Inception: When Dreaming is Bad for You

inception-filmDear Reader, I regretfully must inform you that Christopher Nolan's bombastic Inception has enough startling footage with which to edit 30 exquisitely enticing trailers, but not enough to compose one comprehensible movie from.

So what is the most anticipated film of the summer like? If you recall the scene in Dahmer (2002) where Jeremy Renner as the deranged killer drills holes into his victims' heads, you'll know what watching this Freudian claptrap of a thriller is like.

You'll sit in your seat, possibly with overly salted popcorn, and immediately become bewildered. But then you'll tell yourself the creative force behind Following (1998) and Memento (2000) is always in control. Of course you'll soon know what's happening. But a half hour later exasperation will start settling in over you like a cup of cherry Jell-o firming up in your fridge. Then another 20 minutes will pass, and you'll start feeling like Timothy Leary's severed, cryogenically preserved head. Will there be any relief arriving at all?

Suddenly you'll realize there is no hope when one character asks, "Whose subconscious are we going into?" and another admits she doesn't know what's going on either.

Inception's plot, you see, is about the possibility of remolding a person's mind by subverting his dreams. And sometimes to execute this task, you must enter a dream within a dream that is within another dream. And within this dream within a dream within a dream, you can bring a gang of friends along with you. And on this nightmare journey, people who don't really exist will attack you and your pals because they know you all don’t belong in this other person's dream. And as these folks turn on you, there are a lot of guns blasting away, speedy car races, and buildings disintegrating, but little sex. No sex in a dream?

What's more confusing is that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dom Cobb, seems to be an extension of his deranged Teddy Daniels of Shutter Island (2010). You see, his "deceased" wife keeps popping up and his faceless children are not within his reach, and certain people think he’s a murderer, and . . .

Then there's the great Japanese actor Ken Watanabe as Saito, an ambitious executive, whom we first meet as an old man, then as a much younger man. But whatever age he is, you can’t make out 90% of what he is saying.

As for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of American greatest young actors, here as Arthur, Dom Cobb's sidekick, a piece of cardboard could have nearly given the same performance.

And Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard? She walks about to Piaf music. Mr. Nolan, please don’t remind us of better films.

Only Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, and Michael Caine survive Lee Smith’s breakneck editing. Unlike with Christopher Rouse's brilliantly seamless, razor-sharp cutting about for The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), the splicing here is haphazard and exasperating.

All of which brings us to an anonymous quote: "The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don't know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened."

The main problem with Inception is that it’s soulless. - Brandon Judell


Mr. Judell is featured in the forthcoming documentary Activist: The Times of Vito Russo and has been edited out of Rosa von Praunheim's New York Memories. In the fall, he'll be teaching "American Jewish Theater" and "Theater into Film" at The City College of New York. He has written on film for The Village Voice,, The New York Daily News, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi).

Spot on. Souless is a great

Spot on.

Souless is a great way to put it. I felt a certan disconnect. And every single comment here is useless. It would have been a better movie with a quarter of the budget. But I mean people love to see buildings crumble and fold over eachother.

The movie was in no way confusing, it was hst useless. The original concept is shakey at best. And as Nolan branches off into things like lucid architecture and limbo, you realize the movie is long gone.

Nothing can really be said about overdone and used before action sequences. They all knew how to ski, yet they still couldn't beat Arnold.

Nolan has yet again decieved the masses.

What A Stupid Review This Is.

I was wondering how on earth Inception is not rated 100% in Rotten Tomatoes and looking for the reviews who did not like the movie. Yeah. The movie is still brilliant. You said it is soulless. Do you realise that you have absolutely NO IMAGINATION? Stupid, stupid review.

Complete piece of crap movie

Reflective of the tone and thoughtfulness of the whole movie: Leo is interviewing Page to see if she's up to the task of being a dream architect. "Draw me a maze that it takes one minute to solve." The only rational response to such a moronic task is to ask WHO will be doing the maze. Ok, Leo is doing the maze... well how the shit should I know how long it takes you to solve a maze? Be that as it may (which you must do dozens of times throughout this film), Page begins the task. Queue the atmospheric trombones and the nonstop background pulse. A square maze... no try again. Another square maze... no try again. Dun Dun Dun. EUREKA! A ROUND maze! What profundity! Oscar! That scene is every scene in the movie.


different strokes for different folks. I REALLY enjoyed this movie.

U MAD, commentors?

U MAD, commentors?

This guy has the balls to point out the flaws of this movie and you're getting your panties in a bunch over it. If I wanted an imaginative romp into the subconscious with no plotholes I'd play Psychonauts again. This is just a bunch of special effects with a story thinly spread out over it like the dust on top of the fridge. But because it has a massive advertising campaign, special effects and a famous Director people will orgasm over the mere mention of it.

You wanna know what my last dream was? I was floating through the air exploring the overworld of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. It was no Showdown Town, it was a bizarre series of vast caverns and classrooms with lamps, paintings and psychedelic rocks mixed in with tree roots. I didn't question why it was so weird or why it looked nothing like reality; in the dream world it's hard to get a sense of what "should" be. So what's the point of "crafting" dreams when a dreamer accepts nearly everything happening as real? The dreamer would have accepted the invading crew as more figments of his imagination.

Having more humdrum landscapes based on real places like cities and a frozen tundra shows a lack of imagination. In dreams people can leap through tiny pipes and bounce through the air while cameos come and go. In this movie, increasingly unbelievable rationalizations are made to support action and set design that's clearly based on a director's bias instead of the natural flow a dream would take.

And the idea that Leo's character was dreaming the whole time? To quote mister Knight, "WHAT A TWEEST!"

You should remove your review.

I actually read your boring review on and had to look up CultureCatch and see if all you people are as stupid as Judell. Nope, it just seems to be YOU, Judell. So either admit you watched the movie in another language or something and wright a different review or better yet, just forget this one and possibly just forget doing critic work altogether. What you think is quip is actually lack of vision. That is how far off you are.

You caught me!

I watched the film in Swedish.

Sure thing buddy

The fact that you like The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) discredited everything you had to say.



Wow. Some of you seem to be

Wow. Some of you seem to be expecting that a film about dreams should make perfect sense to any and all who see it. The exceeding small minority of people who don't/didn't "get" this should open up their minds a bit, as in the movie. Not everything makes perfect sense, certainly not life and absolutely not dreams. That's what makes them dreams, for god's sake!! Please step aside and let everyone else delve into this cinematic masterpiece. Easily the best film of 2010 so far, and wouldn't surprise me if it still claims that title in December. Visually breathtaking, thought provoking, a conversation starter...a movie you will want (and have to) see more than once. Please disregard this reviewer and the handful of people who are saying the same, and do yourself a favor and see this film.