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Genevieve Valentine ([personal profile] glvalentine) wrote2010-08-04 05:40 pm
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I saw Inception last night, for the second time.

A couple of lingering questions I had from my initial viewing were cleared up. A couple will just never be answered. I'm largely okay with it; I'm certainly willing to overlook them and enjoy the movie.

I'm definitely willing to overlook the things I didn't like to watch some of the fight scenes and chase scenes, and to watch Cillian Murphy pulling a compelling emotional through-line out of ten lines in the script. Cillian Murphy: literally acting his way out of a bag since whenever Christopher Nolan started putting sacks on the poor guy's head.

(Also, to watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page doing pretty much anything. Also, Tom Hardy, who is so much more in his element here than in Wuthering Heights that it seriously boggles the mind. Also Dileep Rao, and Marion Cotillard, and Ken Watanabe. Basically, see the picture below.)

One of the things that bothered me on my initial viewing was the seemingly-excessive exposition in the film's first third...until last night, when something happened in the audience that made me realize why all that exposition might be necessary.

I spent the movie next to two young hipsterish women who were completely into the movie from moment one...and had absolutely no idea what was going on. I don't mean that at times when the narrative faltered they lost the through-line, or that they were trying to figure out dream-math and weren't sure how the parallel times were happening. I mean, they were absolutely compelled by the movie, completely certain they knew where it was going, and never had a clue what was going on, ever.

It's not like they didn't get it the way a normal person who is not paying attention or engaged or into sci-fi might not get it; they kept whispering guesses about what was going to happen, and not only was it incorrect, it was literally as if they had just walked into the movie from another theatre and were trying to make this scene make sense in the context of the movie they had just been watching. (At the first appearance of Ellen Page: "I bet she's his sister.") I have never experienced anything like it.

Example: we're in the first level of the dream, when Fischer and Eames-as-Uncle-Peter are talking about Fischer's father, and Fischer is acknowledging that his father was pretty much Dickhead Central. This goes on for a few minutes. Eames fishes for something kind that might have been said at the deathbed.

Fischer shakes his head no, sadly, and says, "When my father was dying, he told me something...I could only make out one word..."

Now, we consumers of media know how a daddy-hates-me line like that probably ends: disappointed, disappointment, failure, waste. Anything.


The girl next to me sits forward and stage-whispers, raptly, "...INCEPTION."

I sort of want to see the movie she thought she was watching, but I honestly don't know if I could handle it.

On the other hand, I have a go-to answer for when I can't remember a movie quote.

"Forget it, Jake, it's...INCEPTION."
"Give me liberty, or give me...INCEPTION."
"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy...INCEPTION."
"We're going to need a bigger...INCEPTION."


So, I had a couple of issues with the movie, but I largely enjoyed it. Things I especially enjoyed:

- The cast. I feel like Nolan (largely) knows how to cast. He tends to make one mistake each go-round (Katie Holmes, really?), but his casts are generally strong, and it seems like he likes to get the casting over with and then let his actors do whatever. (I will be investigating this further this weekend on my Batman Begins DVD extras.)

That means that if you are an awesome actor in a good ensemble, you shine. (Cillian, Joseph, Ellen, Tom, Ken, Dileep, Marion...) It also means that if you are an actor who works best under a lot of direction (Leonardo DiCaprio), you are sort of on your own. And I know some of that was because 80% of his lines were exposition and the other 20% was all that stuff about the train, but 80% of Ellen Page's lines were exposition, and she handled it fine, is all I'm saying.

- The action. The hotel-hallway scene is obviously head and shoulders above the rest of it (Joseph Gordon-Levitt is taking his wire work seriously), but the chase in Mombasa is no slouch. (Not so much the snow, weirdly, but by then we have Fischer and Eames looking out for Saito, and that makes it work.) The sound of the guy hitting his head on the windshield made my entire theatre wince, both times. Nice.

- That score. Seriously, Hans Zimmer: good one.

- The costume design. There was a lot going on in this movie, and the costume design was often very subtle, and always nicely done. The suits alone should inspire a wave of neo-noir tailored looks in the next couple of years.

- The ending. I don't care if it's a dream one way or the other; this is largely because I didn't care if Cobb fell off the face of the planet at any point, but it's also because I sometimes enjoy an ending that purposely doesn't give you what you're looking for (and tricks you into buying another ticket so you can look for clues - very clever, Nolan!).

Some things I will never like:

- Cobb and Mal. I understand their place in the plot, but never found them compelling in the slightest. Other people feel differently, but for me, it just never happened.

- That Dileep Rao was completely shut out of promo. His role wasn't even spoilery, so it's not like they needed to save him for the big reveal; not sure why he never had a character poster of his own or anything.

- That Christopher Nolan has never met a wife or girlfriend he couldn't kill to further the manpain of the hero. (I was willing to cut him a lot of slack on this because I think he's an excellent director, but by the time we hit The Dark Knight it was a definite trend, and I'm just pointing out, we've got another one here.)



Audience in Queens opening weekend: vocal, startled fury. (Moviegoer on his way out: "I will CUT that director if I ever see him!")

Audience in Manhattan a few weeks after release: generally-surprised intake of breath. (Girl next to me: "So how do we find out if it fell?")

This is outside the cut because I really want to know this even if you are not the clicking kind:

Usually I feel like a movie can be enjoyed in the privacy of one's home just as much as at the theatre, if not more so. However, the group viewing experience here seems worth recording. So, I'm totally polling on this one; I want to know how everyone's audiences reacted after the movie was over. POSTERITY, ETC.

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