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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Inception : the best movie ever made?



How would you like, if the thriller novel you brought the other day, had the entire plot, written ... summary, spoilers and all .. on the rear cover? And the rear cover pasted on the front? My guess is, well, you wouldn't. But that does not deter me from answering the question addressed in the title.

Frankly speaking, from the very fathomable depths in my white and unspoilt, honest conscience ... the movie isn't the best movie ever made. Now before you start throwing those tomatoes and pumpkins at me ... give me a chance to explain myself.

First the big picture. Which is ... parallel existence. Look into my eyes and tell me, that it is something innovative. You cannot, because it's ... not. Well. When Neo enters the Matrix ... then yes, you can say that. But after he's entered the matrix, after Jake Sully's been there done that in the humanoid infested lush green forests of Pandora in Avatar ... sorry to say ... parallelism is getting clich├ęd.

But the means of implementing parallelism? Well, in The Matrix it was the digital medium. In Avatar it was the ... I dunno any single phrase to encompass that entire thing .... in Inception, it's ... no points for guessing .. dreams.

So what's new? Well ... meta-parallelism. Which is creating multiple parallel existences .... simultaneously. (Did I just coin that term? :O ) So while in The Matrix, Neo enters the Matrix and doesn't dare venture into further sub-Matrices, and Jake Sully enters the other life ... and stops at that level, Dom Cobb keeps dreaming ... in dreams ... in dreams and .... so on. Reminds one of nested loops doesn't it? Watch this space ;-)

So coming back to the typicalities of a typical film review.



Leonardo DiCaprio. I was never an avid fan of this gentleman. What with his boyish, midwesterner twang and delicately poised juvenescence I say. But if there was one film where he actually seemed to sink in to the character he was assigned, Inception is indeed the one. What Nolan has done is not pick stars to fill his cast. Rather, he's taken people who he believes can act. And yes, he's chosen well.

Ellen Page. Man! That was a good choice! She did her part well, and was kinda complimentary to DiCaprio. The others in the cast were good too, but yes. I would personally have liked Michael Caine .. in a more important role (like in The Prestige and The Dark Knight ... sigh ... ).

Cinematics. This is one thing I keep repeating in film reviews. A simple law. If it's Hollywood and if film A is released after film B, then film A will have better cinematics than film B. OK. Make that generally. Simple. And the Inception is no exception. The zero-gravity thing, while the van in the first dream was falling off the bridge, and its repercussions in the second dream had me dazed. Seriously.  A fighting scene without gravity! And quite unlike the Matrix because there you could choose to defy gravity whereas in this case, you have no gravity to defy! I just wish that sometime in the distant future, there would actually be such a re-enactment in a space mission. 


The snow fortress episode in the third dream and the action clips associated were somewhat mushy and lacked visual diversity but yes, that doesn't hinder the overall goodness because the genius in Nolan has actually overlapped the evasive car chase, the gravity-free fist fight and the snowy shootout within the same time frame simultaneously.

The ... urgh ... fourth dream where Cobb and  Ariadne meet Cobb's wife ... and then proceeds to the limbo is also a good turn, complexifying the already complex plot, but yes, artfully maintaining it within the frontiers of comprehension. The portion earlier up wherein Cobb explains to Ariadne ... the concepts of extraction and inception are well shown too.

Now well, as a movie critic I feel the need to criticise. A simple question. When you are in a dream, do you remember your plans in the real world? Well you don't. So Cobb asking in the second dream, how many more minutes does Yusuf have before the van crashes down the bridge (in the first dream) is ... a gross error.

Also as a friend of mine pointed out, would YOU really risk so much for a commercial rivalry? If no, then the story ends there. Within the first thirty minutes. But if you do, there's the rest of the story for you.

Reverting back to parallelism and meta-parallelism. Read this part carefully. The Matrix, as I said a few paragraphs back heralded this concept of parallelism. Avatar took it in a different perspective and Inception dealt the finishing move.

A geometric analogy. The Matrix involved choosing two two-dimensional planes to reside in. You can travel through the three dimensional space that separates the two planes by doing whatever computer wizardry you know or whatever Neo did. And then you had to turn back, travel back through the two dimensional space and come back to the first plane.

To visualise Inception you need to think of an infinite number of shells, each representing a level of dreaming. You can move from one shell to another but never know which is the last one, closest to reality. This important concept is hidden in the perpetually spinning top in the end. 

Wait a second. Lemme explain. You thought that the perpetual motion of the top signified that the real was a dream too. That is not so. It is not just a dream. It is a dream within a dream within a dream .... within infinite layers of dreams. Why? Because once you go up one dream level, time slows down. So to make a top that would otherwise stop spinning, spin for longer, you need to just get into a dream. But what if there was one top that would never stop spinning? Quite simply, a top within infinite layers of dreams. Food for thought? You bet so. 

So to sum it in layman's terms, if the Matrix was the fresher's course, Inception was post-graduation.

Here's another analogy for the sake of it.

Say you are learning a language. I mean a programming language.

First you learn selection statements viz if else. That is the Matrix. Here's a crude analogy,

if(youWannaEnter)
{
       enter();
}

void enter()
{
       if(youWannaExit)
       System.exit();
}

whereas Inception is like nested loops or possibly recursion or maybe even meta-recusrion.


//n is dream layer

keepDreaming(n)
{
      if(wannaDreamMore)
            keepDreaming(n+1);
     else if (!wannaDreamMore)
            keepDreaming(n-1);
}

There. You seriously expected a film review from me minus my fine touches :P

But yes, certainly not the best movie ever made.
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