Wednesday, November 14, 2012
(July 2010, U.S.)
Initially, any science fiction film that could be described as "The Matrix meets James Bond" may seem like a turn-off for me, because the moment a film is described as one previously used element "meeting" another previously used element, the only thing that I can stay focussed on is the fact that it's film that contains previously used film elements. Add to the fact that back in 1985, there was a film called DREAMSCAPE with Dennis Quaid in which people invaded other people's dreams, there remains very little to tempt me into seeing INCEPTION. On the other hand, though, director Christopher Nolan carries a tremendous amount of weight with me. MEMENTO (2000) was one of the ten best films of the last decade, INSOMNIA (2002) was one of the rare and better remakes of any foreign film I've ever seen, and THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), of course, speaks for itself. That in mind, INCEPTION deserved its fair viewing.
This is a film that, for my own reasons and experiences, I would put in a personal classification with films like Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963), 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) and THE TREE OF LIFE (2011) in that they're films I had a lot of trouble understanding the first time around and dared me to challenge my patience and intellect to not give up so fast. You see, for me, the harder a film is to understand, the more I'm compelled to get past the difficulties of it and try, try again. It's frustrating, yes, but when I've given a good film the time and understanding it deserves, it's like experiencing a film revelation in which you finally (hopefully) get it. After watching INCEPTION for the first time some time ago, I immediately started the film again because I was determined to "get back on the bicycle" and master its meaning and its pleasures.
So that being said, we have a film whose essential premise is the concept of invading a person's dream and implanting an idea in their head that will ultimately change their own lives and the possibly the lives of others involved with them. Dominick Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a dream "architect", who with his team, are hired by powerful Japanese businessman Saito (played by Ken Watanabe) who wishes to break up the energy conglomerate of his ailing competitor by planting the idea in his son and heir Robert Fischer (played by Cillian Murphy) to disintegrate his father's company. Should Cobb and his team succeed, Saito will use his influence to clear a murder charge against Cobb, so he can return to the United States and his beloved children.
Sounds simple so far, right? Not quite...
Once the mission begins, we're into high concept ideas of "dreams within dreams", "kicks" that will untimately awaken the dreamer, dreamer's defense mechanisms that can come in the form of extreme violence and the sub-conscious act of bringing the memories of the dead into play, also accompanied by destructive behavior. This last action is just what's going on in Cobb's head as he suffers extreme guilt over the suicide of his wife and it's just what may jeopardize the team's mission. Dreams mix with reality in such a way that, as I said, can be very hard to follow. You have to take the time to follow just how many dreams are within a single dream and to ultimately remember that reality lies in those who are actually fast asleep on a plane.
This is all my persoanl take on the film, though. There are those out there who are likely smarter than me and may take it all in with no problem the very first time they watch INCEPTION. My hat is off to you, if you can. Most film audiences are completely turned off by any film they're required to use their brain with. As a result, box office returns usually suffer. Not here, however. INCEPTION fared very well with audiences and critics.
Just a quick persoanl memory to conclude things...you may recall that in my previous post for AVATAR (2009) I confessed that it was the last modern "grown up" film for myself that I went to see in a movie theater (it still is!). However, that's not to say I didn't try again. During the Summer of 2010, I tried TWICE to see INCEPTION at the same movie theater in my town. The first time there was a problem with the film and I demanded my money back. The second time the show was sold out. I took it as a clear sign not to try and go to the movies for myself anymore. I haven't been back since...and that's no dream!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Dominick Cobb: "Well dreams, they feel real while we're in them, right? It's only when we wake up that we realize how things are actually strange. Let me ask you a question, you, you never really remember the beginning of a dream do you? You always wind up right in the middle of what's going on."
Ariadne: "I guess, yeah."
Cobb: "So how did we end up here?"
Ariadne: "Well we just came from the a..."
Cobb: "Think about it Ariadne, how did you get here? Where are you right now?"
Ariadne: "We're dreaming?"
Cobb: "You're actually in the middle of the workshop right now, sleeping. This is your first lesson in shared dreaming. Stay calm."