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NotHugh's 'LoveFilm Instant' Journey #1: Inception 
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Post NotHugh's 'LoveFilm Instant' Journey #1: Inception
After it took an hour to figure out how to stream LoveFilm through our Wii last night, I then sat down and revisited Nolan's 2010 sci-fi mindfuck. A bit like Ken did and commented on recently.

I'll start by saying that before I joined this forum I had some, almost sub-conscious, notion that Nolan had a ... let's say ... awkward directorial style. I liked what he had set out to achieve with rebooting Batman and one or two others, but still something played on my mind a bit. After joining here I understood that many thought the same, so I watched Inception (for the 3rd time) with the aim of paying keen attention so I might understand my own musings better.

Firstly, the film is clearly a labour of love. If there is a corner cut on the story, I'd love to know where it is. So any faults can't be due to a lack of care, per-se. The first problem for me is the fact that the story is running at about 140% capacity. A bit like trying to drive a family saloon at 130mph .. in 3rd gear. Looking closely there are some brilliant ideas, notions, and dare I even be as pretentious to say “comments on the human condition”. How far could or should we reach into our own minds at the expense of the real world for contentment? And I like the idea that an entire Universe is contained within each and every individual. Like Orwell said on watching a public execution in Burma – a man dies, an entire world disappears. That’s a nice comment in an industry that treats people as collateral. But these positives are swamped by the overwhelming story-arc, and although I may not me the quickest of cats, I still think 3 views for these themes to emerge is quite onerous.

And that gets me to the next point – Nolan’s visual style. This is his problem in my view. The bleak cinematography has actually never bothered me, it kind of works in the noir-ish sense, it’s just what he films, and for how long.
I actually think Nolan gets it. He’s a smart man who knows his stuff, but the way scenes are shot don’t allow me to absorb enough information, meaning I’m not getting the full enjoyment from the screenplay. My favourite visual part of the film is the retrospective where Di Caprio and Coltard are walking through the streets of their own sub-conscious, because these are about the only scenes in the film where the viewer is allowed to the get the full visual experience. The rest is diluted with a sense of visual obliqueness that renders detail superfluous, and will leave people frustrated.

I get Nolan’s critics, I do. But I don’t dislike any of his films; and Inception as many plus points underneath the sometimes near impenetrable style. But he is like a steak that has been smothered in the wrong sauce. You get a deep satisfaction, but one coated with a layer of frustration.

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Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:34 am
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Post Re: NotHugh's 'LoveFilm Instant' Journey #1: Inception
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The bleak cinematography has actually never bothered me, it kind of works in the noir-ish sense, it’s just what he films, and for how long.


Interesting. This is a good way to put it. In fact, the bold might even summarize the craft of direction. You can relate that to everything, from performances to simple actions. I can understand where there's more to filmmaking than that, but the importance of it is fascinating. For me, the two scenes I like in Nolan's movies are the zero gravity scenes in Inception and Rises. Hopefully, he exploits it in Interstellar. Man of Steel may convince me that he has something to offer, but he has trouble isolating the best and worst parts of his material. There needs to be a starker contrast between set-up and payoff. Then the setup is more fun because you feel like you have something to look forward to. It's an oversimplification maybe, but saving the best for last is important.

But that's all a bit separate from the bold, which is more elemental. Units of direction which amount to pacing. What Kael described as "movie sense." Kael believed in instincts, but it may be that in future years more people will start trying to measure that down to an exact science. I can't deny it's a difficult thing to resist, if it's possible. This is an early, tedious stage of something like it:

http://cinemetrics.fredericbrodbeck.de/


Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:25 am
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Post Re: NotHugh's 'LoveFilm Instant' Journey #1: Inception
Interestingly the zero gravity scene is one of the few scenes where he focuses on something clearly and for long enough for the viewer to fully establish what’s going on. Despite the relative plot-complexity it involves.

The very worst of Nolan’s habit can be observed in the Dark Knight and the car chase scene that even a real-life Dr Manhattan would struggle to de and re-construct. I hope someone high up in the chambers of the movie gods gave Nolan a bollocking for that.

But back to Inception, if it was diluted, slowed down a bit, and shot in a less oblique fashion – it could be tremendous.

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Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:26 am
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Post Re: NotHugh's 'LoveFilm Instant' Journey #1: Inception
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But back to Inception, if it was diluted, slowed down a bit, and shot in a less oblique fashion – it could be tremendous.


Agreed, which is why a sequel shouldn't be out of the question. Nolan sought to make a standalone achievement, but some concepts are just paradoxically too good for one movie and not good enough for a standalone masterpiece. Like Bond. Inception begs for a sequel a lot more than either Iron Man or The Dark Knight did. More than Man of Steel too. Execution aside, the concept has a lot of potential.

The Dark Knight's car chase suffers from overly slow pacing more than anything. The part where I really couldn't tell what was going on is the Sonar vision sequence in the trump tower. I saw Batman fly into the building, then I saw him fly up to fight the joker. I'll be damned if I could make out anything he did in between. There was blue in there somewhere, I know that much.


Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:27 am
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Post Re: NotHugh's 'LoveFilm Instant' Journey #1: Inception
I think the problem with that chase scene is the geography of it.

Someone (possibly Ken again) previously challenged anyone to draw a map of what happened in that chase. And I bet no-one could. Not even Nolan.

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Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:24 am
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