Sunday, July 18, 2010


If ever a movie challenged the viewer's Negative Capability, I nominate Christopher Nolan's Inception. Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey never "explained" the monolith, and Nolan's film gives a nod to Kubrick in the dying patriarch's bedroom scene (among others). What Nolan offers us in Inception, though, is an entire film that is a question, that asks us to relinquish certainty about dream vs. reality. That doesn't sit well with some moviegoers. Check out the anxiety underlying the comments in the thread below (caution: ending spoilers!):

For me, the beauty of the film is that it engages us via mimesis: it invites us to surrender ourselves to the action, to suspend our questioning, and roll (or spin) with it as we would a dream. Yes, it takes a while to engage; yes, there's quite a bit of clunky exposition; however, before halfway through, you're on for the stunning ride.

I loved all the movie tropes, like archetypes in dreams: the one last job, the quest to return home; the femme fatale; the motley crew. I appreciated all the film "fathers" invoked: The Matrix, the Bond films, Coma, Thief, and, from what I've heard, Last Year at Marienbad (which will be in my Netflix queue).

And at the end of Inception, you get up from your seat a little shaky, a bit disoriented, and the ArcLight staff are asking moviegoers as they leave, "Are you all right? Do you know whether you're dreaming or not?" And you laugh with slight unease and go off with your friends to the bar for a drink so you can talk about this experience you just shared with them and a couple of hundred rapt others. This is why we go to the movies.

1 comment:

  1. Finally I was able to read your entry. I bookmarked it in my head as a "Need to return to" item. Did NOT want to read it before I saw the film as I purposely was avoiding reading anything about it. What a film! Holy cow. We just got back and it really blew me away. That is definitely a movie you could see 4 times and walk away with more upon each viewing. Talk about Negative Capability indeed. There is always the temptation to try to unravel the confusing bit as you're in the midst of it whether because of the fear of deepening confusion if I don't address this NOW or a kind of peer pressure, 'Hm, I wonder if I'm the only one who's not quite sure where we actually are right now." But the relief of giving over, of just going along for the ride with the confidence that it will all make sense when it's supposed to, sure is just that...a relief. I so enjoyed this film. The Edith Piaf song "Non Je ne regrette pas rien"...'I regret nothing' was so perfect thematically and musically. I wondered if the choice of the song was a nod to Marion Cotillard who played Piaf in that bio-pic but decided no, the song was too integral to the plot and theme that it must have just been a coincidence. But are there really any coincidences? Loved it. I wish I could spend the day in the brain of Christopher Nolan. I suppose I just spend 2 and a half hours there.