“Inception” is a visually stunning, intelligent multi level chess game of a thriller concerning a man and his team who can break into a person’s dreams and steal their ideas. The story’s premise asks if our hero can break into a person’s subconscious and actually plant an idea as opposed to taking one. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the protagonist, named Cobb, who is attempting this difficult mission. Cobb is a man whose past experience in the dream world has left him with a demon of his own.
The films of “Inception” writer/director Christopher Nolan usually leave me somewhat confused, but, at the same time, intrigued and ready for another viewing. I have never completely understood “Momento” (2002) and I still have a DVD of “The Prestige” (2006) awaiting another viewing. I have also been meaning to get back to “The Dark Knight” (2008). So with “Inception” I grabbed tightly to the back of the seat in front of me and tried to hang on. For the most part I was successful. “Inception’s” twists and turns and mountains of exposition made me feel like a soccer goalie trying to stop several balls at once. Ultimately “Inception” proved to be one of Nolan’s more accessible movies. Par for the course there was confusion, but I am curious enough for an additional viewing…or two.
“Inception” successfully negotiates a daunting task in that it must establish and keep clear the entire world in which these dream intruders operate. In fact at one point, in the middle of a particularly intricate maneuver, a member of the team expresses confusion as to whose sub-conscious the team is about to enter. The comment received a big laugh from the opening night audience at the Ziegfeld Theatre who no doubt had the same question.
A word about the Ziegfeld: “Inception” is a film best seen there, as is just about any other movie. The Ziegfeld is one of Manhattan’s last remaining single screen movie houses and certainly the most oppulent. The Ziegfeld is an elegant, plush, old time movie theatre boasting a huge screen that no other theatre can rival. The audiences that are sophisticated enough to seek out this West 54 Street movie palace, as opposed to the run-of-the-mill multiplex, add to the experience. They are intelligent, reactive and truly “get” the movies.
“Inception” uses a ton of innovative special effects that are an integral part of the story. In last week’s column I wrote that “Knight and Day” employed a clunky plot device of having a character pass out and then awaken in another location. While I hope the makers of “Inception” will forgive me for even mentioning the Tom Cruise debacle in the same column as their film, “Inception” handles the idea of someone passing out and winding up in a different location with so much more intelligence, creativity, meaning and imagination that the difference is, well, like night and day.
Inception, Director Christopher Nolan, 2010,
Warner Brothers, 148 minutes, rated PG-13