Saturday, July 17, 2010

Maybe there is hope after all...

Long time no postie... ::sigh::

There's been a combination of a lot going on with very little going on, depending how you look at things. But this post won't be directly related to project per say, but rather about my take on Inception, and its place in the modern film landscape. Having thought about it for a night, I've come to a conclusion that 1) This film will have an impact that will be felt for a decade or more and 2) It is brilliant yet maddeningly infuriating, for pretty much the same reason.

Now, having heard about this film a LONG time ago, when all was known was the title, the genre, and the director, I was already pretty excited. Christopher Nolan can make some amazing films, and he's run the gamut from crazy indie-ish films like Memento to well... The Dark Knight. Inception was pegged as a dream project for him, and now I can see why. Could you imagine any other director (other than maybe Spielberg or Scorsese) calling up a producer and saying "hey, I want to make a confusing as hell movie about dreams, and I want to release it during the summer." Yeah... good luck with that. But it happened, and definitely is a great combination of the "big boom TDK" Nolan and the "huh wtf?" Nolan.

There will be no summary or review here, as that has been done on every other site. I'll just say I loved the film, and with the exception of one single scene, it was without exception amazing. That single scene however brings up quite a few things for me, the primary of which is at what point does homage turn to derivation? Most directors walk that line all the time, and while some succeed (Shaun of the Dead was one big homage to the romcom/buddycom/zombie genres), other manage to just cross that line thus step into the shadows of films they are paying homage to.

With Inception you really can't begin talking about its deeper aspects without bringing up Blade Runner as its "spiritual homage". In many ways Inception has far more in common with The Matrix than Blade Runner, but at its core Inception is a question, in the same vein that Blade Runner's greatest impact is "the Question". (Since I hate spoilers, I will make this as spoiler free as possible, for the 2 or so readers I have :P) Both films pose the question throughout the movie, both give hints for the answer to the question, and both films inevitably leave the answer up to the audience to figure out. However, while Blade Runner subtly hints at the question throughout the film, Inception starts with hints and ends with a giant Thor hammerdrop sized "HERE IS THE QUESTION, GO FIGURE OUT THE ANSWER" ending. This is quite possibly the only film that Ive seen which kept the audience in silence through 2.5 hours only to have a truly massive and synchronized "WTF" after the final scene. We get it Nolan, we get what you're after, we get that you like playing with the audience and dropping hints, and you know what, I'm more than happy to play along. I just felt insulted that at the end, the film goes to "Here's the question, just in case you missed it, and here's the ans- JUST KIDDING!!!". That kind of cheap trick works for the regular summer blockbuster, but with a film as well crafted and thought out as Inception, it just feels like someone was in it at the end for a cheap thrill.

Now, one could argue that the final scene in Blade Runner (at least the director's cut) pulls the same trick. I would disagree. The final scene is just another hint, which combined with the other hints of film gives the audience their own interpretation of the film. The final scene of inception adds nothing to the film except to bring out a gasp from the audience. Now... the scene just prior where ::minor spoiler:: he sees his children is absolutely fantastic and definitely fits as a capstone hint similar to the final scene of Blade Runner. Its amazing what an extra 20 seconds at that point can do to a film...

Even with this infuriating scene however (which I hope is corrected in the inevitable Director's Cut) The film is far and away one of the best films I've seen in recent memory. While its too early call it the 2000's Blade Runner (I think every decide needs its seminal scifi film), it definitely had the same impact on me as when I saw The Matrix for the first time, and its a rare film indeed that leaves you speechless when you walk out of the theatre (well... maybe it was that and it being 1:30am). Oh, and mark my words... zero-g fight scenes will be the next "it" thing for hollywood, especially if Ender's Game gets released soon. I'm not quite sure how those scenes were done, but my bet is that either they had a wireworks machine unlike anything else in the world OR they managed to rent some long stints in a very special greenscreen Vomet Comet.

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