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Old July 21 2010, 05:36 PM   #196
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

T'Baio wrote: View Post
I don't think the film earns a "punch in the gut" ending. I feel the tone of the film requires a denouement. For all the talk of Inception being a "mindfuck" film, I didn't think it was at all. I thought everything in the film was clearly laid out, everything flowed perfectly smoothly, and at no point did I feel confused or wonder what was going on or feel like I was being led to believe something that wasn't genuine and earnest.
That's true. Being a film about invading dreams and a purported 'mindfuck' I expected Inception to be a lot harder to follow then it really was. Honestly, outside of the first five or so minutes (that include an abrupt cut through time); I found the film pretty straightforward for the entire viewing. The only concrete subversive touch is the ending, but that the suggested dreamlike nature is telegraphed for us.

Any other interpretation I've thrown at the movie so far doesn't really stick (by which I mean 'oh maybe this was a dream too or it's all a dream, dude). Might be unimaginativeness on my part but this is by and large as straightforward as mind/reality films as they come. And that's really ensured by the existence of multiple perspectives. When you remove a film from a strictly subjective standpoint you begin to have frames of reference for reality to work with. Tell this entire film from Cobb's perspective and the whole thing might be fairly ambiguous.
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Old July 21 2010, 06:02 PM   #197
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

T'Baio wrote: View Post

I don't think a film that is as genuine and earnest and conventional as Inception earns a "gut punch" ending. For that to work, I feel you have to work up to it. I didn't feel Nolan was, and feel like the cut to black was an unearned "kick."
I can certainly see that viewpoint, but to me the ending felt very true (even to the point of being a bit of a cliche, in fact) to a story about, well, people running around and living in a dreamworld.

It only seemed natural to me that at SOME point we were going to have to question if what we were seeing was actually taking place in the real world or not. Especially after what we see happen to Mal. In fact Nolan already toyed with that idea at the beginning of the movie, with the multiple dreams.

And in any case, I only saw this as just a temporary setback for Cobb anyway. Being as smart and resourceful as he is, I fully expected as the screen went black that he WOULD eventually realize his situation and make his way back to the real world and his kids.

I mean, eventually he HAD to notice that the top was still spinning on his dining room table.
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Old July 21 2010, 06:06 PM   #198
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Ubik wrote: View Post
Clearly the ending is MEANT to be ambiguous. Anyone who argues that it's NOT meant to offer at least 2 possible interpretations is being disingenuous. Yes, it is objectively strange that the kids are in EXACTLY the same position at the end as they are in his last memory of them. Is it impossible? No, just strange. They're also, I believe, wearing the same clothes. Again, not absolutely impossible, but very strange. Also, their being the same age - strange, and especially strange considering the movie DELIBERATELY avoids mentioning how long Cobb has been in exile. It would have been an obvious thing to put in the script somewhere, and he deliberately leaves it out, so that it's, again, possible that it's real, and still very, very strange. It is disingenuous to think DiCaprio has chosen dreams (or failed to distinguish them from reality) when there is no reason to think there are any kids.

And the spinning top does, objectively, begin to topple for about a millisecond, and then more or less straightens out. And again, this is done to leave both options open. Of COURSE the top doesn't absolutely fall, or absolutely spin forever - the only reason it's effective as a last shot is because it's ambiguous.

It's also brilliant. Reminds me of the end of Philip K. Dick's Ubik, where the guy finds the face of his employee on a coin in his pocket. Anyone who's read the book knows what I'm talking about, and knows that this ending may very well have been inspired by it.
The top does not straighten out again.

The kind of evidence for saying the final sequence is a dream is the same kind of evidence for saying that we never, ever, see reality during the entire movie. The mazelike streets, the nightmarish squeeze, the inanity of corporate gunsels roaming the streets shooting, the sudden appearance of help. True, it breaks the rule that dreamers start in the middle of a dream, but the top falling says that the kids are real too. The problem of course is that if the whole movie is a dream, huge numbers of scenes are pointless.

DiCaprio's problem the whole movie is to get back to his kids. If he gets back to his kids, he wins. The movie ends when we find out the hero wins. The top spinning so long is just a fakeout. When it starts to fall, we know DiCaprio won. We see the same kids in the same clothes and the same positions so we can see DiCaprio finally beholding their faces. A different image could not contrast with the earlier image of failure, when he cannot see their faces when they turn. He's back, taking up where he left off.

The idea that the ending is weakened if this part is unambiguous makes no sense to me. DiCaprio rejects reality and wins. Murphy is fooled by dreams. Does he win, or lose? The contrasting stories provide all the ambiguity anyone could reasonably want, with the added bonus of actually being about an issue we could reasonably care about. How could anyonereally care about the mostly wooden characters lurching through mostly boring action sequences? How does not knowing what happened make it any more interesting?

Incidentally, the explicit announcemnt that Moll had rented (surely no Frenchwoman would let herself be called Mal!) the same suite was probably meant to tip us off that there was indeed more than one room. The U shape was probably just an easy way of making sure that DiCaprio could come out onto the ledge (for suspense as to whether he jumps?), still face Cotillard, but not have any chance of actually physically stopping her. Not one of Nolan's movies have encumbered themselves with realism when a cheap thrill was to be had, so the notion that this time he even thought of a homicide detective finding holes in Cotillard's posthumous story strike me as nonsense.

And, Dave James above is correct. If Watanabe can figure out from the carpet that he was dreaming, DiCaprio will figure it out. That realization is the dramatic climax of his arc. Without it, then his arc is unresolved, which would not be good writing, inasmuch as he is the hero. Whether the movie is about dreams (unlikely, and to be hoped not, since it doesn't actually do dreams well, it does virtual reality,) or about movies, dreamers wake up and movies end. The idea that the story can end with DiCaprio lost in dreams (or lost in movies,) ignores this simple fact. The implicit idea dreams or movies can go on forever makes these interpretations facile nonsense.

The movie is not brilliant, it is original. That deserves tribute, but not at the expense of spouting nonsense.
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Old July 21 2010, 07:15 PM   #199
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

stj wrote: View Post
The top does not straighten out again.

The kind of evidence for saying the final sequence is a dream is the same kind of evidence for saying that we never, ever, see reality during the entire movie. The mazelike streets, the nightmarish squeeze, the inanity of corporate gunsels roaming the streets shooting, the sudden appearance of help. True, it breaks the rule that dreamers start in the middle of a dream, but the top falling says that the kids are real too. The problem of course is that if the whole movie is a dream, huge numbers of scenes are pointless.
Well only a small handful of people are suggesting that the entire movie is a dream. I think most of those arguing for a dream ending, like me, simply think Cobb is the one still dreaming at the end.

Having the whole movie be a dream truly WOULD cheapen the entire experience, and I can't see Nolan wanting to do that kind of thing (even though it's certainly plausible given the way he tells his story).

For me what it comes down to is that the ending with the kids just seems a little TOO sweet and perfect. I certainly want Cobb to have that happy ending, but the way it comes about-- with the smooth, dreamlike transitions from the plane to the airport to the home-- just seemed too damn easy given all he had been through.

I'm not arguing that it's SUPPOSED to be a dream; just that Nolan wanted us to walk out not knowing for sure either way. To suggest that the ending was just a quick "fake-out" before telling us Cobb really made it back is not what I think he was going for (and nothing I see any definitive evidence for in any case).
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Old July 21 2010, 07:54 PM   #200
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

I think if anything Nolan wanted the ending to be ambiguous. It's funny, T'Baio, that you argue against the ending shot since after I saw Inception with some of my friends for a second time one of them argued how "cheap" not having the dradel fall really was and thought it weakened the film. She said that instead of discussing or thinking about the type of impact the film had on you, instead you're thinking about whether or not Cobb was dreaming. She didn't think that ending shot added anything to the film and even suggested it took away.

While I perfectly see yours and her point, I think I might have to disagree. I think it all boils down to your preference over how a film should end. Some people like definitive endings where everything or most of the things are either mapped out or resolved. People like resolution. However, there are some, like myself, who enjoy the ambiguous nature of open endings. Allowing the audience to determine which one was the true ending, and then having limitless discussions over why they think either one is the true ending. I mean, that's what we're doing right now, isn't it? So in that respect Nolan succeeded. And by discussing the ending, in a way we're discussing the merit of the film, since we need to get in-depth in order to figure it all out.

So I think the ending shot isn't cheap, but I guess it all boils down to preference. Either you're a fan of ambiguous endings or not. I may be over-simplifying it, but that's the way I see it.
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Old July 21 2010, 08:15 PM   #201
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

JacksonArcher wrote: View Post
I think it all boils down to your preference over how a film should end. Some people like definitive endings where everything or most of the things are either mapped out or resolved. People like resolution. However, there are some, like myself, who enjoy the ambiguous nature of open endings. Allowing the audience to determine which one was the true ending, and then having limitless discussions over why they think either one is the true ending.
JA, while I'll try not to be disappointed in you using, basically, a "some people like to be force fed and some people don't" argument against me, I'll ask you to read all my comments again. You should know that I'm not a "force fed" film viewer. But all my comments have been about what kind of ending a film sets itself up for. Sometimes a film sets itself up for an ambiguous ending, and if I feel the film deserves it by going for that kind of flavour the whole time, I love it. But in my comments above, I've discussed why I don't think Inception merits that kind of ending.
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Old July 21 2010, 08:24 PM   #202
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

GFR: The 5 Levels of Inception, an Infographic

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Old July 21 2010, 08:31 PM   #203
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

T'Baio wrote: View Post
JacksonArcher wrote: View Post
I think it all boils down to your preference over how a film should end. Some people like definitive endings where everything or most of the things are either mapped out or resolved. People like resolution. However, there are some, like myself, who enjoy the ambiguous nature of open endings. Allowing the audience to determine which one was the true ending, and then having limitless discussions over why they think either one is the true ending.
JA, while I'll try not to be disappointed in you using, basically, a "some people like to be force fed and some people don't" argument against me, I'll ask you to read all my comments again. You should know that I'm not a "force fed" film viewer. But all my comments have been about what kind of ending a film sets itself up for. Sometimes a film sets itself up for an ambiguous ending, and if I feel the film deserves it by going for that kind of flavour the whole time, I love it. But in my comments above, I've discussed why I don't think Inception merits that kind of ending.
I didn't mean to imply that. I'm just saying that with most people, they don't like ambiguous endings. I wasn't signaling out you in particular, just saying based on your comments it reminded me of my discussion with my friend. I apologize if I implied anything otherwise.

I agree that the film was leading toward a cathartic resolution for Cobb's character, but since the film bled the lines between dream and reality, I don't think it really mattered how Cobb found that catharsis. With so many layers of the dream state, how are we to know when is someone dreaming and when someone isn't? The film could have been intentionally very misleading. There are even some that say the entire film is a dream, and that Ariadne was a projection that was meant to therapeutically help Cobb overcome his grief. While I don't think that theory has a lot of merit, the fact that people are suggesting it would imply that others have doubted the reliability of the film in terms of revealing what is real and what isn't. Mal committed suicide because she thought the "real world" wasn't enough. To her, it was almost like the dream world bled into her reality. It's possible the same happened for Cobb as well.

It's also possible that Cobb had no choice, and even though he thought he was able to wake up himself and Saito, they were either individually or both in limbo for so long that it simply put didn't work. That are a lot of lingering questions that are left unanswered, especially since the ending went by so briskly. You could say it was leading to something ambiguous. Cobb found his emotional catharsis in the dream state, so perhaps it was fitting that he found closure in there as well. Who's to say?
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Old July 21 2010, 08:32 PM   #204
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

All we can say for certain is that anyone who says for sure it's still a dream or for sure it's not is full of it. It's the very definition of "open for interpretation."
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Old July 21 2010, 08:33 PM   #205
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

sidious618 wrote: View Post
All we can say for certain is that anyone who says for sure it's still a dream or for sure it's not is full of it. It's the very definition of "open for interpretation."
Well, I definitely think there's a lot of discussion and points that lead in either direction. I'm not entirely convinced either way, and I kinda like that.
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Old July 21 2010, 08:37 PM   #206
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Count me as another fan of ambiguous endings. In fact, it would have felt cheap and too pat, after all that, to have the movie firmly declare "And Cobb lived happily ever after" in the last scene.
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Old July 21 2010, 08:51 PM   #207
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

JacksonArcher wrote: View Post
I didn't mean to imply that. I'm just saying that with most people, they don't like ambiguous endings. I wasn't signaling out you in particular, just saying based on your comments it reminded me of my discussion with my friend. I apologize if I implied anything otherwise.
Cool. I apologize for my misunderstanding.

I would like to say, the thing that bugs me about movies like this sometimes, is that people (myself included) end up arguing the last 5 seconds of a movie and not the piece on a whole.

The cut to black before the (possible) topple, for me, kind of robbed me of the denouement. Not really, because I get what I want out of the movie, and forgive Nolan being a dick and cutting away, , but its last seconds end up being what we all focus on. And by doing so, it may sound like I'm coming down on the film.

Which couldn't be further from the truth. I think Inception is a masterful film, highly entertaining, deeply moving, and being a student of psychology, right up my alley in it basically in some form being a film about psychoanalysis.

If I was to rate Inception, which I normally don't do for movies, it would be a solid 8.5 out of 10, losing half a point for all the best visuals being in the trailer (not really its fault) and misusing some psychological terms and ideas (not something most moviegoers will know anyway), and a point for an undeserved ambiguous ending. But otherwise, it's a flawless film, and it is a total breath of fresh air to see a fun, entertaining, science fiction-y film that is really intelligent.

I also love that, although many of us disagree on what actually happened, we can really get in a conversation about it. Notice no one has stepped in to start trolling up the place or saying how much the film blows, and that there aren't any real arguments about the film? It's all civilized discussion. That really says something. It says the film is really that good. We can discuss ambiguity and intentions and what it all means and what was Nolan's intent till the cows come home, but it's obvious there is no denying the fact that overall it's a really, really good film. And that's really nice to experience once in awhile.

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Old July 21 2010, 09:00 PM   #208
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

T'Baio wrote: View Post
I would like to say, the thing that bugs me about movies like this sometimes, is that people (myself included) end up arguing the last 5 seconds of a movie and not the piece on a whole.
That was also a comment my friend made. I counter-argued that even when discussing the last five seconds of a movie, you need to get in-depth about the meaning of the film for that discussion to even work, so in essence even though we are technically discussing the ending of the movie, we're also discussing the themes and ideas of the movie as well.

I also love that, although many of us disagree on what actually happened, we can really get in a conversation about it. Notice no one has stepped in to start trolling up the place or saying how much the film blows, and that there aren't any real arguments about the film? It's all civilized discussion. That really says something. It says the film is really that good. We can discuss ambiguity and intentions and what it all means and what was Nolan's intent till the cows come home, but it's obvious there is no denying the fact that overall it's a really, really good film. And that's really nice to experience once in awhile.
I absolutely agree. I was arguing with another friend about the rating that the film currently has on IMBD. It's apparently ranked #3 of all time, and while I pointed out that it'll very likely get sent down a few notches before all is said and done, he attempted to completely discredit IMBD by saying it wasn't a credible indicator of quality.

Regardless of the credibility of IMBD, I argued that Inception mattered enough to get people to vote, and that is truly something special. Like you said, the fact that people are discussing it and thinking about it means that obviously it had an impact on people, in some shape or form. In the summer movie season, that's an incredible feat in my opinion. It means people paid attention to a smart, intellectual film during the summer. I think that's personally quite awesome.
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Old July 21 2010, 09:02 PM   #209
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Especially this summer season.
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Old July 21 2010, 09:06 PM   #210
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

T'Baio wrote: View Post
Especially this summer season.
Agreed. This has been one of the most sluggish and uneventful summer movie seasons in a while.
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