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Inception (2010) ****

July 15, 2010

Written by: Christopher Nolan

Produced by: Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action throughout

148 mins

U.S. Release Date: July 16, 2010 (wide)

Christopher Nolan, arguably the best filmmaker of the 2000s (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight) kicks off the new decade in style with Inception, a dreamy psychological thriller that deals with physical turmoil within the confines of one’s subconscious.  The film is about professional thieves that infiltrate subjects’ minds to “steal” information as opposed to conducting interrogations.

Nolan is famous for his mind-bending thrillers that typically feature slow-burning story lines with masterful twist endings.  After several films that fit into this particular genre, has Nolan outstayed his welcome?  Are broad audiences receptive to films that don’t necessarily spell out everything for them?

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief who is experienced in the process of extracting valuable secrets from deep within the human subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its highest level of vulnerability.  Cobb’s abilities have made him a major player in the new world of corporate espionage.  Cobb’s experiences in this field, however, have cost him his freedom and his family.  He is an international fugitive as a result of a dream experiment that ended in a death and can no longer go to the United States to visit his children and family.

Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One very special job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish inception.  Instead of a heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off just the opposite; their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one inside their target’s mind.  If they succeed, it could be the perfect undetected crime.  No amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the obstacles that will be waiting around every corner; one of of those obstacles Cobb happens to know very well.

Aesthetically speaking, this movie is spectacular.  Nolan’s ability to construct realistic-looking, yet just slightly off, dreamscapes without overusing computer-generated imagery is showcased in this film more than any of his previous works.  At one point in the film (don’t worry, no spoilers) Dom and his teammate Ariadne (Ellen Page) walk through a dream city that Dom originally created.  They explore a neighborhood that contains all the buildings and houses that Dom lived in throughout his life.  The visual construction of this scene is a perfect example of Nolan’s visual style and the tactful use of CGI that he employs throughout the film.  Also, Nolan’s use of film speed manipulation adds so much suspense throughout the film and compliments the pronounced style of the cinematography.

In what is an incredibly complex story, Inception remains tastefully high-level.  In some cases, characters travel inside dreams within dreams (and even dreams within dreams within dreams!), yet it is never too complex to wrap your mind around.  To ground audiences in reality, the characters who travel within dreams have personal items they call “totems” that show them when they’re really in reality.  Otherwise, it is easy to get lost in a web of the subconscious where one may think they’re back in the “real world” when they’re still stuck in a dream.

The star-studded cast includes some familiar faces from many past Nolan films: Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer), Ellen Page (Juno), Tom Hardy (Bronson), Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins), Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies), and Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) round up the top billing of this massive ensemble.  Across the board, the film was very well acted, both in communicating the difficult alternate world and conveying harsh honesty in some of the film’s more serious scenes.

From the moment the Warner Bros logo hits the screen and the first notes of the score sing out, you know that you are about to witness an epic film; something that had not been achieved all summer.  Inception has it all: a compelling story, fantastic acting, a vast range of action set pieces, a love story, and the movie makes you think.  I truly think we’re seeing the next few decades of filmmaking in Christopher Nolan’s work.  He writes complex yet accessible stories and executes filmmaking in pristine fashion.  To say that Inception is the best summer film of 2010 so far would be a gross understatement.  If you are picky on what you head out to the theater for, make the investment in this film… maybe twice.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. mATtHEw gRAmITh permalink
    July 15, 2010 8:50 am

    Dear film booker for Cloverland Cinemas in Ironwood,
    Please let this film come to my local cinema, out here in the boonies. I know you tend to favor really bad to mediocre movies aimed at children and teens, but you did bring PUBLIC ENEMIES, INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, DISTRICT 9 and eventually SHUTTER ISLAND here. I really, really, really want to see it!!! It would mean alot to me! Oh, and if you could bring it here sooner than the week it comes out on video, like you did for UP IN THE AIR, and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, I would appreciate it. If you would do that for me I would gladly fork over the cash for a ticket, rather than having to resort to…um…that which we don’t speak of – the thing that some people have to do every February if they want to watch Oscar nominated films before the big show, because being nominated for every award under the sun means nothing to you. Maybe I could even find it in my heart to forgive you for not bringing FANTASTIC MR. FOX here, or that Coen Bros. movie. You know, the one with those actors that no one has ever heard of – Brad Pitt and George Clooney? The one that was the #1 film in the country the weekend it opened, but never came here while week after week the films that A-list critics gave C- reviews played? Yeah. Hey, thanks a bunch!

  2. mATtHEw gRAmITh permalink
    July 15, 2010 6:39 pm

    I can’t believe it – INCEPTION will actually play at our local cinema, beginning….tomorrow! Whoo Hoo!

  3. mATtHEw gRAmITh permalink
    July 17, 2010 11:05 pm

    “…Disappoint” NOT! Wow! I will own that DVD when it comes out. And probably the screenplay, too, if it’s available. The acting was not quite perfect. DiCaprio has his moments, but all too often I saw him squint and glare and hit beats that seemed…a little too familiar. I didn’t really see a lot of his inner life nor did he seem to reflect certain aspects of wisdom which I think his character would have developed throughout so many years lived in that certain state of mind.
    Ellen Page wasn’t bad, but she didn’t bring anything interesting to the character either, unlike all the rest of the supporting cast who were all alot of fun to watch. Except maybe Tom Berenger. I’m not sure whether his acting was horrible …or excellent!
    The worst thing about the movie for me was the sound in the theatre I watched it in. I probably missed 15% of the dialogue!
    I thought the movie was great, and will likely see it many, many times. The screenplay should be nominated for an Academy Award.

  4. mATtHEw gRAmITh permalink
    July 19, 2010 12:32 pm

    Roger Ebert’s excellent take on all the hub-bub surrounding film critic’s David Edelstein, Armond White, and others who’s reviews have panned INCEPTION. Long live Roger Ebert. There are only a few who are capable of achieving true purity of vision and execution (never pandering to their audience) AND an extremely high level of commercial success in their endeavors. Some that come to mind: Stanley Kubrick, Pink Floyd, Frank Lloyd Wright, Radiohead, Jackson Pollack… I’d put Roger Ebert in that category.

    And to think there was once a time when I actually preferred the “bald guy” over the “fat guy”.

  5. windi permalink
    July 22, 2010 5:01 pm

    The previews for this looked completely bizarre, so of course I can’t wait to see it! 🙂

    I love me a good psychological thriller!!


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