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).

a pattern of those who don't like it.

I've noticed a pattern amongst those of you who don't like this movie. You all complain about it making no sense. It made 100% sense to me and tons of other people though. Now, you can't just make sense out of something that isn't there can you? Unfortunately I have to say it is because of people like you that Hollywood tries to crank out hundreds of movies with plots about as thick as a tissue. You're the kind of people who watched cartoons as a kid instead of reading books.

What bothers me more though is how you continually refer to your bedside thesaurus and spell checker so you can try to sound smarter than how you feel. Plain and simple, you don't like the movie because you don't understand it. You said it yourself.

I did understand it, and

I did understand it, and that's the point. The ending was so predictable it was painful.
Everyone else is so bright and can grasp the true meaning of the film.....or were maybe so impressed with the amazing action and slow motion shots that they missed the tedious predictable plot and this non-story.
You don't have to be too smart to see through this farce........just try a bit ;)

predictable end

what did your predict about the end exactly?
that they would actually plant the "inception"
yeah... that's what the movie IS about.. so yes that is a given
that dom would die? or did he live?
did that top stop spinning saying he was in the "real world"
or did the film end a second too soon to know for sure...
at what point did you see that coming? the moment he spun it before
he ran to his kids??? yeah... you predicted that end 30 secs before it happened...

Like a dream

This movie was like a dream--literally. I slept through half of it. Once I figured out the convoluted story line, I just didn't care to watch it pan out.

Cool English Skills

"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."

Think you were looking for, " of America's greatest young actors..."

Good Job trashing a Japanese man for having an accent when you can't use correct grammar.
Also you have awful taste, please don't quit your day job.



Inception Sucked

The Critic is right, for a film about lucid dreaming this movie was boring and was it science fiction film because I saw no indication that it took place in the future or the present? Sure the actors wore designer clothes and hung out in either abandoned warehouses or fancy office buildings but hey, that could 2010 Chicago. Noland tried to make an adult movie but this flick is for college chicks! Better films on lucid dreaming are The Matrix 1 (which I was not crazy about but was way better than this), Dark City and The Cell.

Lucid Dreaming

...Did you watch the Matrix? Because that movie was NOT about lucid dreaming. At all.

It's science fiction

Just because they don't tell you what year the movie was set in doesn't mean it's not science fiction. The movie is about people being able to go in to other's dreams to steal or plant ideas in their mind...definitely sci-fi.

It's obvious that those

It's obvious that those critics who didn't pay attention, and perhaps are mentally unable to follow the story cannot just admit their inability to comprehend and appreciate the brilliance of the movie. After a second viewing, I totally "got it" and was even more thrilled to discover the details missed in the first viewing. It's pretty easy to dismiss something you don't understand.