Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Movies as a general rule are a visual and audible experience. There have been attempts to add smells and or movement gags in old cinemas that never amounted to anything that stuck permanently. For this reason, Films in general are a passive experience where the most physically interactive you may get is laughter or an increased heart rate. Rarely have I had a physical experience with a film. I can remember gripping my hand rests so hard in Jurassic Park that they hurt later and that All my muscled were tense afterward.
Inception gave me a rare physical experience where after the movie I realized four things. One, I had been crying. Two, I was exhausted and needed to calm myself down. Third, I had been sweating from some physical exertion and the third is that I never realized I was going through these physical responses while the film was going…It was that engrossing. This film starts off full speed an never lets up through almost the full 2 and a half hours of screen time. It’s a huge summer spectacle with giant set pieces and action scenes that rival the matrix. On the other hand it is a tender love story, a Greek tragedy and a catharsis tale layered on top of one another. Just for good measure, writer/director Christopher Nolan throws in the most intellectual and thought provoking plots I’ve seen since artsy film school.
The big question however is does this all work. At first, I thought it was wonderful but still did not enjoy it as much as some of the lighter fare of the summer like How to Train Your Dragon. But then I realized a few hours after, and into the next day that it still had a hold of my brain, forcing me to try an figure out plot points, looking for holes or merely exclaiming in my thought... ”How did they do that?” This is a movie that will stick with you for a long time and a few minutes after seeing it, you will want to go back and watch it again. That is if you weren’t so exhausted after the first screening.
Inception centers around Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who works with his partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as an extractor, someone who enters your mind through subconscious dreams to steal its secrets. Cobb has personal issues that interfere with his job in the subconscious dream state and that he must resolve to ever be reunited with his family. The main problem with this line of work though is it becomes very difficult to know if you are physically present or in some sort of dream…or dream within a dream etc. Of course this premise gives the filmmakers excuse to do anything they want…cause it’s a dream right. Hence the visuals are incredible. I give credit to the set designers and special effects crew who relied on creating and destroying physical spaces as well as using real stunts to create the scenes rather than rely on computer graphics. When the computer is used however it fits seamlessly into the story so you don’t even notice how visually ‘cool’ they really are.
Christopher Nolan has established himself here as a truly great auteur. His unblemished record…Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight have led the way to Inceptions capstone of brilliance. Here’s a director who is concerned more with the reason people do things. About ordinary men going through extraordinary challenges to get out of harrowing situations. Films where moral ambiguity is pushed aside for the protagonist to stake his claim on choosing the right path and becoming more than a regular man. These are the kinds of films Alfred Hitchcock would be making had he lived long enough to see special effects and film budgets to bloom within reach of his imagination. What both do so well is to make these grand spectacles seem very personal and human, both toughing and epic in their attempt to present a story that effects your heart and body as much as it sears into your eyes and brain. I am just glad there is someone there with enough blockbuster clout and macabre brainpower to take on the task. This is by no means a perfect movie or as much fun as some other popcorn flicks this summer, but it is a worthy and wonderful headtrip that is well worth the admission price...or two.
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!