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Old July 17 2010, 03:28 AM   #31
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
In terms of the "what's missing" quotient in the film, maybe it's that, on reflection, the movie really isn't about anything other than the plot, compared to some of Nolan's other films, which were also meditations on some fairly deep themes.
I can see that point. It's a totally plot-driven story to go along with the special effects. Though the performances really carry for.
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Old July 17 2010, 03:49 AM   #32
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

BTW, forgot to add, how great was the score by Hans Zimmer? I was still hearing that in my head several minutes after the movie was finished.
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Old July 17 2010, 04:08 AM   #33
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Saw it and enjoyed it. The dream logic they developed for the story was pretty good and I liked the cast. Gotta say, DiCaprio's character is a sharp dresser. Loved the visuals too. I wonder how they did the weightlessness and the cityscape Cobb and Ariadne were in at the end. The latter didn't look like a total CGI environment. Oh, and I didn't recognize Hardy either. Overall, the movie was so detailed and fast-paced that I didn't catch everything. I'll definately have to see this a few more times.

At the theatre I was in, the kiss got a laugh and maybe 2 or 3 people clapped when it was over.
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Old July 17 2010, 04:49 AM   #34
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

I've seen Ellen Page in Hard Candy, Juno and Whip It. She is the premature reincarnation of Sally Field, i.e., remarkably short but very talented. She still cannot bring her architect role to life. Every time she unveils the next layer of DiCaprio's secret, correctly observes that it's crazy to follow this nut job, then promptly proceeds to ignore herself, I couldn't believe she was a)sensitive and clever enough to leap to the correct conclusion, b)genuinely concerned about the others on the team or c)bravely overcoming fears. To overcome fear, you have to be afraid and she wasn't.

Unfortunately for the movie, Page's character is the motor for the rather prolonged exposure of DiCaprio's backstory, as well as the emergency doubletalk solution to a movie ending delaying moment of alleged jeopardy. If Allen Ludden had been cast, DiCaprio could have officially signed into I've Got a Secret. Like the panel, Page at regular intervals asks questions to provide the audience clues. It is not a bit obvious why Page needed to be there, if she just designed the scenery. The pointlessness of the character is not helpful.

Ken Watanabe as the hands on billionaire who will take part in waylaying a competitor (surely a criminal act,) is completely unbelievable. He's energetic enough though to make you wonder how Cillian Murphy's character could possibly fail to recognize a business rival in the next aisle of the plane.

Tom Hardy does some sort of male bitch shtick, but that's not quite a personality.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does quite well in playing a nondescript personality. He is indeed a stick up the ass dude, but he's a convincing one. This is vital to passing off the team as a group of real people with monetary goals, instead of finger puppets for DiCaprio.

Cillian Murphy provides a welcome bit of human emotion, and his character actually explores the notion of dreams as wish fulfilment a little.

But the movie is essentially, does DiCaprio win? The movie is basically lots of action with repeated apparent defeats for DiCaprio, which have to be surmounted by first giving in to his demons, then mastering them, supposedly, though that part is not quite so compelling as they would hope. The action sequences are mostly muddy and confusing, especially every bit of the snow sequence. You can't tell what's happening but fortunately you don't much care about the action sequences. Only the free fall sequence doesn't dull quickly. Some key dialogue is also buried.

Marion Cotillard makes no sense. For instance, she, supposedly a projection of DiCaprio's unconscious "kills" Cillian Murphy, as a way of dragging him into the unconstructed dream state. Since Saito, who DiCaprio also needs to get back to his kids, is also headed in to said dream state by a dream "death," DiCaprio will be entering the dream state, bringing the projection of Moll (sp?) with him. There is not supposed to be an independent Moll who actually kidnaps Murphy and has to be chased, which seems to be what everyone inexplicably believes.

It is not correct that the brain actually works faster when dreaming, much less in a geometrical progression as one goes "deeper." However absurd the premise (and the related notion that dreams are more creative,) at least it is consistently adhered to. The dream sequences are mostly done as virtual reality, but the sudden scene shifts typical of dreams are neatly captured. Repetitions and reappearances found in real dreams are not used. It is not clear why projections obediently die like video game characters.

At the end, when the spinning top begins to precess (meaning, eventually fall,) by the rules of the game, that means it's real and DiCaprio won. However, it is unlikely that Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger won't discuss when Murphy was put into a dream state, which he knows because DiCaprio told him. For that matter, it is unlikely he wouldn't discuss Berenger's dream actions, revealing that Berenger was "forged" by Tom Hardy. Last, Murphy will remember seeing DiCaprio on the plane but won't remember him in context of training against extraction. It is likely that the inception will fail, providing an ironic comment on DiCaprio's victory. I'm pretty sure it's unintentional.

But anyone who's seen Nolan's previous work will recognize a fixation on a guilty hero, a bizarre belief that ambiguity is deep and a general inability to conceive characters with real motives. Plus an obnoxious insistence that the score go bang, bang, bang to force tension by sheer volume. Writers often revisit material but Nolan has done very little processing since Insomnia and The Prestige. At least DiCaprio doesn't win by being the biggest prick.

But in the end, this movie has something it's flaws can't diminish: Originality. Above average.
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Old July 17 2010, 04:50 AM   #35
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

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Observation...the audience was packed but it seemed like at least 80% of the crowd was middle-aged. Was this true at other showings? Just curious.
The showing I was at was maybe 20% middle-aged and mostly people around my age (20). Interestingly, the middle-aged people all left satisfied and excitedly talking and theorizing whereas many of the people around my age seemed bored and fidgety.

I don't mean to sound elitist, but it seemed that many of the bored looking people didn't understand what was going on and several were texting or tweeting throughout (something I absolutely despise). Hardly a surprise for where I live. When Watchmen came out a man around 25 or so burst out halfway through "this is slow as fuck, no way I'm gonna see the sequel".
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Old July 17 2010, 04:55 AM   #36
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

stj wrote: View Post
It is not a bit obvious why Page needed to be there, if she just designed the scenery.
She didn't. That was quite explicitly acknowledged: she wasn't going to go, but she insisted after she realized how messed up Cobb was.
However, it is unlikely that Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger won't discuss when Murphy was put into a dream state, which he knows because DiCaprio told him. For that matter, it is unlikely he wouldn't discuss Berenger's dream actions, revealing that Berenger was "forged" by Tom Hardy. Last, Murphy will remember seeing DiCaprio on the plane but won't remember him in context of training against extraction. It is likely that the inception will fail, providing an ironic comment on DiCaprio's victory. I'm pretty sure it's unintentional.
You missed the point; Fischer isn't supposed to think that anything in his dream, like the stuff with Brown, actually happened. All of that is just a way of implanting into his subconscious the idea that it's a good idea to dissolve his father's company. He wakes up with the planted idea that he can fulfill his father's wishes by doing that; the rest is just a weird dream.
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Old July 17 2010, 05:19 AM   #37
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Page didn't do anything with her knowledge of Cobb's problems, any time she discovered another level. Going along with Cobb because he's a nut case to do nothing about it is definitely pointless. Who knows why the others thought she was there?

The originally planned inception dream would qualify as a seed planted in a dream. But Murphy knows that extraction is possible and takes it seriously enough to get anti-extraction training. When DiCaprio tells him in a dream he's being attacked, it would be alarming and memorable. If he's going to forget that, he's going to forget it all, including the idea.

But there is one thing confusing me, which is why he needs to give Saito a gun. I thought he needed to find Saito to help his mind survive the unconstructed dream state (how mystical yet drab that jargon is!)
Is this supposed to mean he did to Saito what he did to Moll? And that Saito will eventually go mad and kill himself?
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Old July 17 2010, 05:23 AM   #38
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

stj wrote: View Post
Page didn't do anything with her knowledge of Cobb's problems, any time she discovered another level. Going along with Cobb because he's a nut case to do nothing about it is definitely pointless. Who knows why the others thought she was there?
She was helpful to him, especially at the end; and even if she wasn't, she didn't know exactly what was going to happen. That's plenty of motivation to go along.

As for the others, they've already got one "tourist". I don't see why they'd object.
The originally planned inception dream would qualify as a seed planted in a dream. But Murphy knows that extraction is possible and takes it seriously enough to get anti-extraction training. When DiCaprio tells him in a dream he's being attacked, it would be alarming and memorable. If he's going to forget that, he's going to forget it all, including the idea.
The idea was planted much deeper in his subconscious. Besides which, even if he did remember the other stuff, he'd be worried about extraction, not inception, something everybody seems to believe is impossible.

Really, though, that's a really extraordinary level of nitpicking for a totally made-up sci-fi process.
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But there is one thing confusing me, which is why he needs to give Saito a gun. I thought he needed to find Saito to help his mind survive the unconstructed dream state (how mystical yet drab that jargon is!)
Is this supposed to mean he did to Saito what he did to Moll? And that Saito will eventually go mad and kill himself?
He didn't "need" to give Saito a gun, but the implication was that Saito used the gun to kill himself/DiCaprio, thus freeing them from the dream state.

Twirling the top had the impact it did on the wife because it was lodged in the representation of her repressed mind or whatever you want to call it; for Saito he just brought it with him and twirled it in front of him. So it's probably not the same thing.
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Old July 17 2010, 06:03 AM   #39
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

scnj wrote: View Post
DarthPipes wrote: View Post
Observation...the audience was packed but it seemed like at least 80% of the crowd was middle-aged. Was this true at other showings? Just curious.
The showing I was at was maybe 20% middle-aged and mostly people around my age (20). Interestingly, the middle-aged people all left satisfied and excitedly talking and theorizing whereas many of the people around my age seemed bored and fidgety.

I don't mean to sound elitist, but it seemed that many of the bored looking people didn't understand what was going on and several were texting or tweeting throughout (something I absolutely despise). Hardly a surprise for where I live. When Watchmen came out a man around 25 or so burst out halfway through "this is slow as fuck, no way I'm gonna see the sequel".
Sadly I find the younger audiences not having the drive to pay attention longer than an hour or hour and half anymore.

I have cousins like this. Once the character starts going into exposition mode they turn to texting until the action ramps up.
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Old July 17 2010, 06:12 AM   #40
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

I saw this in Liemax last night. It's easily one of the best movies I've seen at the theater in ages. I'm also at a loss to recall seeing such a genuinely original storyline. The acting, action, cinematography, etc were are good. I'm basiaclly in agreement with Ebert's review.

Excellent.
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Old July 17 2010, 06:15 AM   #41
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

There were two high school girls behind me who left with about 30 minutes left, never to return. I think they were just there to see Leo. Whenever they had some wacky special effects in the dream they would go "That is soooooo cool!".

There were also high school girls behind me that were very similar at Public Enemies last year. They chatted even more, and I don't think they left... they made it very clear they were only there to see Johnny Depp.

I really need to stay disciplined and watch movies at home.


[QUOTE=scnj;4248127]
DarthPipes wrote: View Post
I don't mean to sound elitist, but it seemed that many of the bored looking people didn't understand what was going on and several were texting or tweeting throughout (something I absolutely despise). Hardly a surprise for where I live. When Watchmen came out a man around 25 or so burst out halfway through "this is slow as fuck, no way I'm gonna see the sequel".
Well, he's not wrong on either point, is he?
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Old July 17 2010, 06:33 AM   #42
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Above Average

An great idea, directing and acting can't make up for poor characters. Except for Fischer and Cobb, everyone just serves to drive the plot and never becomes full characters.

Also, Cobb rescuing Saito made no sense; he went into limbo before Saito so wouldn't he be older?
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Old July 17 2010, 06:37 AM   #43
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Still waiting to see it.
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Old July 17 2010, 07:37 AM   #44
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

FluffyUnbound wrote: View Post
Overall, it was a great film, but as others have noted, missing a little something. I think that something was sheer, balls-to-the-wall, phantasmogoric weirdness. The three dream stages Ariadne designed have their excuse--they were structured by a waking and rational mind, if an artistic one, and structured for a purpose. So I was okay with their basic banality. But when they got to "Limbo," I was ready for some true insanity. Unfortunately, we got Cobb's Sim City. In what can only be described as cinematic ass-backwardsness, the most vivid, strange, and dreamlike images occur in the first act, when Ariadne is being given her first taste of shared dreaming and starts controlling the mental landscape of Cobb's psyche; every setting after that is much less interesting. For an example of this sort of thing done right, I direct you immediately to the chase through John Malkovich's subconscious.
Do you personally dream that way?

My dreams almost always occur in strikingly prosaic environments. They're usually recognizable places that I've been, frankly.

I often have the opposite complaint about "dream" movies - that they contain a lot of overt surrealism that seems like it's trying too hard.

That's one of my concerns going into this movie. That scene in the trailers where the city folds up and half of it is in the sky? If that happened in one of my own dreams, I'd laugh at it and then probably immediately wake up.
Sure. I had a dream the other night where everything I knew was dissolving, like living sculptures collapsing into sand.

Another I had was a dying dream where my family and I were trying to evacuate the lethal footprint of a crashing satellite (space colony?), and didn't make it, and the last moments of the dream were pure darkness except for blue phosphorescences and the sensation that I was rebooting into another life.

Then there was that awesome one where I was in a running tank battle across endless Brooklyn Bridges.

Okay, that all probably says a lot more about me than dreams in general. But besides that, take for example movement--in my dreams, and I suppose in others', it is not so constrained to geographic reality as in wakefulness. Scenes cut more like a film, without any need for me to actually transport myself from point A to point B. In Inception, aside from a bit of flashy trickery (like the Penrose staircase), there's no attempt to exploit this, even in the unstructured Limbo.

The closest they come is I suppose the air duct to the Arctic Fortress playset (which comes off more as a real air duct than the magic shortcut it ought, but it could be read either way) and, more bogusly, the "house" inside the highrise. Congratulations, Cobb, in your dream world you bought a penthouse. I would have expected something more like a yard and a city view at the same time, grass hanging in the air, or something to that effect. Maybe I missed some details, but it looked exactly like a really big condo. It's like dreams made flesh!

I never saw a cityscape folding up like that, though, I admit. It was still pretty cool. However, a question, to all interested in answering: did accompanying such dream visuals with mechanical noises undermine the awesomeness of them? I say yes. I'd have thought them much more effective without any sound effects at all.

CaptainCanada wrote:
In terms of the "what's missing" quotient in the film, maybe it's that, on reflection, the movie really isn't about anything other than the plot, compared to some of Nolan's other films, which were also meditations on some fairly deep themes.
It's a film about film (about dreams and fantasies in general, but maybe film in particular).

You know, now that I think about it, it actually comes across a lot like a lost Sandman arc, albeit one where Morpheus never bothered to even make a cameo.
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Old July 17 2010, 08:06 AM   #45
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Inception is the type of film that grows on you. In the film, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) talks about how an idea is the most resilient parasite and how it can spread like a cancer. Well, in the best possible way imaginable, Inception has that very similar effect on you long after you've seen the film. It's been a few hours since my initial screening and my mind has been abuzz with meditations on all of the many, many layers the film has to offer.

To be fair, this review is incomplete as I feel Inception demands a second viewing. But I can honestly say I have never had a moviegoing experience quite like this one, leaving with so many emotions and ruminations about the themes, characters, and then technical skill behind the film (the heist itself is jaw-dropping).

Dom Cobb. The central character to Nolan's Inception is a destroyed man, and also the anchor to keeping Nolan's brain-busting jaunt through the dreamscape from spiraling into the pretentious headspace of "look what I can do." Cobb's journey in attempting to reconcile with his wife's death, a death that he is essentially complicit in via his use of inception, is terrifying. The love story here is brilliant, as two lovers find themselves developing their love in a false world that functions relativistic to our own, getting years out of hours and decades out of days. It's a great metaphor for what love is about, how it has the ability to stop time itself -- and how too often we wish we had more time for it.

In this, I have to applaud Nolan's ability in ensuring that the dream-invasion technology was used in more ways than just one. For the most part, the tech is given to us by default. We get no real reason outside of a somewhat placard "military development" explanation as to why it exists, and simply accept it as a given technology that people may or may not know about in this world. In fact, the entire world has a slight comic book feel to it -- as the fantastical exists right alongside the mundane with surprising ease. It would have been easy to keep the focus of the tech on the heist, but Nolan integrates it seamlessly into Cobb's emotional journey as well: dream-invasion destroyed his life, and now it's the only thing that can save it.

From a pure genre level, Nolan's creation of a femme fatale that is literally the embodiment of the guilt/insecurity/flaw that traditional femme fatales typical exploit in the hero is just one example of the genre tropes turned on their head by Nolan, but still servicing the genre. Mal ("bad" in French), his dead wife who now haunts his subconscious, is also a wonderful antagonist. She is an evil god in the dreamworld, sending trains barreling through the best laid plans, able to be anywhere at once, and do anything she wants. And what's worse? Cobb's entire salvation, if it is to be had at all, rests in the dreamworld she rules. And the thing is: she is a construct of Cobb; she is Cobb, and in the film's final moments, when Cobb finally confronts her/himself, the language and word play resulting is quite something.

"It's never just a dream", Cobb muses at one point in the film, and despite the basic premise, Inception is not just a movie about dreams. Like many excellent Christopher Nolan movies, the film explores various different ideas and themes. The movie most reminded me of Darren Aronosfky's The Fountain, which used science-fiction as a filter in which to explore his own meditations on life, death and ultimately grief. Inception, while incredibly tragic, is not as meditative as Aronosfky's film and instead uses the guise of the heist thriller to push along the narrative of the story, always keeping things exciting and revelatory.

Inception has its sights more so on letting go and moving on, and the feeling of guilt over ruminations on life & death. Which is quite frankly a really compelling subject matter, which jives perfectly with the state of dreaming. Dreaming often -- according to some people -- challenges you to face something you had either repressed or neglected to deal with. On that level, Inception presents its protagonist with an extremely haunting idea of a repressed memory and through the dream world forces Cobb to deal with this and move on. In that sense, and in the non-traditional heist story that surrounds the film, Inception is a fantastically existential yet rewarding film that is driven by a fascinating emotional epicenter. Everything that happens, including the James Bond-esque third act, hinges on the emotionality of the narrative drive. The major decisions and choices all hinder on the emotionalism of the characters, and because of the multi-layered labyrinth of the film, when you're watching one scene, which one character tries to obtain information from another, what you're really watching is something entirely else, something multi-faceted and extremely dense. In fact, I would have to say that Inception is one of the most dense and complex films I've seen in a while. While it is relatively straight-forward in its comprehensive explanation of what's happening, that still doesn't mean what is going on isn't dense as fuck. The best possible comparison for Inception is that of an union: the more layers you pull back, the more in-depth you become. What begins as a relatively simplistic story gets even more and more complex when new ideas and concepts are introduced to supplement what you're already seeing. However, Nolan is such an incredibly ambitious filmmaker that he never loses sight on what he's weaving and while Inception is an incredibly tangled web, by the film's end he untangles everything in such an emotionally, intellectually and viscerally satisfying way that you can only just sit in awe of the filmmaker's relentless ability to juggle all of these ideas and themes and interweave them into something extraordinary.

Besides the sheer intelligence of the storytelling, Nolan has also improved as a visual storyteller, giving us some of the most incredible action sequences ever committed to film, and that's not an exaggeration. That was one point in the film that my jaw was literally agape, trying to absorb everything that I was watching on-screen. Nolan builds and builds and he creates one of the most entertaining and incredible third acts ever, having achieved some miraculous type of balancing act between story and action.

There is so much more to discuss when it comes to Inception -- more than I can discuss here. I haven't even gotten into what I think actually happened, thematic overlaps, narrative blah blah blah blah. All I can say matters is now a full 12 hours after having seen it, Inception is still sitting with me and making me feel things for the plight of its main character. The ending will leave you reeling. I sat in a theater and watched as a filmmaker took one of the most mundane objects and synchronized an entire audience's hopes and fears on its fate...

The film will leave you with little answers as well. Multiple interpretations will abound. Was it all a dream? Was it all a heist to break Saito out of limbo? Was it all an inception on Saito himself, implanting an idea in his mind to get Cobb home? Was it Mal trying to save Cobb, whose stuck in dreams? Who knows? And that's the point of Inception. In the end, reality is overrated -- what matters is the emotions and experience. And Inception plants all those and more.

Inception is a movie that absolutely warrants multiple viewings just to absorb everything you witness on the screen. There were times that I was so emotionally moved, captivated and simply put awed by the visceral magnitude of what I was seeing. My expectations were crazy high and I'm humbled and amazed by it. It's just the type of movie that that's so ambitious and succeeds so well it reminds me why I love movies in the first place. It is, without a doubt, Nolan's greatest success. I'm just happy to be living in the time where we can look forward to his movies.

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