Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inception



Easily the most clever movie I've ever watched, and the highlight of my month (on the very last day of it, too). This is going to be a very hard post to write, since I want to rave but not spoil it for anyone, but I'll try my best.


First off, Inception is not a light-hearted movie. Not at all. It's not a movie you can watch while chatting to someone via sms or surfing the Net or whatever, no; Inception requires your full attention, as well as attention to detail in order for you to fully grasp what's happening. And, so you don't get lost in all those details, you have to keep reminding yourself about their mission.


Inception tells the story of Dom Cobb, a thief of sorts who is able to extract information from people's subconscious by entering their dreams. Saito, a Japanese businessman, seeks him out to hire him for a job that is thought by many to be impossible: plant an idea in someone's mind instead of take it. Realising that it is a preposterous idea, Saito makes Cobb an offer he can't refuse in exchange for the inception.


Cobb accepts and assembles a team of five -- Ariadne, a college student who is the architect of the dream the team is going to enter; Arthur, Cobb's partner in charge of research; Eames, a cheat at poker who is able to take the form of other people in dreams; Yusuf, a chemist who formulated the sedative to keep the dreamers under for as long as necessary; and Cobb himself.




Together, they train the young Ariadne and plan their mission. Saito's and therefore their target is Robert Fischer, the heir of a company rival to Saito's. The team is to put the idea of breaking up his father's empire into the younger Mr. Fischer's head. It is agreed that inception cannot be done on a superficial level, and that they have to go deeper in order for the idea to take; what the team has to do is create a dream within a dream within a dream.


At the last minute, Saito insists that he come along, lest he be deceived about the success of the inception. The team isn't happy, but they are powerless to stop him. The six of them, thanks to Saito having bought an entire airline, manage to get Mr. Fischer alone on a first-class flight and infiltrate his dreams. Then begins the delving into deeper and deeper layers, and I should stop now because you really need to watch this yourself.


If you haven't already, go watch Inception! Everyone I know who's watched it -- really, everyone, I'm not exaggerating -- says it's really good...even the ones who didn't understand it.


P.S. When Joseph Gordon-Levitt first came on the screen, I couldn't remember where I'd seen him before and kept thinking he was Heath Ledger. Then I reminded myself that Heath Ledger is dead. They look so much alike! (That's Joseph on the left and Heath on the right. RIP, Heath.)




Click here if you've already watched it:


SO COBB WAS IN A DREAM AFTER ALL. HIS WIFE WAS RIGHT. OHMYGOODNESS.


You know, I figured out that that was what was going on when Cobb dropped the spinning top after washing his face in the sink at Yusuf's spooky sleeping chamber. Unless I'm severely mistaken, you never get to see whether the top stops spinning or not; the camera pans away, he gets distracted, he stops it himself, or it falls. We were told it was Mal's totem, but I guess it works the same way for him. Makes you wonder if he knew all along, since he was always spinning it.


The one on the right looks quite like the totem.


Another thing I don't get is how he and Saito managed to come back from limbo. I thought if you were stuck there, you were stuck there. Wasn't that what all of them were so afraid of when they first found out? Or was it just that you get stuck there for a really long time ('really long' meaning decades) before returning to reality?


So that's what I thought of Inception. What did you think?

8 comments:

  1. [DISCUSSIONS ABT SPOILERS]
    I think abt Saito's limbo part has something to do with the first 15 minutes we missed in the beginning. From what I've read from wiki, that scene was something at the beginning.
    [DISCUSSIONS ABT SPOILERS]

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  2. Ahhah, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both in 10 Things I Hate About You! Maybe that's why? xD

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  3. Kent:
    No, Sze Li said the ending is the starting, pretty much. Wikipedia says that too.

    Sharona:
    But I never watched that! They do look alike. D: Mr. Ledger's cheekbones are higher, tho, I think. Did you watch 500 Days of Summer?

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  4. [SPOILER ALERT]

    The entire movie is a dream. Whose dream? It seems like Cobb's dream, so lets run with that.

    Mal is right that Cobb is living in a dream. The movie itself gives you pointers on this.

    There was a scene that tells you about how strange things happen in dreams, but you don't notice it because you're dreaming, and you notice it after you wake up.

    In retrospect, there were a number of strange events in the movie which took place in 'real' life, which the movie itself didn't bother explaining. While watching the movie, I didn't notice, but after I went home and thought about it for a while, I realised that things like how Mal ended up opposite the window to their hotel room, how unlikely it was that Saito managed to find Cobb just as he got out of the narrowing alleyway, and a few other things which I don't quite remember.

    The narrowing passage to freedom while he was running away from the hit men is also a reference to the feeling of entrapment you get while in a nightmare.

    And while the use of totems is an interesting way of keeping track of reality, Cobb's totem used to belong to Mal. I'm assuming the Mal throughout the movie is a projection of Cobb's sub-concious (because the entire movie is a dream), so by extension the top totem is a dream object. Since it is the only totem we get to see in action, it means nothing as to whether 'reality' in the movie IS reality or not.

    We do see Adriadne testing her totem after making it, but we do not know the mechanics of how it functions. Again inconclusive.

    And remember how we're not able to remember getting into a dream?

    Well, how did the movie start? How exactly did the movie start? With a dream within a dream right? They had to wake up twice before ending up in the train. So even 'real' life in the movie doesn't have a conclusive beginning. We're only given the most vague of clues about how they ended up there. Something about a mysterious corporation wanting to know Saito's expansion plans for his company and wanting to kill him after they fail.

    It that true, or is a a convenient way to explain away the hit men who are trying to kill Cobb in 'real' life? Or are they sub-concious security forces?

    Final thing. Isn't it true that a movie in a way is a shared dream?

    I know I got a whole series of disjointed ideas written down here. I'd always had that problem expressing thoughts. XD

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  5. I considered all that save for the parts where I assumed the director was playing what I call the movie card -- it's a movie, and that in itself explains how those things could happen. So him managing to escape from the narrow not-quite-dead-end (which city would have something like that anyway?) and Saito swooping him into his car, I explained away with the playing of the movie card.

    I think Ariadne's totem has something to do with balance. We saw her testing it by knocking it over with a finger. She was...filing it down or something, was it? Maybe she got the idea from the top, in a dream it won't fall. We never got to see her use it, tho.

    That's the thing, the top. Isn't one totem unique to one person only? Or since Mal was dead, Cobb was able to take over her totem and use it for himself? But, honestly, it doesn't really matter, since we never really saw it function. We never saw it fall, did we?

    If the hit men were subconscious projections, that would mean that Cobb himself was an intruder of the dream, meaning the dream wasn't his. So that would kinda defeat the purpose of your argument, I think?

    I do believe that the whole thing was a dream. The damn top totem never fell, okay. But as to whether it was a shared dream...is that even possible? I mean, it can be shared when others infiltrate the dream, yeah, but that doesn't seem to be the case, I think.

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  6. I actually kinda feel that the strange occurrences were the director's way of showing that the entire movie is a dream, including 'real' life in the movie. Not the other way around where the director tries to explain away the strange occurrences by saying it a movie. You could still be right though. *shrug* Inception is WIDE open to interpretation.

    Ariadne's totem has probably something to do with balance, yes, but we don't really know.

    Agreed. Top totem means nothing. I can't remember if it fell or not, I'll bring along a notebook the next time I watch it. XD

    To explain the hit men and why they were hunting Cobb, I think we have to go back through the mechanics of dream sharing again.

    To share a dream, someone has to dream. Let's call him the host. The others connect to the host via the weird machine in a suitcase with the sedative.

    When other people connect to the host's dream, the bring along their own individual sub-concious projections. This explains how Cobb's projection of Mal can mess up the mission. This also explains how Fischer's sub-concious security can attack them in Yusuf's dream of the rainy city. Yusuf is The Chemist.

    Participants in the dream can also shape the dream. This is why an external architect is possible.

    Hit men don't hit intruders, in that sense, as the rainy city was Yusuf's dream. Hit men hit the people who are threatening the owner of the hit men, i.e. everyone on the team as they kidnapped Fischer.

    The hotel dream is Arthur's dream. I need to rewatch to be sure, but I believe the clue is in the scene where Arthur asks Ariadne to kiss him in the hotel lobby.

    In the hotel, Fischer is alerted to the fact that he is in a dream. When Cobb 'runs with Mr Charles' he poses as his dream security, causing his real dream security to attack the inception team as they are, in essence, kidnapping him again.

    The mountain stronghold with paramilitary troops is located within Eames' dream. The paramilitary troops are supposed to be Browning's security, whom Eames was impersonating, but they are actually plants to make Fischer believe that he is breaking into a closely held secret. I think.

    Sooo, in conclusion, the 'real' life hit men may be plants.

    Or they may be real.

    I saw this comment somewhere online.

    The way I see it, the ending of Inception is such that it performs inception on the audience. Subtle clues throughout, coupled with an open ending plants the idea in our heads that maybe the whole film really was a dream.

    I guess the joke's on us second-guessers. XD Christopher Nolan is a genius.

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  7. Aw, sheet. All this is mind-bending giler.

    Ahhh, I can't believe I forgot about Mal's constant appearances as well as the freight train! You're right!

    The hotel was Arthur's dream, yes, but then why were the projections staring at him and Ariadne like that? And, in the same dream, the projections were staring at Cobb in the restaurant, remember? The minute Fischer said out loud "You're not real", they all looked away. But it was Arthur's dream. o.O

    HA! I like that comment, it rings so true. It's so clever to have a movie like this. Then you have people going to cinemas to watch it over and over again to see if they manage to obtain new info, no matter how obscurely presented. Have you heard of the ring theory?

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  8. What ring theory? There are a thousand and one theories out there...hahaha.

    I think the people were staring at Ariadne. Not Arthur. I think the joke behind "Ah well, it was worth a try." was that if Ariadne kissed Arthur, his sub-concious projections would stop considering her as a foreign contaminant? (Quoting Wall-E. Hahaha I love that little robot...)

    I have no idea how to explain Fischer drawing attention to Cobb. It isn't his dream, so he shouldn't be the one controlling the people in that perticular restaurant.

    The first thing one of my friends said after watching Inception. "The blonde was hot." I tell you ar, seriously some people....lol...

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