Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discussion

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Aragorn, Jul 15, 2010.

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Grading

  1. Excellent

    71.0%
  2. Above average

    23.7%
  3. Average

    3.6%
  4. Below average

    1.8%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
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  1. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Well, yes, but that's the leadup to Cobb's rejection of Mal for not being real enough. If he suddenly turns around and decides that he doesn't care, that erases all his character development over the film.
     
  2. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    The point is Cobb can be mistaken. He may desire to see the true world; but he can get in wrong - and in this case, his overpowering desire to see his children overrules the importance of reality.
     
  3. Dorian Thompson

    Dorian Thompson Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Cobb was still in a dream. He told dream Mal that he and she had grown old...spent fifty years down in limbo. We see a shot of two people with obviously aged hands walking hand in hand....yet.....when we see a shot of the train coming towards Mal to force her to wake up from their fifty year sojourn down under, she still looks young. The children? The film didn't shoot for long. How do you make two child actors look "a few months older" when they didn't age that much in real life? That didn't bother me. Had Cobb been away from his children 4 or 5 years you could change the actors, but he wasn't.

    Who knows? In reality, Mal, who had jumped off the ledge, might be somewhere desperately willing Cobb to wake up and come back to her in the real world.
     
  4. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    The credits had two pairs of children cast, two years apart in age. We'll probably have to wait for the DVD to do a detailed comparison and figure out if the children at the end were older than the ones in the flashbacks, or the ones in the beach flashback were younger than the ones in the escape flashback, or if it was the same ones throughout and the older kids were only used over the phone at the beginning of the movie.
     
  5. The Evil Dead

    The Evil Dead Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I agree with this. There's no argument one way or the other that I think can make a definitive case. There's great evidence for both interpretations, it's up to you to decide.
     
  6. Huh?

    Huh? Ensign Newbie

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    That's been on my mind too, but I think the train scene was one level up from limbo. Recall that Cobb explains at one point that they'd been going very very deep, but he doesn't say how many levels. Possibly another clue that the top level of the entire film is a dream.

    For me the film is far less deserving of praise, other than as a simple shoot-'em-up, if it is not all a dream (or if at the very least the ending is not a dream).


    A few months or years is hard to tell either way on kids.

    They were in the same spot, moving the exact same way, with the same weather, clothes, & hairstyle as he remembers. Pretty strong hints.

    If that wasn't a deliberate attempt to convey something, then it's really sloppy. There wasn't even any need for the kids to be in the final scene, or to make it ambiguous if/how he gets out of limbo. The top is among many deliberately ambiguous things, or things that strongly suggest he never awakens.
     
  7. T'Baio

    T'Baio Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I think Inception might have the same "problem" that Blade Runner has. Although, knowing how much a fan of Blade Runner Nolan is, perhaps it's on purpose.

    Blade Runner is ostensibly about loss of humanity, and that Roy Batty, a replicant, can feel and love life more than a human. But if the "twist" of it all is that Deckerd is a replicant himself, it kind of robs the movie of thematic weight for a satirically dark twist.

    Throughout Inception, even to the very end, seemed to me to be about the process of learning to let go, of the past and of our fantasies that we think we require to survive to find the joy we have in the here and now. This seemed to be Cobb's arc. But if the intention at the end is that Cobb is still in a dream world, it robs the film of its thematic weight, again, for the dark, pessimistic twist.

    Upon the end of the film, I felt the character had completed his arc, and learned to let go of his emotions and fantasies of the past so that he could be mentally healthy and enjoy the reality of today. I never even thought that anything else happened, that feeling upon the ending is what felt natural and right to me. Once I started thinking that in the end Cobb was still dreaming, the film becomes weightless (pun not intended) to me, and merely an exercise in entertainment.
     
  8. The Evil Dead

    The Evil Dead Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    ^
    I agree, I actually think I'd love the movie a whole lot more if we got that extra second of the totem toppling and then cut to black. I know I wanted it to topple over.
     
  9. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Yeah, that final shot was a bit of a turkey slap.

    But it didn't ruin the movie for me, or anything. I got the impression it was all in good fun.
     
  10. T'Baio

    T'Baio Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Yeah, I think the film would feel complete and far more meaningful if we saw the totem topple.

    Without it, the movie ends with a "ahh, Nolan you clever asshole" instead of a genuine emotional catharsis. The movie ends up being "cool weightless hallway fight" and less "that moved me."
     
  11. Kolrad

    Kolrad Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    Nah; I thought it was a good choice to do the final shot the way they did. The point I got was that Cobb has finally settled the question that had been plaguing him-- "What is real?"-- and has chosen to live.

    The point of the final shot was to turn and ask the same question of the audience.
     
  12. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    I agree with you on that, and my takeaway from Blade Runner has always been that Deckard is human, but all the clues that he was a replicant are there just to underscore how human replicants were. It's not just that the robots were starting to think they were human, the humans were starting to wonder if they were robots.

    So mapping that to Inception, it means Cobb had woken up, but he'd gotten so lost between dream and reality that it almost couldn't matter. He ended up with the same outlook Mal had before he planted the idea in her head that she was dreaming, where she wouldn't and couldn't care what was objectively real anymore, and all she could appreciate was the reality she was in at that moment. He was just lucky enough to end up on the correct side of the veil.
     
  13. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    As to the two sets of child actors, whose to say Cobb didn't simply them being older in his dream? I don't think we can necessarily draw any firm conclusions just from that piece of info.

    Well yeah, but an ending like this is kind of MEANT to hit you in the gut, and be a bit haunting and tragic.

    To me, that's much more powerful and thought-provoking than if he had simply gone off and lived happily ever after with his kids in the real world. The simple fact that we want that future for him means the movie has done it's job and made us care that much.

    And in the end, maybe it's enough that he does get to at least see his children's faces again. He certainly seemed happy enough.
     
  14. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    ^
    Because it's not simply a dream. To be exact, it's a memory. It's how his kids looked when he was taken away.

    A thought about 'growing old', and yet dying as young people:

    It's a dream. Age is, I suppose, relative.

    It's toying with us, but this is a Nolan movie. Puzzles are just as important as drama; considering the somewhat cool, distant (and convoluted) film The Prestige.

    That said, that Cobb continues to dream is far more satisfying to me. He lets go... he slips up. He's human and it's over. Cobb working out his problems has less heft to me, it would make the ending far altogether too tidy (if this is the real world; then the moment with the children is painfully on the nose.)

    So yeah, while I think it continuing to be a dream makes more sense I'll also concede that's the far more emotionally satisfying answer for me.
     
  15. T'Baio

    T'Baio Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    This will probably be one of those things where it'll just be a simple disagreement, but...

    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. Like I said, at the end of the film, I snickered at the cut to black, but felt the only possible resolution was that Cobb was back to reality, because that's what felt right to me. It wasn't until afterwards I started considering the thought that it might all be a dream, and thought if it was, at least it had a pretty fight scene and I was entertained. I felt the film was pretty standard in the way it flowed and in the way it told its story and that it was pretty conventional filmmaking. What makes it stand out is its exceptional ideas and plot contrivances to tell an extremely literate and intelligent story.

    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."
     
  16. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    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.
     
  17. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    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. ;)
     
  18. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  19. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Inception (Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio) Grading & Discuss

    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).
     
  20. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.