Saturday, August 7, 2010

Does your taste in movies predict your intelligence?

********** HUGE Inception Spoilers *********

Read the title. What's your answer? If it's what I suspect, please don't tell that to Doug, author of the following review of Inception, which was highly recommended by a friend:
I've come to think of this brilliant film as an intellectual barometer of sorts: show it to someone, and you'll observe a critical reaction directly proportional to their IQ.

A common complaint about 'Inception' amongst slower types seems to be that Mr. Nolan's film is 'confusing,' 'nonsense,' 'slow,' or 'lacks an emotional core.'

The filmic logic underlying 'Inception' is painstakingly planned and airtight, despite some claims that it is made up on the fly. Those that enjoy the film seem to have had little difficulty with its somewhat convoluted narrative structure. Viewers that can surmount this Chinese-box puzzle of narration are rewarded with the rich emotional core within.

The stupid, unfortunately, drop the box in frustration, unable to appreciate what occurs in the stunning final half hour. Sadly, if the thread is lost, one might as well have stared at a grey square for the previous two hours: the ending becomes meaningless.

Employers might do well to replace the frightful Myers-Briggs inventory, etc. with screenings of 'Inception.'
Wait, does he think the Myers-Briggs test assesses your IQ?

I guess he has a point though. If someone doesn't like the movies (or music) you like, they must be an idiot. If you're not interested in a violent, sci-fi thriller it's because you're "slow." It's not because you're an old lady who never had a taste for watching three dozen people's simulated deaths or because you've never cared much for sci-fi worlds when you can get lost in mythic lore. It's because you're a moron.

Some people have had the audacity to claim Inception isn't the most emotionally touching movie since Forrest Gump. Didn't you see Cobb's three emotional states (haunted 99% of the time, distraught at his wife's death,  enraged at Arthur)? Fortunately, Doug sets them straight.

Doug also notes the film's "airtight" logic, which isn't made up on the fly. In the middle of the movie they don't change the rules about dying. And the movie doesn't have any plot holes. Eames decides to go on with the mission because finishing it is the only way to escape the L.A. dream, though of course he ends up back in L.A. all the same. They plan for three dreams, yet conveniently there's a dream machine right in the middle of the hospital as needed.

But "the ending" is the heart of the movie, it's trump card for the award shows come winter. Only "the stupid" didn't notice that Cobb only wears his wedding ring in the dream world and isn't wearing it when he meets his kids. Everyone who is anyone pays careful attention to each character's left hand throughout the film.

On a final note, I like Doug's use of the British spelling of gray. It helps create a refined atmosphere for his musings.

A friend also recommended this review.

Visceral reaction: "wow, this guy needs to read Orwell because that didn't make shit worth o' sense at the end."

Upon reflection: He implies that Inception "[i]mplant[s] the seeds of revolutionary and/or world-changing ideas in viewers." My question: what are those ideas?

Is it "the importance of living in the real present?" No one ever told me "keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs" or "don't live in the past." At least no movie ever suggested it.

Is it to blaze your own trail "instead of slavishly . . . adhering to the . . . expectations of others?" Come to think of it, no one ever told me I should try to be my own man, though I do vaguely remember a play where the pretentious advisor said "above all else, to thine own self be true."

Is it that "we are masters of our own destiny?" That is indeed an original idea. I love the part where Cobb says "The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."

Is it that "'villains' are just figments of our imagination," that it's all in our heads and everyone wrestles with his own demons? Or that sometimes I'm my own worst enemy? Perhaps the message is that there is good and evil in everyone?

Whatever it is, Inception had a revolutionary new lesson to teach me. Since I don't know what it is, I'm forced to conclude I'm just another dumbass.

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