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Why Inception Sucks Ass

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why Inception Sucks Ass

I hit on this yesterday, briefly, and have received enough response that I feel the need to delve in further.  Plus new friend and fellow blogger Greg Kim tells me not to worry about posting on the weekend since the Internet shuts down anyway and so no one is probably going to read this, though I am  going to take a page from Greg, who says a catchy title helps catch readers, which renders this primarily an exercise in discipline and consistent production.  I've been saving my other go-to title, A Heartbreaking Pile of Steaming Shit, to talk about why I am so disappointed with Dave Eggers' opus, and I still may do that, but criticizing Eggers seems like an invitation to fighting with nameless Internet types, his denizen of loyal supporters who've anointed him the saint all off things endearing and indie, and I don't feel like doing that, even if Eggers is guilty of the worst crime a male writer can commit: whimsy.  Still, I don't hate A Heartbreaking Work.  There are so laugh-out-loud moments, and the book does have a heart; I'm simply not sold on its being "one of the American greats."  Inception I do hate.  So I will direct my scorn there.

This killed me.  I walked into Inception wanting to love it.  I am huge Christopher Nolan fan.  Not only Memento, which is listed along the righthand side of this blog as one of the best dozen or so movies I've ever seen, or even the Batman films, which are, unquestionably, the best superhero films ever made, I also loved Insomnia, a lesser-known effort, a Dutch remake, I believe, staring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, who is quite good as a hack mystery writer turned serial killer, and though I have never seen The Prestige, because magic is stupid after 7, I can safely say I like Nolan.  A lot.  Which is why Inception let me down so hard.

Now, I am doing this from memory.  If I were doing an actual critical analysis, I'd have to watch Inception more than once, and since I'd rather get tested for chlamydia again, that's not happening.  I lost two hours of my life on that fuckbomb; I will not lose another minute.  I could open up IMDB to get character names, and I may, depending on where this goes.  But I doubt it.  The problem with this film doesn't lie with the actors, or even the direction; it is the writing, which is shoddy, flimsy, and lazy.

Christopher Nolan often works with his brother, Jonathan, who I am guessing is the writer in the family. They should've stuck to their original arrangement.  Unlike when Sam Raimi brought in brother...Ivan (to replace, um, Michael Chabon) to pen Spider-Man 3, arguably one of the worst superhero movies ever made, Nolan would've been wise to keep it in the family.

Let's get to it then.  Why Inception sucked ass.  Because it is the worst kind of American movie, all sound and fury signifying shit.  James Cameron gets bashed for stupid dialogue and lots of bells and whistles, but at least he had sense to steal from Dances with Wolves (and I still found Avatar imminently more watchable than The Hurt Locker, which is terrible and the worst Best Picture choice since Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction, not that Avatar is a gem, just better than The Hurt Locker). Inception is an idea traced backwards.  This is what writers do.  I guaranfuckingtee you, Nolan had this idea of tapping into dreams and then this cool ending image in his head of the top spinning, which would leave the audience guessing as to whether it was all real (which is a pretty stupid idea anyway, and one that will land you in writer jail), so he went back and wrote a screenplay of how to get there.  And you can get there, but you better be fucksure you've earned it.  And Nolan doesn't.

Why?  Because writing that "middle part," the part where all the shit happens, is difficult.  In fact, it's the hardest part of writing.  You have a great idea.  You often see a cool resolution (even if you have to muddle through the middle to get there in a shitty first draft), but then you have to go back and make all the dots connect, the ts and is.  And that's fucking hard to do.  In short, Nolan bit off more than he could chew, writing himself into a problem he couldn't solve, and after trying and trying, decided to leave the holes, because there aren't gaping, just...there.  And you only see them if you want to see them.

It didn't matter.  Critics, by and large, loved the film, audience's too, and it's up for an Academy Award as Best Picture, so who cares what I think?

Who cares that the thread that ties the film together, the tapping into dreams to obtain deep secrets, has no solid foundation, no explanation of how this is done exactly, other than a big metal box and lots of wires and pressing "Go," or that the plot of "planting an idea" has no tangible basis, who cares that the flawed character subtext of Leo's Cobb and his dead wife, what's-her-name would automatically get him fired and make no one ever want to work with him, or that the frame with Wantanbe has no payoff.  It is an excuse to have car chases or shots fired, to make high style with big budget, and everyone loves the emperor's new clothes.

ala Winter's Bone, is just as good or better or whatever.

I guess it comes down to this.  There is often a certain amount of disbelief one must be willing to suspend, especially with movies like this.  If a viewer doesn't mind the '"dream within a dream" and how to get there aspect, and if he or she can overlook the inconsistency with Leo's Cobb, and if the moviegoer can just lean back, eat popcorn, watch the spectacle, and think about it--but not too hard--it's fine.  I couldn't.  So it sucked.

3 Comments:

At June 14, 2011 at 1:24 PM , Blogger rupin sidharth said...

hello there,.. i thoguht the same too on my first watch. but the whole idea that the dream machine is so vague, invisible powerful corporations and the apparent huge influence of saito on the american state all give the hine that the film is actually a dream layer than reality. thaths also why he never sees his children's faces till the end( which wouldnt happen in real life)

 
At June 14, 2011 at 1:30 PM , Blogger rupin sidharth said...

thats also why that in the end, we never know whether the top has toppled or not. watch the film again and notice caprio's properties such as his wedding ring . you will definitely understand the movie in a new angle. btw did you realize that the movie presents upto seven layers of dreaming? if not i suggest you watch the movie again. Being a nolan fan, i suggest you not to pass by without fully getting into it

 
At June 14, 2011 at 2:47 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Well, rupin, perhaps you are right. Maybe it is time I give the film a second chance. Thanks for writing!

 

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