July 26th, 2010

The Insipidness of Inception. A Crime Against Art


Watching director Christopher Nolan’s new film Inception reminded me of the golden years of disco, when everyone was coked out of their minds — especially film makers — and thought every whim or tiny particle of an original thought was pure genius: “Oh, oh — and then we’ll have the arrondissements of Paris rise up into the air and turn in on themselves — accompanied by a cranking sound! Oh, dude, love it. You’re fucking brilliant!). As critic Stephanie Zacherak noted in her scathing review: “Wouldn’t it have been easier just to make a movie?”

The discursive, manic pace and ridiculous dialogue in Inception was another coke-mania-like reminder for me. Throughout, I regretted bringing my Night Guard to the theater, that device I sometimes wear to bed to prevent grinding my teeth. In fact, if I heard the word ‘subconscious’ uttered One. More. Time. — a term for the unconscious that even the Theosophists threw out when Blavatsky died — I was going to fire off a self-induced aneurysm.

Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Nolan’s oeuvre. I got up and left in the middle of Dark Knight, so weary I was of meaningless explosions, the thudding score and the creepy sound of Christian Bale’s fake lower register whisper (again, reminding me of another golden years of disco moment: the rising popularity of porn and the way guys were supposed to sound who were portraying ‘sexy.’)

But my biggest objection to Inception is — surprise — related to symbolism. And its rape.

I make my living working with dreams: my client’s. I’m steeped in this world daily. And I respect and honor the dream realm’s mystery and power. As my friend, astrologer Heather Roan Robbins noted: For a dreamscape, Inception was nothing but special effects without a plot. And worse, you cared little about the characters. I would also point out the film’s dullard-like score; in place to remind you that “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE EXCITED HERE …THIS IS A DANGEROUS SCENE! HAVE YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS START SQUIRTING NOW!”

The real crime of Incepton is its utter lack of soul. And this is representative of our culture’s dreamscape in general. We’re so starved for art that might align (or promises to align) us with heart and perhaps ‘deeper’ meaning (consider our rabid embrace of the movie Avatar), we’ll consider any idiotic, special FX bone thrown our way a ‘hit.’  Filmmakers who churn out shit like this should be working in the labor camps that manufacture video games, that’s the level of artistic engagement available with a film like Inception.

The drubbing, mind-numbing quality of television (i.e., reality tv shows), the death of the theatrical spirit that was born with the Greeks many years ago (oh, they’re remounting Showboat again, on Broadway, for the 800th time!?) is what spawns films like Inception — and the audience’s reception of them. Gurdjieff called this sort of phenomena a “pouring of the empty into the void.” Or to borrow a line from Gertrude Stein when describing Oakland: “There’s no there there.”

There was one element related to Inception that did ring true for me, and that was the film’s trumpeted slogan: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.” Jesus, I’ll say: A crime against art.

47 Responses to 'The Insipidness of Inception. A Crime Against Art'
Filed Under: Kulture
  1. Sara remarks:

    Well, but come on–how d’ya REALLY feel about this film?

    At least it spawned a very funny and scathing review. I lol’d as they say in younger-people-land. Thanks for reminding me that that hunger gnawing at my bones is for art with soul–where oh where is that?

    July 26th, 2010 at 11:01 am
  2. godfrey hamilton remarks:

    Frederick – lovely and pithy review! Of the current releases, ‘Toy Story 3’ and Tilda Swinton’s ‘I Am Love’ have moved to the top of my list (inception has pretty much dropped off it). And while we’re on the subject, did you get to see the very moving and powerful ‘Un Prophete’? It’s on dvd about now, and if you haven’t yet, then do.
    Sara – there is plenty of art, real art, even in a commercialised context, all over the place and wherever you care to look. Don’t give up just yet.

    July 27th, 2010 at 12:32 am
  3. Sabina remarks:

    Ah, Frederick,
    The only trouble with your hilariously incisored review is I now feel I MUST see Inception or lose cred in any debate. Same thinking forced me to rent Avatar (so I missed all the brouhaha 3D effects) cuz I wanted to ken what the fuss was about. (Best 3D film I ever saw was Warhol’s Frankenstein; but then, camp was his forte, if not quite innovation.)
    I’m still giggling: glad you got it off your chest or brain or wherever!

    July 31st, 2010 at 10:36 am
  4. Orpha Burgeson remarks:

    Tend not to listen to any nay-sayers related to this cinema..
    . they are certainly human brain dead teenagers who aren’t aged ample to have an understanding of this kind of intellectual viewing..
    This is certainly a highly believed provoking cinema that You’ve got to maintain up with, no going on the bathroom or concession stand or you will likely be dropped the rest with the motion picture! Go see at theatre considering extraordinary side effects alone are adequate to want to check out movie flick!

    August 2nd, 2010 at 1:47 pm
  5. Johnna Novacek remarks:

    The Taoist text recognised since the Chuang Tzu asks how we know we are not inside a desire when we walk up from a goal. Creation leaves you asking the exact same query. It can make you query “reality”, which is wherever the similarity with the Matrix lies. Inception subtly insinuates that existence is illusionary, or synonymous with what Indian philosophy refers to as “Maya.” So that you can bring this topic closer to home, the motion picture adroitly exposes the self-created, phantasmal and haunting character of emotional attachments, which is why we are reminded of Solaris when seeing Inception. Taken as a complete, these movies invite us to consider the character of our mind and its desperate would need to make sense out for the insecurity and instability that defines human existence. Considering these give rise to yearnings, hopes and expectations, existence can also be filled with pain, which is why there’s a Buddhist message the following as well.

    August 2nd, 2010 at 9:39 pm
  6. jess remarks:

    What this made me think of was rewatching the Connections series with James Burke. Sometime back in 1978 there was still a professor who was suggesting there was a difference between science and technology — one was a spiritual journey, and one was a profitable toymaker.

    I remember that distinction from college. But anyone born after the Altair 8800 would not know what the hell he meant by that.

    September 21st, 2010 at 1:59 am
  7. Ryan Montazami remarks:

    However, the special effects would mean nothing if the story wasn’t good. For this reason, even something as simple as a spinning top holds your attention in a way you would never think it would when seeing it in this film. The credit here can be given to writer and director Christopher Nolan, who has not made a bad film yet. There are many twists and turns in this film, but Nolan never loses his focus in the process of telling the story. If Nolan does not get nominated for Best Director and/or Best Original Screenplay next Oscar season, there is something terribly wrong with the Academy.

    November 4th, 2010 at 3:47 pm
  8. Roger T remarks:

    This cracked me up. So I take it you didn’t like the film?

    November 4th, 2010 at 10:03 pm
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