Holy smokes! Now THAT is how you make a summer movie. What a fun time I had watching this thing! Sure, there were some plot loopholes, as one might expect from a movie about shared dream-state espionage. (“What do you mean, the logic wasn’t airtight every single step of the way? Wasn’t it a movie about shared dream-state espionage?”) And I also had a really big problem with Leonardo DiCaprio’s dream elevator. Your dream elevator is a piece of shit, dude! It’s a dream, you can have any kind of elevator you want in there. Get yourself a nice, functional, reliable dream elevator, not some rusted-out William S. Burroughs heading upstairs to shoot his wife death trap. But, Leonardo DiCaprio’s piece of shit dream elevator aside, this was a real treat, from beginning to end. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great in it, if you can believe that. And I didn’t even mind Ellen Page. Wowwowowow. It was the first time in a couple of years (YEARS!) that I have had such fun just watching a movie. Yay!

Not that everyone agrees. My friend Rich FourFour, for example, hated it. Whoa. Whuuuuut?! And so, please lie down somewhere soft and enjoy this SHARED CHAT-STATE about Inception:

Gabe: OK, so, inception, i loved it! you hated it!
Rich: Hated! I’m dumbfounded at the rapturous response. I feel like maybe I didn’t get it? I have to be missing something.
Gabe: i will say that my love of it is pretty base and simplistic? i loved it? i loved watching it? the end? it’s not an impressive reaction or very complicated.
Rich: I guess what bugged me most was how arbitrary everything seemed.
Gabe: it was flawed, as is everything
Gabe: the ending was very College Junior Film Student who just read a bunch of O. Henry stories
Rich: Ha! At best.
Rich: That’s the thing about dream logic: it’s fundamentally paradoxical, so you can just make things up as they go along.
Gabe: i give this movie a lot of credit in that regard, because at one point when Leo’s teaching ellen page how to build dreams, he explains that you can’t change too much too quickly or the person realizes they’re dreaming, which is a relatively sophisticated narrative rule to give yourself. i could have easily seen them dreaming deus ex machinas all over the place, which would have REALLY been annoying. it was arbitrary, yes, but once the arbitrary thing was selected, they stuck with it. which i think is about as much as you could expect from a movie about dream manipulation.
Rich: I was impressed that Nolan worked with the idea of creating and perceiving simultaneously, because that is exactly what happens when you dream. But then there was, “But there’s something you still don’t know about inception!” and “Oh, well, this is different because of all the layers so: LIMBO.” And it was just like…OK?
Gabe: But that was just raising the stakes, because as soon as they enter this big job
if they can just get killed and wake up then who cares?
Rich: I mean, I still felt like who cares, since the finality of limbo was ambiguous anyway AS IT’S LIMBO. There are worse things than limbo, by definition.
Gabe: It was a tricky moment, i will give you that. Constantly changing the rules is pretty standard in sci-fi stuff, and it’s always annoying
Rich: Yes, and that’s kind of why I’m surprised by the response, because Inception ultimately doesn’t transcend.
Gabe: Transcend what?
Rich: The genre’s conventions. I feel like people want this to be a GREAT FILM and it isn’t. Hated the script. Ahem. Ariadne: Are those projections part of his subconscious? Cobb: Yes. Ariadne: Are you destroying those parts of his mind? Cobb: No, they’re just projections.
Gabe: Haha.
Rich: “Mal is bursting through your subconscious!”
Gabe: the line of dialog that actually made me laugh the hardest was at the beginning: “What don’t you want me to know, that you’re trying to steal my secrets, or that we are still DREAMING” or whatever it was. I also did not like when joseph gordon-levitt was like, “paradox!” when he threw the guy off the hotel stairs. come on joseph gordon-levitt, back to work. you have things to do! here comes the kick!
Rich: And what about the safe symbolism? A SAFE? A SAFE HOLDS THE SECRETS?!? I found the constant abstraction/literalism binding really jarring.
Gabe: The thing is, getting the actual secret was the least of the pleasures the movie had to offer. i did not care whether or not they got the secret. so sure, put it in a mind-safe. i’m still busy thinking about the HALLWAY FLOATING FIGHT SCENE.

Rich: OK, I have a question about that, too: they’re falling off a bridge in the layer above it, so their weightlessness means he’s floating in that layer.
Gabe: right, and so is your question why aren’t they falling in the third layer?
Rich: Yes! They aren’t affected at all.
Gabe: i’m sure that is a logic loophole to be upset about if you want, but a) supposedly everything is less/reduced/slower in the next layer, and b) each layer needed its own kick. so, one could argue that one kick only effects the layer below it?
Rich: I don’t want to be upset. I just can’t be bothered to care about something that doesn’t care about itself enough to make sense in its own constructed reality. And don’t even get me started on the slow mo of the van being way too fast…
Gabe: All of your issues re: dream-safes and falling and floating and time: THIS IS AN ACTION-ADVENTURE MOVIE ABOUT DREAM MANIPULATION. i mean, i’m not saying that it is excluded from criticism (obviously), i’m just saying that it is like time travel movies: a nonsense concept that falls apart as soon as you start thinking about it at all.
Rich: It really does want to make itself plausible, though. I’m trying to go by its intentions.
Gabe: i didn’t feel that way. i really didn’t feel like this movie was trying to prove any point about dreams or anything. it just used this loose sci-fi-y concept to make something that was VERY VERY fun to watch.
Rich: If it had nothing to say/prove there would be no explanation re: the nature of dreams and that creating/perceiving reality thing that I mentioned. There’d be no need for the attempt at gravitas that the Mal subplot provided. But you know what was really disappointing? Everything worked out the way they thought it would. They said, “We’ll get him to think his father wants him to do his own thing,” they did and it worked. Really? You know him like that?
Gabe: As far as the issue of how come cillian murphy’s character was not more complicated in the dream world, and did not throw up more psychological obstacles…
Rich: He was an open book that merely needed some filling in.
Gabe: …i will just point out that we are, again, talking about a 2.5 hour movie that already has its work cut out for it even explaining what the fuck it is about
Rich: You shouldn’t tell a story if you can’t.
Gabe: but as soon as you accept the idea that people can actually go into a shared dream state that they designed themselves, which i would understand not being willing to accept, but if you ARE, then saying “cillian murphy was an open book in the pre-fabricated shared dream that five people entered in order to plant an idea in his secret mind-safe”
Gabe: i mean, who knows what someone’s psychology is in this nonsense thing that hollywood made up
Gabe: and again, i totally understand how those things might be bothersome, but i actually had the out loud (in my head) thought, “this is the most fun i have had at a movie in years, and i am really enjoying myself.”
Rich: I understand and embrace the fact that sci fi requires the suspension of disbelief.
Gabe: it requires a lot of it, and if it is done well, it is clever in sort of closing off the obvious questions (i.e. time travel is already ridiculous, so time travel paradoxes are also ridiculous), and when Inception didn’t it was so visually arresting and exciting to watch that who cares (you) (you care).
Rich: I did NOT find it visually arresting. I was disappointed by how drab and unimaginative everything looked. I blame the flatness of Ellen Page’s hair and osmosis. There’s plenty of sci-fi with big ideas to get used to that I enjoy, but the holes were too great here and, again, everything falling into place aside from a hiccup or two killed the suspense for me. “I really hope Mal doesn’t find her way through the ducts!” Oh look, there’s Mal…coming out of a duct…
Gabe: well, all the foreshadowing was pretty thick
Rich: Yes! OK, and Mal/the love theme: You were supposed to take that with as much suspension of disbelief as the sci fi stuff. What a shell of a cliche of a bond that we were presented! Has Nolan ever done love well?
Gabe: Mal was my least favorite part of the movie
Rich: Ugh! First of all, Marion Cotillard was atrocious.
Gabe: yes i have no defense for Mal.
Rich: OK I accept that. Because she is indefensible.
Gabe: i mean, on top of her character being thin and mildly insufferable and not finding Cotillard attractive, which is kind of key as the romantic/sexual object of a movie, and also the logic of her not making sense, i do not care about love plotlines. i dont’ care whether or not two make believe characters are make believe reunited to continue their make believe relationship. i’m an adult now and i know what adult love looks like and i have no patience or time for make believe love. that being said, i love romantic comedies? i contain boring multitudes.
Rich: But isn’t the love thing set up to be the crux of this movie? Like, isn’t that Leo’s big job? Not incepting but, getting over the past?
Gabe: i think that the love thing is set to be the crux of this movie, but it is easy to not allow it to be? i never liked Mal and did not give a shit about what happened to her and did not give a shit about what happened to leonardo dicaprio. i hope he spends all of eternity rotting in his dreamscape beach. who cares?
Rich: Haha, stupid height-patterned skyscrapers. “She had herself declared sane by three different psychologists. That made it impossible for me to describe the nature of her madness.”
Gabe: hahahha
Gabe: also, why did they have to lay their heads on train tracks: “there’s got to be an easier way!” That is my dream infomercial for them about killing themselves: “trains trains trains, there’s got to be a better way!”

Rich: Maybe Inception is STILL HAPPENING.
Gabe: well, the ending was ambiguous, obviously
Rich: In the worst way!
Gabe: i’m very sympathetic to endings, which is not to say that i will not get so mad at them. if i have had a really good time for almost all of something, i will cut the ending some slack.
Rich: Sure. But really, the way it was cut was just short of Nolan coming on and winking into the camera.
Gabe: i mean, the ending was really for dummies
Rich: Tops for Dummies.
Gabe: it was for dummies to be like “oh my god, what happened? IS HE IN A DREAM OR ISN’T HE I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!” Throughout, there were so many people in my movie theater who were shouting “WHAT?!” out loud
Rich: Oh god.
Gabe: and the movie really wasn’t that hard to follow at all. it was pretty clear what was going on at all times. but my point is making a movie that is somewhat complicated both understandable for dummies and still enjoyable for non-dummies is a nearly impossible task. and personally, i think he succeeded very well.
Rich: I just think that’s a dumb thing to set out to do in the first place.
Gabe: oh, i don’t know, i don’t know if i agree with that at all. every time someone makes a thing that appeals to the dummies and also appeals to the smarts it helps the smarts because the dummies are more willing to try smart stuff. it’s a victory.
Rich: Inception is activism, really, is what it is.
Gabe: well, i do think you are making a disingenuous argument
Rich: Where?
Gabe: i do not believe that you have such a strong belief in the sharp division
between smart and dumb entertainment
Rich: Well…
Gabe: i mean, you are teasing me with the “activism” line, but i do believe that the world becomes a better place if people can slip smart stuff under the dumb radar and while this movie had lots of dumb stuff in it, in terms of narrative construction it was smart. this movie is not going to change the world. Paul Fart Mall Fart 2 comes out next year as planned
Rich: I don’t believe in rejecting dumb things because they are dumb and embracing smart things just because they are smart. But I also don’t like things that try to have it all ways or that are trying to be something they aren’t. it just seems pretentious to me. And I hate that kind of pretension, regardless of its IQ. Also, I don’t agree that this was particularly smart.
Gabe: perhaps in this instance you would prefer the word “sophisticated”? because no matter what, this movie’s construction is VERY sophisticated.
Rich: Sure. I will give you that. Impressive construction, with dubious structural soundness.
Gabe: in many ways, for me, this comes down to a “did you like watching it” argument, which is very much an intractable stand-off. my enjoyment of it was genuinely in the moment of watching it. i’ve thought about it a lot over the weekend and i don’t care about what happened? it didn’t leave me with any interesting ideas and yet at the time that i was watching, it did that special movie thing.
Rich: And THAT’S what a summer blockbuster is all about.
Gabe: but i’m super sorry for you, and i feel BAD for you, that it didn’t happen. i pity you.
Rich: I think I’m coping well. I’m glad we had this discussion, because I feel more justified. That’s not to say that I think you didn’t support your points. I just don’t feel like I missed something now. You pinched me and I wasn’t dreaming. The end.
Gabe: Or is it?

Team Jacob!

Comments (305)
  1. Wow, Inception! I saw it on DVD. I liked it. Morgan Freeman was just uncanny as Nelson Mandela.

  2. Ellen Page was dreamy.

  3. I absolutely loved it because of the complexity of the story. People want to scream and say the movie had plot holes when in actuality it’s probably just an aspect of the film they didn’t understand.

    • That’s really not fair. It’s a condescending and dismissive argument to say that the only reason someone doesn’t like something is because they didn’t understand it. And it also suggests that only people who really “get it” like it, which is equally false. I’m sure lots of people loved this movie who were confused by most of it, just as plenty of people surely disliked it and knew exactly what was going on the whole time.

      Also, who is screaming?

      • I said when people talk about plot holes. I did not say if someone doesn’t understand it. I said it seems when people say there is a plot hole, it is because that was one aspect of the film they didn’t understand. I’m talking plot holes, you are assuming I meant something else.

      • Gabe, You totally don’t get how great Boondock Saints is. My roommate in baby college had a poster on his wall and forced me to watch it no less than twelve times, you wouldn’t understand.

        • Ughh. I’m sorry NSF, you’re funny sometimes, but comments like these largely contribute to the feeling that you and the other regulars are too-cool-for-baby-school or whatever and we’re just not on your level. I (kinda) liked Boondock Saints and I think The Town looks pretty damn good – sorry that I don’t always agree with Gabe and the VG superbrain. I get what Indie is saying and I also think Gabe is understating the ending, but it either way it was a well executed movie and very enjoyable.

          • Hartford, you took the baby words out of my baby mouth. Agree wholeheartedly. Boondocks was fun, and I’m a gun enthusiast who Open Carries and it was great to see Beretta’s and Magnum Researches and Walthers, etc. in a great and exciting way.

      • your avatar is.

      • What do you mean “even Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great in it” – Haven’t you seen Brick, and he was good in The Lookout, even though that movie wasn’t so hot, just don’t watch Mysterious Skin, ever.

        • I actually cheered (I didn’t cheer) when I read that comment from Gabe. I don’t get the JG-L thing, but in this film, he was really good. The part was also a great part, but he didn’t do any of his usual smug mugging of the camera, or his cool-guy posturing. And I don’t like Ellen Page either, but she was good too! Good job, Director Chris Nolan, you directed these actors very professionally! I loved “Inception.”

          So whose dream is Leo in at the end? He said that spinning top totem was Mal’s, and in her dreams, it never stopped spinning. In his own dreams, he knows that it will stop, but it didn’t. Answers on a postcard, usual address, a fiver for the winner.

      • Ken Watanabe is screaming, AND I CAN’T UNDERSTAND A WORD HE’S SAYING!!!

    • Too many people I know casually have taken the opportunity of Inception to essentially assert their sophistication and ability to enjoy things on some other level than most people. Like “I was the only person in my theater who got it/saw the plot holes.” I’m pretty sure everyone in my theater understood the movie and enjoyed it. We’re all pretty smart! Good for all of us!

    • I actually felt the movie was TOO easy to understand. Nothing surprised me or shocked me. It was visually stunning, and I thought everyone did a great job (even Marion!), but I thought it was very run-of-the-mill in terms of story.

      The concept was intriguing, but I didn’t see them go anywhere new or exciting with it.

      • I agree so much! The plot was missing tension. Worst case scenario, you don’t rob one evil corporation to help another corporation and/or you get stuck in dream land with your attractive ex-wife. Boo hoo.

        • woozefa  |   Posted on Jul 21st, 2010 +6

          correction: DEAD wife. so, technically, i guess just like a dead parrot, she IS an ex. but the ‘ex’ connotation normally assumes she’s still alive and they’re divorced. however. she’s dead.

          or IS she???

      • Don’t you mean ‘conception’?

  4. I have a couple of small problems, it felt overlong, probably due to the third act taking up too large a proprotion of the film, and too much of that was action for a film that seemed to be billed everywhere as the saviour of intelligent blockbusters. And it doesn’t really do anything that Philip K Dick hasn’t done before, better.

    However, I loved pretty much everything else. Even the ambiguous ending, I loved how it instantly inspired debate, and it also made the viewer look back on the rest of the film and consider whether there was any proof for or against the ending being a dream.

    I particularly enjoyed the Paris scene where Cobb teaches Ariadne how to be an architect. When he mentioned to her to never use memories and also create new scenes, it took me right back to when I was being taught dreamscape architecture in school by Mr Baldwin.

    Elaborate pun set-ups for the win

    • Accidentally hit “down vote” instead of “up vote.” Sorry, stupid mouse!
      ***GABE: if Capu Flapu gets close to the Ball, you have to add this as an UPVOTE please.

  5. Saw it thrice this weekend, each time was better than the last.

  6. The best thing that happened in my theater that night wasn’t inception. Even though I loved it. The trailer for some generic horror movie set in an elevator came on, and at about a minute in, giant red letters read: “From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” At this precise moment the entire theater let out a collective disgusted groan. Then half of us laughed knowing his career is over. It was magical.

    • I love that this seemed to happen everywhere!

      • We didn’t get that trailer in our theater, (un?)fortunately. We just got the trailer for Dame Ben Affleck’s “The Town”, which my friend rightfully described as “‘Heat’ + Dumb”

    • YES! This happened to my theater and I felt for a second that the people were realizing they had been living IN THE MATRIX, I thought we were on the precipice of an age of cinematic enlightenment and that the pablum that is shoveled into the masses’ gullets would no longer be acceptable to John Q. Public.

      …And then The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was #3 at the box office.

    • When his name appeared, half of my theatre began to boo, then the other half started laughing and clapping in support of the booing.

      And I went home and wrote in my journal “today was a perfect day”

    • Not to nitpick you guys, but The Last Airbender isn’t exactly a failure financially (though some have called it a crime against art). It has almost recouped its production budget costs domestically, and it hasn’t even opened widely in the overseas market. My guess is the film will be profitable in the long run.

      Sad to say, but Shyamalan will continue to make films, im-probably.

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Don’t forget, it’s not a 1:1 ratio. If the studio says the budget was $130 million, first, you have to believe it actually a bit more – call it $150M. Then, the box office receipts do not go to the studio that made the movie. Box office receipts are shared between the distributors, the exhibitors (movie houses), and the studio. If the “stars” of the film have “first dollar participation,” it means they get a percentage right off the bat. So a M. Night movie would work this way:

        $150M budget (the studio is on the hook for this amount)

        $120M domestic box office =
        $60M for the distributors and exhibitors
        $55M for the studio
        $5M for M. Night’s first-dollar participation
        – $65M for the studio.

        This does not factor in the interest the studio is paying on the $150M they put up in the first place. The interest on this loan runs about $2M per month. So figure the film will have a 2 month theatrical run.

        – $65M + – $4M = – $69M. So the studio currently has lost $69,000,000 on this movie. When it opens overseas, the distribution patterns are similar. So if it makes $100M internationally, expect the studio to get about $35 – $40M of it. They recoup their money on TV licensing and home video and DVD/Blu-Ray sales.

        You can be sure they are not happy with this return, at any rate.

        • AND I forgot to factor in the ADVERTISING budget. They advertised the hell out of this movie. They probably spent about $30M on ads. That goes in the studio’s column, although it can be spread with the distributors.

          For reference, “Pearl Harbor” is a good example of how the dollars disappear. That movie cost $130M to make, but they spent $45M on advertising. By the time they pulled it from theaters the cost to the studio was about $180M.

  7. Best parts of my Inception experience (not including the power going out HALFWAY through the movie):

    The collective groan when M. Night Shyamalan name was shown during the Devil trailer.
    The epic hallway fighting scene.


    • I knew there were things about the movie that I would instantly forget/not care about/complain about, but the goddamn hallway scenes were THE BEST. I totally felt about those how Gabe felt about the movie.

      “I am really enjoying this. 3rd Rock From The Sun.” -my brain

  8. Anyone else notice that Nolan has a thing for dead wives, Memento The Prestige and Inception all had dead wives

    • And The Dark Knight had a dead potentially future-wife. SPOILER ALERT.

    • Anyone else notice that Leo DiCaprio has a thing for movies with problematic marriages?

      • Yeah this was a little 2 Shutter 2 Island I thought. I wonder if I’d feel that way if it wasn’t Leo in both roles.

        • I liked Shutter Island, but I kind of found myself wishing I hadn’t seen it when I was sitting in the theater for Inception, you know? Thematic similarities were slight, but not slight enough.

          • Felt the same way about the character similarities. It was difficult not to compare them, and I admit that ruined the movie-going experience a teeny-tiny bit (though not enough to ruin Inception overall). It’s something I’m willing to forgive, as long as Leo doesn’t immediately go out and play the same character again.

  9. Gabe not finding Cotillard attractive = gay

  10. They are not falling in layer three because layer two is taking place in Arthur’s dream. Layer three is Eames’ dream within Arthur’s. Arthur is fully aware, in Layer Two, of the gravity shifts and the most that would happen to Eames’ Layer Three would be some rumblings. But the time differential would make those minute in comparison to what Arthur is experiencing in Layer Two directly below Layer One.

  11. Inception II will star Paul Giamatti in a red and black striped sweater, fedora and lots of subtle gay references

  12. Nolan’s already working on a sequel at this point. It’s called “Conception” as is about Leo and Co. going into sexual fantasies and ruining them with notions of having a child.

  13. Today, a girl that I’ve been kind of crushing on told me she didn’t like Inception.

    Crush over.

  14. To reduce the ending to some “gotcha”, O. Henry-lite bullshit is just ridiculous. Sure, on one level, the audience is supposed to be all “OMG is this a dream too?”, but it works beautifully as a visual thematic indicator. That’s the primary function of the final shot. Of course we’re supposed to question whether there’s one more dream-level, but the point isn’t to know the actual reality of the film’s world. The point is that we never know. That’s one of the main thematic threads running throughout the film and I think the ending is a perfect summation of everything that came before. It’s an incredibly suspenseful moment, it’s open to interpretation, and it gently states that reality is vague, subjective concept.

    IMO, a perfect ending to a fantastic movie.

    • Couldn’t agree more!

    • What he said.

    • Having seen it three times now, I appreciate the ending more each time.

    • Righto.
      For me, the top was one of the most sci-fi elements of the movie, requiring the most suspension of disbelief; that there was this epistemological dowsing rod that could tell you whether you are perceiving Reality. And it was just such a perfect symbol for the sophisticated Cartesian skepticism that underlay the film.

    • Exactly. Everything you just said corroborates why i believe the ending of the movie is apparent, despite the ostensible ambiguous thread they left ending (kind of like The Sopranos ending). While I do admit that there is an equal amount of compelling evidence for both sides (dream v. reality), the last shot of the film, to me at least, was nothing more but a visual signifier for the thematic conceit of the movie. Nolan has always had a knack for questioning the parameters of reality by constantly challenging his characters (and thus the audience) to question what is real and what isn’t. The purpose of the totem spinning is to help illustrate that idea, but this is not to say that it fails to have subsidiary purposes (the main one being to make the audience think about everything they just saw). Lastly, on a more personal note, I’d like to believe that Cobb gets his happy ending, which puts everything I just wrote in risk of motivated reasoning. Wouldn’t it be nice though if Nolan finally gave one of his characters a happy ending?

      • I agree with this statement wholeheartedly but, I also wish that in a movie like this, that a director would just pick one side. Just once, I’d like to know what was real and what wasn’t. even if it had just shown the top not fall over, it wouldn’t have ruined the ending for me. It would sort of give it a haunting kind of vibe, that all of that emotional investment and depth and growth is just some fantasy. And then after that one movie, we can go back to the is it / isn’t it endings.

        • They DID show the top not falling over. If we assume that the totem shit works the way they say it does, then the top falling over confirms that you’re in reality. It’s tougher to confirm that you’re dreaming, because the top could just be spinning for a long time, right? How long would the final shot have to be held in order to definitively confirm that the top isn’t going to fall?

      • Nope, sorry. It was all a dream. Mal never died. When she jumped from the window she woke up and spent the movie trying to get Cobb to awaken. The team was Cobb’s defensive projections. The totem was not Cobb’s, it was hers. The inception was planting the idea in Cobb’s mind that he was still in a dream. But it didn’t work. That’s why the kids are dressed exactly the same in the same position on the lawn when he comes home.

        • There’s an awful lot of assumptions in this premise and much of it derives from purely looking at the polar opposite of what the ostensible outcome is (or could be). I don’t disagree. As I said, there are, on both sides, equally compelling arguments (for one, the kids in the same pose/clothes and his ability to see their faces for the first time due to his triumph over his long-lasting guilt), but I don’t think there was enough empirical evidence throughout the flick to give credence to the idea that it was absolutely 100 percent a dream

        • Otto, nice — I just posted below (replying to Mr Plainview) before reading this post by you and now I see that we are on a similar track. One thing that interests me: the top totem is the only one that is visual — that anyone can hack, essentially. The rest are tactile (right? not sure about the weighted chesspiece that falls without bouncing). I am not sure where to take this information yet, but I think it matters.

        • Then how come Mal never appeared in Cobb’s top dream layer (which he perceived as his reality)?

    • Wish I read this before I posted. Completely agree.

    • I think you just liked it because Ellen Page’s chess piece brought back fond memories of chess games past. You can’t fool me, That One.

    • Also, if you want to think about Inception a little too much (this falls under “forcing dumb people to think”), here’s a couple good pieces about what exactly might be going on in the film. What does it meeeeaaannnn:



    • I agree. If the ending went on for about 35 more minutes, we would have been watching The Village. I liked it.

      I was kind of hoping, at the end, that his kids would eventually look at the camera and have no-mouthed, Twilight Zone faces or something, but you can’t always get what you want.

      • What would happen if you tried sometimes? What might you find?

        • You get what you, I guess, need? Which I thought the ending totally did — it’s a fictional story anyway, right, so what’s the point in wondering if the character is “really” happy or just dreaming that he finally is? Isn’t it enough for us just that he’s happy? I liked the ending. Just right. Huzzah.

          • I agree with you. My boyfriend and I discussed that point on the way home – that it doesn’t matter what the “reality” of a situation is; significant things (or people or events or anything) are significant no matter what realm they take place in.

          • “it’s a fictional story anyway, right, so what’s the point in wondering if the character is “really” happy or just dreaming that he finally is? Isn’t it enough for us just that he’s happy?”

            In this particular case, no, I don’t think it’s enough because we already know that it wouldn’t be enough for the character. His dream-wife asked him to stay there with her and their kids, but he refused, saying that those weren’t his kids and she wasn’t his wife, and they never could be.

            He could never be happy with the fake dream family, so the certainty of the ending is pretty important to the character. If he were actually still in the dream-world at the end, he would figure it out pretty quick and then get the hell out of there.

          • Okay Mr P, I see your point, but what if secretly (and I’m just spitballing here) the goal of the movie was not for Leonardo to incept an idea into Cillian Murphy’s head, but for someone else to incept an idea into Leonardo’s head, and the whole movie takes place in his dream? Then what we are seeing is him coming to some catharsis that he’s been set up for by someone else (Michael Caine? spitball… falling… apart…) and so when he tells his wife he has to leave her that’s been someone else’s goal all along, and Leonardo has finally been engineered into it. Or something (maybe shared dreaming itself is just part of a dream in which he is just coming to terms with something wife-related?). Ugh, I need to see this again. One thing that I noticed: his kids are the same age and wearing the same clothes as in his memory of them (right?). Which means — this is either just a dream, or that is a movie decision to make sure we as audience recognize them completely. But then it could also be both, because I think this movie is partly about how movies are shared dreams that follow certain constructs (starting in media res, sets that can be anything as long as it’s not too distracting, etc etc) and in that case then when the credits roll, that’s our kick out of the dream — not the kick that puts Leonardo back with his family. So meta… metaspitball. I will meta shut up now.

          • In reply to hotspur’s reply to himself, which I couldn’t reply to… it did look like the kids were exactly the same age, but if you watch the credits you’ll see that each kid was played by two actors (can you call kids that young actors?), for ages that were two years apart (for example, Phillipa (3 years) and Phillipa (5 years)).

    • I think I appreciated the ending a lot more after I read what Dileep Rao (Mr. Chemist) said about it in his (interesting and insightful) interview over at Vulture:

      “Everyone’s so concerned about whether the top falls or not, but no one seems to care that Leo walked away without caring. The moment he sees their face, he can walk away. That’s testimony to the fact that he’s gained that faith.” (Talking about the “leap of faith” theme that runs throughout.) That idea added such a beautiful cap on his character arc for me.


    • I thought the ending was great, too, but also very:

    • I agree with That One. And to those who say that the movie didn’t leave them with any interesting ideas afterwords I say “How could it not?”

    • “Larry Flynt is right!”

      That one Simpsons episode? Anyone?

  15. In terms of the above discussion, I’m totally on Gabe’s tip (no homo). Except I do find Marion Cotillard attractive (homo?).

  16. “Rich: The end.
    Gabe: Or is it?”

    What does it mean?!

  17. Gabe choosing to end the discussion with “Or is it?” captures my contempt for Inception so succinctly that I think I can finally shut up now.

  18. during the first 30 minutes or so of the movie the woman behind me kept asking her date what just happened, and then he’d very loudly explain.
    “it was a dream, but then he knew it was a dream. so now they’re all awake.” etc.
    they eventually got shushed into oblivion. i’d love to have talked to the woman afterward though. just to see how she dealt with the actual crazy stuff.

    • oh my GOD. I love when I have to listen to english-to-english translation in movie theaters.

    • You were probably sitting by my ex’s mother. That woman could not follow When Harry Met Sally. “Who are these interviews with? Are Harry and Sally dating now? They act like they’re dating but why are they saying he’s dating other girls? What other girls? Wait — I thought they were in college? Now where are they, Chicago?” She could not follow Jerry Maguire. “Is that character supposed to be his brother? They don’t look anything alike. They keep cutting to new scenes–what did he just say?” Every movie was a nigh-continuous list of the unanswerable riddles it presented. I can’t even imagine what Inception would do to her.

      • my mom has a slightly similar problem: she always asks me what’s going to happen in movies. usually in ones i haven’t seen before. “is he going to kill that guy? is he going to get caught?” i don’t know. “do you think then he’ll get away or be in jail?”

  19. It’s amazing how much anti gravity machine guns and a lack of Belle and Sebastian twee bullshit can do for Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ellen Page. All their future movies should take notes.

  20. I’ve gotta agree with Gabe. Awesome film that kind of falls apart if you think about it too much. The Mal subplot annoyed the hell out of me, honestly I wish that they had found a way to make her belief that the “reality” of the film was all still just a dream be more central to the film; when they slipped it in at the end when Leo confronts her in Limbo or whatever it was intriguing to hear her talk about it (essentially using the things that had happened to Leo throught the film as evidence that it was all a dream, how meta!), and it would’ve made that incredible final scene even more tense, but at that point in the film where so many things were happening, it was like, who cares? Ski chases! Zero-G fights! Slow mo van crash! Ken Watanabe, who needs to be in so many more movies! WHEEEE!

    Two other things that annoyed me: when imaginary Mal is all like “we were supposed to grow old together!” and Leo was like “but we did! you just don’t remember!” SO THEN WHY CAN’T YOU LET HER GO, YOU EMO ASSHOLE?!?! I feel like that literally came out of nowhere as just an excuse to wrap up that subplot. Also, when they all wake up on the plane and are like *smiling, knowing glance*, except for Cillian Murphy. He went through so much shit in dreamland, why wouldn’t he be like “I had a dream! And you were in it! And YOU were in it!” I guess maybe he really is that fucking dumb, or I dunno.

    Seriously though, aside from these issues, I loved it. It was consistently entertaining, well-acted, and of course those visuals! Mama mia pizzaria! (that’s just a normal thing I say all the time because I’m that normal). I award “Inception” five out of five internets!

    • Here’s the pro tip I would have given Mr. Nolan while he was writing:

      Don’t worry about Leo “inceptioning” Mal (which I thought was “Mol” the whole time, short for Molly… I guess I wouldn’t have been confused about that since Senor Nolan and I were writing the script together in this what if). Just give them 30 or 40 more years in limbo and one of them will get hungry or have to pee in reality. NBD. We can avoid the effects cost of a train in the city that way. Then, it can be about some badass, professional dream professionals doing professional stuff. Like the first Matrix.

  21. Inception was a double Marix all the way.

  22. I really wanted to love this movie. And I actually thought it was a really good action movie. But it didn’t say anything new, or even anything convincing, about the interplay between the conscious and unconscious, and it laid down so many rules for dream navigation that the dream sequences didn’t feel even remotely surreal. I really wanted them to feel dreamlike, but they were too coherent — they were basically action set-pieces with a couple laws of physics suspended. I don’t know. I don’t have Michael Bay dreams, maybe some people do.

    And I thought the characters were completely monochromatic, and what little non-expository dialogue they had was hopelessly awkward. And I was surprised about all this because I’m a fan of Nolan’s movies, especially The Prestige.

    But still, really good action movie!

    • I see what you’re saying but I didn’t go in with expectations for it to be “Dreams: The Movie”. It’s a big budget heist film that uses dreams as a plot device and on that level it exceeds. I’ll watch a David Lynch film if I want to see dream logic handled interestingly. Nolan has to straddle art as well as commerce, there’s a reason esoteric art films don’t make a billion dollars. Considering he’s still very much a Hollywood, big time director…I was impressed. I’ll take “Freud lite” or “Freud Who?” any day.

    • Yeah, this just about sums up my feelings about the film — I was really sad that a director with so much visual talent and such a huge budget didn’t take the opportunity to create really fantastic dreamscapes instead of FPS videogames (that snow level was really a LEVEL, if you know what I mean). The self-handicap Gabe mentions when Ariadne’s told she can’t mess with things too much I found to be a copout, letting the movie off the hook for looking just like all Nolan’s gritty neo-noir films. The action was good and there was lots of cleverness, but I felt like it lacked vision.

      • I see what you mean but the more I think about it, the more I think it actually is a pretty good match for my dreams. “Well, we were on a mountain in… Switzerland? And we had to ski and, uh, climb a cliff, to get into a cement fort. And there were guys on snow-Hummers–Hummers with tank treads!–shooting at us. And we had to turn back because of an avalanche, but then we realized we could go in an airduct, which was huge, we could just walk right in — when, and this is weird, but my ex-girlfriend from high school repelled in out of nowhere and killed the only guy who knew the combination to the safe we were supposed to get into. wtf, brain! Luckily it turned out the fort was kind of a hospital, so we stabilized the guy — then there were grenades and heroics and, uh, we got the safe open — and inside it wasn’t money, it was someone’s DAD, who wanted to tell us something important. And he gave us a pinwheel. Then there was a kick and I was late for work — it was SO COOL THOUGH. I doubt I am conveying the full totality of its coolness. I was basically James Bond. I guess with my ex as Blofeld? Or Oddjob. Oddjobs Galore. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE.” This is about right.

      • I understand that you’re not fulfilled by it, but “The action was good and there was lots of cleverness, but I felt like it lacked vision”? In a movie about shared-dream-state-espionage? Do you mean visual vision due to the gritty neo-noir style or actual conceptual vision?

    • “I’ve got some rules, too, and rule number one is, don’t tease the panther.” -Glenn Beck’s review of Inception

      • hey kajus every time people say that I think of this little number:

        Don’t caress the weasel and don’t fall too soon
        Don’t seek the blood from the panther
        Don’t take a trip to you soon
        I’m the one helding the time back from the sun
        As I scope the lobe

        I am the one who controls the sun
        And I know that things will pass as time elapse, lapses

        Time elapses through the sound of you
        And the things we could do
        Just think of the master
        Trying to fool the blastman
        Check the cards at the table
        Scream softly you are able

        To see the sign of thineself as throughout the ages of time
        Things you thought weren’t going to climb the mountain

        See the sun
        Touch the waves of the Earth
        Feel the grass softly
        And don’t think for the one you know
        I am screaming backwards in the sand

        Hey, dude, he’s the stallion
        Yo, dude, he’s the stallion
        Dude, he’s the stallion

    • I think the Hans Zimmer score had a lot to do with the movie experience.

  23. I have a big problem with the complaints about Mal. I don’t think the point was “Here’s an emotional love story to tie everything together. Please care what happens between them.” The point was more about convincing us that he was invested in her. It didn’t matter that we were as the audience, what mattered was that it seemed believable that he really cared about her and that that was a legitimate explanation for his behavior. Personally, I felt like that worked. I didn’t care at all about Mal, but DiCarprio’s caring for her felt believable to me, which made all the Mal sequences not insufferable. I don’t like the idea that everything in a movie should be about making us part of the movie. Sometimes we’re supposed to be outsiders and we don’t need to feel what the characters feel for each other.

    Also, I don’t see how you could’ve ended it any other way. I think the movie thrived on how ambiguous reality can feel (in the context of dreams). I think saying whether or not it was really a dream would’ve been cheap. Saying it was a dream would’ve come off as a weak pointless twist. And saying it wasn’t would’ve wrapped things up too smoothly. It didn’t feel to me like an Oh-shit-was-all-that-real type ending as much as an acknowledgment of what was being said throughout the entire movie about dreams.

    • To build on your point about Mal – the fact that she wasn’t a well-developed character is exactly what she and Cobb were talking about in their final scene together. We couldn’t see Mal as a complete character (or their love story as a complex or believable love story), because all we could see was Cobb’s memory/dream of her, which is by nature an incomplete picture. We never saw a living Mal. So how could we care about her in that way?

      And I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely woken up and been mad at my boyfriend for something he did in my dream. Or had a love dream about someone and felt all confused about how I really felt about them the next day. It’s a weird thing, how our dreams can leak into our waking life.

  24. My main feeling leaving the cinema was that I really did enjoy it, it’s a fantastic bit of cinema. The few problem’s I had with it though was that a lot of the film seemed to be laying out the intricate specifics of how all these things work but I couldn’t help thinking “what is the history of this thing that presumably CHANGED THE ENTIRE WORLD!” We’re just dropped in with no info on if everyone can do it or anything at all really. People can enter dreams, let’s move on and explain how they do it. And that was it. The second thing was that pretty much all the characters were fairly thin and unrounded, there was no background to most of them and the Leo ‘I just want my kids back.’ was quite a stock characterisation
    I mostly agree with Gabe though, that is a fun film to watch.

    • See, that’s what I LOVE about the film. They do not explain exactly what the technology is, leaving it shrouded in a little mystery purposely. It’s why I loved the Jedi and the Force so much as a kid and then Lucas deflated all the magic by giving us a “scientific” and specific definition of how the Force works, completely ruining it. The dream infiltration tech might not even exist anyway, if you choose to follow the “it’s all a dream” theorists, and the tech doesn’t even matter.

  25. I’m so Team Gabe on this one, both because I agree with him about the movie AND because he does all his blogging shirtless.

  26. I’m not so willing to say this movie had plot-holes. I mean, maybe I’m putting too much faith in Nolan, but I feel like after eight years of work he would have made sure everything worked correctly. I saw the movie twice on Friday and then spent a large amount of the weekend thinking about everything that seemed like a “plot-hole” (I have a lot of time to think at my job), and pretty much all of them I was able to explain without having to make large assumptions. The answers are pretty much all there in the movie, but some are rather subtle.

    Like the whole “why wasn’t the snow level in anti-gravity too” thing. In the second level, at one point there is a tremor, and Saito asks Eames “Turbulence on the plane?”, to which Eames responds with something along the lines of “No it’s too strong, it must be the van”. Which is a roundabout way of saying that when something effects the levels below it, the effect degrades with each level it goes down. Since the van was in level one, the anti-gravity effect was only noticeable in the level directly below it.

    I think.

    • I did the same thing at first, but i’m afraid we’re both giving Nolan too much credit. I saw flaws like how artificial it seemed when Page and Leo got so close so quickly, and how even in the reality scenes it seemed like an impossible amount of bullets never hit the good guys, etc., but since Nolan is so good, i just thought “oh, i guess this stuff is really a dream too!” but the way the ending occurs would mean that if it was all a dream, then the plot was nonsense. Not just “i feel cheated because the plot was a dream” but actual nonsense. Then i guess it makes a plausible dream…but is that a plot?

      Anyway, I did like the movie. A lot. But you get it.

      • “Page and Leo got so close so quickly” yeah, I don’t understood why he trusted her at all, I expected a love story to come out of that because why else would he show her all these personal things?

      • 1st post so please forgive the lurking.

        The whole thing about them being such great shots was silly and bugged me at first, then I realized, oh yeah its a freaking dream and these guys are dream infiltration experts. Therefore, in their dreams, they control things, they mention that a couple of times in the movie, so the dreamer is a great shot, they are the hero in their dream, afterall. The rest of the gang are great shots, because the dreamer has trained himself/herself to dream that they are great shots.
        I would say though that Nolan could have pushed the reality boundaires in his sets ALOT more and kept the pace and visual appeal. Especially, in light of the fact that the team was going into the subjects dream only the first level down. Once past that level a trained dreamer should be able to handle a bit of reality bending to suit their purposes and stay under.just my 2 cents

  27. When I was a kid I absolutely loved the movie “Dreamscape,” which has a similar shared-dream concept. I thought about that a lot during “Inception,” mostly when I was confronted with a slippery plot point that I couldn’t grasp. But then I began to fear that my mental architecture was becoming too reliant on features from my memory, but then I realized how silly that sounded because I wasn’t dreaming, unless I was dreaming. Of course “Inception” is way better than “Dreamscape,” but “Dreamscape” has way more Dennis Quaid, which is something.

  28. Last night I went into chat and was like, “Should I go see Inception?” because it was already 9:30 P.M(!!!) and I am old. “YES! WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE? GO NOW!” was the response. And I’ve very glad I did. Fun movie. Good times. Thanks Monster Pals!

  29. My initial thoughts on the film upon leaving the theater:

    Watching Inception is an experience that simultaneously sucks you in yet distances you from the very ride you don’t want to get off of. Its beauty lies in the fact that as a cinematic experience it is as ephemeral and illusive as the dream you had last night that you can’t quite piece together upon waking. That is to say, it makes perfect sense while watching it, but 5 minutes after, the puzzle is once again in pieces and you to want nothing more then to walk right back in to the theater to make it whole again.

  30. By “Rich FourFour” did Gabe mean “Steve Winwood?” Because that’s who I imaging he was talking to the entire conversation. Gabe would point out something beautiful about a beautiful movie, and Rich turned it on a Winwood axis. (I bet he even laughed out “Saito is in limbo! Haha! What an idiot!”

    I’m pretty sure Rich knew he wasn’t going to like this movie before he saw it. I fucking hate it when people do that. You can tell.

    • Oh come on, just because you don’t agree with his point of view (I don’t, personally) doesn’t make his opinions invalid. I’m kind of surprised a movie with almost no basis in reality doesn’t have even more naysayers than it does.

      • It just seemed like a completely inappropriate way to approach a movie of its nature. This happens all the time. His points are certainly valid, but not his manner of assessing the whole, which annoys me. It never would’ve satisfied him, so it’s hard for me to take his valid points seriously.

        It also doesn’t help that I kept imaging he looked like this.

        “Not impressed.”

        • That doesn’t look anything like Rich! Come on, know your internet “celebrities”!

          Also, people like different things. Christopher Nolan is not your dad (I assume)! You can still love Inception, even if a blogger you’ve never met hated it.

    • No way! The persona I have imagined for Rich from downloading his blog lo these many years is not prejudiced.

  31. Can we talk about how unexpectedly great/attractive Tom Hardy was? With a cast full of very talented people that I am fond of, I didn’t expected him to be the one that would stand out for me.

    • SERIOUSLY. Every shot of him in the whole film had me thinking “Why do I recognize that face?! That nose, those lips! That chin, everything.” He was so capable in the film too, I just wasn’t expecting it.

      Then as soon as I got home today (I saw Inception this morning), I looked him up and lo-and-behold I had watched Tom Hardy stomping around naked not even a month ago in Bronson.

      I had no idea. He was great.

    • I had no idea who he was beforehand but he was amazing and very cute. His imdb page is very creepy though. You can tell some fan spent a very long time updating the bio/quotes section.


  32. :’(
    I posted my reviewishthing in the sorcerer’s apprentice thread.

  33. I’m going to start saying “Paradox” the way that people say “Jazz-Hands”

  34. So I saw this very fun movie on Friday. I went to a Tiki party on Saturday, which would have been awesome if I didn’t totally fall on my ass in front of a bunch of coworkers and strangers.

    I was sitting in a plastic patio chair in a circle of the same such chairs on a slightly sloping hill in the back yard. I was on the side of the circle that was facing up-hill. I was being fairly careful, and I was completely sober. I reached over for my drink (a Test Pilot), and when I sat back in my chair the weak, plastic, damning back legs bent a little too far and I very slowly, but with great fervor, rolled over backward twice. I ended up on by back next to the area where the kids were throwing horse shoes. As I was falling I squeaked out “Here comes the kick!” Unfortunately the fall didn’t bring me up a dream level. The surf rock band stopped playing and everyone looked to see if all of that had really just happened.

    I took my totem out of my pocket to double-check. Nope, I wasn’t dreaming. I’m glad I checked because I could have happily died right then and there, just to wake up. I have a sneaking suspicion that Christopher Nolan is playing an elaborate trick on me.

  35. i think we can all agree that our totem AND our constant should be two different things

  36. It didn’t work? Trying again:


    …I’ve lived in constant fear that this was already posted.

  37. I wish I could talk to Rich.

  38. I loved it as well, but one minor thing did bother me: that the fact that Fischer’s dream is teeming with an army of trained killers managed to slip through Arthur’s research. You’d figure if they were doing a job that had such large stakes (even if you don’t consider the limbo aspect), that something so important would be brought to everyone’s attention.

  39. My Michael Cera/Shyamalan-ending jabs in the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice thread notwithstanding, I really liked this movie. It was fun. I did leave thinking about whether or not it was all a dream, but I also thought that about 1/2 way through. Particularly when the train came through in the 1st (2nd?)level of the inception dream(s?) in the van. It was as if the train was meant to tell us something more than just: “Oh, ps, my subconscious is in here, too, you guys.”

    Also, why did the Japanese guy (name?) get old while he was in limbo, but no one else ever did?

  40. This is the only time I’ve ever been so invested in a movie that I forgot I was watching a movie.

    • Loved the movie, watching it again later this week with some friends that have yet to watch it because I am forcing them. Read through the comments and I have nothing to add. I agreed and disagreed with you guys. Anyway I was one of the people that got The Town as one of the previews. I laughed “politely” through most of it, and yes I was the only one, but the funniest thing was when Ben Affleck took off his mask at the end of the preview and someone behind me literally gasped.

      • That wasn’t supposed to be a reply to you someawesomeawe, but since I am here I might as well. It has been a long time since I got lost in a movie enough to forget I am watching a movie and not critiquing it as I am watching it. On another note this is the first new movie I have seen this year that I am actually recommending to friends without adding some sort of asterisk to my recommendation.

  41. I discussed how I felt in the other thread as well, but I will go hog-nuts-wild here to make up for the duplication.

    1. While watching the movie I was not bored. I was entertained throughout and enjoyed the film, though I agree, the last third drug and was too action packed.

    2. My reaction to the movie since watching it last night is that I liked it and it was a good summer movie.

    3. My disappointment comes from my expectations. Like it or not (I don’t) there are movies that I expect to be escapist-summer-fun-times and movies that I expect to be deep-art-stuffs. Some are both. Some are neither. I expect the Summer movies to be fun and keep me entertained and make me want to watch them when they are on television (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and the Art movies I want to make me want to watch them so that I can wade in their inexhaustible depths (Blue Velvet, Brazil).

    4. So I saw two movies this week: Last Airbender and Inception. I expected Last Airbender to be the first type (well, I expected it to be shit, but I went with the family, so I expected on some level to be entertained); I expected Inception to be the second type. Or, I at least felt that those were to two categories that they were shooting for.

    5. Last Airbender was terrible (bad script, bad acting). Inception was good, but landed in the first category rather than the second, meaning it too disappointed me.

    6. As I mentioned before, the best part of both movies were the visuals. Very well done on both.

    7. So, what about Inception didn’t work for me? First, I would say that a problem intrinsic to the “puzzle” movie is that once the pieces are put together, the movie dies. Once you’ve rearranged Memento or untangled the Usual Suspects, there is nothing else for the film to tell you. They might be fun to watch still, but they lose the intellectual spark that makes great films great. Nothing in Inception suggested to me that it is a film that I will return to, year after year, and find new things in. Yes, there are ambiguities, but those things are secondary to any deeper meaning that the film might have had. There isn’t anything in the film that I didn’t get or didn’t understand–it was good, but nothing more.

    8. Second, was my emotional investment. I remarked before that I felt nothing was at stake and another person, in another comment not related to mine, said that he or she felt that there was lots at stake for the characters–eternal limbo. What I mean by “nothing at stake” is not that the characters have nothing at stake, but that I have nothing emotionally invest in the characters. If Leo didn’t get out or if he didn’t get home or if he went to jail–I would have resulted in the same indifferent shrug from me. I really like him as an actor and he does very well in movies that I don’t think are that good (Shutter Island, the Departed). Here the core was to be his relationship with his dead wife. Now, one of the problems of a fractured narrative, of a narrative that starts after much of the important events and then reveals them to you, is that sometimes, you don’t get attached to the characters and you aren’t moved by their tragedies. I respectfully disagree with Whiskeyclones comment above that it doesn’t matter if WE like Mal, that all that matters is that Leo likes her. I think that my attachment to her and him both, and my concern for their relationship is paramount in pulling me in so that I care whether he reconciles with his memory of her, which is what the movie was all about. I was never pulled into that, despite the good acting, because the film didn’t give me enough reasons to care. We only ever see them in flashback, in brief flashes, and never for long enough for me to get invested.

    8a. I think a good comparison would be with 2001, especially the scene where Fisher opens the vault and finds his dying father–it reminded me of the end of 2001 when Dave is in that strange room. There seem to be two differences to me here: First, 2001 is an inexhaustible film (to my mind). I don’t believe that there are any number of times that I can watch it that it will not strike me and perplex me and move me. There is no puzzle to figure out, instead focusing my thoughts in on myself and my experience. Inception however provides an explanation (dreams) and answers to no big questions. Second, 2001 has at least one character who I am deeply invested in and whose death saddens me every time–HAL. We can understand why HAL does what it does and can see the parallels between HAL and man and the apes, a chain of beings all the way up to God or YHWH or Allah or the Starbaby. When Dave shuts HAL off and its mind starts to go and it restarts, born anew, pure and innocent, like a baptism, I get sad. No on in Inception made me feel.

    9. Plot holes don’t bother me–I love Lost–but I think some of the narrative devices that the movie used were bad ideas. One was the whole idea of inception and the race to plant the idea in Fischer’s mind. This is a Macguffin, the real action is in Leo’s mind and his reconciliation with Mal. However, Nolan chose to spend far too much time on the action of Fischer’s dream and it was too action packed and rote. Here we have a movie about the nature of dreams, where the director could do anything and we got dudes shooting in the snow. Some of the floating and bending was neat, but he needed to take the whole idea much farther. The thing about dreams is that they do seem real at the time but upon reflection are always totally strange and bogus. The film could have used more of that, even if only in subtle ways.

    10. All this aside, I did like the movie. It was not a ruin of a film. It was not terrible. It just was not fully form. Having watched all of Nolan’s films now, I think that he and M. Night Shyamalan have the same problems. They are technically gifted and very smart, but don’t really know how to make a great film. The Dark Knight was great only when Heath Ledger was on the screen, when the film stopped ACTIONING and slowed to allow him to do something very strange and unsettling. The rest of the time, it was as though Nolan was not sure how to go on without that lifeforce pushing the film, drawing me in. And inexhaustible performance in an exhausted film. Inception was okay.

    • tl;dr

      JUST KIDDING!!!!!!

    • I agree with this comment very much, except for the part about 2001 because I fell asleep right at the beginning of that movie and then woke up at the end with the scene in the room and was like “WTFuckingF??” so I’m not really qualified to have an opinion on it. But yes, other than squandering an opportunity to do some really creative things with dreamscapes and dream logic, I was sad that I never really felt very invested in what happened to the characters, other than Ken Watanabe once it became obvious that he was going to spend 50 years living alone in dream-limbo and forgetting his real life. And I only cared because I already liked him as an actor, not because I cared about his “character.”

      Mostly I’m commenting, though, because your mention of Lost reminded me of what I haven’t seen anyone else mention online — was Fischer accompanying his estranged father’s body back home from Sydney to the funeral in LA, only to have a weird time-bending mystical experience on the trip, some kind of crazy homage or what?

    • Mans, I always enjoy your opinions. I loved reading your LOST stuff. Anyhow, I liked Inception more than you did, which makes me wonder if I’m wrong.

      • Well, of course you aren’t wrong. I liked the movie and am happy that I saw it. It was the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen this summer (I also rented Hot Tub Time Machine and watched it with my in-laws. Awkward!)

        I just wanted to express the things that kept me from really loving the movie with hyper-over-detailed numbered points. I had a critical comment nearly this long for MacGruber, so my ramblings should be taken with a grain of salt.

    • I think I need a ‘Kick’ to get me out of this comment.

  42. I thought they ending had less to do with the movie and was more for our own self-reflection of our own perception of our own existence

  43. Inception was like watching the score (which is a fun movie) in IMAX but instead of one safe there were 30

  44. I thought the most interesting aspect of the ending was that Cobb was so happy to see his children that he didn’t even wait around to SEE if the top was spinning or not. We as the audience apparently can’t stop talking about it, but Cobb was all, “wutEVS.”

    • You are right, he doesn’t wait to make sure these are truly his kids and not dream-kids. But the fact that he doesn’t care if they are or aren’t dream kids sort of contradicts the emotional scene where Cobb articulates that he cannot stay with Mal because he knows he could never imagine her the way she truly was. His dreams do not do her justice. That was my favorite moment of the movie so I’m a little saddened by the prospect that those are just dream kids and he doesn’t even care if they are.

  45. I like seeing the debate style review because I saw this movie with two friends who did not like it at all, and I really, really did. I went to film school (jealous?) so I could probably come up with a few half-remembered arguments (zzzzz) to support my good opinion but I think the only reason I could give that’s worth anything would be the same one Gabe sites; that I enjoyed the time that I spent watching it, even when Ellen Page is talking, and especially during the FLOATING HALLWAY FIGHT (yay!).

    But I think Inception’s major legacy (haha) and the best argument for it, is the likelihood that people who share common interests and aesthetics will continue to disagree about it’s value and success. Because it really is sophisticated and ambitious.

    Ambitious is a risky thing for an entertainment product to be. I can think of several movies that I can’t stand because I feel like they attempted themes that they couldn’t ultimately speak to, and when I call something “pretentious” that’s exactly what I mean. But when I see something that I like as much as Inception it makes me want to retire that word from my opinions about things generally, because in this case I’m really glad that there are filmmakers out there trying (with a success that I’m willing to concede is arguable, even though I’ve made up my mind which side I’m on) to have their Special FX Cake and eat The Narrative and Thematic Elements too. You go, Inception!

  46. I know that lots of people will probably disagree but, I thought Mal was a good part of the movie sorta kinda. I agree with whoever said that it wasn’t important that we like Mal (which is good because I didn’t), It was important that Cobb likes her. She needed to be there for the emotional growth that she provided Cobb. Also the absolutely fantastic (in my opinion!) ending. not the ending-ending but before that when he’s in limbo and talking to Ellen Page (get off my lawn, Ellen Page!). plus when she go down to the basement in the mind elevator (lulz but oddly it worked for me and provided an interesting visual representation of Cobb’s mind) and Mal was screaming, I felt genuinely freaked out which I was really not expecting. Also, I guess it’s a point in the movie’s favour that I didn’t even notice any real plot holes. I also did not hear the guy say “paradox” before pushing the henchman off the stairs. Thank god.

  47. I mainly agree with the “it was a lot of fun to watch but hardly world-changing” argument – the only thing that I have to add to the discussion is that I don’t actually see how the ending was ambiguous. I mean, I guess he thought it was supposed to be, with the top spinning, but – his kids are the exact same age. They’re wearing the same clothes as every other memory he has of them. They’re in the same exact spot, crouching in the same way – the only difference is that in his memory they head away towards the sound of his mom’s voice, and in the end of the film, they turn and run to him, which reads to me like him gaining control of that memory.

    So I have to assume that the top is just really there as a representation, as others have said, that he doesn’t care any more.

    Ok, actually one more thing – I thought the whole first act was really rushed: people can shared dream (ok?), and here are all these facts about all the characters, and oh, you need a builder (a what?), and hey – this girl should be great at it despite the fact that she’s never heard of it before, etc. etc. I realize he had a ton of work to do to even get the concept off the ground, but after about 45 minutes, I didn’t think I was going to end up liking it very much. That being said, once that was out of the way, it picked up nicely.

  48. Gabe doesn’t like Joseph Gordon Levitt?

  49. So here’s my take on the spinning top at the end. I don’t think the top is there to make us question whether or not Leo escaped the dreamworld. I think it’s purpose is to show Leo letting go of his wife and the guilt he feels about what happened to her.

    I attempted to explain this to a friend, but only got about halfway before he got angry and told me I was wrong and that Nolan DEFINITELY meant for us to question whether Leo got back to reality or not.

    But if we’re supposed to leave the theater thinking “Did he get out or didn’t he?” then I really think each of those two possibilities needs to make logical sense within the movie. But both possibilities don’t make sense.

    If he is still stuck in limbo or some sort of dreamworld, then the story doesn’t have a conclusion. He’s just in limbo, the end? Does anyone think that’s a satisfying ending? I mean, he’s going to wake up eventually right? And by “eventually” I mean in a few minutes time back in the real world. And when he does wake up, wouldn’t everything just pick up right where it does at the end of the movie anyway? Wouldn’t he just get off the plane and go see his kids? Which is exactly what we saw happen?

    See? That ending would make no sense. And that’s why I don’t think Nolan meant for us to consider this a possibility. The only thing that makes sense is that Leo woke up and went home to his kids, which is exactly what the movie showed us.

    My friend told me I was over-thinking this, but I think he’s got it exactly backwards. I think my interpretation of the ending is much simpler.


    • The only thing that lends credence to the whole “another dream level” ending is the looks Cobb and Juno exchange at the end. When he “wakes up” on the plane, they exchange looks. And later when Leo is in customs, Nolan makes a point of cutting to a close-up of What-The-Blog’s face as she stares over at Cobb, which I saw as a hint of sorts that as the architect, she built the end of the dream for him. She knows how much he wants to see his children’s faces, she knows who their Grandfather is (Caine is her professor), she’s seen the layout of his old house via invading his dream, etc.

      But I do agree with others who have said it isn’t really about a big is it/isn’t it twist ending as much as Cobb not even checking to see if the top falls. And agree on your take that it’s his letting go of the guilt for Mal as well.

    • I think to some degree you are both right, and that it is Nolan’s inability to just do the one thing that complicates and reduces the movie’s potential.

      First, I do believe that what he was going for was what you say–that Cobb doesn’t check, that he is at peace and can move on.

      However, Nolan lingers on the top on purpose for us, as your friend points out, giving the audience that moment of will it or won’t it, which overwhelms what I believe he was going for and what I think would have been a more meaningful and elegant ending.

      So Nolan both wants the restrained beauty of the emotionally satisfying ending–Cobb turns away from the top–and the tricky-modern-film end of the “Lady or the Tiger”-style. Not being able to commit to one or the other is indicative of the movie’s flaws for me.

      If Nolan had really wanted to show Cobb being free, he could have had him take out the top and rather than spin it, throw it away and then not show it to us again. This would show us that he is really free–he doesn’t spin it, he doesn’t even have it. He moves on. The audience then is not teased with this M. Night style “ambiguous” end, a type of ending that then overwhelms what the director, I think, really was trying to do.

      I think it is about a lack of confidence. Anyone here who has played in a band can tell you: if a musician is insecure in his or her abilities, he or she will overplay. The musician who is secure, plays much less complicated stuff becuase there is nothing to prove. I feel like Nolan doesn’t trust himself.

    • I think that the levels of meaning of the one lingering shot is one of the films strengths. You can make a sound case that Cobb is no longer obsessed about what is real, or take it as a sign that somehow that world is less than real. Of course, it IS less than real (it’s a film), so you read the image on a third, meta level (commence eye-rolling).

      Here’s my reading of the “it’s all a dream” theory: there is an original reality that we never see. Cobb and Mal live together in this world and began to experiment with shared dreaming within Mal’s subconscious. They go deeper and deeper and live a full life together. Cobb becomes unsatisfied with this unreality and takes them to the train tracks to “wake up.” This attempt fails (there is no “kick” to wake them from a deep sleep); they are still in limbo. Mal is aware and wants to wake up; Cobb was convinced they are in was reality. She jumps and awakes in the unseen reality; Cobb doesn’t and is stuck in her subconcious. The entire story takes place within this world. He uses the top to convince himself that his world is reality, but since it’s HER token, her subconscious can make it seem real.

      That’s not my preferred interpretation, but I think it works. Plus, I find the idea of a film being a dream of a character we never actually see really amusing.

      • Yay! Someone else thought this!

      • Aha! This addresses one of my chief questions, about the top (which is hers) — it is essentially the airduct by which her subconscious will thwart him. Maybe.

        Overall I agree there is not one frame of movie that does not take place in a dream.

      • My main problem with the various “it was a dream” theories is that none of them make the movie better or more interesting. I mean, you could say that ANY movie was entirely a dream of one of the characters, but that’s just mental masturbation. It doesn’t mean anything.

        The movie is very straight forward with it’s plot. Stop looking for ways to make it more complicated and less interesting.

  50. i think i actually found mal (it’s not moll? really? what is it short for?) one of the more interesting characters precisely because she was just a construction of leo d’s psyche–she’s the place he’s created for his guilt/anger/whatever, and she (he) always ends up sabotaging him(self).

  51. i like it when joseph gordon makes a people sandwich with all his sleeping friends and shoves them in an elevator…

    • Yes! I couldn’t stop giggling every time they showed him moving around the 69 sandwich! Luckily the music was loud and booming, so I don’t think I annoyed those around me.

  52. ((Joseph Gordon Levitt – gravity) + charming English guy) x Christopher Nolan = My dreams.

    Also, does everyone hate JGL like Gabe? I’ve always thought he was great and just opted to boycott 500 days of Summer as not to ruin him for me.

  53. I don’t know, I think Rock n’ Roll High School may have been a better movie.

    Not really…

    Over all ‘Inception’ kept me visually entertained and had an intriguing story. One of the better movies to come out in a while. Great music too.

    I could probably spend $9.50 on it again.

  54. We need an architect.

  55. Oh great this is going to be at the bottom and no one will read it. (Boo hoo, wah! – me)

    Anyways, I would have to be a Gabe-trarian here and say that I thought not only was Marion Cotillard very pretty, but I thought that she was maybe the central performance in the film? Like, if her character hadn’t been as believable as it was, I think I wouldn’t have become as emotionally involved in the story as I was. She was very good at acting and gave the film that extra “push” into greatness. It still would have been good regardless of her placement in the film. But the emotional impact of her character helped get me even more involved in the story.

    And is it me or did Gabe spend more time talking about the problems of Inception with Rich than any of its good parts. Almost as if he were ashamed of liking it? Gabe, anyone that judges you intellectually for liking a movie is an asshole. (I’m not saying Rich is judging you, because I don’t think he would; just anyone reading this post.) Unless you like August Rush, then that is pretty dumb.

    • I’m glad someone else liked Marion Cotillard in the film as much as I did. She pulled off being warm/lovable, terrifying, dangerous, pathetic, and strong all at the same time.

    • It only seems like he spent more time talking about the problems because his criticisms were meta, and on that level things seem to pass five times more slowly.

    • Okay, I was trying to figure out in my noggin why Leo was so quick to trust Ellen Page, and my noggin said “potential relationship?” so when Mal started talking to Ellen Page in the basement, it got a lot more scary than I think it was meant to be, she was the psycho-lover who was going to kill this new threat to her affections.

      The potential relationship didn’t pan out, and I still don’t understand why he trusted Ellen Page. Plot device, whatever, accepting it and moving on.

  56. I thought for sure I was in the smart people division of people seeing this movie. Then I read all these insightful comments, and I think I am in the dummy division because all I kept thinking was “This is fun. Cool slow motion water shot. SUPER cool fighting with no gravity. Is Leo’s dead wife supposed to scare the bejeebus out of me?”

    But guys! Thanks for opening up my mind to a whole new level (get it? You get it)!!!!!

  57. I agree with almost everything Gabe said except that I think Marion Cotillard is very attractive and was excellent in this movie. She hit the exact right combination of creepy/loving/ruthless. Also, I cared alot about what happened between her, Leo and the kids. But yeah, I had a blast watching this movie and loved just about every second.

    As for Richwhat’shisface, I disagree with him on so many levels that I don’t think I can even address them. The movie was great and he just comes off as a nitpicking, contrarian douche in this conversation.

    But yeah, best movie of the summer hands down. Loved it

  58. Little side notes from my little head, even though tidbits are discussed/mentioned in other comments.

    I thought about the “plot holes” or whatever, and I try not to think to hard about them, because Nolan spent like 10 years developing this story. I really do trust his judgment, plus this was very clever. I’m sure I missed something and it’s my fault there are plot holes!

    Something that kind of came to my mind is… how do they just crash peoples dreams? That machine? Like I feel like it wasn’t mentioned, but it’s always there so it must be?

    Also, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is always good in his movies? Even if they are crappy movies/TV shows? But I do like 3rd Rock from the Sun.

    • you didn’t miss anything because they never did explain how the machine/shared dreaming worked. the audience is just meant to accept that the technology for shared dreaming/busting into peoples’ dreams exists.

  59. I’m going to get all seriousgum here, sorry.

    I’m really suprised by this post. I love you, Gabe (no homo? am I doing this right?) and i think you’re intelligent and hilarious. But there is something very off to me about two people claiming a movie director is being pretentious because of the way he chose to shoot a scene in a movie, while in the same conversation saying a scene is “really for dummies”. Also, the O. Henry comments come off as pretentious on a post about a summer blockbuster on a blog about (mostly) goofy internet viral videos.

    It’s disturbing to think that, in your particular interpretation of movies, meaning, storytelling, art, etc., that people who discuss the possibilities of an ambiguous ending are “dummies”. Unless I misunderstood what you were trying to imply.

    I realize this was a conversation with a friend, and i’ve had many conversations with friends that would sound just as pretentious to an outsider. But this was your article, for you blog, and now everyone who enjoys this site and hangs on your words who happened to wonder about what the ending of a particular movie “meant” now knows just how intellectually superior you perceive yourself to be to them.

    Lastly, I know this is your blog, and you should do it “your way”, but realize that just about everyone here thinks you have the best job ever (you even get weekends off!) and when your “article” on a big movie that you told everyone they should see, that you had planned on writing something on, turns out to be a chat copy and paste, it is sad. If i’ve had conversations like that with my friends, what are you offering on your popular website? At least include some of the classic, unique, Gabe jokes. Seeing that your friend said “Tops for Dummies” isn’t the same.

    I’m sure this will get downvotes, but I do love this site and think Gabe is usually either very funny or, if not that, at least he usually seems like he’s trying. SORRY!!

    • I upvoted you because I agree with everything you said! :)

    • I hurl my two cents at you, yog! I think a chat with a friend is an apt review for this movie. And it is less “intellectually superior” than posting an essay about what you alone have concluded happened in the movie (which I think might be impossible so soon after seeing this movie, anyway — for me, I’m going to get to the bottom of it only by talking to people and reading comments here, and seeing it again).

      Also, on a side note, I’ve met people who didn’t understand Memento, or The Matrix, or Blue Velvet — and one who couldn’t follow When Harry Met Sally. So a sense of What’s Going On is parceled out unequally at birth; for Gabe and his obviously jerk-ass friend Rich (I kid) to notice this is not polite, but it is honest. I don’t think Gabe was calling out as dumb those people who discuss ambiguity — ambiguity is maybe the main thing worth discussing? — I think he was indicating that the movie decision to give the audience a visual cue (the top) to begin discussing “is it a dream or not?” made for a really obvious prompt that not everyone in the audience needed.

      Supporting Anecdote: A million years ago, I went on a date to see whatever that moronic movie was where Demi Moore sleeps with Robert Redford for a million dollars, and it blew my date’s mind and for days she was all “That movie really makes you think! Would I sleep with someone for a million dollars?,” and I was like (silently, in my head) “You are an idiot.” Because that wasn’t even really the question — or, it was the narrowest possible phrasing of the question, which was more like: “What’s the highest price are you willing to pay to achieve the success of your dreams and how do you think it will impact your emotional/psychological life down the line?” But that movie was for dummies, so it posed the question as narrowly as possible and as a result was just getting my date’s head a-twirl (like a top — get it?) between “Yes, I would sleep with Robert Redford” and “No, it is wrong” as the only possible answers, following which: case closed.

      I think that is what Gabe/Rich were getting at, by calling it Tops for Dummies.

    • you rock and are totally right.

  60. So many words everywhere. Damn. Then I saw the Xzibit jpg and I pretty much got the gist of everything being said here, both in the post and the comments thread.

  61. I went out to smoke a cigarrette (sorry I was a little drunk) and they wouldn’t let me back in. THANK YOU. VERY. MUCH. AMERICAN MOVIE CINEMAS.

  62. Haven’t read through all the comments here but I have to say, as much as I loved it in the end, the whole time I was watching it I thought, why isn’t the heir of a tycoon businessman riding a limousine, instead of a taxi? Also, they were dreaming for 10 hours right cause it was an overnight flight? Wouldn’t they have gotten Deep Vein Thrombosis from not moving that long? I guess I’m nitpicking a bit, but with all the holes in the dream logic thrown around, I thought I’d share my more basic questions.

    Also glad I’m not the only one who couldn’t give a shit about the Mal storyline. This is my first time watching Marion Cotillard, and I was honestly puzzled why she got that Oscar once. She was the most grating part of the movie for me and I was kind of annoyed when Ellen Page’s character kept wanting Leo’s character to go find her, I just wanted her to go away and forgotten like a bad dream. Ha-ha?

  63. i want to molest joseph gordon levitt in those swanky clothes. that’s what i’ve taken away from inception. win!

  64. Um, I know this is at the bottom and no one will read it, but while I loved this movie, one thing would have made it much better for me: switching the genders of Cobb and Mal. As in, the main character = lady, love interest/antagonist = dude. Would have been more interesting. Would have dodged Christopher Nolan’s lady problem.

    That is all.

  65. I couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off my face during some of the big scenes — the weightlessness, the world exploding around Ellen and Leo, the city folding in on itself. This movie really made me feel like a giddy little kid, and that happens so rarely that I can forgive it any sin. Even the ending didn’t bother me– if it’s reality, he’s happy, and if it’s a dream, he’s happy, so does it matter if the top stops spinning?

    This is long, but makes a compelling case for the whole thing being a dream:

  66. Did you kno Roman Polanski was originally supposed to direct this film… but he turned it down when he found out Ellen Page was “too old ” for his liking.

  67. Everyone’s referencing Philip K. Dick and such, but this movie was so Borges it’s crazy.

  68. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  69. New to the VG world, but here’s my problem. Questioning the logic of a movie like Inception is, as Gabe pointed out, kind of not the point. Yes, the law in this case is arbitrary because as far as we know with respect to inception and dream-manipulation, there is no reason WHY a kick should only be felt one layer below. Would it be satisfying if Nolan had come right out and had someone say that the energy harvested from a kick is only enough to wake the person in the dream state immediately below? What if he had related it to modern neuroscientific developments concerning things like cell-assemblies, and tried to make it THAT SPECIFIC? I would’ve been like “Cool” but also, “Who cares?” because I was not upset at all that we were told you only need one kick. That is kind of like being upset in physics class when you are told that you only need F to be equal to MA. Why? Because energy is conserved in this universe (quantum effects aside for now). Why is energy conserved? Do we really know? Can we really say? Is that really the point of doing physics?

    Basically, I feel that when you are writing fiction you need to institute a set of laws, which, whether or not they reflect the laws of the universe we actually see (which, in quantum land, can totally be more paradoxical and stranger than any work of fiction), are arbitrary in some way or another (because can we really say that even the laws of our universe are NOT arbitrary?). Might as well provide arbitrary laws that are not arbitrarily followed, which I do think he did. Kudos to rich for having an inquisitive mind and not accepting what is thrown at him immediately and without question, but also, upon reflection, his criticisms and skepticism do not seem to warrant a re-write or even an angry letter to Nolan. Sorry I’m not funnier!

  70. Full disclosure: I saw this movie last night, and I totally lost my shit. I saw no errors in it’s logic. I was totally convinced of and invested in the relationship between Leo and Cotillard, who I thought did perfectly fine at acting and was very, very pretty. (Also, I thought Ellen Page did quite well. Also, this entire cast. Awesome cast! Great job! [Sorry, I'll stop using that joke].) This movie blew my mind like no other movie I’ve seen in the past year, and, in my mind, Christopher Nolan is now the Charlie Kaufman of action/adventure films. Also, I thought the ambiguous ending was perfect. Yes. Perfect.

    So I guess all of this makes me a dummy? Cool. I can deal with that.

    P.S.: I’ll agree with one thing: JGL’s “Paradox!” line. I didn’t catch that when I saw it, but I think it is ridiculous, yet awesome.

    • I liked the ending too. Not that I, or anybody, really needed it to wonder if it was still a dream or reality (it was obvious from very early in the film that we would end up wondering it) but it made the movie complete.
      I “wooh”ed at it, not out of surprise but because it was just what it was supposed to be, giving us enough space to think about how awesome were the 2.30 hours which led us to it.
      Also DiCaprio and Ellen Page (who really looks like my girlfriend and who is pretty) were perfect.

  71. You guys. Ellen Page wore so many scarfs!

  72. ugh I’ve been reading so many forums trying to figure out the loopholes of this movie and I just don’t see them. I feel like I must not understand the movie correctly because I don’t see it as being riddled with plot holes or annoying rules of logic? WHAT AM I MISSING? Mal was his guilt, and the extent of his regret was such that his mind was totally overbearing (which is why when he entered fischer’s dream when fischer was in limbo, Cobb was able to project so much of what the world looked like). And when he died at that level, his subconscious was with it enough to lead him to saito promptly, but since he was in limbo he was kind of still like, “Durrr…saito…who?” and needed to be reminded of where he was. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT?

    Also, with respect to Mal, I did not care about her at all. BUT SHE WAS NEVER IN THE MOVIE. Well, okay. The only time she was in the movie was in flashbacks where she jumped off the tower and felt up knife edges. The thing is, when she jumped off the tower, I felt for Leo- him screaming “Jesus christ!” because he neither wanted to watch a person in general fall to his/her death nor specifically the love of his life seemed all too human. And every other time we encounter the hostile Mal (bad mal, mal mal), she is literally just an annoying manifestation of cobb’s guilt- who would expect us to feel for an annoying manifestation of guilt?? Guilt is supposed to make us uncomfortable and stressed, so a negative reaction to her being on screen is actually quite reasonable! I think someone above said it right when they said it was only important for us to feel for leo feeling for Mal, but in no way are we supposed to say, “Look! There’s guilt-monster mal! I love her!”

    The ending being ambiguous did not seem at all pretentious to me- it seemed like Nolan was just giving us our kick to awaken us from the dream-like state of movie watching (*Note, not my idea, something a friend of mine suggested that I kind of liked). If taken as, “Nolan is keeping plot secrets from us!” yes, we might feel insulted and upset, but even some people like open-ended endings (cough, english majors, cough). I just did not get the feeling of unwarranted self-importance that a pretentious ending would have; quite the opposite, I felt as if he was really going with his instincts and trying to stay true to the world he had created.

    The thing is, I liked inception because it WAS incredibly fun to watch, it didn;’t seem to be preaching any message, just exploring ideas (like rich said, the interesting idea of creating and perceiving). I did not feel for one second that Cobb believed his subconscious reality with Mal in it was more real than the one in which he was chased by faceless corporate bounty hunters, so it didn’t seem to me to be an issue of, “WHAT IS REALITY?”, which has been done and done and done and…yeah. The most important thing was, I really wanted to know what was going to happen. i wanted to watch, and listen, and partake. I was hooked. If you weren;t, you weren’t, and that’s no comment on your tastes nor your intellect.

  73. A few thoughts:

    All of the snow scenes reminded me of Modern Warfare.

    While the van was falling, almost all of the close up shots were of JGL’s floating sleep grin. Weird choice.

    Ellen Page’s character’s introduction felt a bit rushed to me. One minute they’re doing greetings and mazes and the next, she’s in the thick of things – rearranging dream architecture, diagnosing Cobb with mental health issues (for all she knew, what happened in the dream could have been completely normal. It WAS her first time), and yelling at JGL’s character about whether he’s being willfully ignorant of Cobb’s issues. It all seemed a bit presumptuous…

    The other issue I had is that for all the twists and turns and talk of the movie being so labyrinthine, the end sure tied everything into a nice, neat bow. Almost too neat. There’s room for debate, of course, about where Cobb really ended up, but it felt really quaint to me. I had lots of theories about how the movie would end and was a bit disappointed that the most transparent of them was correct.

    And with all the questions Ariadne asked Cobb – and all her snooping around, I was just SURE she was planted in his mind to extract or incept information and bring him back to the REAL WORLD with his wife – where she went after she killed herself.

    There was a brief point when all the kicks were syncing up where I kind of gave up. The movie became such a Russian nesting doll at that point, I kind of wanted all of the characters to miss their kicks and die. And I honestly didn’t care how the stuff with Cillian Murphy’s character and his father turned out. As a means to an end – the end being to get Cobb back into The States – it was a fine device, but I wasn’t invested in that storyline.

    Still, the movie was visually stunning and innovative, the wardrobe and cast were great, and Tom Hardy is beyond beautiful. I’ll definitely see it again.

  74. Man, I am so the only one who thought her name was Maude.

  75. who are GABE and Rich? because that whole conversation was retarded! get a life and stop being so critical! besides who cares what you think….the movie has been #1 for 3 weeks in a row already so obviously Nolan did something right(again!). geeks.

  76. “Slipping smart stuff under the dumb radar.” I want a t-shirt with that on it!

  77. So let me get this straight: Dorothy’s reality is black and white, and her sub-level dreams are in color. The Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Woodman are her defense mechanisms. The wicked witches were trying to get her.

    But what was the idea they were incepting?!

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