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‘Inception’ is challenging and fun

July 28, 2010
By Tony Rutherford

Can a challenging and philosophical film entertain at or above the level of a straightforward action, mystery or horror production? Obviously, my answer will be in the affirmative. The question is will an average moviegoer agree?

Christopher (“Batman”) Nolan’s “Inception” delivers an iconic, imaginative film — one of the best audience stunners, not from shock, but from the sheer complexity of exploring the meaning, contours and imagery from the human mind. Nolan’s premise spun in the form of an elaborate “caper” proposes the injection of “ideas” into one’s brain in their sleep; ideas which they carry out once in a wakened state. Beyond hypnosis and mind-altering drugs, his world consists of creative mercenaries.  

What you see may or may not be “real,” (and for how long) is the hook that deeply gouges viewers’ minds. Spitting out in layman’s terminology — this is a story of identity theft and manipulation envisioned not by stealing a series of documents or torturing a subject until they reveal a secret but through implanting a thought in a mind.

For those viewers seeking pure colorful action, the danger and adventure comes from mainstays like dodging bullets during wild car chases or a van tilting off a bridge. Yet those seeking beyond the obvious are invited into a production with bold nuances crafted as “Bourne Identity” shaken and stirred by “Altered States,” “The Matrix,” and Freddy’s “Nightmare on Elm Street.” 

Of course, interpreting dreams has been a forever fascination. Hypnosis has been a favorite entertaining method for mind control. Yea, you may have heard of certain drugs, too. Here the dream becomes a nightly pursuit of personal movie making. You, as producer, director, cinematographer and star, normally want to return and savor every morsel of those in which you, the star, achieve delight, desires, and happiness. You may even induce a sequel by closing your eyes and projecting images that flicker on the large white screen of your subconscious.

Films have often clouded the veil of onscreen reality versus character dream fantasy, but few explored the mechanics of inducing a behavior during eyes wide shut that has such a jolt on the brainwaves of Rapid Eye Movement snoozing that you awake and proceed to carry out a life-altering decision.

Instead of highbrow scientific discussions, these dream makers slide into an environment where zero gravity, upside down skies, half knocked down structures and the slowest of motions morph into a concoction of an animated world and a game world, where projections, jumps, layers and limbo implicate the metamorphosis of what you see and what someone else is doing as your eye movement increases but you remain strongly in a realm of visions.

Intriguingly, the virility of a daydream or night dream at an extreme becomes associated with mental instability. Instead of fantasizing, your inability to distinguish authenticity blurs into a hallucination or a delusion. A favorite flick premise is to confuse an awake, sane person with illusions and/or tricks that no one else admits occurred. 

“Inception” turns the mind’s eye into a team activity that has multiple layers of simultaneous thoughts. This implicates one or two elaborate alternate fantasy worlds that are dependent upon each other in a metaphor best expressed by sliding into higher skill levels of video games and computer avatars.

So, while taking a deep nap on a flight, your mental movie screen flashes images of racing through crowded New York City streets, of elevators which move through levels of memory, and of the sweetness of such moments that you’d rather sleep than wake (kinda like staying addicted to a television or computer screen rather than going out and interacting with actual people, not chatters, twitters, or role players.

 
 

 

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