Inception Screen 12 articles



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  • Every character except for Dom is basically a cipher. Nolan’s lickety-split pacing makes it difficult, if not impossible, to invest in Gordon-Levitt’s taciturn point man or Hardy’s master-of-psychic-disguise beyond their status as lean, tailored graphic objects. Page is nothing more than an audience surrogate, and she’s frequently an afterthought to the action. The “inception” is just a pretense for the many-tiered action sequences.

  • There's no push-pull around Leo's torrid emoting, and when the "We're awake now—or are we?" kicker catches you in the pants, who cares? It's obvious that Nolan either can't articulate or doesn't believe in a distinction between living feelings and dreams—and his barren Inception doesn't capture much of either.

  • Christopher Nolan's would-be epic is a work of sometimes stunning imagery but only affected heart, a pseudo-heist film that borrows liberally from all corners of the cinematic world (The Matrix, eXistenZ, Last Year at Marienbad, the canons of David Lynch and Michael Mann) in service of a tale that's as hollow as its reality-bending Rubik's Cube ruses are intricate.

  • At its best, the excess lends a pleasing sense of freefall that’s fundamentally cinematic in its spectacular appeal, like a Griffiths triptych or Pastrone mobilization, but meagerly conceived despite all the gab (and shy about the illogic that makes dreams compulsively relatable). In Inception, the channel-switching episodes are chaotic and often pointless, though not in a dreamy way

  • The film is constructed with the coherent hermeticism of chess: Nolan lays down rules of dream-manipulation that are finite, clear, and complex, guiding a personal, intimate, inchoate realm into discernible patterns. The film’s chess-like precision and self-containment that accounts for much of the adolescent passion the movie arouses. Its remarkably complex conceits yield a remarkably callow film.

  • Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inception is ultimately interested in the responsibilities — even the perverse romanticism — inherent in understanding what makes another person tick." Time Out Chicago's Ben Kenigsberg: "The movie's first two-thirds are breathtakingly clever, firing new concepts so rapidly it's almost inevitable the barrage can't be sustained.

  • Once we enter the climactic dream, and the subsequent dreams within dreams, we have a deeper understanding that Nolan's not so much interested in plumbing human consciousness as he is in creating multiple fungible narrative playing fields that he can mutate in certain ways but not in others. And once the playing fields are established, he performs a virtuoso juggling act with them, even as the laws of probability and physics are stretched in each one of them.

  • Nolan uses cinematic devices to evoke or rework the mechanics of dreams. So if a van plunging off a bridge in, say, a Tony Scott movie takes only a few seconds, here that same shot becomes ballet. The van takes the better part of an hour to hit the water. It’s being held aloft by the amniotic fluid of slow motion, and the cuts back to its suspended descent are as close to Zen as a Hollywood movie is likely to get.

  • In Inception, everybody has their box — be it a safe, a fortified hangar surrounded by armed guards on skis, or a stop on an elevator on which no one is allowed. In other words, the hotel room where Cobb last saw his wife, which is the forbidden floor on his Dream Elevator of Regret, is his “box.”

  • [When the van begins to fall over the bridge,] it dawned on me that Nolan has elevated exposition of new premises to the main form of communication among characters. Discussion of their personal relationships, hopes, and doubts largely drops out. As the Russian Formalists would say, exposition, usually given early on and at wide intervals later in a plot, becomes the dominant here.

  • I suggest that the purpose of the film not to explore the dream life but rather to use the idea of exploring the dream life to justify creating a complex narrative experience for the viewer. That is the purpose of the film; the dreams operate as alibis.

  • Nolan’s maximalist style helps gloss over a minimalist conceit: the movie is all pop philosophy minus the philosophy.

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