Joe: I can’t believe Christopher Nolan thinks that Inception was his idea. Only Danny Glover and I know the truth.
Steve: I can’t believe you and Danny Glover think that. Only Ernie Hudson, Don Rickles and I know the truth.
Joe: I really liked Inception, very well shot, well written and well acted.
Hard to find any flaws.
Steve: I agree with your first sentence, but not your second.
The highest compliment I can pay this movie was that it was so enjoyable and engaging that my mind immediately started latching onto the few things about it that prevented it from being perfect.
It’s one of only four good movies released so far this summer.
(The other three being Karate Kid, Toy Story 3 and Predators).
And Inception is the best of those and the only one of those four that isn’t a sequel or remake.
So hell yeah to that.
Joe: I thought it was original. The story was good and I liked the writing quite a bit.
Not sure why you disagree.
Steve: I don’t disagree on any one of those points. I definitely was into it but a few things bugged me.
First and foremost, Ellen Page.
Or more accurately, the relationship between her character and DiCaprio’s.
Not for one second did I buy that Ellen Page’s wide-eyed college student character could possibly have exerted any amount of control or authority, even through blackmail, over DiCaprio’s older, more matured, world-weary dream expert.
It’s just weird how completely dominated he is by her even though she should be totally at his mercy given their positions.
Even his long-time comrades couldn’t or wouldn’t bare his secrets without his permission, yet he repeatedly caves to the n00b for no apparent reason. I found it completely out of character.
Joe: Mmmm…I thought they set up his character as being on the brink of a breakdown and while he had the others fooled, Ellen was possibly more talented than he was.
I thought it made sense that she found his weak points in part because he wanted them to be found.
Steve: I didn’t.
I also didn’t buy that if his issues were such obviously major threats to their job, that his other friends, who knew way more about shared dreaming than she did, wouldn’t know they were in danger.
Joe: I think they knew they were in danger, and that their jobs were full of danger.
I don’t think they had any clue how difficult things were this time.
Steve: In the opening scene, his right-hand man witnesses Cobb’s subconscious destroy their whole job.
Then he just seems to forget that that happened, while Ellen Page makes it her personal mission to blackmail Cobb with what everyone seems to already know about.
So that didn’t really make sense.
But more than the logic problems of the experts not noticing what the newbie did, was just that I didn’t accept Leo allowing her in.
Joe: Well, I thought they established the girl as intelligent, even more so than the other two male leads.
I thought it made sense that she could penetrate Leo’s persona because she had no emotional attachment to him, or any history with him.
Steve: You could explain it that way, but I didn’t feel that the movie did so.
I felt that all the characters came off as highly intelligent (which, btw, is a HUGE compliment to any film) and therefore I didn’t buy that the people closest to him didn’t know the danger he presented.
Joe: I think they knew, but it was the degree of trouble that they didn’t know.
Steve: They could have even suggested that they did know, but trusted him enough to go in anyway.
Joe: I think the film was all about degrees, and slight adjustments made a huge difference.
They were aware of some, but not all of the degrees.
Steve: Okay, that’s the second thing.
Why did Ellen Page automatically know that Cobb’s wife presented a severe threat to everyone’s safety when I still don’t understand why?
Cobb is never allowed to know the specifics of the dream geography because if Mal ever knew her way around the dream, it would ruin everything.
Why is that?
Mal’s motivation is that she wants Cobb to stay in creepy subbasement dreamland with her forever.
So why does constantly attacking the dream help her further that goal?
It made no sense.
We see her do it once at the beginning, then at the end we find out what she’s all about, but it still doesn’t explain the way she behaves or why everyone’s terrified of her.
Joe: Because Mal was DiCaprio’s subconscious and it would try to protect him by harming everyone else.
It attacked foreign entities. That’s what everyone’s subconscious did, only everything in a non-Leo dream world would be a foreign entity.
I’m actually surprised you don’t understand that, that was one of the easier things to get I thought.
Steve: I don’t agree. The film never established anything of the sort.
Joe: Wait, when Page went into Leo’s dreams, Page was attacked and Leo had no control over his thoughts.
If one of Leo’s subconscious thoughts was introduced into another world, everything would be foreign, meaning everything would be at risk and Leo would have no control.
Steve: That’s an interesting interpretation, but it’s too great a leap. The scene you’re referring to established that the primary dreamer’s (i.e., the target’s) subconscious projections would attack foreign entities, because in that scene they were in Leo’s dream.
The idea that your subconscious being in someone else’s dream is a threat was never solidified.
Joe: It’s inferred.
In fact, I suspect that if I were to ask Chris Nolan why it was bad for Mal to know the dream geography, he might give me a different answer than what you just did.
Joe: The subconscious beings are said to be protecting the dreamer, so if they are mindless protection, they would seek to protect what they understand to be the dreamer, which isn’t very much.
And you can’t say nope.
Nope is frustrating.
Steve: Sorry, I think you’re filling in gaps in the movie’s logic that the movie should be filling in for you.
Joe: I disagree.
Steve: Well, there’s that.
Joe: While this isn’t saying very much, it’s easily the best movie of the summer…so far.
Steve: I absolutely agree with that.
But back to the bitchfest. Another problem – and this is something it took me a while to put my finger on -
Steve: I was really disappointed that early on there was a line about how the dream is more about “feeling” than sight and sound, but that’s never demonstrated in any way. The dreams didn’t feel like dreams. They just looked like normal scenes.
Everything was very logical and straightforward and made perfect sense. The few times something fantastic and unreal does happen, like a train driving down Main Street or gravity pulling the wrong direction, we’re told this is bad, because these kinds of things will risk cluing the mark in on the fact that he’s dreaming.
I don’t know about you, but my dreams are NEVER straight narratives that take place in any sort of logical space. They just SEEM to make sense while I’m in them, even though characters are constantly turning into one another, locations are shifting, non-threatening things are terrifying, mundane things seem ecstatic, etc.
I wanted to see more of that in the film, but instead everything plays like a heist movie with pretty much the same physical rules as real life.
That’s more of a direct critique of Nolan’s vision than any sort of plot hole or weak storytelling.
But I do wish there had been more cool dream-type stuff happening.
Joe: I thought about that, but if things got too fantastic, then it’s the Matrix with dreams, which it already sort of was. I appreciated that they treated dreams as less fantastic and more a spin on reality.
I was on the fence. They treated all dreams as mundane dreams, but it might have been too big of a stretch to throw in a purple dinosaur or a knife throwing rabbi.
The film was already 150 minutes.
Steve: I would have been more happy with it if they had explained it as a necessary aspect of shared dreaming.
That would have made it totally fine for me.
Like, in a shared dream, the architect is responsible for maintaining some semblance of reality in order to maintain stability and make it possible for everyone’s mind to interpret it the same way.
But they never got into that or any other explanation.
Joe: Well, I think if you’re going to make a story about dreams or supernatural occurrences, you’re going to have to throw out some stuff.
I think here, they threw out most of the fantastic, which I was fine with.
It’s the creator’s choice I suppose.
Steve: Yeah, but then why did they have the line early on about how it was more about feeling than seeing, only to demonstrate the exact opposite for the rest of the movie?
It’s not a huge deal, but I think it was something of a weakness on Nolan’s part.
It wouldn’t have added any length but it would have added to the effects budget.
So maybe that’s it.
Joe: Can I make a statement that will undoubtedly offend you?
Joe: You sent me a text earlier about how the many positive reviews and the many people that raved about it bugged you.
I know how you feel, but I think it’s a bad habit people our age have when stuff like that happens.
We don’t like when there is too much positive, or too much love shown to a film/band/politician.
I know when everyone is calling a B+ an A+ it’s annoying, but I don’t think it should bug you that much.
Steve: If you’re saying that I’m looking for flaws out of a spirit of rebellion, you’re 100% right.
And it doesn’t bug me that much.
But it does automatically make me more critical.
Joe: Yeah, I am the same way.
But… isn’t that a bad thing we’re doing?
I mean, sometimes it can be, but it can also help keep us grounded.
In this case, I sincerely don’t believe that this movie is the greatest movie ever made.
I don’t even think it’s the greatest movie Chris Nolan’s ever made.
Joe: I agree.
But, it’s really good. And I think when everyone likes something, it’s now cool to find major flaws. I think that’s a bad habit our generation has. Not that we should be sheep, but that the desire to rebel or critique is a little too strong sometimes.
Steve: Yeah, but I’m aware of that in myself and I feel that I sufficiently kept that instinct in check in this case.
My motivation is less about tearing down the movie than it is about pointing out that it’s not Citizen Freaking Kane.
Joe: I agree that it’s not.
Steve: I don’t want to detract from the movie’s accomplishments at all.
I just kind of have to take up the complainy role in this conversation because you’re playing good cop.
Joe: However, look at its competition so far this year.
Sequels of sequels, remakes, the fucking mutant A-Team.
It’s a sliding scale I think, but with the exception of a film that’s coming out August 13.
A little film starring a little actor named Sylvester Stallone.
Steve: Don’t call him little to his face or he’ll reach up and stab you in the neck.
Joe: My lower neck.
Steve: All in all, I give Inception a B or maybe a B+.
Joe: Yeah, it wasn’t a perfect movie, but really good. And I’m glad neither of us bothered to get into a “did the top fall over or keep spinning at the end” conversation.
That would have been annoying.
Steve: It was really engaging and I didn’t lose focus on it at any point, even though I had been fasting for three days and had a massively painful ear infection.
Steve: Which basically means it was really freaking good, because both of those things should have made it really hard to pay attention to a movie.
Joe: Anyway, I’m gonna take a nap and maybe..THE EXPENDABLES IS GONNA BE AWESOME.
Joe: We’ve had our intelligent, challenging summer movie. Now it’s time to reinvent the action movie.
Steve: Oh yeah, since you brought it up, I also thought the last shot with the top spinning was unnecessary.
Joe: Yeah, me too.
Steve: They had gone the whole movie without ever bringing up the standard “how do you know you’re not dreaming when you think you’re awake” question that all dream movies inevitably harp on.
Steve: Then in the last shot they go and smack us in the face with the most overused faux-philosophical mind-bender in movie history.
Joe: So stupid.
I agree, very annoying.
But, I can forget the last 7 seconds.
Steve: So, what letter grade would give the movie?
Joe: B+/A-, low A- though, like an 89.5 number grade.
So almost the same as me.
Despite my complaints.
Joe: Slightly higher than you. Not a solid A. I feel like I should have been impacted spiritually to get a good A.
Steve: Yeah, good wording.
Joe: But it was Citizen Kane compared to the last two or three months of movies.
Steve: No doubt.
This is the shittiest movie year ever so far.
Joe: Yeah. I mean the Planet of the Apes summer was bad, but not like this.
Steve: Inception is probably going to sweep at the Oscars just because there’s no competition.
It’ll at least get nominated for Best Picture.
And Best Director.
Steve: I think I feel about Inception the way Dan Roemer felt about The Hurt Locker.
Joe: I still haven’t seen Hurt Locker.
Steve: Which is basically: Yeah, it was really good, but that should be the baseline for how movies should be. This should be the least we expect from any movie that sees a major release. The best picture nominees should be several levels above even this.
Joe: I agree.
Steve: But sadly, we don’t live in a world of mostly goods and a few greats.
Joe: I know.
Steve: We live in a world of mostly shit and a few goods and a very few greats.
Joe: It’s disappointing that this film was really good, but nothing has come close this year.
Well, maybe not nothing, but you know what I mean.
Joe: It’s not as if I can name even one or two other films I think should be nominated for Best Picture.
Steve: I can tell you Toy Story 3 will be.
Other than that, who knows?
Joe: Can they nominate a threeqel?
Hey, I really do have to take a nap. I’ll talk to you tomorrow dude.
Steve: If they do ten nominees again this year, who knows?