Before its release to the general public film critics heaped endless praise upon Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bender Inception. Except for a few dissenting voices the verdict was clear: after The Dark Knight Nolan had created another cinematographic masterpiece. The critics’ greatest worry was that Inception’s plot would prove too complex for the general cinema audience. Roger Friedman, for example, writes on showbiz411.com: “During the first 20 minute sequence, Inception requires more attention than any other film of the last 20 years.“ Pete Travers from Rolling Stone is concerned that “trusting the intelligence of the audience can cost Nolan at the box office. We’re so used to being treated like idiots. How to cope with a grand-scale epic, shot in six countries at a reported cost of $160 million, that turns your head around six ways from Sunday? Dive in and …drive yourself crazy, that’s how.” Even critics, while sensing the film’s brilliance, thus find themselves at a loss how to capture that brilliance: John Anderson in the Wall Street Journal writes that the movie is “impervious to criticism, simply because no one short of a NASA systems analyst will be able to articulate the plot.”
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Scott Renshaw discusses Inception.
For weeks — nay, months — I played along with the coy refusals by writer/director Christopher Nolan and the cast members of Inception to reveal too much about its premise. I resisted the urge to watch online trailers; I shunned early reviews; in effect, I spent the entire spring doing everything but literally sticking my fingers in my ears and chanting “la la la la la.” So now I’m faced with a philosophical question nearly as thorny as those posed by Nolan in the film itself: How do I approach discussing its conceptual ambition while preserving that sense of discovery?
Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker who demands that you wrestle with ideas. Now, that doesn’t mean bowing down to him as pop culture’s answer to Socrates; he’s too gifted a showman to make it all about dissecting his koans. But for a decade, Nolan has built a body of work out of how we define our identity and our reality: the self-created memory of Memento; the existential magic trick at the climax of The Prestige; Batman’s surrender to what people need to believe in The Dark Knight. Inception finds him again in that familiar territory—and the result is something almost as thrilling to contemplate as it is to watch.
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An accessible discussion of Christopher Nolan as an auteur from Lainey Gossip.
Christopher Nolan is the only working auteur today.
At its simplest level, the auteur theory states that a director is the principal author of a film, despite the inherently industrial nature of filmmaking, in which dozens of parts must work together to create the whole. This is usually borne out by a cohesive creative vision evident throughout a director’s body of work.
I’m not a huge fan of the auteur theory because there are legitimate arguments to be made on behalf of screenwriters and producers, even actors, editors and cinematographers, as individuals whose vision can significantly determine the style of a film. However, I do think that it is the director’s job to unite these separate visions to serve his greater idea, so as a tool for judging directors, I believe the auteur theory is a good place to start.
Read the rest here. Try here for The Spin on Christopher Nolan.
It’s said that Christopher Nolan spent ten years writing his screenplay for “Inception.” That must have involved prodigious concentration, like playing blindfold chess while walking a tight-wire. The film’s hero tests a young architect by challenging her to create a maze, and Nolan tests us with his own dazzling maze. We have to trust him that he can lead us through, because much of the time we’re lost and disoriented. Nolan must have rewritten this story time and again, finding that every change had a ripple effect down through the whole fabric.
The story can either be told in a few sentences, or not told at all. Here is a movie immune to spoilers: If you knew how it ended, that would tell you nothing unless you knew how it got there. And telling you how it got there would produce bafflement. The movie is all about process, about fighting our way through enveloping sheets of reality and dream, reality within dreams, dreams without reality. It’s a breathtaking juggling act, and Nolan may have considered his “Memento” (2000) a warm-up; he apparently started this screenplay while filming that one. It was the story of a man with short-term memory loss, and the story was told backwards.
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I will keep adding reviews/views on films that you are interested in. This one is about Inception and it is written by John McAteer an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University.
Here’s a taste:
Like all of Christopher Nolan’s moviesInception (Nolan, 2010) is about self-deception (self-inception?, being the beginning of oneself?), particularly the self-deception involved in giving meaning to your life after a tragic and life-shattering event. I’ve only seen the movie once, but I suspect future viewings will support the interpretation that the entire movie was an elaborate hoax that the protagonist (Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dominic Cobb) played on himself in order to make himself think the ending of the movie was real when in fact it is a dream.
Read the rest here. Another review here.
This is an extract from a review of Inception from Film School Rejects.
I will say this now, without reservation and fully confident that many will agree; Inception is easily the best big budget film of the year thus far. I’ll go further and say that it’s one of the most beautiful, well written, and fully realized high dollar films of the last five years. Inception, is close to perfection.
Christopher Nolan is the reigning king of the non-linear plot, and master of deeply layered narratives that hook audiences and reel them in slowly. He salvaged the reputation of The Dark Knight on the big screen, and retooled the psychological thriller. Nolan’s body of work is compact, with seven films over twelve years — the most recent being Inception; and what an addition to the collection it is.
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As some of you are showing an interest in Christopher Nolan’s Inception I will add some reading for you. To start a lengthy discussion of the film by Gary Westfahl from Locus Online.
Like the architects of dreams in his film Inception, writer-director Christopher Nolan has constructed a world in the form of an intricate labyrinth and challenges his viewers to make their way through its many corridors and dead ends to finally escape, having solved all its mysteries. With only twenty-four hours of real time to explore and ponder this convoluted creation, I cannot say that I have completed the journey through Nolan’s maze; but I have gone far enough to be sure of one thing: that this film is not really about what it claims to be about.
What Inception claims to be about requires no critical acumen to discern, given its subject matter and numerous lines of dialogue. Nolan envisions a world in which individuals can employ a device, carried in a silver suitcase, that enables them to enter into and impose patterns on people’s dreams; although the technology was initially developed, we are told, as a way for armies to train their soldiers, it is now used by surreptitious operatives who are hired to either obtain information from people by manipulating such “shared dreaming” (“extraction”) or, more rarely, to plant an idea in someone’s brain (“inception”). An influential tycoon, Saito (Ken Watanabe), has allowed such a team, headed by Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), to attempt to get data from him through dreams as an “audition,” and then recruits Cobb to make Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy), the son of rival Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite), come up with the idea of breaking up his father’s business, thus allowing Saito to continue competing. With the help of his regular partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a new dream architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), a forger, Eames (Tom Hardy), a chemist, Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and Saito himself, Cobb proceeds to develop and implement a complex plan, involving dreams within dreams within dreams, to give Fischer the idea to destroy the powerful empire he is inheriting.
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