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INCEPTION: THE DREAM OF BETTER MOVIES IS REAL

Inception TMPC movie Review

Total Recall in 1990.

Terminator 2 in 1991.

Pulp Fiction in 1994.

Toy Story in 1995.

There’s Something About Mary and Dark City in 1998.

The Matrix, Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich and Magnolia in 1999.

Memento in 2000.

Mulholland Drive in 2001.

The Dark Knight in 2008.

These are the moments in my movie going life that remind me why I love sitting in a theater for two hours…or more.

These are the movies that remind me why cinema is my favorite art form.

These are the proof that when balanced, the dynamic of commercial and art, of show and business can make everyone a winner: the studio, the filmmaker, the audience.

These are reminders of why we as humans need inspired storytelling, why we crave it, not just as entertainment, but as nourishment for the mind and connection with ourselves and each other.

Am I getting too serious? Too nostalgic? Too idealistic?

Let’s ask, what is a movie theater?

A public living room with a huge screen and awesome sound system and a ton of seats where, for a fee, strangers gather together to be entertained for a few hours, sit in some air conditioning and eat some popcorn?

 Or, is it where we go to communally dream?

Our theater going experience is much like the scene in Inception when Yusuf shows Cobb a room filled with “dreamers” linked in a shared dream that he’s given a strong sedative to. The question is asked, “Why do they come here?” Someone responds, “After a while, it becomes the only way they can dream.” Then Yusuf answers, “No, they come here to wake up. For them, the DREAM is real.”

How different is a movie theater from Plato’s Cave?

Alphonse de Lamartine, a French romantic poet, once said, “Limited in his nature, infinite in his desire, man is a fallen god who remembers heaven.”

This quote has been buoyed in the ocean of my thoughts for the last week whenever thinking about Inception, splashing in the raging waters of ideas and memories demanding to be taken to the shore of consciousness… and I think I’ve finally realized why: the movie theater is where we go to remember our divinity.

Because imagination leads to inspiration; and what is reality but physical creation of that which is dreamed of first? Did I use enough words ending with “ation” in that last sentence?

Relax, I’m not going to get all religious or New age, but, I am going to get…spiritual.

Still seem too serious of a word? Too uptight for a “simple” movie review? Okay, let’s ask this question, “Is Inception Inspired?”

Yes. Totally. Undeniably.

Platos Movie Theater

Plato’s Cave seems eerily close to a movie theater: the projector, the audience and the screen. Is it also the spirit, brain and eyes?

Chances are at least 8 out of 10 reviews for the movie will mention that word.

Now, let’s take it to the next level: What does inspired mean?

In-spired. Which comes from: in-spirit.

To be in-spirit, with spirit, connected to something…beyond? Within? All encompassing?

If that’s a biological chemical process based only in the physical body resulting from a certain mixture of chemicals, fine.

If that’s a result of a quiet meditative state where worldly noise is silenced so the mind can tap into the mystical wisdom of the universe, cool.

Some people need a cup of coffee to get there, maybe a cigarette, a beer, to go run a marathon or wax on/wax off - whatever the name, process, or system it’s labeled, the end result is what matters: a human being becomes a mediator translating mysterious/hidden formlessness into something physical, a.k.a.: an artist.

Shakespeare, Mozart, Picasso, Warhol, Kubrick, Jay Z, Metallica, Frank Lloyd Wright, Wolfgang Puck, and J.K. Rowling have experienced the calling and obeyed its truth. And, more importantly, the reason we know these names, the reason they have careers and have profited, is that WE have recognized and responded to the divinity. Like de Lamartine’s quote, we “remember heaven” in the honesty of creativity that’s in-spired!

And we know, in our guts, when a movie has that joy, that life, that excitement pouring forth from every frame, we can sense what the filmmaker felt in conceiving and giving birth to it. When that happens, sitting in a movie theater becomes akin to sitting in a church when the sun illuminates the stained glass windows and this notion that something “more” is at work washes over us.

We also know when a movie is cashing in, riding the wave of a popular trend, emulating a previous success in the hopes of fooling us just long enough to take our money and get us out the door before we realized we just got roofied and used.

Kick Ass Review A Nightmare on Elm Street Movie Film Review

What did you think of each of these films after seeing their previews? Weren’t you able to “sense” the creativity, energy or lack of in each?

It’s love vs. fear. Doing something risky and unknown because it’s calling out to become real vs. doing something safe, measurable, predictable because there’s less of a chance of failure or loss.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The source of evolution, of growth, of creation is the ability to dream, to take what exists and combine, tear apart, reorder and invent something new.

This current age of filmmaking is based in knowledge, of that which already exists and in many ways is losing relevance, becoming stale and spinning its wheels. Mainly because the present is confusing, the future is obviously unknown which leaves the only predictability left in the past which leads to the formulas: past = profit & memories = marketability.

Remakes, reboots, sequels, adaptations: established properties merely translated into a different medium or something old dressed up to look new only to end up feeling familiar and anticlimactic.

It’s like that moment when Sato challenges Cobb to perform inception and Arthur says something to the effect of, “The mind knows the difference between a true original idea or one that’s been planted there.”

Movie marketing is slinging bullsh*t saying that this movie or that is something new and exciting while deep down inside we know the truth.

If the Yin/Yang applies to all in life, like a shattered hologram where each small piece contains the entire image of the larger whole, then movies have this light/dark dynamic. This Star Wars-ish Force-type balance is the commercial vs. the art or, the profit vs. the people.

Don’t worry, I’m not getting Marxist or anything, just being a Keeping-it-Realist. Since America is where Hollywood is located and H-Wood, now Story Corp. is the master of commercial movie making then it’s not a stretch to say that Capitalism influences and even in our current time dominates the decision making process when green lighting projects. The qualifying question being, “How much money will it make?” instead of, “What purpose does the story serve?” which sounds laughable to the businessman but obvious to the artistic, honest, and naive.

When both sides come together the Oscar-Winning-Crowd-Pleasing-Blockbuster is born; when it’s too much art it’s Heaven’s Gate, when it’s too commercial it’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Why do we keep re-watching The Godfather, Star Wars, Goodfellas, JawsDr. Strangelove and Rocky?

When’s the last time anyone, really, ANYONE…alive…over the age of 10…without being forced…without doing it as a hipster/irony experiment watched Rocky 5, Jaws 3 or Godfather 3?

Let’s look at the “Escape” series for a great example of the shift from creative to cashed.

In 1981 John Carpenter made Escape From New York. On a budget of $6 million it made 25. Why? Because it was something old – The Great Escape - but instead of a POW Camp, it was a city prison – something new. Did it have an A-list star? Great effects? Not really. It was just inspired. New York in the late 70s and early 80s wasn’t the corporate cleaned family friendly tourist destination that it is today – just watch Taxi Driver for a history lesson on the sights and the mood. It was a symbol for decaying hope in America. Of course it makes sense that it’d become a jail and the audience responded to that.

In 1996 Carpenter was asked by an evolved market savvy H-Wood for a sequel, Escape from L.A. On a budget of $50 million it made 42 worldwide. Why didn’t this succeed like the first? On the surface it had all the pieces in place: actor, director, story, established property, easily marketable. But, it was also too similar to the first. Oh, Snake has to escape from another city prison? Whatever. It was made well enough, but not different enough. It also wasn’t…inspired. It failed to “tap” into something truly creative. And while it tried bring ideas of religion and immigration into the story – as all good sci-fi should do – it didn’t connect with the late 1990s audience on the artistic level and it’s obvious commercialism was more alienating than appealing.

Escape From LA Review Inception

How typical. Snake moves to L.A. and starts dressing all one-piece-sci-fi-future-cliche.

Escape From New York Review Inception

In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, but, which eye is it?

Inception is an exploration, a revelation and above all an invitation for the audience and filmmakers to be reminded of the power of storytelling and the importance of its function for us. Like American philosopher Kenneth Burke said, “Stories are equipment for living.”

While it seems like that means stories can provide guidance for living in the present moment, they also provide inspiration for creating the future, for that which is yet to come.

Specifically the future regarding Movies!

With each new preview we collective say, “Jeez, can’t H-Wood think of something original?” Or, “Another remake? Why?” That’s what Inception is addressing.

It’s not a stretch to say that Nolan has gone Woody Allen here and cast Leonardo because he resembles the director himself. Is DiCaprio Christopher’s cinematic avatar?

Our Alphonse de Lamartine quotefest continues with this one, “Poets and heroes are of the same race, the latter do what the former conceive,” Nolan being the celluloid poet and Leo as Cobb being the cinematic hero who does what Chris is unable to do in this reality: implant and idea into the mind of the person responsible for corporate monopolization of an industry that he must break it apart and create something new on his own.

The son of the tycoon, Robert Fischer, isn’t Story Corp., Robert is us, the audience. The idea is implanted into our thoughts. And the movie is journeying into our collectively linked minds in the space of the theater which is a brain. The movie screen is a Cyclops, a massive portal into our consciousness.

Ever notice that when a movie is really working our conscious mind shuts off. We don’t ask questions. The sights and sounds around us go unnoticed. We even lose touch with our bodily shells, having an almost out of body experience. It’s a meeting of consciousnesses; a transmission from one mind to another.

Can filmmaking be mirrored in architecting the dream world? Doesn’t a movie create a representation of reality and once it starts playing we sit down and fill it with our subconscious? Don’t we see ourselves in the characters? Or, at least different parts of ourselves in them? Have you ever discovered something about yourself while watching a movie? Have you ever felt “inspired” or “influenced” by a film after leaving the theater? Thinking about it days later? Were you incepted?

At the subconscious level of Inception, this seems to be going on. It’s the journey of a filmmaker wandering through the once alive imagined reality where anything was possible – Story Corp. – looking to find the idea that once there was something true in the way movies were made that was more art than commercial. Today it’s just crumbled buildings, used, drained and forgotten. Cobb/Nolan is trying to rescue, to extract that and return it to the conscious level.

And at the end we realize we’ve been lulled into a dream. We’ve fallen asleep and have been convinced that this is how things are “suppose” to be. Beware of Social Proof – just because everybody is doing it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to be doing. Just because movie makes money doesn’t mean it’s “tapped.” Or, just cause it’s a hit, doesn’t mean it isn’t sh*t.

Inception itself is our “kick.” Waking us up. It’s a call to return to something…”real.”

It’s a call to take on Einstein’s counter intuitive notion of imagination being most important.

When Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream,” he was talking about creating something that didn’t exist yet. Listening to something that was calling out for life, to be born, manifested in the real world. Not remaking, not rebooting, not sequelizing but originating through inspiration (Though Civil Rights has a connection to any “fight-for-our-rights” movement of the past from forming the first unions to give workers equality or women’s suffrage).

A road is first born in the mind of a Civil Engineer before the land is excavated, before the cement if poured, before the markers are placed. After completion those that travel the road assume it’s solidly constructed and accurately designated, but, just because the road has been around a while and millions have traveled on it, doesn’t mean it’s the truest route. Has cinema taken a detour while roadwork was being completed and now everyone thinks that’s the main road. Remember the GPS we’re all born with: common sense, a.k.a. the Guiding Power of Spirit.

Here Christopher Nolan had a dream and he brought it to life, in story form and it’s a call back to inspired filmmaking.

Not to get too pompous or highbrow, movies are entertainment, definitely. I enjoy Killer Clowns From Outer Space and Goodfellas for different reasons, but, along with entertainment value, they can also be artistic. George Carlin has been called the “thinking man’s comedian” while Jeff Foxworthy has been dubbed the, “non-thinking man’s.”

It’s the “art” film vs. the “crowd pleaser.” But, they’re equally genius. AND, fans of each can understand both. AND, they explore what it means to be human in unique ways. Head, heart or groin, it’s all part of what makes people, people. It’s like going out to eat - it all depends on what we’re in the mood for.

On the conscious level Inception is a caper flick; a heist adventure, some dudes trying to steal something.

The screenplay, acting, directing, editing and all the parts of the finished whole are skillfully orchestrated to keep big ideas based in character and presented within the laws of drama. This could easily be a documentary on dreams presented by a psychologist which would probably put us to sleep.

Instead it’s dramatized through story. The characters explore the ideas and we do it along with them.

Is it real or a dream at the end? Does the top wobble? Do his children age? He doesn’t talk to anybody for the last 5 minutes, what does that mean? He has his wedding ring on in the “dream” world while in “reality” he doesn’t. Does he have it on or off at the end?

Inception looking at the top

How trustworthy is the totem rule?

Isn’t it awesome to be doing this? To be engaged in adding to and creating the impact of the story?

Nolan had this idea around 10 years ago, that’s roughly around his let’s-f-with-cinema-phase which gave birth to Memento.

Memento is told in reverse - something that seems so simple but had never been done in that exact way.

Inception mindf*#ks narrative technique by justifying it because the story determines it. The brilliant layering of the dream infiltration allows for basically four objectives to simultaneous be undertaken by a single set of characters. It’s like we’re watching four movies at once, something that was hinted at in The Dark Knight, towards the middle when The Joker kills off the police commissioner and judge just as Harvey Dent’s fundraiser is getting underway. The parallel editing, music and pacing grip the viewer and there’s this amazing tension and g-force momentum pulling us dramatically along. Inception is like that, but on steroids laced with crack and meth being pumped through the ventilation system on a space shuttle while blasting off.

There’s the level of everyone in the van. Then the hotel. Then the wintery fortress. Then the subconscious. Each has its own objective unified by a mega-objective.

This results in the following reaction from the audience, “I’ve never seen that before done it that way.”

Yes there are influences here: Dark City, What Dreams May Come, The Matrix, Paprika, A Nightmare on Elm Street, James Bond, Oceans 11 and Lost to name just a few.

The Matrix Inception Review
The Cell Inception Review Paprika Inception Review Oceans 11 Inception Review What Dreams May Come Inception Dark City Poster Inception

The chicken or the egg? While Inception seems similar to these films, it also does something different and new with old ideas. Isn’t that what Facebook did to Myspace?

So what?

Was Einstein stealing the ideas of other physicists’ ideas when he came up with E=MC2? Or was he understanding, taking in what had come before, and now adding to it?

Because this movie started with this notion of having four climaxes leading to a mega-climax, of messing with the structure of storytelling on the big screen, it was born more of the intellect than the emotion.

This posed the biggest challenge for Chris.

Guess who I’m going to quote? Yep, Alphonse said, “The People can only understand what they can feel; the only orators that can affect them are those who move them.” Let’s add Moby Dick author Herman Melville to the reference mix with his blurb, “Art is the objectification of feeling.”

Film is the most complete sensory involving art form created to date and it has the ability to make us feel like no other can. Having cool ideas is a start, the work comes in making the ideas relatable through human interpretation – Walt Disney knew this when he had his movie animals act like people – the heart is stronger than the head when it comes to movie experiencing.

And if we accept that the movie theater is a shared dream space where individuals become a Zen-in-the-moment-Borg-Collective staring into the cinematic cyclops, then our disembodied group consciousness identifies with the characters that are on screen. We’re like Johann Krauss in Hellboy 2, the gas/smoke dude who needs a old school diving suit to contain him, to present him in a humanoid form.

Our minds mist their way into the characters on screen. Are these people architected deeply enough for our consciousness to fill them and feel they are real?

The solution seemed to be Cobb has some kids and feels responsible for his dead wife – who is his enemy in the dream world, a manifestation of his guilt over inadvertently killing her, so, in essence, he’s his own enemy! Ingenious solution!

Now, I admit, the whole redemption logic of this-is-the-heist-that-gets-me-back-to-my-old-life and the I-care-about-my-family-motivation is pretty tired. It’s been done hundreds of times…but, again, not like this. 

And interestingly, we’ve seen this type of character played by Leo before. In his last three films Inception, Shutter Island and Revolutionary Road all deal with the loss of his family at the hands of a self destructive wife which he ends up feeling responsible for and as a result becomes overprotective of the children, making them his purpose in life.

Revolutionary Road Inception Shutter Island Inception Inception Movie Review Couple

On a meta-cinematic level DiCaprio has been representing a husband archetype in his last few films. Guilt, regret, self-deception and “bit*hes be crazy” are common themes.

Also, all the characters in the story come together fairly quickly and it feels a little rushed ah-la the end of The Dark Knight when Batman takes the responsibility for Harvey Dent’s insane actions. It happens so fast that we’re like, “Okay, sure.” But then later it’s, “Wait, what?”

The development of the other characters is a little thin. Like, what’s up with Juno? Why does she come back? Sure, Cobb said she would be back because, “Reality won’t be enough now.” But let’s get some insight as to WHY she’s doing it.

This is a key in creating well crafted characters: everybody wants something. Every character has a point of view, and this perspective influences how they respond to the conflict. Her main objective seems to be to help Cobb get over his wife.

The great caper flick Ronin brings together a cast of characters whom we are allowed to understand. We know why they agree to go on this “one last job” set up. Same thing goes for – here comes a Michael Bay reference – Armageddon.

Remember the night before the team goes on the space mission they one by one make a final “wish” or, a personal objective? Through these stated desires we get to know them.

That doesn’t happen here. The only person we get insight into is Cobb.

Now, there’s two possible reasons for this, the first unintentional the section deliberate.

If it’s an accident or oversight on Nolan’s part it means he’s not the total cinematic master he seems to be. If it’s intentional, he’s so skilled he’s making it look like a mistake.

They key to the answer may be found in the resolution.

In a mainstream American movie the end must be “emotionally satisfying.” This is why in Animal House the filmmakers take the time at the end to tell us what happened to each character after this particular cinematic adventure has ended.

As Cobb walks through the airport the only resolution is his: he’s going home.

What does it mean for Arthur? Juno? Eames? Yusuf? Saito? Fischer?

The only character we feel for us Cobb, the only other people we have insight into is Saito and Fischer. We know he’s going to keep his business and be able to compete with Robert Fischer, but we don’t know what it means to him. What’s stopping him from becoming the energy monopoly? And why doesn’t that bother Cobb?

Fischer we understand and shed a tear for when he opens the safe culminating in a catharsis because he’s the objective of the movie and we get insight into his relationship with his father.

I know, I know, there’s not enough time in an already almost three hour movie to connect us in that way to every character of the team.

In that way, I agree. But here’s how it can be done: their reactions and desires.

In drama, scenes have conflict between people who want objectives and use their distinct personalities to fight for them.

The other day on 20/20 there was a segment called “What Would You Do?” The setup being that an accident is staged - a car rear ending and destroying the bumper of another - in clear view of witnesses. The camera captures the different reactions from different people with the final result being unique responses and reasoning. Each person is unique with their own endless subconscious, the iceberg of their personality beneath the waters of consciousness. Each person, within a few seconds of seeing them RE-ACT to conflict reveals who they are. Character is best revealed through action, not words and during conflict not as exposition.

The trick is to have characters say out loud why they are motivated to do the things they do while they’re fighting with other characters. Why do we feel a connection to William Wallace, Ripley, Darth Vader, Michael Corleone? Because they say what they want, why they want it, then go fight for it.

The Inception Team Movie Review Identity Inception Movie Review Hermans Head Inception

Is Inception influenced by Identity? (SPOILERS!!!) Where the twist is that all the characters are different personalities of the main character. Are both influenced by Fox’s 1991 sitcom Herman’s Head?

Could Nolan have purposely committed this oversight? Especially after successfully achieving character development in his previous films? What does every character in Batman Begins want? Bruce? Rachel? Gordon? Alfred? Heri Ducard? There’s an answer for each and we know it because each characters reveals it!

So that leaves option two – neglecting the “side” characters here was intentional.

Why? Hmmm. Well…the answer would seem to mean that all the characters in the movie are extensions of Cobb’s subconscious…which would make the movie, not just the ending, his dream.

In the movie’s credits, all the characters other than Peter Browning, Maurice Fischer, Robert Fischer, Mallorie Cobb and Dominic Cobb don’t have last names.

Basic writing 101 tells us that when developing characters give them full names to start with, then work from there. Why is such a simple element missing?

Because they aren’t real, they’re just functions of his delusion that only need to be as well developed as Cobb needs them to be to keep the illusion running?

Could it be the poster is telling us the truth? The dream is real. The movie is Cobb’s dream, which he chooses not to wake up from.

One element that has a strange bend the laws of reality meaning here is Cobb’s wife, Mal, who is portrayed by Marion Cotillard – also having the initials MC - who in our real world of movies portrayed real life French singer Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie en Rose and the “kick” song used here in Inception is Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (I Regret Nothing) by Edith Piaf!

No f’n way this is a coincidence. What was Nolan saying to us by orchestrating this connection? Why is the “real” movie world being blurred with the “dream” movie world?

If we look as Cobb as the one trapped in the subconscious then it’s Mal is who coming to save him. And her speech towards the end about how he’s the one that’s trapped is very convincing. It’s sort of like the movie Perfect Getaway (Spoiler Alert!) when it’s revealed that the main characters we’ve been following ARE the killers everyone is looking for. So here, Mal is the real one trying to save the dreaming Cobb.

It’s also ironic that the “kick”song’s title is I Regret Nothing because all Cobb does it regret! He has the impossible guilt of bearing the responsibility of planting the idea in the mind of his wife that lead to her insanity and suicide.

There’s also the notion of regret between Saito and Cobb who share the quote, “An old man living with regrets.”

Did something horrible happen to Cobb in reality and instead of living there he’s chosen to disappear into his own fantasy world? Maybe it’s the kids who are dead and Mal’s alive? Maybe they never had any kids and they only exist in the dream world? Maybe he’s an old man in reality, regretting that he never had any chidren?

The opening scene begins with Cobb in the ocean, in rough waters, a classic symbol of thought and the unconscious. When he meets Saito, notice that it’s Saito who spins the top. This brings up the totem rule – no one else can use the totem but the person who it belongs to. So is Saito Cobb? An older version of himself?

The top is actually Mal’s, so here it’s a third person spinning it, and throughout the movie it’s Cobb using it, and we learn he’s the second person - though we never see Mal use it.

If it’s real or a dream that doesn’t change the joy of the journey, it adds to it.

The music, by Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer, is amazing, but serves as a band-aid at times, seemingly on its own trying to make us feel tension and excitement when there really isn’t any going on. Most obviously is the sequence of preparing for the triple dream journey when there’s really just strategy going on, dialog between characters, and the music feels like it belongs in a scene where Batman is swooping over Tokyo.

Notice how the absence of music adds to the moment, the best example being the defense mechanism subconscious security attack force car chase. It’s like the police car/motorcycle chase in Rambo - totally music free.

It seems like Nolan was very conscious of Inception being almost three hours and wanting the audience to never have the time to be aware of that, so the music becomes an artificial way to keep us on edge. After all, music is a subconscious cue to emotionally react.

The score and cues also bleed over the levels. Does that mean that Cobb’s mind is connected to it all? Creating it all? Why not have each environment have it’s own tone/style? What do the music cues reveal or hint at?

Summer blockbuster open-ended movies are pretty rare, so it’s great to see a movie that has the balls to do that. Nolan’s carte blanche is responsible here, and there’s a sense that he doesn’t want to be an old filmmaker with regrets. That he doesn’t want to look back and say, “I wish I had made that one movie when I had the chance. When cinema needed someone to do something original and daring. When it needed a wake up call.”

Ultimately, I vote that it’s a dream…at least the ending. The kids are too similar to how they’ve looked the entire film and their wearing the same clothes – what are the chances? In the credits there are different ages given for the portrayal of the children, but can anyone really tell the difference between age 2 and 3 here?

And, the “outer” world is non-existent.

Where is the bigger picture? What kind of world do they live in where dreams can be invaded? Is this a comment on virtual reality? Online gaming? Everyone sitting at the computer in their own private cyber-world instead of engaging with people in person and having “real” lives?

Again, no need to take a break from the story and cut to a 10 minute Discovery Channel documentary explaining the world like in The Surrogates or a news report like the one at the beginning of Children of Men. The answer is to let those details bleed over into the frame via the characters attitudes, reactions and goals.

Children of Men Inception Review

Children of Men is one of the best examples of creating a complete world without exposition. It layers it’s reality with details. The Human Project graffiti in the background makes us feel like there’s a lot going on off camera.

This world is too closed off, there’s not enough objectivity, it’s very subjective, too personal. Like Mal says towards the end in a very midpoint of Total Recall,”Do you really believe you’re at the center of an interplanetary conspiracy?” kind of way, “Corporations are after you, gun fights in the street, travels to various countries…” she makes a lot of sense and “incepts” some doubt in our minds. And that’s what the ending does, it plants a seed of doubt, and Nolan uses us to prove his theory to us: An idea is a parasite. Once it takes hold it grows. The idea that the end could be a dream overtakes our thoughts when thinking about the movie.

Inception isn’t a total masterpiece. It’s close. It’s amazing, it’s great, but it’s a puzzle that doesn’t exactly fit together perfectly. After introducing the amazing idea, great dream visuals, it moves too fast for it’s own good, like someone who talks too fast because their afraid the audience will lose interest before they get to the end, as if it lacks the confidence that we’ll be able to keep up. It’s almost like Warner Bros. snuck into the editing department and cut out all the dialog that sounded to smart before the film was shipped off to theaters.

Once the big heist starts it’s an action movie that speeds with very little down time to feel the impact on the characters...other than Cobb.

Here’s one test: How is the audience reacting?

I’ve seen this twice, in different theaters, locations, and both times the audience is silent for the entire movie aside from three moments 1) Arthur kisses Juno, “It was worth a shot.” 2) “Dream bigger,” when the bigger gun takes out the subconscious defense mechanisms and 3) The final shot of the top.

That means that there’s no laughing, crying, cheering or clapping in response to the characters actions and situations. Not that every movie needs to have a Pixar-perfect mix of humor, drama and suspense, but at minimum, allow us to feel along with the main character. Nobody left the theater, so that means we were definitely engaged and interested, but on more of an intellectual level than on an emotional one.

In many ways it’s the opposite of Avatar’s problem, where Cameron was seduced by the 3D technology he was pioneering, Nolan here was seduced by the ideas and in both cases the characters were neglected.

Again, it’s a minor gripe, but usually when the audience is quiet it means we’re not reacting ALONG WITH the characters. Because, remember, our consciousness spills into the cinematic beings on screen. We feel what they feel. The more we know about them, the more we connect. The lack of responses means lack to connection. Though, I admit to tearing up at the end when, dream or not, reunites with his children.

So, have we been incepted with the other idea this movie is addressing: that movies can be creative once again. That the audience should want better films, not philosophical meditations, just well-told, character-based stories. Comedies that make us laugh, horror flicks that scare us and dramas that pluck our heartstrings.

It might happen organically, what Story Corp. refers to as “cycles.” Maybe reboots, remakes and sequels will slow down - they won’t go away - and a new era of “creativity” will bloom. Already as of this writing Andrew Niccol, creator of some of my favorite films like Gattaca, Lord of War and S1m0ne (he also wrote The Truman Show), has started casting for I’m.mortal, about a future where people don’t age. Guess who has been confirmed as one of it’s stars? Cillian Murphy, who played Robert Fischer here! Is is possible that this project has been around a while, but Story Corp. didn’t want to greenlight it for lack of proof that the public would support it? And, now, with Inception’s almost $600 million dollar worldwide take, has interest in “smart” movies started?

Defintely movie hope.

Has Story Corp. been incepted?

Are we ready to support those kinds of movies?

Herman Melville said, “To produce a mighty book you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.”

I love that Melville said, “Many there be...” awesome.

Movies are to the 20th and 21st century what Novels have been in centuries past. The AFI 100 list holds examples of movies that have attempted to explore mighty themes. That’s why they’re on the list, they’re endured.

Anais Nin said, “If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

Or, “If you’re not gonna keep it real, don’t bother.”

The storytellers, the filmmakers we respond to are usually attempting something “mighty.” Kubrick, Wilder, Allen, Welles, Tarantino and others have obeyed their truth, have “tapped” and that’s why we’ve elected them spokespeople for our on screen fantasies. Nolan is also one. But, where’s the Saved by the Bell: The New Class of filmmakers?

It’s time to dream bigger. Who’s up to the challenge?

Inception has gone into the dream world to help save our real world.

Total Recall the remake.

Terminator 5.

Pulp Fiction 2.

There’s Still Something about Mary.

The Matrix Rebooted, Fight Club 2, The Seventh Sense, Being John Malkovich Again, Magnolia 2.

These titles seem outrageous and absurd, but no doubt these words have been spoken behind the locked boardroom how-do-we-make-more-money-Story Corp. meetings.

Nightmare reality or thank-God-that-never-became-a-reality-ideas, the choice is up to us, the audience.

Inception 2010.

Remember this feeling. It doesn’t have to be so rare. It can become the norm.

It all starts with an idea, that becomes a thought, that becomes a reality.

And it might just change the movie world.

The Movie Preview Critic rates INCEPTION:

INCEPTION’S PLACE IN MOVIE HISTORY:

The Cell

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