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Old August 4 2010, 01:11 AM   #451
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
You mean there are people in the world who never have dreams where physically impossible things happen? Every dream they've ever had in their lives adheres strictly to the mundane logic of real life?
With nearly 7 Billion people on the planet, many of whom would consider third-world conditions to be a luxury, I think that it is possible some of them have fairly mundane dreams.

Everyone dreams differently and everyone's dreams are going to be different from night to night. As I posted in a Misc Thread a week ago I had a dream where aliens were forcing me and a complete stranger to hide from a nuclear apocolypse so that we could re-populate the earth when all was clear. This dream included mechs, alien/human hybrids, vast and complex underground chambers and had a special effects budget that'd make Michael Bay blow his load like a 13-year-old boy looking through the underwear section of the J.C. Pennys catalog.

Last night? I had a dream I was at work, dealing with a massive sale that gave us huge business and all my co-workers were being bitches about doing their jobs. Very, very mundane dream that aside from a detail here and there I could've mistaken for the real life.

The point was in inception was the team, namely Cobb and the Architecht, were "populating" and creating the "dream world" to make it as mundane as possible so the person would mistake it for real life and not "wake up" thus either ending the mission or sending the person into Limbo. It further seems this dream state was made to be so complex and "deep" into the brain that the person didn't even remember everything that happened. (Much like how you may dream everynight but not always remember the dreams you had.)

Saying something like "the movie was lame because the dreams weren't "dream-like" enough with T-Rexes eating cars!" is just, well, stupid. Because first of all it ignores the very, very real fact that not all dreams are surreal, bizzare and off-the wall and that they were purposefully making the dreams as real as possible so that their mark wouldn't realize he's dreaming because both other times in the movie where the mark realized the dream wasn't real the dream world collapsed and the person woke-up. (I'm not clear how that would've happened in this movie given the sedative they were using if Murphy would've ended up in Limbo or woken up -despite the sedative- if he realized he was dreaming (as almost happened as Leo talks to him in the bar of the "Goldeneye 64" level.)
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Old August 4 2010, 02:12 AM   #452
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Exactly. It's not like these people couldn't have dreams where a dinosaur stampede suddenly happens, or they all start flying. It's not like the city couldn't just fold in on itself. It's just that not everyone has flying dreams. Not everyone has dinosaur dreams, or if they do, dreams about dinosaurs the same way. My dinosaurs are always mean and eating my family and friends. Other people may have a pet dinosaur that they ride around Saturn's rings or something like that.

On the other hand, everyone understands their world, and probably has mundane dreams about it on occasion. By making the dream as close to something in the target's world as possible, you negate the risk of throwing things at them they'd never dream of themselves, thus alerting their subconscious that there's an impostor in the dream.
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Old August 4 2010, 02:42 AM   #453
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Infact, Cobb even tells Kitty Pryde that she's making too many big changes, using too much of a "real world" setting and that this was dangerous for her because his sub-conscious would realize it wasn't in control anymore and then attack her, which it ends up doing once she creates the walkway under the el-train/highway. Making the dreams too bizzare or making too many changes tipped off the subject that something was amiss sending the "immune system" into action to get rid of the problem.
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Old August 4 2010, 06:54 AM   #454
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
I really respect you as a poster, and I also love what I have seen by Nolan. However, one could think, by reading your posts, that you give every Nolan film a pass ebcause it's a Nolan film. I hope that's now what you are saying. How do you respond to some of the specific criticisms expressed in this thread?
Hmm. Well, I don't know if I give every Nolan film a pass. To be completely honest with you, it took me some time to warm up to The Dark Knight, probably because it didn't have the emphasis on Bruce Wayne/Batman that I was expecting after Batman Begins. I love The Dark Knight, but after Wayne was the center of the story in Batman Begins it was somewhat disappointing to see him take a lesser role since The Dark Knight was much more of an ensemble film about The Joker, Harvey Dent, and Gotham City, and Batman only really played a part. However, after some introspection, I have come to realize that Batman did play a pivotal role, he just wasn't the emotional center of the film like I was hoping.

I had a very adverse reaction to both Following and The Prestige, even though recently I have warmed up to The Prestige a bit more. I think most of Nolan's films aren't necessarily crowd-pleasers in the traditional sense that they're immediately satisfying... I think it takes some time to truly absorb the layered density of Nolan's films.

As for the criticisms for Inception, I think I can kinda understand them. I've seen the film three times now, and the effect kinda wears off after the third viewing. I am not sure if the film will have the same resonance for me that maybe Batman Begins, Insomnia or even The Dark Knight does, since there are so many layers both literally and metaphorically to Inception that it is a lot to take in, but then again that's pretty much the same with every Nolan film.

I don't know. I think I need more time to absorb Inception to really determine whether or not I agree or disagree with the criticisms and the praise. I think it's an extremely polarizing film, if anything.

What we are asking for is honesty, not gushing. I'm not making any accusations that you simply gushing, but I just want to express something difficult without pointing fingers or naming names. You said upthread that, in response to the idea that you wanted to find out that a specif dream really wasn't Fisher's but it was someone else's and it was filled with filled with Fisher's subconscious, you mentioned your desire to see the film again. Be honest here: if one goes to see the film again to understand a film's structure, can one not help but only see the structure, the machinations of the plot.
I agree. I do think that is a legitimate criticism of Nolan's films is that he is very focused on structure. I think that's evident in all of Nolan's films besides maybe Insomnia. That's because Nolan is obsessed with narrative structure and playing around with the chronological and sequential order of things. It's why his films are usually non-linear.

It's also because he was a student of literature and enjoys structure the most, I think. However, the density of the way he structures his films is sometimes a turn-off and I can see why people might have a problem with them with his films. I enjoy the density -- to a point -- so long as the emotionalism or the characters don't suffer, but I think Nolan is growing as a filmmaker and in his earlier films made sure the characters and emotions were present alongside the machinations of the plot.

I know some people think Nolan's films are superficially cold, but I have found ways of becoming emotionally invested in all of his films. I think Inception is a step forward in this regard -- you really become emotionally invested in Cobb and even Fischer and the entire story hinges on this one man's desire to see his children again. The ending, if anything, is about the one relative thing in both dreams and reality -- emotion. The film is essentially about the truism of emotion conquering all, and that's something I think is really solid.

Honestly, I felt surprising detached from the events of the film the second time I saw it. I was knew too much, I was paying more attention to how Nolan structured and foreshadowed things than I was to the actual story, philosophy, or characters. Whatever it was was that elevated the film to greatness, that made it more than the sum of its parts, was lost by the second viewing.
I think I grew more detached on the third viewing. Maybe because I was tired or because like yourself I was paying too much attention to structure. However, I do think I understood the structure a bit more clearly the third time around. I think my biggest problem is the way the exposition is handled and introduced in the second and third act. I can understand how people don't enjoy how Nolan sometimes unnecessarily complicates his films, and while I understand in the case with Inception that he was raising the stakes, I felt like he was merely trying to really complicate things and I am not sure if in this case that was required.

That might be because I have a preference of characters over story in a lot of cases, so to me the most interesting parts of Inception don't come from the machinations of the plot but of the character moments like when Cobb is introducing Ariadne to the world of dreams or when Mal kills herself or when Fischer experiences emotional catharsis with his father.

When you do go see it again, and you come back here to comment on it, tell us if you felt this at all, and don't simply praise it because it's a Nolan film.
I immediately felt it. I felt it with Memento and The Prestige and I feel it with Inception. I might need to see it a fourth time (!) to determine my true, honest feelings regarding the film. I had to do the same thing with The Dark Knight.

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Old August 4 2010, 07:07 AM   #455
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

JacksonArcher, I'm going to read your response more carefully, but I want to first thank you for responding, and doing so with honestly and being thorough, but, more importantly, not taking anything I said as an attack on you or an insult. I love discussing films like this and I can see you do to, and I am glad that you can see that this was all I wanted out of my post: a real discussion!
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Old August 4 2010, 07:12 AM   #456
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
JacksonArcher, I'm going to read your response more carefully, but I want to first thank you for responding, and doing so with honestly and being thorough, but, more importantly, not taking anything I said as an attack on you or an insult. I love discussing films like this and I can see you do to, and I am glad that you can see that this was all I wanted out of my post: a real discussion!
No problem. I'll be the first to admit I can sometimes blindly follow Christopher Nolan (Don't take that the wrong way...) and I'm probably far more supportive of his films than critical. However, I love discussing films such as you do and that's all that really matters.
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Old August 4 2010, 07:18 AM   #457
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

No problem there. After all, I like some of the "worst" Rush songs out there because, well, I'm a huge fan of the band!
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Old August 4 2010, 07:32 AM   #458
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Hmm. Well, I don't know if I give every Nolan film a pass. To be completely honest with you, it took me some time to warm up to The Dark Knight, probably because it didn't have the emphasis on Bruce Wayne/Batman that I was expecting after Batman Begins. I love The Dark Knight, but after Wayne was the center of the story in Batman Begins it was somewhat disappointing to see him take a lesser role since The Dark Knight was much more of an ensemble film about The Joker, Harvey Dent, and Gotham City, and Batman only really played a part. However, after some introspection, I have come to realize that Batman did play a pivotal role, he just wasn't the emotional center of the film like I was hoping.
Something was lost when the film shifted gears (yes, I do consider Batman Begins and TDK to be one film split in two) from Wayne to the villains. You can see this in TDK in the reduction of the talk about how Batman is supposed to make villains afraid. Note that there is not a single "bat" in the film (it's the first of all six modern Batman films to not have one). However, the canvas of the story needed to expand. A few key lines of TDK connected it Batman Begins rather eloquently, particularly Wayne's somewhat misinformed opinion ("criminals aren't complicated, Alfred..." that's a great reference to the first film, doing exactly what a well done sequel should do when bringing up the original film).

As far Inception, I really liked Nolan's directing, and the broad canvass he paints on. He did such a good job. However, the plot with Cobb's wife was very odd. Some critics call it a subplot, but to examine the film it almost has to be the main plot, because it could be argued that this story is what the film is about. I don't know if that was intentional or not. In any case, I was puzzled by how detached I was. The performer who played Cobb's wife seemed to be taken out of a typical romance or a soap opera and somehow the emotion I was supposed to feel wasn't there, at least for me. In any case, this "emotional story" was not the most powerful thing in the film for me. Far more powerful was the notion that 1) ideas are like parasites, 2) the simpler ideas are what would work the best for inception (the best part of the plot about Cobb's wife was the idea that he had instilled into her- that concept was more interesting than the actual performance of this subplot/love story) 3) Fishr trying to reconcile with his father. Yes, I was far more entranced by this than the story of Cobb's wife. That's just me.

I can't be certain if Inception had too many rules or too few, but, as rigidly structured as it is, it seems to play fast and loose in its own universe. I wondered about the dreamboxes. Is this common equipment, or if not, how did Cobb procure the boxes? Why do they tap into a person's wrist and not their head/brain? Why is it that the projections of these boxes work as if they are real boxes?

Anyway, more to come...
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Old August 4 2010, 07:41 AM   #459
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Also, your enthusiasm for Nolan's mastery of his craft is nothing to be ashamed of. Not only because I share it, but because we are living in bleak times in term of cinema. Nolan's old school style is very reminiscent of Speilberg, Kubrick, and Hitchcock, but he definitely has a modern sensibility that is essential that is appropriate to the material. When I say that I won't give a Nolan film a pass because it simply is a Nolan film, it is because I am passionate about the content and style of his directing, and love to examine why, and in doing so I want to recognize what works and what does not work, just as I did in my examination of almost everything in Spielberg's millue.
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Old August 4 2010, 09:13 AM   #460
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
As far Inception, I really liked Nolan's directing, and the broad canvass he paints on. He did such a good job. However, the plot with Cobb's wife was very odd. Some critics call it a subplot, but to examine the film it almost has to be the main plot, because it could be argued that this story is what the film is about. I don't know if that was intentional or not. In any case, I was puzzled by how detached I was. The performer who played Cobb's wife seemed to be taken out of a typical romance or a soap opera and somehow the emotion I was supposed to feel wasn't there, at least for me.
I think the problem with the Mal character was that she wasn't a character at all. She was a projection of Cobb's sub-conscious, and as a result, was a part of Cobb himself. In certain scenes, such as ones deprived from Cobb's memory, she's basically the summation of Cobb's interpretation of Mal. The Mal he remembers. We always remember people very specifically. Since his memory of her was close to her death, it was a very specific memory.

We didn't get to see the Mal that Cobb first met and fell in love with, or the Mal who wasn't obsessed with the dream world. In that sense, she wasn't really a fully formed or even reliable character, but an intentional enigma that was a part of Cobb. Essentially, Cobb is his own enemy in the film.

As a consequence, Marion Cotillard had to give a very one-note and often one-dimensional performance.

I think the main plot of Cobb and his team trying to get inception by planting an idea in Fischer's mind is the plot of the film, but the real story and emotional through line of the film is Cobb's emotional turmoil. At the end of the film, Cobb achieves the same emotional catharsis that he and his team tries to do for Fischer. It doesn't matter whether or not he's in "reality". Fischer achieved the same catharsis in the dream state, so does it matter if Cobb achieved the same in the dream state as well? No, I do not think it does.

The film is essentially about overcoming grief. Cobb has to come to terms with his guilt over Mal's death, and Fischer has to overcome his grief over his father's death and never feeling loved. So in an essence both stories are intercorrelated and they intersect.

In any case, this "emotional story" was not the most powerful thing in the film for me. Far more powerful was the notion that 1) ideas are like parasites, 2) the simpler ideas are what would work the best for inception (the best part of the plot about Cobb's wife was the idea that he had instilled into her- that concept was more interesting than the actual performance of this subplot/love story) 3) Fishr trying to reconcile with his father. Yes, I was far more entranced by this than the story of Cobb's wife. That's just me.
I think ultimately Fischer's emotional catharsis could be more satisfying, but that is because in a sense Fischer's emotional state is the film's MacGuffin. His emotional catharsis is what the team is after, so instead of trying to obtain an object, they are trying to obtain an emotional response (which is another part of the film's brilliance in my opinion). Cobb's catharsis is probably the most earned, because we see his plight throughout the film and the lengths he'll go (by endangering the lives of himself and his team by narrowly, possibly escaping limbo) to achieve that.

I can't be certain if Inception had too many rules or too few, but, as rigidly structured as it is, it seems to play fast and loose in its own universe. I wondered about the dreamboxes. Is this common equipment, or if not, how did Cobb procure the boxes? Why do they tap into a person's wrist and not their head/brain? Why is it that the projections of these boxes work as if they are real boxes?
I think one of the best decisions Nolan made was to not indulge into the scientific nature of the dream machines. To get too bogged down in the analytical, scientific nature of that would detract from the real story. People complain that Nolan over-indulged in his Batman films by exploring every facet of Batman's origins and thus removing the mystique of the character; I think people would have complained had we known every single detail of the dream machines or how Cobb and his team were able to acquire them. I had those same questions too, but sometimes knowing more is not always necessarily better.
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Old August 4 2010, 09:38 AM   #461
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

I think one of the best decisions Nolan made was to not indulge into the scientific nature of the dream machines. To get too bogged down in the analytical, scientific nature of that would detract from the real story. People complain that Nolan over-indulged in his Batman films by exploring every facet of Batman's origins and thus removing the mystique of the character; I think people would have complained had we known every single detail of the dream machines or how Cobb and his team were able to acquire them. I had those same questions too, but sometimes knowing more is not always necessarily better.
I agree it's wise not to try to explain the "science" or the "technobabble" of these things. That said, they still have to be believeable, at least at a glance, and the questions of logic shouldn't come into play if these things are believable. No one questions Millennium Falcon's ability to be a space-faring vessel in spite of its condition- it just seems believable that it is. Or, for a more apt comparison, check TNG's Frame of Mind. There is a prop that is little more than a metal cylinder with a lit niche on it, and it serves as a device that will perform reflection therapy on Riker. Turns out it was not even real, but when it was on the screen I never doubted that it could do what the character said it could do. It scanned his head, and projected the images, and, what's more, it looked like a real, tangible machine. The dream boxes in Inception, with their "wrist" tap, and their awkward, yellow, plunger-like buttons, looked like toys to me.

By the way, Frame of Mind had a similar story to Inception, and, despite it's very limited time and budget, almost worked better. By having the play be confused with reality, and having both the entire thing set in an insane asylum really made the viewer question things!
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Old August 4 2010, 11:43 AM   #462
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

I had no problem with the dream machines. I thought they seemed practical. I have no idea why the strings attached to the wrists. Honestly, it was one of those things where I just suspended my disbelief and didn't pay it any attention. I mean, the devices allow you to share dreams, so that's all you needed to know. The machinations of it didn't really seem important to the plot.
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Old August 4 2010, 11:57 AM   #463
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Nolan chose to not explain how the PASIV device worked in the movie so I don't see why we would need to attempt to discuss how they worked. They were nothing more than a plot device in the first place, a cool one but a plot device.
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Old August 4 2010, 05:50 PM   #464
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

Ok, fine. But you really do need to know how it is that representations of them worked just as well as actual dreamboxes. To be clear, if I'm dreaming that I'm using a computer and am on Google, I'm not actually on Goodle
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Old August 4 2010, 06:10 PM   #465
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Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

But you think you are, and that's all that matters.

You need to stop thinking so literally and start thinking a little more abstractly.

"Dreaming" that you're using the machine in a dream sets up your subconscious to accept the fact that you're about to go into another realm, it allows the subconscious to deal with it without getting defensive about it and rejecting it. None of the dreamers in this film, or in reality, for that matter, control their subconscious. They have to do things to fool it into accepting certain parameters.
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