Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Down In the Underground, a Land Serene, a Crystal Moon"

Twitter Sonnet #201

Bull babes break their heads on cowhide wrought gate.
Minotaurs shaved last year are this year's men.
Depth charge mazes decide sea horse's fate.
Amphibious beagles are rarely in.
Soy milk slowly murders regular milk.
The new latte destroys gut memory.
Lizards carry more than footpads can bilk.
Drinkers learn to enjoy a mockery.
Ginger ale stockpiles appear in town.
Fevered runners ricochet though the mall.
New ice in old drinks will always melt down.
Wotan tallied whiskeys along his hall.
Bad dream complexes pull in the attack.
Plant growth glumly conforms to almanac.

I finally had a chance to watch Inception properly last night. I liked it, more than I'd have thought based on the rather slipshod initial viewing of the film. It picks up the same fundamental story Christopher Nolan told in Memento and The Prestige of an obsessed man caught up in a world of illusion and/or delusion, both in terms of something external to his personality--a memory problem, a calculated stage illusion, or a complex world of dreams--and something to do with his personality. Inception may be Nolan's best job at tying the two together.

A lot of people speculate as to whether or not the whole movie is Cobb's dream. This question is almost irrelevant to me, as movies are dreams of a sort anyway, but having that question posed emphasises the idea about reality and human relationships the movie's trying to convey. That is, the extent to which people actually exist for other people. The larger question of the nature of Mal in Cobb's mind is supported by the smaller threads like the manufacturing of motives for Peter in Fischer second layer of dreaming by Eames in the first layer. I saw parallels in the film to Vertigo and the Human Instrumentality project in Neon Genesis Evangelion, but Inception, regardless of whether or not Cobb wakes up, actually releases Cobb from the trap of his own mind in its climactic scene, where he decides the Mal in has mind is not the same as his wife when she lived, and he's content with the decades the two had together when she lived. This is unlike Vertigo where Scottie finds the loss of his half dream woman too painful or Evangelion where Shinji is bound by the impressions he has of people around him, and the secondary reflection of himself he attributes to their perceptions.

I think the main reason people found Inception confusing may have been that it takes a lot of time establishing rules only to break them, as when we hear that Arthur, in the hotel layer of Fischer's dream, has only a few minutes before the van hits the water in the first layer but yet he has time to tie everyone up and arrange them in an elevator in zero gravity. We're told that the lower the dreaming level, the slower time seems to pass, yet the pacing of the film's last hour makes the opposite seem true. But that's a small quibble I have with an otherwise perfectly fine film.

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