Sunday, November 7th, 2010 04:23 am

inception

Okay, pleeeasse do not read this if you liked it a lot, because I hate fucking with squee as squee is fun and awesome and you should do that!



I have something that is kind of more powerful than a squick; it's a virulent hatred of something that wants to fuck with my mind and not give me payoff. This is like the anti-payoff.

To clarify, I hated the end of Roseanne so much I can't watch the reruns. I won't even try to get through Enterprise because of the ending. I get ragey knowing St. Elsewhere did it first and even though I never watched the show, really want to have a word with the writers. I do not like getting attached to things, or people, and realize it was all a lie.

This is less betraying that Roseanne, since my investment was lower, but it's so ridiculously predictable I want to just scream. There's some kind of rule that states, in a movie about the uncertainty of reality, the ending will never, ever, ever, even by accident, not be a surprise twist that gotcha, reality isn't real MAYBE. For some reason--and I don't know why--I thought this one wouldn't just do that all over again, which is what I get for not spoiling myself thoroughly when I read the premise, so honestly, this is totally my own fault.

Notes that make this even more irritating:

a.) IT WAS ALL A DREAM so he's stuck in infinity in a dream world without the dead wife that caused the entire psychotic break. So why not dream up a world with her in it exactly? The neat emotional growth--that a replica wasn't good enough--works right up until hes' okay with replica children and then there's the realization there was no emotional growth, because he's still willing to settle with replicas, so there goes the emotional arc completely, thanks, that's kind of the only thing we had and that being the entire point of the movie and he had no emotional growth. Great. And the telling the difference between reality and fantasy and living in old memories isn't there, because hey, why bother, it apparently doesn't work.

b.) I loved it up until he took out his top and I just wanted to cry, because for reasons that pass my understanding, Nolan really had to drive it in THIS IS JUST A DREAM (MAYBE) (the audience obviously having watched the movie couldn't have picked that up themselves) so there's a forever spinning top just in case it hadn't occurred to us and I'm not actually stupid, this had occurred to me pretty early on.

c.) I feel cheated that it wasn't ambiguous unless there's a posit the top fell after, which considering how it started and then spun into rotation--and considering that at teh beginning, it was pretty thoroughly banged in HE WANTED TO SEE THEIR WEE FACES, even though wouldn't they be older now?--it's not actually all that ambiguous without ignoring the spinning top.

So it's a dream world in which no one else exists, so of course the awesome heist that happened didn't actually happen, so the complexity of it can't really be admired since we didn't get to see it, and the heist was goddamn awesome up until it deux ex machina'ed out, since hey, this is a dream, it would work or not based on what dream life Cobbs wanted to live, not based on any character's actual actions. It didn't matter if the timing was right because Cobb's personal growth was dictating it. And in the end, even though getting rid of Mal was this huge character moment that made the emotional arc--I can't imagine anyone as awesome as you!--it's completely contradicted since there was in fact no lesson learned except; you can get lost in dreams and its' dangerous. Sometimes. But sometimes you settle down with your hallucinations and so that's okay, so the entire movie is about giving up.

I can't get over the heist not being actually as brilliant as it was, and logical and meticulous and traceable and fantastic since the it was dependent on how Cobb wanted it to go.

...there are multiple levels this annoys me at. And all the characters being projections is just goddamn icing; I can't even like them since they're just projections of Cobb's imagination and bits of him. Okay, yes, Saito's suspiciously sudden aging even though he went in well after Cobb and Ariadne was suspicious, and the fact the ante kept having to be upped unexpectedly because the architect can remake the rules of engagement because sudden!Limbo! and sudden!Not!Death being new and improved features means that the earlier scene of teh top falling is now not inconsistent and yes, Cobb's dad waiting at the airport for no particular reason--wasn't he in Paris?--and the fact the kids were unable to leave the United States for no particular reason--and why don't they age again?--and the fact that how does that work with limbo anyway, you share limbo? and argh.

I really want to like it--that heist! Oh my God amazing!--but come on. The heist is no longer relevant and that just sucks. At least this explains how they didn't get out of dream layer one. I was wondering hopefully for a second, until I remembered it didn't matter.

Note: you will never like Nolan, stay away from his movies from now on. He is a Twist person. Twist people do not like subtlety and they do not like it if you aren't fully aware there is a Twist.

*sighs* This has so killed my mood. I wish I had normal dislikes like, IDK, romantic comedies involving twins.

[Note; the only viable option i can get to keep the fallign of the first top is that he dreamed himself into another replica of reality, which at least keeps all the other characters and the heist as real but still fails because we never find out if the heist worked or Saito was saved. Which isn't exactly better.]



Please don't hate me?
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the_spike: girl peeking out from behind curtain of elephants to see the blue sky. (peek)

2010-11-07 11:55 am (UTC)
Possibly I'm an idiot, but... that ending was supposed to be a twist???? I mean I really enjoyed Inception. I like stories about artificial realities (the Matrix is the only one that comes to mind right this second but I know there are others) but outside of say, literary fiction, where they don't have to make 'logical sense' as opposed to just 'symbolic sense' -- they force a very limited dramatic structure, which (in western culture) requires that the ending be ambiguous on the subject of which world the pov character ends up.

(and I would argue that The Wizard of Oz did it first. *g*)
malkingrey: (Default)

2010-11-07 04:57 pm (UTC)
I would argue that The Wizard of Ozdid it first.

But only in the movie. In the books, Oz was a real -- if unreachable by ordinary means -- place.

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[personal profile] mruk - 2010-11-08 12:05 am (UTC) - expand
lian: Klavier Gavin, golden boy (Default)

2010-11-07 11:59 am (UTC)
I think a decent argument can be made that it wasn't, in fact, a dream; my extra-diegetic pet one is actually that it's just terrible storytelling for a film. (Not for fiction -- I love "it was just a dream! here's how/why!" fics). But really, the thing for me is that the top never was Cobb's totem in the first place, so it's kinda of meaningless. I think his totem was his sense of guilt. And so, at most, the ending is "we can never know what is reality and what isn't", which, hey, I'm okay with that. It also gives me every freedom to roll my eyes and have exactly the ending that I like. I know that this doesn't address youur squick and your own perception of the movie in any way, but it's why personally I'm extremely unperturbed by the ending shenanigans.

I mean, one could legitimately think that the ending undermines the entire film, like you do, but I'm seeing it more as: the entire film was set up in a way to undermine the ending.
cesare: a drawing of cesare borgia by you higuri (.cesare borgia)

2010-11-07 12:45 pm (UTC)
Sorry it bummed you out. I found the movie... good but not all it could have been, and I knew from the second they brought out the top that the top spinning would be the final image.

But everyone I saw it with all agreed that in the last shot, the top wobbles like it's going to fall, which it never did in the dreams. So, my crowd all thought the ending was real. Another point in favor of the idea that it's real is that Dom leaves the plane, go through the airport, etc.-- Nolan shows him traveling home. Dom told Ariadne that in dreams, you don't remember how you got to where you are. So the fact that we see Dom get from place to place suggests to me that he's awake.

There was some meta when it came out about how, since the heist involved so much creativity and rehearsal, the whole movie read like a comment on the filmmaking process. I especially liked the idea of Saito representing the money guy who keeps interjecting himself into the director's way, only to get in way over his head. I thought that was an interesting take on it. I definitely feel like the entire heist (and so in a way, the whole movie) is there to frame the action setpieces that Nolan most wanted to play with, and the way they escalate and become increasingly complicated seemed to me to indicate that there was some cinema comment going on: fistfight, gun fight, car chase, wirework fight, siege.

I believe if Nolan were to make a sequel, it would probably be better than Inception in the same way that The Dark Knight was better than Batman Begins. Now that he'd set up the ideas, maybe if he revisited them, he would take them in less predictable directions.

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[personal profile] cesare - 2010-11-07 07:50 pm (UTC) - expand

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[personal profile] schmevil - 2010-11-08 12:11 pm (UTC) - expand
anatsuno: a scary girl holding a very scary clown ragdoll (children are scary)

2010-11-07 12:57 pm (UTC)
This is probably not what you want right now, but just in case: I wrote two recs that I find complementary for two prequels to the movie, one takes the pov that the movie was all a dream and the other that it was real. They're at the bottom of this post. They might amuse/distract/soothe you?
unovis: (Default)

2010-11-07 02:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hated the triteness of the ending; I had to dig my nails into my seat arms to stay through the whole movie as it was, but a finish like that was insulting. Self-indulgent and lazy.
drunkoffthestars: (Default)

2010-11-07 04:09 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the movie, but I like kind of shitty movies, and I completely agree that the ending was phenomenally lazy storytelling. However, in the midst of that lazy predictability, there are enough gaping plotholes for me to have fun with, and I prefer to think that the rest of the characters were real, Mal was right, and when she died, she did wake up and the whole thing was an attempt to get Dom to wake up too. Which still makes Dom and less-than-compelling character for me, but Mal and the rest of the team were always more interesting to me anyway.

Which is to say, I totally sympathize! The people that I saw it with kind of hated it too, for mostly the reasons you are saying! But I am super easy when it comes to movies with hot people and guns and shit.
green_grrl: (Default)

2010-11-07 04:32 pm (UTC)
I was annoyed that the final scene seemed to be a dream wish-fulfillment, with the kids being exactly the same. Out of curiosity, I read the FAQs collected on IMDB afterwards, and they go through the arguments of why the whole thing might or might not be a dream—written by somebody with the luxury of multiple viewings, apparently. In favor of "not" was that the top is wobbly, which it never was in a dream and implies it might fall, the children were actually slightly differently dressed, and apparently it was another set of child actors, 2 years older than the original, who were cast for the ending. That says to me "not," but I still find it annoying that he made it appear to be a dream.

Anyway, I really wasn't that interested in Cobb's emo-angst story. I was over -> there drooling over the rest of the team's competency hitting me square in the kink. (I'm even a little miffed that Ariadne got stuck playing the "woman leads emotionally retarded man around by the hand" bit, although she pretty squarely positioned it as "I'm looking out for the team's interests.") I think Cobb's too fucked up to dream the awesomeness of Arthur and Eames, so there.
malkingrey: (Default)

2010-11-07 05:02 pm (UTC)
I have something that is kind of more powerful than a squick; it's a virulent hatred of something that wants to fuck with my mind and not give me payoff. This is like the anti-payoff.

You're not the only one.
ranalore: (i love my job)

2010-11-07 07:08 pm (UTC)
Michael Caine said in an interview that any scene he's in takes place in the real world, but even as someone who liked the movie, I find it irritating that information like that about Nolan movies is so frequently extra-textual. I do tend to like Nolan movies, but within parameters I'm sure it would gall him to know are so predictable, including that he is always going to attempt a "twist" that's actually completely unsurprising (Shyamalan has the same tic, but I don't bother watching him).

Even without Michael Caine's interview, the shot of the top went on slightly too long and it started to wobble before the screen went black, which it hadn't done in the dreams, but you can tell the intent was there to make the ending ambiguous. Narratively, that was a bad call, and I think the scene, and so the story, would have been far stronger had it ended on the children turning their heads, so you knew Cobb was about to see their faces. Much as I personally didn't care all that much for Cobb, his story was a big part of the movie, and the resolution of his exile from his family would have nicely paralleled the inception he'd spearheaded in Robert Fischer, and encouraged the audience to return to dwelling on the heist, which showcased Nolan's strengths as a director, rather than highlighting one of his biggest weaknesses.

I primarily like the movie for the secondary characters and potential of the worldbuilding, which I knew was going to be the case going in (I simply cannot invest in any character played by Leonardo DiCaprio), so I realized my reactions wouldn't match those of anyone who actually connected to Cobb (I think he and Mal together are an interesting take on the Minotaur, but that's about as attached as I got). Given how much effort the movie invested in making the audience care about Cobb, I'm not surprised that the ending, which seems to cheat the character and certainly cheated the audience, actively pissed off several people who expected resolution for this clearly important character. I had already emotionally checked out with the rest of the characters, so my main interest in that scene was to see if it was one of the few endings Nolan would manage to stick. It wasn't.

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[personal profile] ranalore - 2010-11-07 07:49 pm (UTC) - expand

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[personal profile] kickair8p - 2010-11-07 07:57 pm (UTC) - expand
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)

2010-11-07 08:47 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, I actually personally find it less of a question whether it was ALL a dream, and far more a question whether Cobb and Saito got out at all. It's quite, quite possible within the structure of that movie to argue that the others all got out, but Cobb got stuck in limbo. And possibly Saito as well.

But, you know, I can see how that would annoy the fuck out of some folks. Personally, I saw that coming about, oh, from the beginning of the movie? I admit I still rolled my eyes.

The thing is, it's not particularly an interesting question whether it was ALL a dream so what the fuck ever, I'm going to accept the axiom that it wasn't ALL a dream and go from there.

But I'm pretty happy to tell canon and authorial intent to go fuck itself and I've been rolling my eyes at REALITY IS ALL A DREAM (MAYBE) since I was like TEN. Growing up in Unity (ie, New Thought) will do that to you. I don't fucking care if it is, I have better things to be doing than worry over it.
aphelant: (Default)

2010-11-07 11:49 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I'm confused -- when did Cobb's top fall during one of his dreams? Or do you say that on the assumption that the entire movie was a dream?

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gozer: tweeter made this! (Give her a pony!)

2010-11-08 03:11 am (UTC)
I loved the thinky bits of Inception, and the team work bits, and the magnificent visuals, but not so much the overall movie (and especially not the Dom & Mal Show that was meant to be so tragic and heartstring-tugging), so I wasn't entirely invested to the point that the HA HA IT WAS A DREAM ending made me want to bitch-slap the director. I did stay to the end to see if the top would fall over, and expected it to, but it didn't and I just shrugged at what seemed to me to be an invalidation of what I just spent a couple hours watching.

OTOH, the BtVS episode "Normal Again" is pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back for me with that show -- the final scene of that episode invalidates all of BtVS because it leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that Buffy Summers is a catatonic patient in a mental institution, dreaming the show's action from day one. And it's funny, because nobody in the fandom really ever talks about it! But that's when I pretty much walked away from the show.

On the third hand... ;) There's a movie called "Total Recall" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and here is the IMDb summation:

When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real, or does he?

...and I swear, the only thing that could have saved that stupid fricken movie for me would be if the final scene was Schwarzenegger's character fighting his way out of the machine-induced virtual vacation that was the entire utterly ridiculous and morally bankrupt movie, to see Sharon Stone's worried face as she tells him that they'd almost lost him and the ambulance was on its way. Stone played his wife who, in the "dream" that was his programmed virtual vacation, was actually a government agent sent to watch over him to make sure he never got his memory back, according to the logic of the created world. When his "memory" starts to return, he has to kill her before she kills him, so he essentially shoots his wife in the face during his "vacation." And that wasn't even the most egregious thing that happens in that movie. That plot *needed* to be invalidated! "It was all a dream" was the only thing that could have made it work for me.

(Anonymous)
2010-11-09 03:00 am (UTC)
I have such mixed feelings about this type of plot twist. Then again, I'm still a little pissed off at Joss Whedon for essentially wiping out 4 years of history with the cast of Buffy by throwing Dawn into the mix and replacing all their memories.

(Anonymous)
2011-04-11 04:02 am (UTC)
I can't stand Leo so I never had any intention of watching the movie but reading through your vastly entertaining rant I think I'd end up agreeing with everything you said. I have even less interest in seeing it now than I did before (the only reason I ever considered watching it was for the special effects), thanks for sharing :-)

2010-11-07 11:49 am (UTC)
I do not hate you AT ALL because you have summed up my feelings exactly. Uuuuuuurrrrggggh is all I have to add, as inarticulate as that is, and all.

So irritating.

2010-11-07 07:33 pm (UTC)
Right on. *glum* That concept was fantastic. WHY DID HE HAVE TO MAKE IT STUPID.

2010-11-07 12:03 pm (UTC)
I have basically survived all of these thinky thoughts and retained my fannish squee be repeating, very loudly, LA LA LA THE TOP FELL OVER OK? and ignoring everything else!

2010-11-07 12:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah - I was bored bored bored throughout that whole movie. I could not connect at all with any of the characters. By the end all I kept thinking was is that stupid van ever going to hit the water.
Thank goodness I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed.

2010-11-07 12:11 pm (UTC)
IDK, I agree that the ending is a bit of a cop out but I've read so many interesting theories that still work within the context of the canon so I don't much mind. I've never been under the assumption that we necessarily are supposed to think IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM. SURPRISE. HAHA.

Because that would not be cool.

It's definitely a flawed film in many ways but at the same time I enjoyed it more than most of Nolan's other works and I feel like there's something genuine about it, hidden deep inside, that I connect to. Which is all I ever really ask of my films.
ext_11942: (Default)

2010-11-07 12:22 pm (UTC)
My interpretation is that, at best, the top started to wobble in the last second. To me it wasn't maintaining that same perfect even balance at the very end.

And at worst, the events of the heist did take place, but somehow everybody came back except for Cobb.

'It was all a dream' is so cheap I decided it wasn't even an option! :b

2010-11-07 12:43 pm (UTC)
I guess that just doesn't bother me because reality's just a construct anyway? The important part is that Cobb is happy in the end and not teetering dangerously around the globe, unable to accept his life and punishing himself. I don't know, I believe about 90% that is wasn't a dream and can rationalize my unsure 10% into submission, so maybe I'm just not relevant to the discussion.

I thought Phillipa and James were a little older, or a near as a film (a dream?) can note them. The job took a while to set up, who says Miles couldn't have gone to LA earlier? They were in Limbo for a while after Ari left. And Cobb had learned how to keep his form, hadn't he? (Limbo's kinda weird. It's the collective unconscious, so if you feel old, you should look old, so why doesn't Cobb always look old? -Because then he wouldn't be pretty and we can't have that in an American film.)

2010-11-07 01:03 pm (UTC)
*delurks*

I've just finished watching it, and I have to say I was expecting way more from the movie after all the fannish squee I've seen for what seems like forever. I wasn't surprised in the least by the last few seconds, which in itself is disappointing.

2010-11-07 01:06 pm (UTC)
i love inception, but i can also see exactly why it frustrates and drives people crazy. i like it because all the theories and logistics are so open to interpretation and you can do a lot of fun things with them, as with the characters (as evidenced by clever, clever fandom) but simultaneously, that can be equally annoying. *g*

--> they actually used different actors for cobb's children - early!kidlets and kidlets in the last scene are different kids. that's one of the 'proofs' people trot out when they say it's reality and cobb is awake and so on.

--> another one is that the top isn't even cobb's totem, and that his real totem is his wedding ring.

--> if you stay after the credits there's this bit where the warped musical cue version of edith piaf's non, je ne regrette rien starts, so then you wonder if it actually is a dream. (however, i've also heard people swear that they heard a sound like the beginning of the top falling over, so who knows? is everyone getting different versions?)
(it's ok, the top fell)

2010-11-07 01:20 pm (UTC)
I've seen more than one analysis of the movie that goes against the "it was all a dream" theory.

2010-11-07 01:34 pm (UTC)
I have an unpopular fannish opinion on this movie as well (being that I have *absolutely no desire to see it*, no matter how many people want me to think it's totally amazing, etc), so it's a relief to see a negative response. I feel like, if I did suffer a traumatic brain injury and decided to go see it, I would have a lot of the same issues with it; namely, the fact that the emotional growth arc is completely irrelevant, since it was ALL A DREAM.
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