Thursday, April 15, 2010

We Can't Wait #5: INCEPTION

Robert here with JA and Dave, continuing the We Can't Wait: Summer and Beyond discussion. Now we come to something of a mystery.

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine and Tom Hardy

Synopsis: An agent possesses the technology to enter people's minds, discovering their deepest secrets and using them for profit. But the mind is a dangerous place where reality is unstable. That's about all the info that the very secretive Nolan and his team are volunteering.
Brought to you by: Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.
Expected release date: July 16, 2010

Robert: I can't imagine not being game for any new Nolan film (or DiCaprio film for that matter), but I wonder if the mystery surrounding this one is for the best? I feel like this might have been even higher on my list if I had a better grasp on what it was. All I know is that there's something to do with dreams and dream logic. This could go either way. Dream logic movies can give their directors free reign to create, unbound by reality. But they can also be a harbinger of unfettered anarchy. Still I trust Nolan. How about you guys? Any idea what we're in for?

Dave: I think the mystery is a smart move. For one, it's about the only thing Nolan - or perhaps rather Warner Bros. - could really do after The Dark Knight to even come close to generating the same kind of interest. He's become one of the biggest directors; treating it like just another film doesn't really make sense with him, at least not this soon. Of course, if it disappoints then the secrecy will look a bit stupid, but it's a risk they couldn't afford not to take.

For another, it fits with the feel I suspect the film itself has (going from Nolan's previous non-Batman films) - tricksy, illusive, misleading. I doubt very much that the little the trailer gives away will really translate to the film; it too is probably leading us up the wrong paths. The quote from Nolan about "gravitating towards the analogy of a maze" is really fitting for his general mindset. And I must say it's an approach that just makes me more excited. As long as all the pieces fit together in the end, there's really little I relish more than being played with by a labrynthine plot. You get me in that cinema, I am yours to do with as you wish, and not enough films take advantage of that.

What does worry me is the shift Nolan has been forced to make from the low-key cult status of Memento to the massive high profile he now has. The Prestige didn't really work for me as the plot seemed to become overwhelmed by the visual intricacies of the whole thing. The trailer and the newly released photos give me the same worries for Inception. The cast is very appealing - and I like that he's taking chances on young guys like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy, as well as hopefully breaking Ellen Page out of the kooky indie girl box she'd got stuck in - but the whole playing with horizontals thing makes it seem like the look of the world we're in will take precedence over the feel of existing in it. And I'm more interested in the psychological aspect of whatever dream logic plot unfolds.

Robert: Yeah, the intricate plot puzzles that the film promises are right up Nolan's ally. They're what he does best. I must say I'm not too worried about Nolan's shift from cult to high profile as I suppose it was unavoidable. I'd rather the mood of the film suffer a bit (I liked The Prestige more than Dave methinks) at the hands of the visuals, than the film be completely devoid of any visual interest like Insomnia was.

On another note, I seem to be having trouble comprehending the reality this film without needing some prior film to compare it to. Right now my mind wants to categorize it as another Matrix, or Vanilla Sky, or something Lynchian. But more than anything I think it resembles a somewhat overlooked animated film from a few years back called Paprika, in which a policeman travels through a fantastical dream-reality. I wonder if anyone else sees the connection, or in general is thinking of this film a lot in terms of previous dream films.

JA: I totally get what you're going at with mentioning Paprika as seeming to occupy a similar story-space, Robert, but seeing as how I really didn't enjoy that movie I find no room in my enthusiasms for it here!

Anyway I fear I'm coming across as a total whore for nothing but names, names, names in this countdown, but then, I am, and this round-up of names is what's the bottom-line of my interest. Thankfully in my defense, as y'all have already made clear, it can't really be the story yet since we don't know the story! But the names! Besides Chris Nolan I'm really at a place where I will see any and everything that Joseph Gordon Levitt does until he convinces me not to, and I don't see that happening any time soon. Likewise, Ellen Page - I adore her. Likewise Marion Cotillard. And Tom Hardy's moving up up up the list. Leo... well he comes and goes in my estimations - loved him in The Departed, thought he was all over the map in Shutter Island (but then so was that whole movie) - but he's certainly no demerit.

And I like the middle-ground Nolan's straddling here, very much like The Prestige (I'm a big fan too, Robert), between his low-budget big-ideas beginnings and his giant-budget current standings. He puts a lot of razzle-dazzle up on the screen (and like most geeks I drooled over that shot of the city folding in on itself in Inception's trailer) but he doesn't short-change his ideas for them. Amid all the bang for the buck he got outta The Dark Knight I really felt a real romance with anarchy brewing there under its pretty surface. Plenty of that's thanks to Heath's efforts, of course, but Nolan knows how to let his actors add a disturbing flavor to the pot and make undermine any easy answers. Which I like. A lot.

This trailer is probably the most revealing thing we'll get. So is anyone else enjoying the mystery?

"We Can't Wait: Summer and Beyond"
The "orphan" picks Nathaniel (Burlesque), JA (Love and Other Drugs), Jose (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), Craig (What's Wrong With Virginia?), Robert (True Grit) and Dave (Brighton Rock); Team Film Experience Countdown #12 It's Kind of a Funny Story, #11 Sex & the City 2, #10 Scott Pilgrim vs the World, #9 Somewhere, #8 The Kids Are All Right, #7 The Illusionist, #6 Toy Story 3, #5 Inception, #4 Rabbit Hole, #3 Never Let Me Go, #2 Black Swan and #1 The Tree of Life.


Nate B. said...

I'm absolutely looking forward to this - not because I'm a huge fan of Nolan but because this cast is incredible. Most looking forward to seeing Ellen Page in something big - I've loved her since Hard Candy. Also Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Can't wait to see what they do with the strange material here.

OtherRobert said...

I was about to say this looks exactly like Paprika but I'm not the only one who noticed that. It's Paprika from the darker perspective, the manipulation and the financial gain rather than the attempt to save a beneficial technology.

I'm intrigued, but I'm not chomping at the bit like I am with The Tempest or The Illusionist.

Jason H. said...

Yes times a million.

A.R. said...

Honestly, when I read the premise a week or two back I was totally sold. I love this kind of thing and think Nolan could pull it off.
Never seen Paprika, though I've always meant to. Maybe the comparisons will finally push me to check it out.

Danny King said...

I think a better question is asking if there is really anyone who is not looking forward to this film.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Danny! This is my most anticipated film of the year

jessy said...

hi nat

here's an interesting CLIP of the upcoming movie THE FIGHTER with mark wahlberg, amy adams and melissa leo

jessy said...

Dimitra said...

The term we can't wait only gives away a small part of my feelings. Nolan made me love the Batman, Prestige was really good and I'm going to watch Memento anytime soon. Plus, I don't think any other film this year will feature such a tremendous ensemble of actors.

Btw, I absolutely love the stills with DiCaprio and JGL. Anyone else?

Andrew R. said...

It's Christopher Nolan. He hasn't made any bad films thus far in his career.


Chris Na Taraja said...

Just like THE DARK KNIGHT has taken a lot from HEAT OF THE KNIGHT, this trailer seems to be using many images from the film DARK CITY(which came out a year before THE MATRIX). I'm surprised no one else has made the correlation. Especially with the city moving around, one guy "waking up", the detective story line, and even that scene in the tub!!

Also, I'm glad to see a more mysterious preview. I wish more previews would give us less. They are supposed to peak our interest, not give away the whole story.

It's one of my pet peeves to get the whole story and all the best lines in a trailer. I'm usually in the theatre, saying out loud, sarcastically, "I wish they would show us more."

Felippe Miranda said...

Paprika is a great film.

Erich Kuersten said...

ugh, I hate when characters talk about the greatness of "an idea" - like in V for Vendetta, "You can't kill... an IDEA!" Yawn! Does anyone even know what an idea is? Ideas are what taxi drivers peddle to celebs they get as fares - "I had an idea, you know, make a swell pitcher."

verninino said...

More than The Matrix and Vanilla Sky it reminds me of Dark City and the two cinematic versions of Ursala LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven, all of which I enjoy enough to own and re-watch semi-annually. Never seen Paprika, so I'll pop that in the Netflix queue to quell my anticipation.

I've been a huge Nolan since The Following. His enigmatic paradoxes and labyrinths captivate me. But the Batman franchise somehow put me off of him. I've bought both DVDs TWICE because I want to enshrine them with his other flicks. But whenever I do my biannual DVD purge, out they go. Watching them does not immerse me in the cinematic experience. (Which is bizarre because I'm a huge fan of Frank Miller's Batman graphic novels and I've adored Christian Bale since Empire of the Sun and Henry V.) In the end, as the plots unravel, Bale just kinda blahs and Ledger still seems too overhyped. There, I said it.

The The Prestige has improved with each viewing.

So I hope Inception is a return to form for Nolan and that he doesn't sacrifice too much elegance in the plotting for Michael Bay-derived razzle-dazzle. I'm excited to see how he engineers the ensemble-- these are some of my favorite players.

Sean said...


that is all.

Anonymous said...

So excited to see this movie!

Stevee Taylor said...

Can I say anything more? I am absolutely looking forward to seeing this! Joseph, Leonardo, Marion and Ellen all in one movie=gold! I watch the trailer everyday (obsessed much?).

Chris Na Taraja said...

Verninino, I feel exactly the same way about the Dark Knight. I've watched again to try and love it, but I just don't. It's good, but not great.

It's missing something essential...maybe it's character development. Maybe it's annoying to see so many great actors in one film not getting a chance to do anything.

And Health Ledger, dare I say, is doing a Helena Bottom Carter "Look how crazy I am" thing. I guess it sort of goes with the territory when playing a batman villain.

Though, I'm never afraid of someone who twirls their mustache.

Anonymous said...

You have to be crazy to not be excited. An original sci-fi action blockbuster is extraordinarily refreshing in this day and age. Hack, just the idea of an original blockbuster seems like a foreign concept to studios today.

Inception neeeds to be a success and we need to make it one to show studios that audiences are willing to accept smarter entertainment and original films. Otherwise we'll be stuck with the endless sequels/prequels/remakes/reboots and such.

Dimitra said...

^^What he said.

Reform Plastics said...

I do like Nolan (alot) but question whether he is a little limited - although he's clearly very good within these limits.

Neena said...

Looking forward to this...absolutely. The idea is interesting...although i am trying not to get too excited as i don't want to disappoint myself.

Anonymous said...

I'm excited to see this due to the involvement of so many great actors. And I have to disagree with the guy who said DiCaprio was all over the map in Shutter Island. Helllllloooo, it had a lot to do with the character he was playing (great film btw and great performance, imo, and I have no problem predicting it will get more respect with the passage of time). That said, Inception looks very promising. Just hoping Nolan can give us something above and beyond The Prestige, which didn't impress me much and had little resonance.

Less Lee Moore said...


That is all.