Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dream On: Taking Exception With Inception...

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that changes things. Changes the way you look at life, or at the very least, alters your perspective. Inception, my friends, is NOT one of those movies. Yep, I saw Inception this weekend, and in lieu of these week's normal material, I've decided to hit you with a review. So if you haven't seen it, be fore warned. Some of what I say may ruin the movie for you. SO...yeah. SPOILER ALERT!...

Now before I get into my actual review, let me get one thing perfectly clear. I liked this movie. I didn't love it, mind you, but as far as cinematic experiences go, it was certainly more than just a decent time. And to give you even further reference, I gave it a 7.7/10 on my now mythical movie judging scale, a scale on which perfect 10.0's belong to films such as The Usual Suspects, No Country For Old Men and The Godfather I & II, with another Leonardo DiCaprio effort, The Departed, receiving a highly respectable 7.5. And keep The Usual Suspects at the front of your mind, because we'll get back to that later on...

As for the movie itself, there are certain aspects of it which I would give a perfect 10. The cinematography being chief among them. If nothing else, the movie is visually stunning and has a great flow to it. The special effects are great, the scenes are framed beautifully, and except for a slight lull about 3/4 of the way through (start of snow scene), the movie moves along at the pace of a Guy Ritchie caper flick minus the cockney accents and overindulgent transitions...

I'd also give high marks to the casting, just not a perfect 10 as I could have done with a different actress playing Leonardo DiCaprio's wife, "Mol". Either get me someone scarier, or me someone better looking. Either way, she just wasn't cuttin' it. And the name "Mol" is just sketch, too; Joesph Gordon Levitt gives an amazing performance ("J-Gord SLAYS in Inception, man!"), serving not only as the story's essential linchpin, but also impressing with his mind bending stunts, which he actually performed himself; And Leo? Well, Leo is just Leo. And while I wouldn't rank this as one of his top 5 acting performances (#1: Gangs of NY), he does more than enough to carry the movie, and per usual comes off as both the coolest and smartest guy in the room. Just vintage Leo, more or less, and that can never be a bad thing; The rest of the All Star cast does a great job, as well, and aside from Michael Caine only being in the film for a touch under 2 minutes, they all do their part to help move the film along. Again, just a great casting job...

The "concept", being able to live and operate in other people's dreams, also gets a good grade in my book. While it's not Matrix-esque in that there was no way I could have ever thought of it myself, it was indeed an original idea and one I was excited to see played out. And through crafty direction by Christopher Nolan, I think they were able to transport the viewers into that world with minimal effort and very little confusion. Essentially, it was a great idea, and it was executed beautifully...

My only beef, and the one that has prompted me to speak out against a movie that nearly everyone is cementing in their Top 10 of all time, is the ending. Or in my opinion, the lack there of. And make no mistake, I'm not holding a grudge based on the cliffhanger way in which the movie ended, I'm just disappointed that what I viewed as such a meaningless and trivial part of the movie is the one thing that everyone is walking away talking about...

For those that have seen the movie, (2nd SPOILER ALERT!) you know that I'm obviously talking about the spinning top that wobbled as the movie came to a close. While the scene itself was yet another well shot and well framed piece of film, the reaction to it has got me a little puzzled. For one, as my compadre, Frosco, so succinctly put it; If you hadn't already considered the fact that this whole movie could have been a dream, than I'm not sure you were completely paying attention. Hey, maybe it's an "ignorance is bliss" type of situation, but I for one had that thought in the back of my mind almost from the time I sat down and put my white shoes on the undoubtedly cola stained floor. For the "WOW" moment in a film about complex dreams to be that the whole movie could have been a complex dream? Yeah, sorry. That's not really shocking to me...

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it really doesn't matter if he's dreaming or not! Think about it. If he's dreaming, and everything we saw was really only level 2 and deeper (in dream-speak), then how does that really change anything? Simply put, it doesn't. Either he was dreaming the whole time, or he wasn't. It doesn't change any other aspect of the film. I told you to remember Usual Suspects, and here's why. In the ending of that movie, you're hit with a realization that actually does change what went on during the previous two hours. Granted the filmmaker helps you come to that realization with the aide of flashbacks, but it's still a moment that changes what you thought about the rest of the movie and it's characters. With Inception, that's just not the case. At best that cliffhanger style ending leads you to think, "Wow, maybe that whole thing was just Leo dreaming?". Big deal. I liken it to if the last scene of The Matrix were just Neo being jolted awake in his own bed. Was he dreaming? Was it real? Well in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter, does it? Either the world you were shown was real or it wasn't, and with no more movie left to view, the answer to that question becomes rather inconsequential. And to be even more frank, as alluded to as recently as the "Stewie Kills Lois" episode on Family Guy, ending a film by questioning the reality you were just proposed is one of the cheapest tricks a filmmaker can play on an audience. No matter how sleekly it's produced. I guess what I'm saying is, is that I view the ending scene as clever from a cinematic standpoint, but counterproductive to how one should be judging the movie upon it's completion. More or less, it was just unnecessary...

But at the risk of droning on and being accused of not liking Inception, I'll stop my analysis right there and again let it be known that this is a film I would recommend anyone go see. And while I won't be seeing it in the theater again or installing it in my Top 10 (probably in the 30-50 range), I'll be eagerly awaiting it's TV debut so I can get a second look. After all, it was a very good movie, with many great performances and dozens of great scenes. IT's just that the final scene wasn't one of them. And for those that choose to dwell on it, well, well I think you're really missing most of what actually made that movie good...

Dream on, pimps, and I'll catch you next week with a more typical slate of Rooch Nation standards. You know, sports and the whatnot. But until then, stay cool and stay out of my dreams...and my car, for that matter...

How Billy Ocean missed out on the Inception soundtrack, I will never know...

And like that...(puff)...I'm gone...

Teddy Williams...



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