One central conceit of Chris Nolan’s movie ‘Inception’ is that an idea, once planted, is unstoppable. No direct spoilers below – unless you follow links. Providing spoilers requires more cognitive commitment than just watching it.
‘Inception’ is supposed to pass for ‘high concept’ science fiction these days. Some compare it to Fellini’s ‘8 1/2’ – seriously. (Bonus points if you knew before Googling where CHUD came from). Remember all those now tenured faculty launching careers ‘revealing’ hidden subtexts in the first three Star Wars movies? Same deal, geekier arena.
People playing the pundit game these days are no different. We remember leaving ‘Attack of the Clones’ with a national security type and spouse. The spouse — whom you may even read on the Interwebs now — was crestfallen, bemoaning all those years studying the VHS tapes . . . wasted. So one might want to wait before writing off the ‘Inception’-Fellini meme. It may have a long half-life.
If it’s not Fellini, what is it? It’s doing good business for one thing. The movie boasts a remarkable 85% ‘fresh’ rating from Rotten Tomatoes. New Yorker critic David Denby doesn’t buy it. We’ll let you decide. Despite the ads, this movie works as well on a big screen now, Cinemax later or even computer monitor.
We do think
Fellini Chris Nolan is on to at least one thing. A week ago we read this review declaring ‘Inception’ to be a calamitous pitch of Clooney’s self-admiring ‘Ocean’s 11’ meets ‘The Matrix’. Clever, actually – and funny if you remember Buck Henry’s pitch meeting in ‘The Player.’
The relevant point? The reviewer kept mocking Di Caprio as ‘fetus face’. Childish. Dismissible.
So it’s a week later. In a movie theater surrounded by people who subscribe to AARP magazine (we ignore the direct mail). They really do reach and turn off their cellphones when told to do so before the previews, etc. Then the movie. And from scene one all we could do was keep thinking ‘fetus face.’ Scene after scene. Until final credits. You see, an idea, once planted really is unstoppable. We were . . . incepted, if you will.
Someone could just say ‘Hey Stiftung, check out this queen of hearts, yo!’ More succinct. Ten bucks saved. No fetal imagery. If ‘Inception’ is the price for at least one future greenlit good sci-fi movie ‘to cash in’, a reasonable down payment. A shame it couldn’t ever plausibly be compared to ‘Satyricon’.
But did you know you are being incepted now as you read this? You *will* remember this exact moment years in the future. When someone turns to explain the deep subtexts within the first ‘Inception Trilogy’. You will wake up. In America.