Aug 13 2010


Nope, no new book reviews yet! I haven’t found / made much time to read lately so I’m still mired somewhere in the last half (third?) of the same book I was reading in June. I realize that this means there will forever be a missing July 2010 archive on this site (i.e., no posts) and for that I am very, very sorry. I apologize to my all my completist readers. *moment of silence* But August is a new month and as the Summer trips and stumbles into Fall, there are movies to see. Movies are much easier than books. You pay your $20, let the story flow over (and deafen) you for two hours, and you’re done. Most of the movies I’ve seen this Summer have been conveniently forgettable, so I don’t even have to be bothered with thinking about them ten steps outside the cineplex (other than that nagging sound in the background of someone complaining that we just wasted $20 on a movie). This weekend was different however. This weekend we went to see Christopher Nolan’s dream-scape tragic thriller “Inception” (2010). Leonardo diCaprio (I’m still warmed by the thought of Jack Dawson disappearing into the depths of the North Atlantic) stars as Cobb, a veteran dream-runner tasked with planting an idea into the head of Cillian Murphy (the Scarecrow from Batman Begins). Seems pretty straight-forward, right? Well, not so much…

Dream stories always risk being cliché. Blurring the boundaries of reality and dream is one of the oldest tropes: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939),  “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), “Brazil” (1985), “Newhart” (1990), and many antecedents, e.g. “A Christmas Carol” (1843). What sets “Inception” apart from the crowd is that from the outset, it defines the mechanics of dreaming and then goes nuts within the parameters of that sandbox. Not satisfied with the trope of a character that wakes from dreaming uncertain whether he’s still asleep, “Inception” involves dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams (within dreams?).  While this might sound silly (and to a large extent, it is) the rules set forth at the beginning of the movie are followed throughout. Complicating things further, each subsequent layer / depth of dreaming allows for an exponential dilation of the passage of time.  In other words, in the time it takes for a van to fall off a bridge, a dreamer could live a lifetime embedded within a handful of nested dreams. Despite a dizzying amount of action, the events remained internally consistent. Even the soundtrack to the movie (based on “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien“) can be used as a metronome to determine what level of dreaming the action is taking place. Kudos for that! As usual, I got wrapped-up in the story and after a while stopped looking for problems. Which isn’t to say there weren’t problems, just that I didn’t see them (admit to them) until they were pointed out to me… *sigh*

In summary, “Inception” was an enjoyable movie that left me thinking, not about anything particularly deep but about the effort and execution of a well-planned, complex story. I think if other fantasy movie-makers took the effort to plan-out and clean-up their stories from the beginning, we wouldn’t leave theaters disappointed quite so often. A movie worth seeing.

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

4 out of 5