Inception and Imaginariums and the powers of dreams and hype…

Why am I the only person who finds Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus similar? Both films contain the concept of being able to enter your subconscious and experiencing your dreams subconsciously. I guess the big differences would be that Inception has more structure, didn’t suffer from the death of it’s main actor and focuses more on what happens in the dream than the dream itself. But when I saw both movies (Inception first), I did find a sense of similarity between them….

If there’s one thing I have actually learned from Inception apart from the fact that Nolan and DiCaprio mess with your head, it’s that hype always gets the better of any movie. Yesterday I saw Inception for the third time in theaters because I wanted a final resolution to the confusion in my head. I got it, but I think a blu-ray would help things more. The third time really cleared my head about it. I have this problem where I can’t make a decision about a movie simply after the first viewing. For normal movies, the second time is enough. My conclusion is that I liked Inception’s trailer better than the actual movie. See, the trailer promised all sorts of things, things exciting and original and amazingly awesome. The movie did have awesome moments, but it destroyed the expectation that I had had for it. I think the problem does not lie with the movie and Nolan itself, but with me as a fan. Ever since The Dark Knight, I’ve been a huge fan of Nolan and DiCaprio ever since The Departed and so I followed Inception like a dog chasing cars. As a result, hype set in and I couldn’t wait for July 16 to solve the mystery. Like Agatha Christie said, “Excitement is instigated not in the capture, but in the thrill of the pursuit” or something like that, you get what I’m saying. But once I saw it, I didn’t know what to do with it…the thrill was gone. I guess what I’m suggesting to myself is never to spoil a movie by creating expectations for it, because it will never live up to them…

Overall, the most enthralling feature of Inception to me was the concept that it posed to the audience about dream sharing and dream navigation. I find dreams fascinating simply because you can do anything in them. One of the problems I had with Inception was that all of the dreams did not seem like dreams. I’ve had dreams where I’m a super hero and I’m showing off my superpowers, there was nothing fantastical in the dreams. Like instead of being able to design the three places they’re in, the places keep shifting spontaneously: a rainy city to a spaceship to a cramped toilet (hey this movie just got better!). If there were random stuff that affected the inception, it would have made it even more plausible than the methodical scripting of Nolan’s dream world. That’s what Imaginarium did and that’s why I felt a combination of those two movies vision wise would have greatly benefited both movies. I happened to notice that only Cobb had problems keeping his subconsciousness in check… Is it only Cobb who has the ability to throw a speeding freight train through an empty street? Never mind that, because any question I ask is pointless. The other thing about Inception is that Nolan uses truisms about dreams to provide a realistic theory to his concept, stuff like how much time you spend in dreams and the impact of outside factors on the dream. The power of a dream is inherent from the example of James Cameron: he came up with the idea for The Terminator after seeing a man walk out of blazing flames in his dreams. The cinematic power of the dream is also inherent: it will affect the characters of the movie in one way or another, just like Inception’s dreams do. The final problem that I have with Inception is the action sequences. Stuff like the rolling hotel corridor fight and the snow chase were really boring for me. They didn’t satisfy me in a kick-ass way. There were no BANG punches or SWISH SLASH BOOM moments. The music drowned out most of it. The Dark Knight action sequences rocked, so I wonder why Nolan doesn’t give me an awe-inspiring action set up. Maybe I had lost all emotional investment at the end. And DiCaprio may have outlived his mourning husband role that he first played in Shutter Island because it feels all too familiar right now. Still, the close-up of the spinning top IS pretty cool.

Here’s Inception’s teaser. Now you tell me that that isn’t a hype generator.

Conceptually, Inception has a mind blowing one, rivaling those of The Matrix, Dark City and the more recent Knowing. But when it comes developing it, Nolan spends to much time peeling off too many layers of this beautiful onion, and giving us tears of helplessness in the end (is that a pun?). I like my dreams, but I’m worried Nolan’s not having any….
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