Friday, August 8, 2014

Extracting Inception

This change in the post schedule is messing with me.  I keep getting confused about what I’m supposed to be writing.  I could claim that it’s my ball and we’ll play whatever game I chose, but that sort of defeats the challenge – writing to deadline and prompt.

After thinking carefully, I recalled that Friday is when I look at a specific movie, script or screen.  It’s supposed to be script, but I don’t always read as many scripts as I should to become an awesome screenwriter.  Watching movies can also be helpful, if you watch for such key things as structure, dialogue, character development...

I watched Inception this week for that very purpose.  I saw it in the theater and enjoyed it.  It’s #1’s favorite movie.  After seeing way too many previews for Interstellar and reading a few interviews with Christopher Nolan, I was ready to study his mind twisting thriller rather than just go along for the ride.

There is a clear protagonist and the fundamental question is asked within the first few minutes – “What is real?”  The rest flows organically and the film isn’t afraid to ponder deep questions ranging from “Why is the point” to substance abuse.  Over and over, our hero is presented with the argument that we should make/chose our own reality and each time he fights back with a resounding, “No!”

I like that.  In a world guided by situational ethics, the dedication of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character to one absolute truth is both remarkable and admirable.  He sacrifices tremendously for truth.  Not that he’s a shining knight, he has his flaws and is less than honest with his team. There’s also the underlying conceit that what he does is illegal.  Sort of an Ocean’s 11 approach to the law.

The visual effects are very good and Mr. Nolan gets away with a lot because he filming dreams so it doesn’t have to make sense.  But it’s far from random.  Each scene is carefully structured and builds to the climax.  The story guides us so seamlessly that it’s easy to miss that we’re being set up.

The pace slows in a few places but it picks back up quickly and reminds us that Inception is not a shoot ‘em up.  It’s a serious look at how we see ourselves and our world.  I finished watching thinking that I definitely needed to find a copy of the script.

One aspect of the narrative that really resonated with me was how the structure of shared dreaming worked.  Two supporting characters discuss it, a sort of master/apprentice, and that freed up the protagonist to be used later, adding a twist to the plot based on his issues with construction/navigation while they were all dreaming.

It was also interesting how a supporting character was able to drive the story and draw plot elements from the protagonist.  If Leo had been the one to reveal everything all the way through, we’d have become quite sick of him.

There’s a bit of violence but it isn’t anything we don’t see on TV.  Ditto for the language (except for the seeing part, it’s more of hearing for that).  If you haven’t seen it and enjoy twists, turns, and deep questions, I recommend Inception.  It's Shutter Island without the sick feeling.

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