Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘the lady or the tiger

‘Inception’

with 12 comments

Very quickly, and with spoilers: I’ve been informed that my quick take on Inception’s dream-infiltration as an allegory for film creation—both dreams and films starting in medias res and employing cuts to obscure origins and transitions, both building small but deceptively complex conceptual mazes into which the viewer can pour her secret desires and emotional investments, both organized fundamentally around willed suspension of disbelief and slight-of-hand—has already been taken up by io9 and CHUD. This is what I get for going on vacation!

Most of the other Internet criticism I’ve been reading has been preoccupied with the problem of the ending, particularly whether it “means” the one thing or the other—which of course is about as useful as trying to “prove” it was the lady and not the tiger. The audacious-but-predictable refusal to show the final orientation of the spinning top, which in my theater as in most was greeted with gasps, groans, and happy nervous laughter, isn’t some puzzle to be solved: it’s just the exclamation point for the allegory. The same goes for any of the rest of the film’s many plot holes, inconsistencies, and mild surrealities. Of course none of it makes any sense; it was just a film, it was just a dream.

The stronger criticism, I think, has to do with the utterly mundane nature of the dreamworlds themselves; why, in an age of almost limitless directorial power, do Nolan’s characters dream solely in action-film clichés? In another director’s hands—perhaps in the hands of the young Ridley Scott, for whom the premise seems to call out—Inception might have been a masterpiece; here, it’s merely a very enjoyable spectacle, maybe even the best film of a not-great year for film, but far too impressed with its own limited gimmicks and possessing a startlingly small vision for what either films or dreams might achieve.