Friday, July 23, 2010

incepted (?)

Thomas Pynchon infected Christopher Nolan's brain with an idea. Quite a few ideas. About infiltrating dreams and offloading "new" ideas. And then there is the look, feel, and mood of the film:

"There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it's night. He's afraid of the way the glass will fall--soon--it will be a spectacle: the fall of the crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing. [...]

They have begun to move. They pass in line, out of the main station, out of downtown, and begin pushing into older and more desolate parts of the city. Is this the way out? Faces turn to the windows, but no one dares ask, not out loud. Rain comes down. No, this is not a disentanglement from, but a progressive knotting into--they go in under archways, secret entrances of rotted concrete that only looked like loops of an underpass ... [...] ... and it is poorer the deeper they go ... ruinous secret cities of poor, places whose names he has never heard ..." (3).

So there's noir mood from Gravity's Rainbow, and then there is the character of Pirate Prentice, who works for "The Firm" by invading the dreams and fantasies of military officers (even offloading - by virtue of taking on their anxieties - and thereby "infecting" them with specifics of a different design):

"Well, hrrump, heh, heh, here comes Pirate's Condition creeping all over again, when he's least expecting it as usual -- might as well mention here that much of what the dossier's call Pirate Prentice for is a strange talent for -- well, for getting inside the fantasies of others; being able, actually, to take over the burden of managing them. [...] It is a gift The Firm has found uncommonly useful: at this time mentally healthy leaders and other historical figures are indispensable. What better way to cup and bleed them of excess anxiety than to get someone to take over the running of their exhausting little daydreams for them ... to live in the tame green light of their tropical refugees, in the breezes of through their cabanas, to drink their tall drinks, changing your seat to face the entrances of their public places, not letting their innocence suffer any more than it already has ... to get their erections for them, at the oncome of thoughts the doctors feel are inappropriate ... fear all, all that they cannot afford to fear. [...]. (12)

I've read a few reviews comparing the film to GR (some favorably, some not so much). For me, it's fine to be inspired, especially as GR's themes are so MASSIVE and ongoing.

Generally, I was completely INTO IT. Loved it. However, I was taken out of it by some questionable casting and a few plot questions (LOL).

On PLOT: Think about it - when the dreamers/characters arrive at Level III, we expect a "chaotic" state of affairs because they're in the unconscious, but it's only "chaotic" in Level I's SUV driving issues, guns, and, well, there is the train (Nolan's lessons on Freud were kinda fun in a campy if not in an overly "instructive" way). But then, there is Level II's MATRIX'y fighting and loss of gravity (should be in Level III, right?)*** (follow the asterisks to see me reverse this reading).

AND SPEAKING OF GRAVITY ... let's talk casting. Consider the lack of casting "gravitas," the WAY TOO TEENSY, children-in-Halloween costumes choices of Joseph Gordon Levitt and distractingly child-like Ellen Page (especially when we see Ariadne referencing the appreciable gravitas of Kim Novak in her grey Vertigo suit!!). Both are very talented actors, but they aren't, it seems to me, "up to scale," here. Same goes for Cillian Murphy (so tiny it is distracting/ill-fitting suit/great acting, tho). Leo is great.

But all in all, a really engaging film. I was in it for the thrill, and to see the GIANT NERVE of Christopher Nolan; sh*t but he gets away w/ murder (he is our modern Hitchcock). And lovely ties!! Marion Cotillard can do no wrong (neither can the costume designer who chose her dresses, nor her hairdresser and makeup artist!!). So a thumbs up for thrills, balls, and the pretty. I did love it.

Hans Zimmer's score = perfection. b-u-t, i have seen some clever sleuthing regarding the score ...

so but yeah. LOVED It.

*** Rethinking the whole "dream thing" now: so originally i'd thought that Nolan's lower level dreamscapes are too "normal," but now of course they aren't surreal or bizarre ... beyond the surreality of Big Hollywood Action scenes, which are quite surreal enough ("it is too late." there are no new ideas, and etc., etc.). plus, all that has been done (think The Cell). Nolan is really smart. i mean, my dreams are rarely beyond situationally familiar & plot-wise complicated. i don't dream in surreal landscapes, do you? yet Nolan's film is getting flack b/c the dreams are "normal." but, really? those are Big Action Hollywood scenarios, fantasy, and as such resemble what happens in dreams (esp the falling van interiors; zero gravity would have been silly in an "ordinary" setting). b-a-l-a-n-c-e. Nolan is brill.

also, one of the great commentaries on our expectations for dream sequences come via Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion, and the scene is played to perfection by the fabulous Peter Dinklage. here:

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