Film Genre Teaching

‘Inception’ redux

I went to see Inception for a second time, in an IMAX theatre. Several things happened:

  • I enjoyed it more this time than the first time. It really is a lovely-looking movie.
  • I got to hear an even larger audience of people sigh frustratedly in unison at the final scene. I still don’t get this, by the way — once you see the REDACTED SPOILER THING, how can you not know what Nolan is going to do with that scene?
  • I traumatized myself by thinking about what it would be like to watch Mysterious Skin in IMAX. (Giant hands on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s skinny chest!) We watched that for the first time this week, and I’ll admit that I don’t understand its good reviews, either, much as I adore JGL; talk about movies structured as if they’re setting up surprising reveals when they aren’t.

I still don’t think Inception is a perfect masterpiece or even much of a mystery, but I’ve enjoyed thinking about it. If you also enjoy thinking about it, you might be interested to know that Hans Zimmer’s score is based on a slowed-down sample of the Edith Piaf song that’s so important to the dreamers (via Merrie Haskell). This is extra interesting to me because the Crystal Castles song that I mentioned in my last Inception post — “Violent Dreams,” the one that Zimmer’s score reminded me of — is also based on a slowed-down sample of a different song (Stina Nordenstam’s “A Walk in the Park”), as I discovered when I was googling it after seeing the movie the first time. Intriguing that the auditory landscape of dreams is slowed-down music, and that somehow my brain recognized that before I knew that Zimmer’s score or the Crystal Castles song had used that technique.

Other interesting (and spoilery) Inception links: the one about Cobb’s wedding ring, and the one with a bingo card for Christopher Nolan movies.


  1. You know some reviewers complained it was lacking in the heart/feelings department. What do you think of that critique? I agree it’s not terribly heartfelt and I wish there was more strangeness and sophistication to Mal and Cobb’s story. But several reviewers talked about how the stakes didn’t feel high enough and they consequently found it hard to care about the adventure and plotting. I can say that I felt emotionally invested enough to want to know what was going to happen.

    I think there are probably interesting ideas, but none of them had the kind of effect on me that Fisher’s dream was supposed to have on him.

    How’s dissertation writing and Killingly going amidst teaching classes?

  2. The first time I saw it, I did feel that the secondary characters were insufficiently developed, but the second time I was less bothered by the sketchiness of their portraits, maybe because I do think the actors playing them did pretty fine work. I liked the Mal/Cobb story well enough, but I think some of the hints at tangential stories are more intriguing. Saito’s married mistress, Yusuf’s basement full of dreamers, Robert Fischer’s sad life. Everybody’s totems! I love a narrative that gives you some kind of personality extrapolation object (like the daemons in His Dark Materials).

    The diss writing is going pretty well — I have to do major surgery on the first chapter I wrote and split it into two, and write a conclusion, and revise. I’m hoping to finish the chapter revision by September and get started on Killingly then!

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