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    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJul 18th 2010
    I saw a movie on opening weekend for the first time in longer than 12 months!

    We went to see Inception. I am eagerly awaiting your thoughts on it, Mark. Although, like I said in 4k, it needs multiple viewings.
    • CommentTimeJul 18th 2010
    Congrats:) It was my second in two weeks, but I won't rub it in:p I was going to post about Inception tonight on the blog, but then I realized it was my 10 year blogiversary (Ultimately not that compelling of a post, but I figured it was a milestone worth marking).

    Anyway, I loved Inception. It has that "sense of wonder" that a lot of SF books have, but which rarely shows up on screen. I suppose you could argue that it's a bit emotionally "cold" and there's probably some truth to that. Leo's relationship with his wife was compelling enough on an intellectual level to be effective for me, but I can see how some people would want more of a connection. But as a movie that explores ideas in a rational and internally consistent way... I can hardly ask for more. I think they did a fantastic job establishing the concepts and then once we're comfortable, upping the stakes. So yeah, loved it, and definitely need to see it again. It seems to fit together well enough, but there were some things about the whole "limbo" state that I need to think through in more detail.

    A few weeks ago, I had almost given up hope on this year for movies. It's been a slow one, but in the past two weeks, I've basically had my faith restored. Between The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (highly recommended, btw, if my recent bloggery didn't convince you) and Inception, I've got two of the best movies of the year. Add in some interesting stuff like the sequel to dragon tatoo (The Girl Who Played With Fire) and Cyrus, and I'm a happy camper (though neither of those are on the level with Inception or Dragon Tattoo).

    Maybe I'll go into more detail on Wednesday, probably taking the time to explain the "sense of wonder" concept a bit more, as it's an important part of why I like SF so much and I don't want to give much away about the details of Inception.

    Speaking of which, since you've seen it, what do you think of the ending? Lost in limbo, or reality? Or does it matter?

    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2010
    It didn't feel emotionally cold to me when I was watching, at least not in a bad way. I found it rather refreshing that they didn't try to contrive a romance in the middle of the mission between Ellen Page and the rest of the guys. There was one cute scene that was enough to provide a little humor and humanize a couple of them. I think any sort of complicated love triangle involving the teammates could have been disastrous. And not that it mattered in the end, but I got kind of excited for the mini Brick reunion in the beginning. But, that also is a sign of the only way the movie really failed for me. Mal and the british guy were pretty much the only characters the inhabited the roles so well that I thought only about the character and not the actor throughout the whole movie. And ultimately, it's why it's disappointing to me when Leonardo DiCaprio is in a movie. I agree with the EW writer who urged him in a column to get into directing instead.

    I'm definitely not certain that I understood 100 percent the exact rules of the mission and how it was different from the first two 'dream' sequences. At this point, I am in an anti toppling camp, but not so strongly that a good argument or another viewing couldn't change my mind. Ultimately, the fact that we can have team reality vs. team limbo is a complete win for what you have already pointed out has been a pretty dismal year for movies. When the best reviewed movie I can recall off the top of my head recently that was not animated for kids is called Hot Tub Time Machine, things are bad.
    • CommentTimeJul 21st 2010
    Inception's the first film I've seen in theatres since, I think, Inglourious Basterds. Which is not to say I don't love cinema, but I guess I haven't gone out for it in a long time. Anyway, I loved it. I think there's some things about the limbo state that I'm not sure added up but there was a lot going on so maybe I missed a thing or two here or there.

    One thing I actually really liked about it was that there wasn't too much detail put into the technology of what they're doing. If they tried to explain exactly how the linking device worked or what compounds were in the custom sedatives, I probably would have focused too much on whether it was actually feasible the way it might have been explained. I think that's actually important to keeping what tallman describes as that sense of wonder. I find that science fiction that focuses too much on the science can shoot itself in the foot if the science isn't foolproof, which is usually the case since it's science fiction.

    The whole thing felt like it was put together pretty intelligently. Not having any kind of contrived romance definitely helped. And I thought the way that certain situations were able to come about because of what was happening one level up was really well done. Without giving away too much, let's just say the way things came together for some of the scenes where gravity changes didn't feel like they were created solely to create a cool scene but as a legitimate result of actions that weren't forced into the story just to make something look cool.

    There's actually a big chunk of it that was filmed on the streets near my office and that didn't even take me out of it aside from thinking at one point "hey, I've been in that Famima." If the film wasn't made well enough to suck me in, I probably would have been too focused on the logistics of where they're driving in that part.

    Example of where it is a problem: The most recent Die Hard movie has a lot of scenes filmed in downtown LA, even though it's supposed to be in Washington, DC, and when I saw that film, it was more entertaining for me to notice things like "hey, that's the tunnel on 2nd" or whatever than what was actually going on.

    While I think the ending does lean a bit more heavily one way than the other, I do like that it's not exactly clear. I think if it had clearly gone one way or another in that last scene, something would be lost.
    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJul 22nd 2010
    Slate's cultural gabfest podcast discussed Inception this week. They brought up something interesting I am surprised I didn't pick up on at all, in that there are references to gaming throughout the movie. They were likening it to the way Tarantino references other films in his work. They mentioned the fact that there are different levels, how the bad guys seem to just spontaneously populate and the snow level itself is very reminiscent of a level on a Bond game for the nintendo 64. I also thought about the way the kicks had to be timed precisely...just like how there's a specific sequence timed just right to beat a level in a game or get through it with the most points, coins etc.

    There's really no spoilers in that for anyone reading who hasn't seen it.
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2010

    I responded to some stuff on the blot, but the one other "refreshing" thing about the movie was that there really wasn't a betrayal within the team, as there typically would have been in a movie like this. I was half expecting Joseph Gordon Levitt or Tom Hardy (two charismatic and likeable guys) to stab Leo in the back or something, and I found it refreshing that the twists didn't rely on such tactics.

    The ending is interesting in that I think it really could work either way, and I don't know that I would be too upset in either case. The one thing that works in favor of the "topple" ending would be that Leo wakes up on the plane, goes through the airport and then goes home. As established earlier in the movie, you never really remember how you got to where you are in a dream. Then again, they do cut directly from the airport to the house (usually this is a cinematically convenient way to avoid boring time between scenes, but in this case, the cut could have extra meaning), and the kids pose seems a bit too similar to what he remembered...

    I wonder if the filmmakers even know or agree on that ending scene. I'm reminded of The Usual Suspects, where the writer and director had completely different interpretations of the movie. One thought the story told was all lies, peppered with little bits of truth here and there (enough to make it believable for the police). The other thought it was mostly the truth, peppered with tiny lies (to throw off the police)...

    Dyre, noticing locations in films are funny. Not living in LA, it doesn't happen for me nearly as often, but occasionally I see something funny. Like when Rocky goes for a run in the city, he takes the strangest, most circuitous route (ping-ponging all throughout the city) that must be the equivalent of 200 miles or something. It's not super noticeable except to anyone who lives here, and even then, if you're not paying close attention, it would probably work...

    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2010
    More Spoilers!

    I also latch onto the mention of not being able to remember where you came from as being indicative of being in a dream, but the movie does not start with Cobb being on the level where the Fisher expedition is plotted from. It starts with him washing up on the beach and finding Saito as an old man in the house. Now, you could read this as straightforward in media res, just like on other movies. But, if you don't we don't know how we got there the "first" time and and how we get from there to the next scene...which is where they were two levels deep in the mission to get information from Saito. If you want it to be more trippy and dreamlike, people can have recurring dreams. Maybe Cobb is in Limbo from before the movie even starts. He knows he is trying to get back to his kids somehow and is manufacturing everything....