I have yet to see anything by Gondry (or Kaufman for that matter) that I don’t like.

  253. Gwai Lo – the board doesn’t, but I do. Think I had the same negative reaction to it as others do to “Juno” (which I love). I can barely even remember what it was I didn’t like about it now, it made that little impression on me. And it’s nothing against Jim Carrey – hell, “The Truman Show” is one of my all-time favorite films – I just remember thinking “ESotSM” was all stylistic flourish, no soul.

    Mr Subtlety – I suspect the point you’re making is entirely subjective. I would say that “The Matrix” had a far better version of dream-reality than its own sequel, for example, despite the latter’s more advanced special effects. (The whole way through the last hour or so of “Reloaded” I felt as though I was watching someone else play a bad video game.) In any case, I obviously disagree about “Inception”. I can’t state anything about the dream sequences that struck me as particularly good, but I can say that nothing about them jarred or didn’t work, for me. It’s not the kind of thing worth arguing about; if you can’t accept it, you can’t accept it. Doesn’t mean that others will have the same reaction.

  254. My smartass aside, I liked ETERNAL SUNSHINE.

  255. Fascinating article about the movie’s “Science”:

    http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/in-dreams-20100716

  256. At the end of the movie I think that was really Caprios wife because what happens when you die and you’re in that deep sleep or whatever is you go into slow time dream.

    She doesn’t completely remember who she is because she’s really old (dream time) and really tired. so He Inceptions her so she believes she just a dream because hes a bastard and he wants to go back to his fake children.

    This makes sense if the entire move is a dream shared by the protagonists.

  257. Ellen Paige finally made her totem…..

    http://i.imgur.com/wSrX1.jpg

  258. So I was thinking about this and if you ever start this shared dreaming process your reality can become permanently suspect, even if you only try it once (like what they told us LSD would do).

    Want to murder someone? When they’re sleeping or really drunk or otherwise inhibited, find their totem and replace it with one that looks just like it. As in: you switch out Arthur’s loaded die for a normal die in real life. Then he will think actual reality is someone else’s dream, and probably kill himself sometime later… a perfect crime, where the victim does the actual killing.

    Maybe that’s where INCEPTION COP comes in!

  259. Here’s a pretty interesting breakdown on Hans Zimmers now infamous Inception score and how it is eerily similar to the song used for the “kick” super slowed down.

  260. I’ve been reading this thread and I think I may have a couple of things to contribute that no one’s brought up yet.

    First, I’m not sure its fair to say that he failed at capturing a dream like state because, as it’s already been mentioned, I imagine everyone dreams differently and, though I don’t very regularly remember my dreams, whenever I do, I accept them completely for reality while I’m in them and don’t very often have bizarre surreal dreams. They’re generally a reflection of things that happen in my life, but getting to the point, I feel that one of the best ways he achieves the feel of a dream is in the editing within the dream, particularly at the disorienting beginning. For instance, DiCaprio out on the beach holding his gun and then suddenly walking through the kitchen in the building screwing on his silencer, the energy of that cut, the continuity of Leo’s action despite a complete change of setting is very dream-like to me. There’s a few other examples of it, but I haven’t seen it since opening night so they escape me.

    Also, and I’m not one of those dudes who relates everything to drugs, but the build of the whole movie, in particular when they are actually into the execution of the plan and dropping through all the levels of dreams reminded both me and a friend of mine of being on shrooms. I don’t think that’s intentional on Nolan’s part at all, and in fact I’m pretty sure shrooms like dreams are pretty subjective for everyone, but just the feeling of dropping deeper and deeper down and the sense of tension and wonder that the movie instills, going as far down inside as possible before all at once exploding back to the surface, relieved and accepting and grateful to be back in what one assumes to be one’s own reality was very much in line with what I felt the couple of times I did shrooms. So that was pretty cool.

    As far as it not having emotionality, I think that’s kinda hogwash. In fact, in light of Leo’s comments about him essentially doing Nolan and this being his 8 1/2 and sort of a meditation on film, I think Nolan really put a lot of his own feelings and insecurities about his own life and profession and his chosen medium of expression into the movie. He just manages to sublimate all of that into a pretty badass, original, inventive heist plot. So kudos to him.

    Oh, and as far as that metaphor of each member of the team standing for a member of a film crew, that all makes a lot of sense, but what would the chemist be? Special effects?

  261. Cinematographer?

  262. Dieselboy – chuckles at Ellen Page’s “totem”. She’s never going to be able to get away from that. Heh.

  263. Hack Nike – coffee lady.

  264. Jek — Im thinking that perhaps my general lack of investment in the emotional angle might be what’s keeping me from seeing things your way. I hear what you (and Nolan) are claiming, but I just don’t see it myself.

    As for whether I’d have liked it better if they hadn’t been saying “dreams” — yeah, I’d probably have been more forgiving there. Mr. M makes a pretty convincing case that the “dreams” we see are more like virtual reality programs for the brain, designed to not actually be much like dreams but to work with some of the same areas of the brain. If that’s true, its a little less interesting but I would say the movie is more effective at depicting it.

  265. […] Inception by Vern And of course it’s not a real film until Vern has reviewed it. […]

  266. INCEPTION COP. Starring Robert Davi.

  267. (Actual conversation while watching THE INVENTION OF LYING)

    Her: All movies are better with Tina Fey.

    Him: I don’t think INCEPTION would have been improved by Tina Fey.

    Her: Uh-huh. When he goes in the messy apartment and she’s all on the couch and she’d be nibbling chocolate with a cheese block and be embarrassed. It would be adorable. And then she wouldn’t jump out a window and it’d be nice.

    Him: (bewildered and yet entranced) You’re right. That’s a better movie.

    So, as a plea to all those competent at editing stuff in that youtube-mashup-style: Please, as soon as the DVD is available, replace Mal with Liz Lemon.

    It’d be nice.

  268. Something that bugs me, now that I think about it, is that most of the discussion seems to be about the ‘dreaminess’ or otherwise of the film, and ‘was the whole thing a dream?’, etc.

    Not much discussion about the ethical implication of directing other people’s lives through implanting ideas in their heads.

    Or did I miss something – there’s a lot to wade through here.

  269. Here ya go, Limey. The ethical implication of directing other people’s lives through implanting ideas in their heads:

    It’s very, very wrong.

    I subscribe to the notion that the whole movie is Leo’s hallucination right before he’s executed at the end of SHUTTER ISLAND.

  270. Limey — well, if there’s little discussion about the topic I would argue its because the film itself seems so nonchalantly amoral. In fact, the film plays the “catharsis” Fischer has with his horrible bastard father as if its some kind of positive thing in this guy’s life, rather than just a heartless and really cruelly manipulative lie told by theives in an effort to make some other rich guy much richer. I mean, as bad as planting an idea in someone else’s head is, the way they did it just seems particularly cruel.

    Hell, Saito, who the film implies happily executes people for incompetance, becomes a loveable part of the team.

    Dan and I were talking a little what this may imply that Nolan thinks about reality — (July 21, 3:40) I suspect Nolan may not see much moral difference between reality and nonreality, so he views the fake reconciliation as equally meaningful to a real one (the way the movie ends, with Cobb basically just saying fuck it, I might as well believe it, also suggests this).

    As far as the concept of inception itself, I don’t know if its much worse than subliminal advertising. Actually, that’s one thing I thought the movie is weird about. You think Fischer’s gonna throw away all his inheritence because of… a weird dream he had? I have a feeling he has some other ideas in his head too, which may end up being more of a pull.

  271. Well my Ma didn’t like it. “Too long, took damn long to get to the fucking story, which they finally discovered by accident after the first two acts.”

    She’s always funny when she curses.

  272. To piggyback on the gay badass topic, here’s a list of the top 13 gay badasses

    http://www.afterelton.com/people/2010/07/thirteen-gay-badasses?page=0%2C0

  273. Omar at #2? Some poof from TRUE BLOOD at #1? Geez. They messed that one up.

    For a guy who says he feels more feminine than masculine, Tom Hardy did a pretty damn masculine job with BRONSON…

  274. And they didn’t even have Magneto on the list. And I’m not just saying that because Ian MacKellan played him. I’m saying it because of the way him and Mystique got all catty over Rogue’s hair. Dead giveaway.

  275. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Gwai Lo: The gay character on TRUE BLOOD was the only thing that got me through the first season. I bailed two episodes into the second season. No intention of going back. The TRUE BLOOD guy is no Omar, but he was okay.

    God help me, I’m defending TRUE BLOOD, a show that makes DEXTER look like kitchen sink realism.

    Mr. Majestyk: I think MacKellan’s relationship with the Blue Girl was complicated. I seem to remember him hinting at first hand knowledge of her sexual acrobatics. But maybe that’s just something my imagination came up with during one of the many dull moments in thsoe films.

    Actually, since Blue Girl could change shapes, maybe she changed herself into a dude for MacKellan. Or a chicken.

  276. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Shit, I just looked at the link and saw that the TRUE BLOOD gay guy isn’t the gay guy I was thinking of. I don’t know who that dude is. I was thinking of the drug dealer/pornographer/chef gay guy.

  277. Mr. M – Always thought Magneto/Professor X were jilted lovers which got little things get in their way (different tactics against the humans, Jewish, wheelchair).

    Hell a MAGNETO spin-off would have totally worked if say set it in the 1970s with Magneto at the time a grown-up refugee in Israel and we see the further discrimination against him, or others which pisses him off (minority beating up another minority? social commentary irony!), and see how he meets up, befriends, and drifts away from Professor X (may or may not have been involved in that crippling accident) and how he starts his little militant terrorist army.

    What actor would make a killer younger McKellen?

  278. There’s two gays from TRUE BLOOD on the list. I haven’t seen TRUE BLOOD because I don’t think the world needs anymore vampire melodrama. Occasionally I can muster up the strength for more vampires if it’s something like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN or DAYBREAKERS. But I’m not watching a whole damn show. There are still plenty of shows that are guaranteed not to suck that I have to get around to, like TREME and CARNIVALE, so TRUE BLOOD isn’t exactly a high priority.

  279. OK I gotta call bullshit on that list.

    Where the fuck is Gay Perry from KISS KISS BANG BANG?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHkSDJmSgqo&feature=related

  280. RRA – I actually don’t think they did too poorly to cast Fassbender. Because Fassbender is awesome. And he kinda has a vague resemblance.

    I’m wary about this new X-MEN movie. I wish it was a full reboot, because while Singer’s films had a few bright spots and handled the thematic issues of prejudice pretty well I don’t think he ever really “got” X-MEN. And he kinda turned it into WOLVERINE AND FRIENDS.

    Maybe it’s just the title. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is such a witheringly lame title. Just call it THE UNCANNY X-MEN and do it right I say.

  281. Gwai – Not to be a dick, but isn’t WOLVERINE AND FRIENDS what X-MEN the comics tended to become alot of the time because he was the breakout, super popular badass star?

    But yeah X-MEN prequel doesn’t interest me at all. Shit didn’t WOLVERINE prove my point

  282. Remember back when they used to make movies in order?

  283. RRA – yeah, you’re basically right, Wolvie has always been the fan favorite. And some of my perceptions might be a bit off here because I was a huge X-MEN fan from age 6 to about 12 which takes me up to 1996 (I read a lot of back issues though). So maybe Wolverine has assumed even more of the spotlight since then, who knows.

    I just thought the movies did a few things to turn it into the Wolverine show. Instead of a 5’something” weirdo loner, they cast a 6’2″ hunk. I thought this took a lot of the shine off of Cyclops. The love triangle had less tension than it did in the comics, because Wolverine wasn’t such an underdog. In fact right away Cyclops comes off as the jealous pretty boy douchebag who has lived a life of privilege, while Wolverine is the super cool stud who has struggled every step of the way. Seems like an obvious choice for Jean. And then as the films wore on a lot of Wolverine was just straight up neutered. By the X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE movie the guy’s telling his girlfriend “it was real for me! wahhhh!” and running around nude for laffs. Even in X2, right before that badass scene where he kills all those guys in the mansion, he’s sharing a soda pop with Iceman like a sissy.

    Maybe I just resent what they did to Cyclops. I never got the badass leader vibe out of him in the movies. He mostly just stands around being a third wheel to his own girlfriend and whining when his visor gets knocked off. And then in the third film he’s just summarily killed for no reason other than he probably had to show up on set for SUPERMAN RETURNS soon, to play a different whiny jaded lover.

  284. I will say though, I think that scene in X-MEN where they introduce Hugh Jackman as Wolverine kicking ass and taking names in the ring is actually one of the few things they absolutely nailed.

  285. Except for the deplorable lack of back hair. I’m surprised the nerds didn’t get more up in arms about it.

  286. Opportunity for the reboot!

    So far it looks like FIRST CLASS will be Wolverine free. They’d certainly have a hard time working him into the continuity at this point.

    They cast the KICK-ASS guy as Cyclops. He doesn’t really have that boy scout persona in my opinion but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  287. Back to the gays, I admit the list ain’t shit but at least it got me thinking.

    for one, I would say I think SPOILER Forest Whitaker from CRYING GAME ought to count. That guy seems pretty hardcore. Arguably a few characters from WATCHMEN, too. And the whole cast of 300.

  288. There’s only male gays on the list as well. Kima Greggs from THE WIRE is also more badass than most of the list.

  289. Personally I always thought Magneto and Wolverine were jilted lovers. At least before Wolverine lost his memory and turned to Prof. X instead. I mean, this one guy’s entire body is filled with metal, and here’s another guy who can control metal using the power of his mind… you gotta see the possibilities there.

  290. Speaking of inception, who implanted Len Wiseman the idea to go remake TOTAL RECALL?

    http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/sony-sets-wiseman-for-total-recall-redo/

  291. Two classmates from my college are now in major roles on TRUE BLOOD. And I still haven’t watched the show, probably because I’m embarassed at the state of my own artistic life.

  292. And, yes, I added that comment (and this) in an effort to get the count up. Nearly there.

  293. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Gwai Lo: I couldn’t tell from your earlier post whether or not you’ve seen CARNIVALE. If not, I recommend it. i actually like it more than THE WIRE.

    TRUE BLOOD is just trash. And it’s just too weird to see the little girl from FLY AWAY HOME take it from behind.

  294. Jareth – yeah I haven’t seen CARNIVALE. I know, I know. I’m making an effort to catch up on TV shows recently. I’m on season three of THE SHIELD right now. It’s no THE WIRE and it might have the most annoying fucking opening/closing credits music I’ve ever heard but it’s not bad.

  295. And I assume everyone already knows this but if you were like me prior to about a month ago and were putting it off for some reason, I highly suggest watching BREAKING BAD and MAD MEN. They are indeed the proverbial shit.

  296. Congratulations, everyone. You’ve made it to dream level 3.

    Please enjoy this excellent infographic explaining the whole movie:

    *kick*

    http://dehahs.deviantart.com/art/Inception-Infographic-172424503?q=sort%3Atime+gallery%3Adehahs&qo=0

  297. Huzzah!

  298. We must get to 400 or we’ll never escape limbo, where we’ll become old men full of regret, waiting to die alone.

  299. 426 would beat Poutpourri. Let’s go for that. We need to start an INCEPTION meme to rival SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS etc. etc.

  300. Potpourri. Poutpourri is something else entirely…

  301. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Gwai Lo: I don’t think CARNIVALE is one of those shows that anyone has to feel bad about missing or not liking. I’ve heard complaints that the show is too slow, too goofy, too melodramatic. There are grounds for all of those complaints.

    It’s been discussed in other threads, but I’m a bit conflicted on BREAKING BAD. I liked the finale of Season Two a lot, but I think the bulk of the season kind of floundered. Also, I think Hal’s new wife is more annoying than his Malcom in the Middle wife.

    I know this is evidence of brain damage: I couldn’t get into MAD MEN. There was somthing facile about it. I only made it half way through the first season. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot at some point.

  302. Jareth: I’m with you. CARNIVALE had every opportunity to step up and be awesome, but it dicked around for episode after episode until it eventually went out with a pathetic whimper. It had some great moments, but for the most part it was all sizzle and no steak.

    I also hate MAD MEN. I watched three episodes of it and found it to be one of the least entertaining things I’ve ever seen. It was like being trapped in an elevator with a bunch of miserable people who dress better than you.

    Never seen BREAKING BAD, but I plan to.

  303. Hmm, interesting. I only know like one person in real life who has actually seen CARNIVALE and they loved it. I tend to avoid discussions and whatnot for shows I haven’t watched on the internet because people just drop spoilers willy nilly everywhere. Of course we’d never do that here (SPOILER)

    I really liked that season two device where the SPOILERY thing you see at the beginning of a bunch of episodes is not at all what you think it is. That was cool. I thought seasons one and two were very strong, but I do think season three floundered a bit. Maybe it just didn’t have the torque to pull ahead of season two. Consistently strong character work though, that’s why I like the show. Also SPOILER exploding Danny Trejo head. Thank you BREAKING BAD for showing me that. I agree the wife is a bitch. But I kinda like the Lady Macbeth turn she’s taking, I’m glad her cluelessness didn’t outstay its welcome.

    As for MAD MEN, again I just love the character work on that show. Jon Hamm is a fucking champion. And I would like to officially announce my intentions to bury my face in Christina Hendricks titties and give her a resounding raspberry.

  304. I didn’t state it up front but my second paragraph is about BREAKING BAD so don’t read it if you don’t want to be spoiled.

  305. Jareth — I enjoy MAD MEN but I can’t deny that its honestly among the most oddly pointless shows I’ve ever seen. Its almost experimental in its commitment to microscopic plot and near pornographic fixation on minutiae. I spent the whole first season trying to figure out what the big deal is — there are hints of mystery, intrigue, overarching drama, but the funny thing is they just sort of peter out. Who is Don Draper really? You’ll find out about halfway through the first season and it turns out to not be particularly epic. Eventually I just realized that the whole thing is about the lack of plot. Its an excersize in the crushing weight of everyday banality. And in that sense, its oddly gripping. There’s no conspiracy, no aliens, no secret agents — just getting up and facing your life everyday without knowing why, and its slowly grinding down all the characters until nothing is left. So yeah, its a kinda great show, but definitely not for everyone.

  306. Mr. S: I was mildly diverted by the first two episodes I watched. Sexy chicks, dudes in suits smoking inside, constant cocktails, casual sexism, hilarious anachronisms. It was fine. Then I started watching the third episode and realized that I never wanted to listen to any of these fucking people speak another word as long as I live. Their passionless blather was actively sucking the joy molecules out of my soul. It was a surprisingly strong reaction to a show that prior to that I had thought was a little bland. I didn’t think I’d be able to hate it that strongly, but perhaps this is a testament to how well the show depicts how much life fucking sucks 90% of the time. Not really what I want out of a TV show, especially one about people who have more money and fuck hotter chicks than I do. The funny thing is, I don’t think most people who watch the show get how deeply depressing it is. They seem to think it’s some kind of campy romp with swingin’ sixties outfits.

    That John Hamm guy is alright, though. They should just let him play Superman and be done with it.

  307. I think older generations get how depressing it is. My Mom had an anxiety attack when she watched it because the Drapers reminded her too much of her parents’ more unsavory qualities. My little brother on the other hand just can’t get over how awesome it is that these guys are practicing alcoholism and misogyny in the workplace.

  308. I would definitely count myself as a fan of MAD MEN, although not on the level of absolute reverie it seems to get in a lot of circles. Like Subtlety, I have a certain appreciation for its glacial pacing; so much of TV has plot-heavy ADHD storytelling, it’s nice to see a show slow down. It’s not so much about its slowly developing, sometimes anticlimactic overarching plotlines as it is about slowing down to the speed of the characters, allowing them to develop, and exploring various themes without necessarily tying everything up definitively. The cast is fantastic, the show looks great, the drama is usually interesting and, when it wants to be, the show can be hilarious and audacious (like SPOILER in season 3 when that one secretary ran over that dude’s foot with a lawnmower).

    On the other hand, Majestyk is right that there are pretty much no likable/sympathetic characters on the show (Joan might come close even though she initially seems like a bitch; Peggy seemed likable at first but has been assimilated into the ad agency culture of assholes), there’s just varying degrees of callousness and spite. I’m also not too crazy of the show’s ironically distanced, sometimes condescending view of the era it portrays. The early episodes pretty much fetishized all the smoking, drinking and sexism going on in the office, like Matthew Weiner wanted to nudge you in the ribs and go “lookit! Can you believe this shit?” They’ve toned that down a bit, but there’s still stuff like… I seem to recall a season 3 episode where the characters keep making broad, ignorant statements about the civil rights movement, and there are constant shots of the characters’ black housekeepers and whatnot in the background biting their tongues. It’s like, I get it guys, we’re so much more evolved now than we were in the 60’s. Personally, I’d prefer it if the show let me draw my own conclusions about this sort of thing instead.

    So yeah, I dig the show but I don’t see it as the television masterpiece the way a lot of folks do. I think, for their specific subgenres, shows like BREAKING BAD, JUSTIFIED, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

  309. Whoops…. not sure how that got posted before I was finished…

    I was going to say:

    … are more successful, unique, daring shows that push the boundaries of the medium to new places, even if they aren’t always as serious and self-important as MAD MEN.

    And of course it doesn’t come close to touching the greatness of THE WIRE.

  310. Dan – I agree that the show is at its worst when it tries to be glibly ironic about the period. I came incredibly close from walking away forever during season on, which I described to be wife as “What would happen if ‘That 70s Show’ thought it was art,” but thankfully they generally outgrew that tendecy. It’s still a little awkward when they try to integrate big events of the era into the show, as it always seems a little forced and out of place — they do much better by focusing on the everyday degredations that wear the characters down. Like it or not, that’s the totality of the show’s reason for being. The 60s settings allow us just enough distance for our own culture that we can lay bare the vast emptyness at the center of the lives of these characters, who scramble and clutch at their lives and world without ever seeing how meaningless it all is. I think this to some extent explains the shows sometimes laughable non-plots. (Sample episode summary: “Don has a meeting. Peggy buys a dress. Pete gets in trouble with his in-laws”). It’s such a tiny It contrasts so starkly with everything else, and is generally so impeccably made, that I can’t help but sort of admire it, even if its not exactly fun or even necessarily interesting to watch.

    It’s sort of like if someone made Ozu watch a few seasons of American TV and then produce his own series based on that. Superficially, it seems like it might be about topics or plots, but actually its more about minutiae, ambiance, and a glacial, almost subliminal build of desperation. Now that I put it that way, how in the fuck does this show have 3 seasons and remain so popular? I can only assume that Mr. M is right and most people watch it for some other reason (but what? The costumes? the drama? I couldnt really say. Maybe they have just watched enough TV that they assume that there will eventually be a plot of some kind?)

    Mr. M: Well, I can definitely get that, and I would never judge someone for not wanting to spend hours of their lives in MAD MEN’s black hole of despair, among the characters who run from deeply flawed to appallingly unlikable. Actually, I don’t know how interested I am in coming back for too many more seasons; I haven’t watched any of the new one yet, if that tells you something. Point of fact, I imagine you can get about as much out of a few episodes as you can from watching the whole thing up til now, so maybe you freed yourself up some time to go back and watch the BEST OF THE BEST series. It does have a fantastic cast up and down, though, and Jon Hamm is the engine that keeps the whole thing running. I thought he was great but couldn’t figure out what other role he could possible play until I saw him on 30 Rock, where he was also awesome in an entirely different way. I’m thinking he may actually be the real deal — get this guy in a Coppola film or something, already.

  311. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Majestyk: I should clarify: I absolutely love CARNIVALE. It’s one of those shows that suits my temperament so well that I’m willing to excuse the flaws outright. We’re all allowed to like at least one show unconditionally, right?

    Mr. Subtlety: That is the most beautiful defense of a show I’ve ever read. Like your comments on the second X-FILES film, it is a compelling framework through which to completely re-evaluate the show. I feel like a bit of a chump for volunteering an opinion on the show when I obviously hadn’t put in as much work as you have.

    My reaction to MAD MEN wasn’t as strong as Majestyk’s, but I did think that the character work, both the script and acting, was a weak link. I also think the set design looked cheap, like a high school play. But maybe that part is intentional. Or maybe my t.v. is shit.

    The grinding pace is what I liked best, and the banality. After DEXTER and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and all these hyperactive melodramatic shows, I appreciated the deliberate pace of MAD MEN a lot. It’s just that until I read your post I hadn’t seen enough of the show to understand the reason for it.

    Also, as Gwai Lo indicated, my mom had a real strong reaction to the show. She said that it gets a lot of the attitudes toward women perfectly. A lesser show would probably throw out a lot of easy examples of sexism that don’t point so clearly to the continuities between our two eras.

  312. This is uselss, but…I never watched MAD MEN, and not really that interested in it.

    For some reason or another, Novel Television at this rate has left me rather drained and disinterested in that format for now. I want more (good) episodic entertainment that isn’t another cop or medical drama, nor fucking FRINGE.

  313. Subtlety,

    The Ozu comparison is interesting. I can see it in the sense that both slow down to the rhythm of ordinary life, and their “plots,” while sometimes dramatic, often consist of the mundane or low key. The big difference is that I always sensed that Ozu viewed his characters benevolently, and MAD MEN seems to view its characters at best indifferently, at worst with condemnation.

    I’m sure there’s a good contingent of the fan base that does just revel in the irony and the style of the show and doesn’t necessarily focus in on the oppressive sadness of it, but also, to be fair, the show can be damned entertaining. The characters are almost universally amoral dicks, but they all tend to be smart, witty and stylish…. it can be a fun show, at least on the surface. And every few episodes they usually break out some audacious moment or twist, like the aforementioned lawnmower scene, or Don fingerbanging that actor’s wife at that restaurant, or Betty shooting her neighbor’s birds with the air rifle. Of course, most of those seemingly “big” moments tend not to lead anywhere major, but there’s often little teases of narrative progression… which the writers then devilishly discard or ignore.

  314. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    RRA: Did you see DEADWOOD? I’ve sat through all of SIX FEET UNDER, THE SOPRANOS, ROME and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and, frankly, I don’t think any of them were all that special. But DEADWOOD was a real experience. That one felt a bit bigger than t.v.

  315. Jareth – I enjoyed DEADWOOD, BSG, and SOPRANOS. I would also add DEEP SPACE NINE.

    But for the most part, I think alot of these newer novel TV programs are too much backstory and mythology and all that bullshit, like FLASH FORWARD, and it just never felt like I could enjoy it unless I bought the Cliffnotes version or something.

    Two others reasons (1) you have to watch every episode to know WTF is going on. Fine if you’re doing DVD, but what if I’m just a casual viewer who don’t have the time or don’t want to waste a Netflix rental slot on it? That doesn’t matter if its say oh I don’t know STAR TREK or DOCTOR WHO, but surely with LOST.

    This same problem I see with the contemporary comic book, where Marvel/DC its a new “EArth shattering, forever changed” mega 8 issue storyline every year and really nothing ultimately matters. What happened to a one-issue shoot off adventure?

    (2) Even if I do watch every episode up to the ending or nearby, what if some bullshit happens which made me feel like an asshole for wasting my time with all that in the first place? Say a 13 episode season of Novel TV, that is what 13 hours give or take? A good book takes less time than that to read, and usually these Novel TV programs, the 1st series is seen as like the 1st chapter or 1st Act.

    A good hybrid of Novel/Episodic television I would say is VENTURE BROS. Started out as episodic pissings on TV/cartoon/movie superhero cliches, but after a year or two a strong humorous mythology arises. Maybe series 3/4 or maybe not they rely on that knowledge to make alot of the jokes or poignant moments, but then I see that episode with the ex-boy heroes reteaming as middle-aged losers…and I say nah. Right?

    Sure hope 2nd half of Series 4 has more Brock, and more Brock killing.

  316. Yeah, I hear your problem with all that story arc bullshit going on on TV lately. What happened? I remember a time when stuff like this was condemned to be soap opera-ish and now you can’t do a TV series without all that or audiences will complain! But I thought after almost 20 years full of TV shows with story arcs that lead to nowhere or never had a chance to be resolved before the show got cancelled, audiences became smarter! Shit, even the new Scooby Doo series has some unnecessary, tacked on story arc about a guy called Mr. E who helps the gang solving a mystery about the town they live in! And the kids in the audience of course totally buy into it, although the show works seriously fine whenever they are just trying to solve the mystery of the week!*
    To be fair, there ARE shows outthere, that know how to handle a story arc. But after being frustrated to death when even a harmless comedy show like Reaper ended with a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, I stay away from most story arc shows, unless they are finished and released on DVD. I would go so far and say that the only story arc shows I watch anymore are these, where every important arc is solved by the end of the season, like Damages or 24 and even these shows are most of the time not nearly as satisfying as normal, story arc less shows! Whenever you put a massive arc in your show, you have to make sure that EVERY episode has to add something important! You catch a boring episode of NCIS? Whatever, at least you just saw during the last hour a complete story with a beginning AND an end and next week you won’t care anymore. But I remember how pissed off I was at the 1st season of Heroes, when after every great episode at least 2 or 3 followed where absolutely nothing happened and every character just moved in circles, before the story moved forward again. The show is called Heroes! Couldn’t they just let them catch a new supervillain every week instead of bore us to death with an artificially stretched out story?
    I also agree about The Venture Bros, because their mythology doesn’t seem like a cheap trick to get more viewers, but more like a reward for the fans! “Hey, thanks for staying with us all the time. Would you like to know the backstory about The Monarch? Cool, here it is!” “You’re still here? Cool, what would you think about another episode with that guy who appeared briefly in that episode from last season?” My girlfriend started to watch the show somewhere in the middle of Season 3. She didn’t get all of the character related jokes and was bored to death by “Now Museum, Now You Don’t”, because she had no idea who was who, but apart from that she was still able to enjoy it. I doubt that this would have been the case if she had started to watch Lost in the middle of season 3. (Or just the finale. But who in the world would watch only the final episode of a story arc heavy show like Lost? ;) )

    *I also would like to say that the show is maybe the visually most breathtaking cartoon on TV right now. Yes, the characters look unbearingly ugly, but the backgrounds, the colour palette and the play with light and darkness is wonderful! (Don’t believe me? Watch episode 2!)

  317. CJ,

    It’s not exactly like we’re hurting for episodic TV. I mean, besides all the CSIs and LAW & ORDERs and NCSISs you can add to the list pretty much every sitcom ever, every medical show, most reality shows, etc etc. I actually hate most of that kind of junk, but there are plenty of good ones out there (say HOUSE, or BURN NOTICE or IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA). I’d say long-form, ongoing, in-depth storyline type shows are still in the minority.

    Personally, I’m more excited to see more shows like that, because when they are good they are FAR more satisfying than regular episodic TV. I don’t even think I need to invoke the name of THE WIRE around these parts, which puts every episodic TV cop show to shame. I think these shows better utilize the medium, where is able to capitalize on the passage of time better than movies can. I mean, why does anyone continue to watch the same show over time? Is it just because they want to see cops shooting robber, or whatever? Or is it because of some sort of attachment to the style and characters? I think the latter, and if that’s the case, the more long form shows have the opportunity to better flesh out these characters and their worlds, in the context of more involved stories that actually have consequence.

    Yeah, sometimes a good show shits the bed and becomes bad and you feel like you wasted your time following the story. And sometimes a show gets cancelled before it finishes telling its story (although REAPER is a bad example, but it pretty much was an episodic show that wrapped up a single story every week, it just so happened to end on a cliffhanger). But I’d rather see more ambitious failures than more episodic TV shows that aren’t about anything besides maintaining the status quo and jogging in place.

    And actually, there are plenty of shows that do a good job of juggling both styles. Most episodes of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER could be watched on their own with no problem, but its the show’s playful complex overarching story and willingness to jump around in time (going into the future or past, having episodes take place concurrently, jumping back to the events of an earlier episode to show them from a new angle, or showing us bits of things that haven’t happened yet) that make it such a special and unique sitcom. JUSTIFIED is an example of a great new show that balanced both Crime of the Week stuff with a bigger storyline that slowly payed off over its first season.

    Sorry for all the rambling. But to make one last point… I don’t think most of these shows flesh out their mythology as a trick for getting more viewers. Quite the opposite, I think they are taking more risks because they don’t play well for casual viewers. (Hence the cancellation of stuff like FLASH FORWARD and the slow death of HEROES… although I’ve also heard that both were terrible).

    Also, you are correct that VENTURE BROS is an excellent show.

  318. HEROES especially is a good argument for my case.

    As for those other episodic programs you mentioned, there is a difference between truely worth-watching must see episodic TV, and mindless doesn’t-fucking-matter-if-you-miss-it episodic TV.

    Of course maybe I’m biased because I grew up on STAR TREK reruns, which usually* doesn’t spoil my childhood because I had to know the fucking storyline from 30 episodes ago that I had missed. Not saying TV should be like that, but you know what happened to the joy of the TV adventure you just happen to come across on late night, without having to wikipedia the backstory?

    Besides anyone else notice on how alot of these Novel TV programs (and episodic too) there is a real contrived bullshit element to keep the nonsense going? Did Chris Carter ever think X-FILES would go 9 seasons? I doubt it, because really that whole background “mystery” which as Novel TV it hinged upon, it really went from compelling to waddle blabble on into something quite bullshit nothing. nothing worth a shit.

    On the otherhand, I wouldn’t be shocked if the most popular episodes were the stand-alone. Incest cannibal family? Oh yeah.

    *=Unless its season 3, but even then its not as bad as its reputation. But “Spock’s Brain”, that was a total loser, one of a few that season.

  319. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 9:31 am

    @ Dan – HOUSE used to be my go-to show. I loved the vibe between House and Wilson. The whole House and Cuddy will they or won’t they crap soured my stomach, and then they basically kicked the Ducklings to the curb and got three new losers who totally suck. I haven’t watched it full-time since Thirteen and Foreman started dating – that shit gets old. So basically the only *new* episodic tv that I watch on a regular basis is RESCUE ME, but that’s because my husband is such a huge fan I have to have something to talk to him about.

    @ RRA – if Chris Carter had thought X-FILES would go for as long as it did, I don’t think he would have forced Monica Reyes down our throats, or the whole “Scully has a baby” nonsense – that completely ruined that show for me, and I was pretty hardcore there for a while.

    Also – “Spock’s Brain” sucks, but even so, I’d rather watch that than most episodes of whatever shitty product the networks are pumping out nowadays.

  320. cosmosmariner1979 – YES EXACTLY! I mean didn’t that trash made you feel sorta foolish for sticking with that “arch”?

    I think the people behind HOUSE forgot the charm of HOUSE in the first place was how much of a dick the guy really is. Or actually, more like how much of a dick he is that we wish we could be to everyone else, i.e. co-workers who have to kiss his ass despite his petty nonsense because they need him. I don’t give a shit about fan fiction-level of romantic angst or whatever “plotting” that really is unnecessarily for a cast chemistry-necessary program like this.

    But I’ve come to the idea that everyone else apparently already gotten to years ago that the best shows on TV are on cable, not the networks. Come to think of it, I can’t really name a current program I really like or get something substantial out of that is on NBC/FOX/CBS/ABC/CW really. OK maybe wrestling on MyTV, but does that glorified UHF station really count?

    Lets see current TV stuff I dig, quick checklist if they’re cable: PSYCH? Yup. RESCUE ME? Yup. VENTURE BROS.? Yup. AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE? Yup. METALOCALYPSE? Yup. DOCTOR WHO?* Yup. BURN NOTICE? Yup. DEXTER? Yup. WEEDS? Yup. CAPRICA? Yup. ROBOT CHICKEN? Yup. I’m sure there is more and someone will mention it, and I’ll go Ah how could I forget that?

    On second thought, I guess EUREKA is ok.

    *=Technically its BBC, which is one of the major networks in UK, but its syndicated over here on its American cable port so it counts. I guess.

  321. HOUSE has definitely gone downhill, but I think its still reliably entertaining if you’re already invested in the characters. A lot of the novelty of the character and the weird diseases has worn off, and the show has gone a little too soap opera-y with all the romantic couplings and dramatic deaths and all that… but it’s still a relatively well put together show with a highly watchable cast and a lot of good one liners. And it’ll drag on for a few more years, slowly shedding viewers until it get cancelled, and I’ll probably follow it until the end, moderately entertained the whole way.

    It’s interesting that you’d bring up RESCUE ME as a more episodic show, because it doesn’t strike me that way. Instead, it seems like a more long form show with a short attention span, introducing subplots for 3 or 4 episodes, or 3 or 4 scenes, and then promptly discarding them without much payoff. There’s not really a focused narrative in each episode so much as a handful of ideas that they follow until they get bored. Also, I like James Poniewozik’s recent description of the show: “At this point, it’s more like a workshop, a kind of weekly project in which the Denis Leary / Peter Tolan repertory company get together to put on a collection of scenes about flawed men and their passions—some comedic, some dramatic, some amazing, some awful.” I’ve seen several different TV critics express a similar sentiment, and it does strike me as an increasingly apt framework foe watching the show.

  322. to be fair I’m not that religious of a RESCUE ME watcher, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far from the handful of episodes I’ve bothered with. Somebody I probably will DVD rent the whole series.

  323. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    @ RRA – I’m glad someone else feels this way about X-FILES – I was such a nerd about that show for the longest time (my background is basically sci-fi/fantasy type geekery, so take from that what you will) and to have all that Doggett/Reyes/Scully’s mystery baby/WTF happened to Mulder stuff happening was like a dagger to the heart. Kind of like the last season of BUFFY…I mean what the shit was that? It was so horrible. Crap like this always happens to me – I will love a show like whoa and then it’s a complete 180 degrees. Boo.

    @ Dan – Yes about the whole soap opera feel to the newer episodes of HOUSE. I have to say that even though I wouldn’t consider myself a big fan of the show anymore (again, the House/Cuddy “relationship” really grosses me out, and I can’t wrap my brain around it), it’s still better written than most of the other crap that the networks hash out.

    My husband is also a huge fan of SONS OF ANARCHY, but I just can’t get into that show. At least I have an emotional investment in some of the characters on RESCUE ME (Like Sean and Probie…er….Mike.)

  324. Creatively there is a point when a TV show, if it runs a good while especially longer than maybe the creative team had expected/hoped, they have to adapt or mutate or something when they’re backed against the wall. Some do strive and survive, some just bullshit and die.

    A good example is one that surprised and angered the fanbase: VENTURE BROS. had the gall to murder off half of that popular comic henchman duo #21/#24, sent the super popular Brock Samson away and been MIA for most of series 4 so far, split up that teenie bopper angst relationship, and Sgt. Hatred the ex-pedophile/new bodyguard.

    Those guys didn’t need to change the show that early, but they did by choice, and I tell ya its promising to become something different, maybe something more with the new ideas coming in that are surprisingly brilliant, those creators know what they’re doing. And yes, I loved Sgt. Hatred. He tries so hard, but he’s such a fuckup.

    Anyway in contrast…never quite bothered with BUFFY so I can’t exactly know what you mean, but how many years did BUFFY run? Again another probable deal where instead of the creators and network saying screw it lets end it instead of just collecting the checks and putting out something.

    Like look at the original British version of LIFE ON MARS. That was damn good, damn popular, and they threw in the towel voluntarily after 2 series. Yeah yeah they had that ASHES TO ASHES spin-off which ran 3 series but still.

    In short, LIFE ON MARS went out like the Beatles, out on top. X-FILES/BUFFY probably went out like the Rolling Stones, fondly remebered for their primal kickass years. But afterwards, nobody remembers by choice.

  325. DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (new movie) beat INCEPTION (3rd weekend) on friday.

    By $200,000.

    Whether this deadheat keeps up or one of the two fades away (SCHMUCKS got hammered by critics), there is something quite pathetic when a Steve Carell/Rudd comedy from that guy who made those lame but ridiculously super popular MEET THE movies can’t beat that guy from 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN.

  326. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    RRA: How do you think CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM has held up over the years?

  327. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    @ RRA – BUFFY ran for seven seasons. Basically 5 1/2 were genius television, well written and humorous and clever. The rest sort of petered out, and towards the end it got really lame, and another fandom of mine goes down the drain (roto-rooter).

    I have LIFE ON MARS (British version) on my “to watch” list – I heard about it from a friend and he said I’d like it. I like how a lot of the creators of series over there stop when it’s over instead of beating a dead horse. Like FAWLTY TOWERS, for example. That show could have gone on forever but they didn’t, and it makes you, the viewer, think about how awesome that show was, instead of “OMG WHY????” that you have with your X-FILESes and BUFFYs and (I might be alone on this one, but fuck it I’m gonna say it anyway) SIX FEET UNDERs. By the way, I know this is a dumb question but is the British version better than the version that was on ABC for a while? Because I saw one episode of that and it looked interesting, and then never watched it again.

    Also, my husband saw a commercial for DINNER WITH SCHMUCKS and he said, “Now, I like stupid comedies but this looks too stupid even for me.” And that is saying something. We are among the two people in the world not named Jamie Kennedy who sorta, kinda like MALIBU’S MOST WANTED. (I am fully aware I’ve just destroyed my street cred.)

  328. Jareth – An interesting question. I suppose it has held up, but unless I’m wrong and do correct me if so, but each of those seasons are their own universes or own storylines around some theme, which I think might be for the best because that show works because with the awkward gag.

    Its the fucking master, right? It seems to have held up so far. Plus I like that Larry David worked in his own divorce, which probably cost him plenty of his SEINFELD money.

  329. cosmosmariner1979 – now now I sorta kinda liked MALIBU’S MOST WANTED too. YEs it was a dumb sorta forgettable comedy (to say the least), but honestly I thought it had some clever social commentary points about Hollywood’s racial stereotypes within the media, how black actors generally are only casted as criminals or dead criminals, and well the dumbass bullshit aspects of rap.

    As for LIFE ON MARS, the original is skies better than the Americanized* remake. I dont want to ramble why the original was great and the remake was…lame, but let me put it this way in contrast with how they finished:

    The title came from a good tune from David Bowie, a God in UK and well the 1970s (show set in) was when he was devine right? Touching memorable finale, if sorta screwy as hell. Good shit.

    The finale for the American remake…well lets just say that in the finale, they took the title too literally.

    *=Reminds me, unfortunately, of when Fox in the 1990s tried to relaunch DOCTOR WHO, but in America. But that crap and LOM remake, you wonder if we Yanks just didn’t get why the original was so beloved and awesome over there in the first place. We try to “improve” it, which inevitably means dumbing it down with silly bullshit.

  330. DAMN I missed this one going above three hundred posts.

    Anyway, I was a huge fan of Buffy until season 5 as well. It was painful to watch it going down the toilet, I grew up with that show.

  331. I’ve never seen a problem with Rescue Me not finishing their subplots. There’s a few things here and there that get pushed to the wayside but they were events in the series that weren’t that important to begin with. Like it happens in real life, some things just go away without much fanfare.

    Then again Rescue Me (and recently Sons of Anarchy) is my version of a soap opera. There’s things in them that some critics (or normal people even) find silly or melodramatic or stupid but I eat it up, I suppose, because since the first episode the show has earned my trust. There’s some things I’m obviously curious about (Does Tommy really see ghosts or is he just crazy?) but for the most part whatever they decide to do story wise, I support 100% because so far every payoff has been pretty good in my opinion. More importantly it gets my brother and I talking which is the funnest part about following that show.

  332. Any chance that this board will get as many comments as the Potpourri one?

  333. Oh hell yes.

  334. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    @ hamslime – Personally, I think that Tommy does see ghosts but is 100% crazy as well. Plus, he went to hell when Uncle Teddy shot him and I think that’ll add to his overall ghost-seeing. I’m waiting for Johnny to show up and berate him from the grave. Plus I’ve got $5.00 that Franco and Janet actually do get it on soon. And I want Sheila to get hit by a bus – omfg I hate her.

    @ RRA – see, I had that reaction to MALIBU’S MOST WANTED as well. I know idiots like that – they think they are so hardcore and stuff, think they know about the struggle and all they know is that they could only get one pair of Reebok Pumps instead of two different colors back in the day. They’ve never had a can of that greasy, lumpy government peanut butter in their lives, and yet they think they’ve had it so bad. Gah, pisses me off. But I liked the Taye Diggs character.

  335. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    RRA: I threw CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM into the conversation because I wonder if there is something about comedy that extends its lifespan ever so slightly more than these serial dramas and genre shows we’ve all been discussing. Maybe it’s because there is an element of the absurd in many of the best comedies that makes the plotting a bit more elastic.

    Which isn’t to suggest comedy is immune. I’m half way through the most recent CURB, and I’m detecting a slight but consistent feeling of been-there-done-that. Sort of like what happened to SOUTH PARK after season nine. And I guess a danger with sit coms is that there are a lot of stunt characters or one-gag characters that either wear out their welcome or are resistant to serious development.

  336. “And I want Sheila to get hit by a bus – omfg I hate her.” – HA! Typical female cattiness.

    I saw the first episode this season but I probably wont be able to watch the rest of them until they come out on DVD (which has been the way I’ve seen Rescue Me thus far) but that scene where Lou calls Tommy out on his B.S. kills me because I CAN’T WAIT to see that conversation. It reminds me of the scene in Brooklyn’s Finest with Snipes and Cheadle just before *SPOILER ALERT* happens. Unfortunately that conversation never took place but the look in Wesley Snipes’s eyes said everything you really needed to know.

  337. I thought it would have been cool if Sheila died in the fire at the end of the fourth season and they opened the fifth with Tommy in a coma and Sheila and Jimmy’s ghosts having a conversation with each other without Tommy aware of it. That would cement whether it’s real or delusional.

    Tommy going to hell could still be a crazy dream he had, but I do like that he seems to take it seriously enough along with seeing his daughter becoming an alcoholic and Teddy giving him a set of cufflinks made of the bullets he shot Tommy with to possibly want to point his life in a more positive direction.

    I always thought that Rescue Me would end with Tommy killing himself but I hope it ends on a more positive note. Wishful thinking on my part.

  338. Whoops – If it matters, you may want to switch season 4 and 5 with season 3 and 4.

  339. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Well…I am female… :) Although I find her less objectionable than Janet, but Sheila just grates on my nerves. I hate the games she plays with Tommy, but he’s so messed up, so maybe he should get hit by that bus instead.

    Lou is awesome this season. Just sayin’.

  340. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Lou is extra awesome, then. (btw, link’s wonky)

    Oh, and I agree – I thought Tommy would die at the end, but I’m not sure that it’ll be suicide in the traditional way. I think that there’s going to be some awful fire and he’ll die trying to save Lou or Sean or maybe Black Sean and then get crushed to death by a wall or something. And then Johnny and Connor will walk by in the fire and hold their hand to him and it’ll be all over.

  341. Speaking of Novel TV, am I the only one who actually liked the SOPRANOS ending?

  342. ChopperSullivan

    August 1st, 2010 at 1:03 am

    I thought the SOPRANOS ending was perfect. I don’t understand any of the bullshit complaints.

    But then, I also think DEADWOOD ended well, even though it wasn’t supposed to end then.

  343. BREAKING NEWS looks like INCEPTION will win the weekend again by a squeaker of 3 million. Take that Paul Rudd.

    http://www.deadline.com/hollywood

    Notice how both were deadheat friday, but INCEPTION won saturday by a good totem. You know a movie in its 3rd weekend.

    Pathetic. I bet Paramount is pissed.

  344. The people who didn’t like THE SOPRANOS ending are probably the same people griping about the ending of INCEPTION. Geez, people, think up your own closure!

    I think MALIBU’S MOST WANTED is a shitty movie but it officially introduced the phrase “keep your pimp hand strong” to my lexicon so +1 for MALIBU’S MOST WANTED, I suppose

  345. RRA – I think SCHMUCKS is actually doing better than projected. INCEPTION was supposed to be a lock for this weekend, at least according to the sites I read, so a squeaker is a bit of a surprise. It probably won’t survive THE OTHER GUYS next weekend, but it should top-five it for a good long while. 200 mill is in the bag, could it do 3? If this talkback can beat POTPOURRI… then all signs point to yes

  346. Gwai – Perhaps, perhaps not but come on its a NEW movie against a movie thats been out several weeks. Counter-programming comedy with that Steve Carell which had been on a decent roll recently with people watching THE OFFICE and GET SMART and especially DATE NIGHT earlier this year doing rather well for him in theatres.

    Speaking of which, am I the only one who thinks OTHER GUYS looks sorta shitty? Like the sort of movie that gets dumped in August?

    I might be biased because it reminds me of utterly forgettable COP OUT from earlier this year, but with a bigger budget and bigger star cast. No offense to Bruno.

  347. – RRA

    I loved the sopranos ending and I think it might have inspired the inception ending. I actually can`t remember another ending where it cuts to black while the audience are begging for resolution. And I can`t remember being to another movie where the audience yelled at the scream.

    I loved Inception as a entertaining and clever blockbuster, but the ending seemed unearned when compared to Sopranos. The ending to sopranos was the faith of the character and the entire point of the story, the ending of Inception was designed to make the audience discuss the movie for the rest of the summer. But one of the best action-sci-fi`s since The Matrix anyway.

  348. Jareth Cutestory

    August 1st, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Count me among the fans of the SOPRANOS ending. I think if someone google searches outlaw+vern+sopranos+subtlety they’ll find an earlier thread where we yacked about that one.

    RRA: All of the advertising space in one of our subway stations has been filled with group and individual life-sized posters of THE EXPENDABLES. Last night, while waiting for a train I overheard a group of young guys riffing on the posters, stuff like:

    – Statham is a pussy; he looks like Paul Blart
    – Jet Li is only in the poster because it was take your daughter to work day for vigilantes
    – Austin and Couture look like grand marshals in a leatherman parade
    – Willis looks like Captain Picard
    – The cast are all dtv rejects
    – Dolph looks like an angry hairdresser
    – Nice to see Tommy Chong getting work (ie. Rourke)
    – et cetera

    The sad part of the story is that these kids unanimously declared that they’d gladly be seeing THE OTHER GUYS instead of EXPENDABLES. It makes me wonder to what extent these doofuses represent the opinions of the larger population.

  349. I for one was not all that impressed with INCEPTION. I think I am alone. I dunno, I was expecting much more. The movie felt like a 2 hour long montage, which is kind of a problem I have with Nolan’s Batman films too (BATMAN BEGINS much more so than DARK KNIGHT). It’s like he’s got 50 bullet points that he’s got to get through so that he can set up whatever the next scene is he wants, and he’s got to go through them real fast so keep up. No time for character development except what he can show you in a 2-second shot before we have to move to the next 3-second shot.

    I guess this is the first dream heist movie but the same material has been done before and this wasn’t all that special. In my opinion. Take one part TOTAL RECALL, one part SOLARIS, a little DARK CITY, and bam.

    Whoever mixed the sound on this movie needs to get a hearing aid though. I could barely understand the dialogue sometimes because the music was drowning them out. Of course, after hearing 500 sound bites in a row instead of what you would really call “dialogue” I kind of stopped caring.

    Maybe I am just getting old. You kids get off my lawn.

  350. Jareth – for a bunch of tasteless mouth-breathers those are actually somewhat clever riffs, haha. Count me in for Dolph Lundgren is ANGRY HAIRDRESSER, straight to DVD and Blu Ray in 2011

  351. I thought this was a great movie.

    It’s a massive budget event film with spectacular effects, but at the same time it’s completely unique in its story and ideas. Conceptually the different levels of dream with their different time speeds were pure genius, and I have never seen anyone do that before, neither in movies or literature. Inception also has great acting all around, it’s exciting, and visually spectacular.

    How often do you see all that in the same movie? For me this was the first time since Dark Knight, and before that it was probably Lord Of The Rings (which was an adaptation, but the execution was something I had never experienced before).

    I didn’t find the exposition problematic. The film had extremely complex rules that it had to explain away, and at least it did it in an exciting manner, and never repeated the same info. In comparison for example Matrix felt very repetitive to me the first time I saw it, and has stayed that way.

    This is also thematically complex film, not empty at all like some have suggested. Whether everything was a dream or not is irrelevant, and we can’t know for sure either way. What’s important is that different choices the different characters made while knowing that their world might be an illusion. Cobb chose one way, his wife the other way, neither didn’t know for sure. Also the film made it clear that some people choose to escape to dream world despite knowing that it’s fake, because they feel more alive there. You could talk about the ethics of those choices all day, and about what you are allowed to do to another person to free them from a lie. Do you have the right to manipulate others, like Cobb did to his wife? Even if your intentions are the purest, and you do it to save that other person?

    And for me the most interesting question is related to the previous one: The planted a lie to Fischer’s head. But the lie they planted is most likely going to make him a happier, better man. And it’s going to do good for the world as a whole. But it’s still a lie, and a form of brainwashing.

    So did they do a good or a bad thing? It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s an evil thing they did, but they did it with good intentions, and it caused only good as far as we know. At the end of the movie Fischer was finally happy and free from his prison, free to live his own life.

    As far as achieving a dream-like feel, this is the most successful movie I have seen in that sense. My dreams almost always look realistic and not like heavily production-designed fantasy trips. My dreams look more like Inception than Matrix. Someone already mentioned editing of the film, and I agree it was very clever in achieving a dream-like state. Just like in (my) dreams you suddenly transition from one place to the next, with no connecting tissue in between. No establishing shots, or anything. Just one line of dialogue – cut – and a new line of dialogue in a new place. At first I thought the film had surprising scene transitions because of pacing reasons, but after watching the entire film, it was obviously a stylistic choice.

    The music of the film was also pretty awesome. Effects were completely realistic and often awe-inspiring. The hotel action scenes were amazing.

    It’s not a perfect film thought. The action was too cutty in the rainy street fight and the ski-chase. And… Well that’s it for the negatives.

    The film did lack for me the emotional weight that would have put it as one my all-time favourites. I did like Dark Knight more, because it had a bigger emotional punch at the end.

    But still, this is a miracle of a movie. Amazing that we can have big budget entertainment like this. I will be excited about whatever Nolan does next.

  352. This thread now freezes my fuckin browser every time I open it. I need a new PC.

  353. Gwai Lo – I hope HAL doesn’t think you’re replacing him. You know how sensitive he is to that sorta thing.

  354. Jareth Cutestory

    August 1st, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    At the first suggestion from your computer that you take a stress pill, run for the door and pray the device hasn’t DEMON SEEDed your house.

  355. I loved it too, tuukka. It looks like a backlash is starting up, among the internet never-happies; let’s hope it doesn’t take root.

  356. Casey – reminds me of that Vern quote in this very review about nerds: “they gotta destroy what they love”

  357. Hey guys,

    saw this yesterday and am a little late for the discussion, but just wanted to say that for me it clearly has to be Reality. First of all where is Leos wife in this dream level, when she finds him in every other and starts killing people. Given that she stays dead in a dream, this “reality” would be limited to being the same dream all the time. But wasn’t it said, that dreams are time limited and the time for one level deeper from “reality” even when sedated would be like 8 hours. But the movie clearly plays over days in “realtity”.
    The other thing is, that his children are always shown without their faces in the dream world. And i thought that he kind of forgot their faces because in his last memory he missed on the oportunity to see their faces one last time. So how could he suddenly remember their faces when they are not even in his subconciousness any more?

    Anyway, really like this one. Cant remember when i last left the cinema as wowed as this time. Perfect ending. Masterpiece or not, it was entertaining as hell.

  358. the matrix was niether deep nor cool.

  359. http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1939332

    Loved the movie but that was funny. Especially the last bit with you know who.

    Off topic but slightly on topic: I had a dream with “Vern” in it last night. I use quotations because it was Vern but it was also underground rapper M.F. Doom. So Vern in this case was a chubby black guy wearing a Dr. Doom mask. Anyway we were in a movie theater watching obscure Russian flicks. Vern had a pizza and I was hungry, so I asked him if I could buy three slices off him for $2 each, which I thought was generous. He seemed to have no problem with it but then he got up later and came back with a whole new pizza so I felt bad for depriving him of three slices and making him get up for more. Later the crowd rebelled against the obscure Russian flicks and put on OBSERVE AND REPORT instead. I remember feeling self-conscious about which parts I laughed at just in case Vern heard me and noted it in his review. “I noticed the crowd laughed at the rape humor” and etc.

    Sorry for dreaming about you Vern there bud

  360. That last link btw is the “ripped off” comic in question.

    Rather actually pretty good if you bother to read it.

  361. great find gwai lo

    their extended inception ending video is quite funny too

  362. Vern – you mind approving that post above mate?

  363. Total Lifetime Grosses
    Domestic: $197,603,131 53.5%
    + Foreign: $171,500,000 46.5%
    ——————————————————————————–
    = Worldwide: $369,103,131

    Not to flog a dead horse here but this movie is now officially profitable, without a doubt, which is great news for people who like originality in their Hollywood pictures (flog, flog)

  364. Did INCEPTION rip off a Disney comic book? Nah but its eerie seeing the similarities between the two. Since the dates match, I think Scrooge McDuck extracted the idea from Nolan back in 2002.

    http://disneycomics.free.fr/Ducks/Rosa/show.php?s=date&loc=D2002-033

  365. BTW does my new avatar work or not? I can’t tell.

  366. If your avatar is a black box, then yes it’s working. If there’s supposed to be a picture in there…no.

    How do you do those things anyway?

  367. BTW I kinda like the black box. It feels like I’m looking into the depths of your soul and I find it hard to pull myself from it. Just sayin’. If the black box wasn’t your intent I’d look at it as a happy accident.

  368. hamslime – there’s supposed to be a picture in there, in honor of the indirect source of my nick.

  369. Shit, now I’m curious. What’s the picture?

  370. hamslime – google up “ronnie rocket” and you’ll get the mug.

  371. hamslime — http://www.gravatar.com to change your avatar. I also like RRA’s black box avatar. It’s like the talkback is holepunched

  372. I dont know what I did wrong. I got an ugly mug of David Lynch and…it doesn’t go through. Yet I must admit the black void seems to perfectly describe my existence. Happy accident.

    Also looks like that Spinal Tap album. quote time!

    “It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black. “

  373. Let’s see if this works?

  374. I can see it

  375. HUZZAH! Success.

  376. You look adorable in pink, Slimey my boy.

  377. BTW, which one’s pink?

  378. I’m glad you said that. I always thought that dress made me look fat. Especially wearing it now.

  379. Anybody want yet another INCEPTION ending explaination? No? Too bad.

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=27664

  380. i hated it. sooooooo boring and totally fabricated view of the dream world. almost like it was written by someone who’d never actually had a dream – just heard about them from friends and wants us to know he has them too :) !!

  381. Forbes magazine is reporting that Leo, including salary and gross points, will bank $50+ million because of INCEPTION’s box office killing.

  382. We are so near to escape from Limbo, c’mon people lets get to 400 and properly retire this bitch.

  383. Well, what’s left to talk about, RRA? Each time I see the movie I have some more questions about whether or not it is internally consistent, but at this point unless someone has some amazing diagram about how all this shit works I just have to give up and roll with it.

    Though, to answer the question above, moving the kids to France won’t help because Cobb is already worried about extradition…

  384. Fair enough.

  385. Fun Fact: In terms of admissions, within a few weeks INCEPTION should be each Nolan and Leo’s biggest hit in France. Yes bigger even than THE DARK KNIGHT and TITANIC.

  386. Remember this note next time you see it: “As Cobb, Arthur, Saito and Nash rise out of each dream in the first sequence, there is a clear shot of a clock running backwards in each scene.

    Courtesy of IMDB

  387. Oh and 400 mother fuckers. Hoo ray!

  388. Hey look the internets not done making hilarious shit out of Inception yet!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2yD4yDsiP4&feature=player_embedded

  389. 100% masterpiece to me. Nolan is officially a genius master blockbuster film storyteller, imho. INCEPTION and THE DARK KNIGHT are both in my all-time top 10. Greatest director of his generation thus far, greatest working director *this moment* and fast-approaching top 8-10 directors of all-time.

  390. I finally saw Inception the other day. I had a run of engagement pass since it came out, but I dunno, I just wasn’t feeling it. I went this week before it left the chain because I didn’t want to waste the pass like I did with another I had for The Girl Who Played With Fire. Anyhow, my overall impression was meh. I thought it was really impressive visually, but I was bored with much of the action because I didn’t feel that the protagonists were ever in danger. I didn’t like the casually amoral attitudes of all the players, and especially Leo’s character came across as super selfish. It was a puzzling flick, but mostly it’s puzzling because there’s not enough info to make a clear case for any kind of theory on what was actually going on. I gave it a whole lot of suspension of disbelief while I was watching, but the whole we have to go down to another level of dream business really strained the credibility envelope. Like why would you need a machine to do the dream linkage in a dream? And how come Tom Hardy could just become other people? Whatever for logic, and regardless of whether it’s deliberately ambiguous, or not, I did enjoy reading up on the various ideas regarding the “truth” about the ending. It was an intriguing flick, and my gut feeling is it was all a dream.

    Also, Leo’s character was like a flipside to the one he played in Shutter Island.

    mashup of the Inception and Shutter Island trailers:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqr76wh8qA4

    link to a gawker article about a South Park episode spoofing Inception and hoarding.

    http://tv.gawker.com/5669861/south-park-tackles-americas-obsession-with-hoarding-inception?skyline=true&s=i

  391. ” didn’t like the casually amoral attitudes of all the players”

    They needed to be INCEPTION BUSTERS.

  392. hah! yeah, who you gonna call when the nightmares come? Actually, that reminds me of Dennis Quaid in Dreamscape. That was loads more fun than Inception. I don’t remember if it was as implausible or convoluted, just that the good guys and bad guys were more clearly delineated. And that goes back to my lacklustre response towards Inception. I was expecting something more along the lines of Dark City or The Matrix, you know the reluctant hero rising to the occasion and vanquishing the vile oppressors and all, but that’s so not what I got. IMO, fulfilling your expectations is half the battle when it comes to enjoying a flick.

  393. I rewatched this a couple days ago and a thought occurred to me: Can you guys think of a single other action movie (excluding ones about natural disasters) where there’s no villain?

  394. Arguably, according to some interpretations, MINORITY REPORT is without a villain.

    Ish.

  395. Everyone turns out to be friends in HEROES OF THE EAST.

  396. Alcohol & hubris were the only real villains in FEARLESS.

  397. Majestyk – “Titanic” had an evil fiancee, and “Twister” had a sentient tornado that chased our heroes around the landscape. Seriously. So even ones WITH natural disasters have villains.

    Mouth – “Minority Report” was without a villain only in the sense that the bad guy was superficially well-meaning. I say “superficially” because he was obviously willing to sacrifice others for the sake of both his project, and his own neck. (I don’t want to spoil here, but Tom Cruise’s boss, confidente and only-other-person-in-the-film-with-actual-characterisation is named after one of the five Soviet stars and played by Ming the Merciless. He might be the bad guy. Or he might not. Don’t know, this one could go either way.)

    How about “Shaolin Soccer”? No single villain in that, as far as I can recall.

  398. See I disagree with the “MINORITY REPORT has no villains” meme. I get the idea, but c’mon: Sydow is the traditional old-mentor-friend-who-backstabs-hero-to-save-his-self-righteous-ass.

    If that isn’t villain material, what is?

  399. Plus, if you designated everyone who meant well, even wanted to save lives, but was the antagonist in action movies and said they weren’t “villains”, at least a third of Hollywood action flicks could be said to not have a villain. Probably more. Any film with an idealistic terrorist or zealot Government agent might be out, for example, depending on their motives.

  400. Paul: Regardless of how these characters view themselves, the movies still see them as villains, and in the structure of their respective plots they function as antagonists. INCEPTION has no such character, or even an aggregate villain like SHAOLIN SOCCER’s Team Evil.

    Mouth: I think this comes from many kung fu films viewing violence as exhibition, not combat, making a villain unnecessary. That kind of dynamic is pretty unheard of in American-style blowing-shit-up type action movies, though.

  401. Yeah, you’re right. I’m still trying to find a good example, and I was stretching it because I so desperately want to answer Mr. M’s challenge.

  402. Isn’t Cillian Murphy’s father the villain in Inception? Not to mention all the subconscious guards. Maybe the subconscious itself is the villain. Did I just go meta?

  403. One of the reasons I really didn’t like this movie & will never bother with it again actually was because I sympathized with Cillian Murphy and felt nothing for anybody else. The main characters were so conniving and selfishly inclined the majority of the time especially Leo’s that I viewed them as villains. Which all things considered when you factor what they do for a living as well as Watanabe’s intentions, they certainly are villains by definition. So it does have villains unless you want to just label them antiheros.

  404. Broddie – You didn’t feel for Leo wanting to go back home to his kids?

  405. Majestyk – yeah, I agree with you on this one. I was just pointing out the absurdity of making a definition of “villain” based purely on the villain’s motives. Only the greatest or the worst villains THINK they’re evil. (Don’t ask me what the sentient tornado from “Twister” thinks though, because I got no idea on that one. Apparently it really, really, really hates the main characters. Which is basically understandable, because so did everyone else who saw them.)

    Broddie – I don’t know, a fair few people had the same reaction to “Inception” that you did. Which is ok, not everyone can love every film. All I can say is that the scene where Leo lets his wife go had me choked up for a while. But then I loved “Inception”.

  406. No RRA I can’t say that I did. The man consciously led their mother to her death. If he’s so good at it why didn’t he just incept her to help her escape her own sanity? the laws of the movie dictated he was capable of it. I couldn’t think anything less than “what an asshole” with this guy. Leo did a good job of bringing it to life the fault was Nolan’s for writing such a cold bastard. Then not doing enough to build any genuine sympathy. All the pathos in the film felt forced as fuck. I hated the pacing of this movie.

    To top it all off you got the cheap ending, Ellen Page with her tired scthick and a complete waste of JGL the best actor around my age group. On the upside it was technically well made. I just didn’t feel the same visceral feel from when he made this movie on a shoestring budget and called it Memento.

    There the man leading the wife to her demise was tragic because he was too ill physically to do anything about it. In The Prestige were the two leads were also assholes enough was done to make you feel for them especially Jackman. Inception well I just hated these characters.

    On the upside Murphy was good, the late Postelwhite was very effective and most importantly new Mad Max has the charisma to carry the legacy of George Miller’s masterpiece. This movie convinced me, Bronson was no fluke. I’m also glad so many people did love it and it made like a gajillion dollars. For the simple fact that it could hopefully influence more original big budget filmatism.

  407. *insanity

  408. Some website’s (I think Joblo or Hitfix) Top 10 Villains of the year list had Marian Cotillard’s character on it. Take that for what it’s worth. She’s definitely filmed like a villain in some scenes, especially in her Freddie Krueger-esque appearance in Ellen Page’s dream.

    And I know this doesn’t count as an action movie, but strangely *SPOILER* Shutter Island didn’t have a villain either (yet another thematic similarity to Inception). It did the same thing as The Game, where all the characters (including perennial traitors Max Von Sydow and Ben Kingsley!) were in on a big conspiracy, but they were doing it for good, not for evil. I think I’ve said it before, but I actually found that really touching that everyone would go to all this trouble to help one guy.

  409. I’m bored and saw this still had a million posts so hello!

    I’m with Broddie on my dislike for the film. I mean to rewatch it to see if I can like it, since everyone else does, but I’m fearful it’ll be like the Dark Knight for me where each time I rewatch it I end up disliking it more because of how many obvious and horrific flaws the film has.

    You bring up something that made me think of something else, Mr 2Zod. I think Nolan would have been better off directing Shutter Island. I think Shutter Island had a decent screen play but was let down by some of the worst direction I’ve seen in a while. Yeah, I know it’s Scorsese but a lot of the scenes and a lot of the pacing was just totally amateurish. I think Nolan could have done a better job. Instead, he got up his own ass making a movie that had nothing to say and was boring to boot.

    Even when Broddie makes an interesting point, about the protagonists being the villains, I think it’s something Nolan did by total accident and was not by design. He’s not a subtle guy, as the dialogue of all of his films will show, so if he meant for them to be the villains it would have been more obvious. Instead we’re supposed to feel sorry for Leo and get a total hard-on when Ken Watanabe uses his powers of super bourgeois wealth to purchase an airline.

    I’ll have to watch it again sometime this summer and see if it works for me. Unfortunately my one and only time watching it made me want to kill myself for fear that they would keep going deeper and the movie would literally never end.

  410. I still like INCEPTION a lot but I never want to talk about it ever again.

  411. I finally got around to watch it (But I’m not in the mood to read the 20000 comments above). Brillant on a technical level and very entertaining, but I think it’s Nolan’s weakest of his bat-less movies so far.
    Despite being very entertaining, the story left me pretty cold. I just don’t know why I should care for a corporate asshole who tries to ruin another corporate asshole, which is in fact what the story is about.
    Yes, I know, I know, there is the plot about Leo not being able to see his kids again, but whenever his wife or kids appeared, it was a real showstopper IMO. The whole subplot was so hamfisted, filled with awkward dialogue and using one cliche after the next, that if I wouldn’t know it better, I would think it was the result of re-shoots, caused by studio suits who demanded “a romantic subplot” or some shit like that and then brought a hack writer in to add it.
    The whole thing about the different time lines in different dream levels was pretty clever, but for any reason I kept thinking how much more clever and entertaining it could have been, if the writers of FUTURAMA would have come up with the idea of a heist within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. You know how awesome this show can get when they run crazy with high SciFi concepts! (Not to mention that their episode THE STING did play with different levels of dreams and reality pretty well years ago!)
    What really killed the movie for me was the ambigous ending. It just cheapened the movie. It was like someone would add a final jump scare to THE EXORCIST or ALIEN, right before the credits start. Don’t give me that “oh, maybe it is still a dream…or is it?” bullshit.
    But apart from that it’s an okay movie, I think.

  412. I think you’re shortchanging the meaning of the ending. Forget about whether or not it keeps spinning, the important thing is that he no longer feels the need to check. It’s not a jump scare, it’s character growth.

  413. Vern makes a good point. The dead wife’s character growth is what, committing suicide? And Leo doesn’t want that, so his disregard for the trinket, along with finally understanding how to deal with his painful memories, is his sign of growth. Much less destructive. Never thought of it that way before, thanks. And it still works for me as the final shot of a helluva puzzle, as Nolan’s gentle punch to the audience’s stomach, happening simultaneously with a final tug back toward the edge of our seats.

    Also, Marion Cotillard can spin my top any day.

  414. Yeah, to be fair a few hours later I did realise that it’s also more about Leo not caring anymore, may it because he knows everything is fine now or that he just gave up and decided to live this reality, doesn’t matter which one it is. It’s just the ambiguity of that last shot, the cutting to black before it keeps or stops spinning, that pissed me off.
    I can live with a (semi-) open ending, but in a movie that is about different layers of (un-)reality, it’s just a little bit too cheap for my taste, to let the audience decide if it’s real or not. Ambiguity is a nice thing, but sometimes I just prefer if a filmmaker ends his movie with…y’know, an ending!

  415. I like that perspective, Vern. I’m unsure if that is what Nolan meant to do, but it’s a very interesting read of the scene.

    Now, if only the rest of the film wasn’t so boring.

  416. I like that perspective, Vern. I’m unsure if that is what Nolan meant to do, but it’s a very interesting read of the scene.

    Now, I just wish the rest of the film wasn’t so boring. There are a few interesting nuggets here or there but I can’t help but think Futurama or The Twilight Zone would have done this story in a more interesting way.

  417. I’m really cynical about the ending, Mr Holden. I like Vern’s interpretation but I am unsure if that was the intended message. I see the last shot as a way to get people talking about the movie so they would read way more into that boring mess of a film than actually existed.

  418. Completely agree with you about the reasoning for the ending Casey. I really couldn’t get into this movie at all.

  419. It’s rare for a movie’s ending to draw reactions that are equal parts “Fuck you, asshole, that was wack” and “Whoa, that was awesome,” sometimes simultaneously within the same viewer.  

    I don’t know if I can understand fans of fucking Futurama &/or pro wrasslin’ calling INCEPTION “boring” and “cheap,” though.  Sorry, dudes, but that’s crazy talk.  

  420. Futurama is pretty great, Mouth. Episodes like Jurassic Bark are just really amazing and the show has done some really interesting episodes that make me compare it favorably to The Twilight Zone.

    I would like to hide behind my enjoyment of wrestling by saying I watch it to see our cultural zeitgeist but I have to admit to kind of liking it. Plus, what CM Punk is doing right now is really excellent and exciting and totally different. He’s basically coming out and saying, “Fuck the WWE and your bullshit is awful.” He’s doing it in such a way that pisses off the WWE but also gets them good buzz and good ratings so they weren’t able to just fire the guy. Wrestling will probably go back to being indefensible garbage after he leaves on Sunday night, but for right now it is actually really interesting.

    I wanted to like Inception. I went opening weekend with some friends. I thought the premise was interesting and the visuals looked unique. I wanted to like this movie. Instead, I saw a solid hour of boring exposition where they talk about the rules of these dream worlds followed by an hour and a half where they try to break the rules they just established. I could forgive that if the action scenes weren’t awful or if I could actually describe any character beyond what their role was in the plot.

    That would be all fine and good but there were just so many other things about that movie that just pissed me off. The soundtrack was nothing but a constant booming noise, that fucking van is still falling, the movie felt like it was 10 hours long, and even when they had action scenes involving characters I didn’t care about fighting emotions or guns or whateverthefuck in a setting where anything could happen the movie still managed to bore me.

    I seriously can not remember the last time I left a movie theatre really and truly hating a movie. I was immediately terrified that my friends and my wife liked the film. Thankfully they felt the same way.

  421. Yeah man. Don’t be dissin’ the Futurama! Although even its dramatic episodes are played for laughs, its the only modern TV show, that could take a high concept like industrial espionage in a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream where you can live a whole life in a week, and make something completely mindblowing and original out of it. In less than 30 minutes! Episodes like THE FARNSWORTH PARABOX, THE STING, TIME KEEPS ON SLIPPING or GODFELLAS are way too awesome in their concepts and execution to be dismissed like that.
    Now I don’t wanna say that Nolan had no idea how to execute his multiple dream and time concept. THAT he was able to pull it of so seemingly easy is one of the reasons why INCEPTION entertained me so much. I just think that it’s missing the one last nudge to greatness, that so many conceptual story ideas of FUTURAMA have. It was like Nolan was restraining himself, because he didn’t believe in his audience and was scared of making it too complicated for them.

    And his plan worked. It turned out to be a good movie.

    It was just missing the last little bit of conceptual awesomness.

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