Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Film Reviews


Tags
dicaprio, inception, nolan

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 19th Jul 2010, 11:28   #1
ono no komachi
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
ono no komachi's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Aug 2003
Location: Gloucestershire
Posts: 3,467
Default Inception - Spoilers included - please see the film first

After impressing (me, anyway) in Shutter Island, a movie which raised questions about the nature of reality, Leonardo DiCaprio has made another film which riffs in fine style on similarly-themed questions, this time directed by Christopher Nolan.
 
DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a man who uses a kind of dream warfare, getting into his subjects minds via dreams in order to steal valuable information from his 'marks'. We discover that he is in some kind of deep trouble, which gives his new client Saito (Ken Watanabe), with whom he appears to have a somewhat hostile relationship, leverage to persuade him to undertake a more difficult task than his usual extractions: inception, the planting of an idea in a subject's mind so that they will come to see it as their own.
 
The task is further complicated by an element from Cobb's past, which has an inconvenient tendency to surface in his own dreams.
 
And that, really, is the essence of the plot. However it does no justice to the complexity and intrigue that Nolan manages to build into it. With a premise this improbable, you might be forgiven for being tempted to go in search of plot holes and start picking the movie apart. But Nolan chucks ingenious ideas at you so thick and fast that you're constantly on the edge of your seat just trying to keep up. In a good way. He uses a relatively conventional format - the master thief, planning his heist, building his team and then executing the plan, all the while concealing a key secret - but the planned 'heist' is of such bonkers conceptual proportions that you can't help being swept along with it.
 
The cast is extraordinary: alongside DiCaprio and Watanabe we have Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy (yum!), Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas, and with a remarkably short amount of screen time (though as ever, he certainly makes it count) Pete Postlethwaite.
 
You might have realised by now that I was pretty much blown away by Inception. And I'm newly in awe of DiCaprio. Shutter Island and now Inception - if remarkable things come in threes, what's his next project going to be like?
 

Last edited by ono no komachi; 19th Jul 2010 at 13:32.
ono no komachi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 13:29   #2
Daveybot
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Daveybot's Avatar
 
Join Date: 1 Sep 2005
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Posts: 3,288
Default Re: Inception

Dragged the wife off to watch this last night.

Very glad I did, too. I'll return shortly for more of my thoughts, but to put it briefly: A stonking good action movie and the best representation of how architects think I've ever seen. Brill.

from me too, probably.
Daveybot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 14:51   #3
Daveybot
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Daveybot's Avatar
 
Join Date: 1 Sep 2005
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Posts: 3,288
Default Re: Inception

Right then. I first got excited about Inception when - quite a while ago now - I saw that image of Paris folding in on itself. Anything which plays with the malleability of space like that is bound to get me excited. Ooooh, thought Daveybot, could this be some of the best use of 'architecture as weaponry' since Dark City? (A terrible, but jolly good-looking, film.)

As I learnt Chris Nolan was at the helm, the excitement grew. The guy who brought us Memento can clearly spin a yarn that messes with the order of ones neurons. Mix that with the pliable nature of physical space, and we could be onto something!

And then finally I learnt that Marion Cotillard was in it.

Sold!

I think Mark Kermode is right in his analysis of how this film came to be: After he made Warner Brothers a cool billion dollars or so with Batman, they basically gave Nolan an unlimited budget and let him do whatever he liked. And by golly did they do the right thing. This is a film with ideas, pace, story, characters, and truly gorgeous visuals.

Unfortunately, to talk too much about almost any of these elements would riddle this thread with spoilers. I hope we can get to that later, but for now, I'll simply mention my favourite scene.

There's a moment when Cobb is first introducing Ariadne to dreamspace and it gradually dawns on her, with absolute delight, that everything around her is malleable. Honestly, it gave me goosebumps. There's a point during every architectiure student's first year at college when they learn what it's all about, and this is as close as I've ever seen to representing that moment in a film. Far from wandering around with rolls of 'blueprints' under their arms and sitting at 'drawing boards' as most films would have us believe, this is what architects do: they look at space and imagine what could be done with it. Gorgeous to see it finally so well recreated, and no wonder she couldn't keep away from it.

Of course, once the real mission is on then all the levels are fully designed and we see precious little more improvisation from Ariadne, but those opening scenes where she was feeling her way really got to me. Sounds awfully grandiose, of course, but for me it's more about the delight of it all, rather than the power.


It would be easy to compare it with The Matrix, to be honest, but that would do Inception a disservice, I feel. It has kung fu and guns and car chases and zero gravity, yes, but there's a lot less posing in it, and a lot more fear and paranoia. And you really do have to keep up with what's going on - Nolan makes little concession for anyone not paying enough attention.

/ I can't really give it , as I think the final scenes - the snow fortress, not limbo - might have been better in a less ACTION FILM-type location. And Cobb's Limbo looked a bit too much like Tativille. Still, cracking stuff nonetheless. Can't wait to see it again, frankly.
Daveybot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 14:57   #4
amner
Administrator
is beyond help
 
amner's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 10,918
Default Re: Inception

Glad to see people are enjoying it. I'm going just because it's got Ellen Page in it, so I'm happy to see it's going to be good, too.

Incidentally, Toby Young's grumpy review put me on the movie's side almost immediately. What an irritating individual he is.

Quote:
About ten minutes into Inception, the new film from Christopher Nolan, my heart sank. It was blindingly obvious we were witnessing a dream sequence – only an idiot wouldn’t have cottoned on to this – yet Nolan was holding back this “reveal”, convinced that when it came it would knock our socks off.

Inception concerns the efforts of a burnt-out psych-ops veteran (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team of misfits to invade the dreams of dangerous, powerful men and find out their secrets. (Mainly at the behest of other dangerous, powerful men.) As such, it consists of virtually nothing but dream sequences. The problem with these, as any fule kno, is there’s no jeopardy. Who cares if DiCaprio is killed in a dream? All that happens is he wakes up. Nolan tries to get around this by having DiCaprio and his platoon of dream-invaders take a mysterious drug to make them sleep more soundly. If you’re killed in a dream while under the influence of this witches’ brew you go into something called “limbo” – you become marooned in the dreamworld, unable to wake up. Why this should be a fate worse than death is never explained and, in any case, “limbo” turns out to be about as inescapable as Ford Open. DiCaprio shuttles back and forth between “Limbo” and the real world like a commuter.

The problem with “Limbo”, though, is not that the concept hasn’t been designed properly. Rather, it’s too obviously a device that Nolan has introduced to create a bit of jeopardy. You never lose sight of the fact that it’s a solution to a problem and, as a result, the endless action sequences lack any excitement or suspense. It’s like watching a Bond film in which you know that Bond’s life is never at risk. Actually make that two Bond films because Inception’s running time is an agonising 148 minutes. That’s 148 minutes in which nothing is ever at stake.

There are other, less fundamental problems. The key plotline in Inception concerns the efforts of DiCaprio and co to plant an idea in the head of the heir to a hugely powerful energy company – hence the title. We’re told that this is fiendishly difficult, much more challenging than stealing an idea. Nothing is harder, apparently, than persuading someone that a concept you’ve conveyed to them is theirs. Human beings are fantastically vigilant when it comes to ideas, according to Nolan. They can always tell the difference between one they’ve come up with themselves and parroting someone else’s.

Hello?!? Is Nolan living on planet earth? Human beings are constantly parroting each other’s ideas, imagining that they’ve come up with them all by themselves. In the course of a single day, at least 25 people will say to me, “In my opinion …” and then regurgitate whatever it is they’ve overheard on the tube that morning or read in The Guardian. If you want someone to steal one of your ideas and convince themselves it’s their own you don’t have to enter their dreams and stage an elaborate charade lasting 148 minutes. All you have to do is tell it to them. In my experience, it takes less than a minute for them to co-opt it.

Final gripe: The emotional heart of Inception concerns the estranged relationship between DiCpario and his ex-wife played by Marion Cotillard. (Or is it his late wife?) Why is she haunting his dreams? Is he harbouring a guilty secret? Problem is, she’s completely under-developed as a character. We learn next to nothing about her. We’re not even told why she has a thick French accent in spite of being the daughter of Michael Caine. She’s a total blank and, as a result, we care precisely nothing about her relationship with the film’s protagonist. It’s just another source of irritation.

So not the dazzlingly original follow-up to The Dark Knight we were all expecting. Instead, an over-indulgent vanity project that Warner Bros evidently felt obliged to finance in order to persuade Nolan to make yet another Batman picture. Two stars at best.
And a nice comment beneath this on the Telegraph site:

Quote:
Toby Young: A two-star movie reviewer at best
heh.
__________________
amner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 14:59   #5
ono no komachi
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
ono no komachi's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Aug 2003
Location: Gloucestershire
Posts: 3,467
Default Re: Inception

Toby Young has posted the following below the Guardian online review of Inception.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby Young
Three stars is generous. I gave it two:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/to...movie-at-best/
Anyone who gives it five is a certifiable moron.
Consider me certified.

EDIT: Cross-posted with amner.
ono no komachi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 15:03   #6
amner
Administrator
is beyond help
 
amner's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 10,918
Default Re: Inception

Coat-tailing Bradshaw's review is pretty low, huh?
__________________
amner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 15:06   #7
ono no komachi
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
ono no komachi's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Aug 2003
Location: Gloucestershire
Posts: 3,467
Default Re: Inception

Quote:
Why this should be a fate worse than death is never explained
I beg to disagree. There is much talk that as time is extremely stretched-out in limbo, it's possible to believe you've spent an eternity there and end up with your real-world brain scrambled.
ono no komachi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 15:18   #8
Daveybot
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Daveybot's Avatar
 
Join Date: 1 Sep 2005
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Posts: 3,288
Default Re: Inception

Cor, what a grumpus!

I'll admit, the film may not be perfect, but golly - it's one hell of a lot better than that seems to suggest!

Also, he seems to have completely misunderstood the idea of Inception - it's no good simply telling others an idea is yours: you have to actually believe it yourself! Numpty.

Anyway, I do hope you like it, Amner - and that I haven't overhyped it!
Daveybot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 15:18   #9
Daveybot
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Daveybot's Avatar
 
Join Date: 1 Sep 2005
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Posts: 3,288
Default Re: Inception

Quote:
Originally Posted by ono no komachi View Post
I beg to disagree. There is much talk that as time is extremely stretched-out in limbo, it's possible to believe you've spent an eternity there and end up with your real-world brain scrambled.
Absolutely - they make it crystal clear!
Daveybot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jul 2010, 15:21   #10
amner
Administrator
is beyond help
 
amner's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 10,918
Default Re: Inception

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveybot View Post
Numpty.
That's our Toby.
__________________
amner is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
2010 Filmlists Colyngbourne Film Reviews 27 23rd May 2011 20:01
A Month of Horror bill Book Reviews 166 18th Oct 2010 19:32
Straw Dogs - The Novel and the Film bill Film Reviews 8 26th Jul 2010 17:25
2009 Filmlists Noumenon Film Reviews 22 18th Jan 2010 13:11
2008 Filmlists Colyngbourne Film Reviews 28 18th Dec 2008 10:40


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 8:48.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.