Monday, July 19, 2010

Shared Blogging

Brandon, I'm eagerly anticipating your post. No cheating. You can't read this until you've made your own Inception post.

On the occasion of being in nearly complete agreement with Armond White about Inception, I offer up this list in honor of his dastardly contrariness.

I've seen 11 films in 2010.  10 of them are better than Inception.

Top Ten Films of 2010 That Are Better Than Inception:

1) The Book of Eli
The inclusion of this film here is completely unfair.  I watched the first 2/3rds last night and don't know how it all ends;  I could be really disappointed.  But, in honor of White, I won't let my not having seen the whole film stop me from discussing it here as better than Inception.  Book of Eli caught me up in its violent post-apocalyptic atmosphere.  The shot of Eli washing with a KFC moist towelette is seriously brilliant.  There's nothing even remotely close to that level of human understanding in the miserable inhuman puzzle box that is Inception. 

2) Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 succeeds as a prison escape action picture while remaining a heartfelt children's comedy.  Inception also works on dual levels, successfully embedding an intricate heist setup within an almost dizzying Zelaznian science fantasy premise.  I respect Nolan's ambition.  I'm just not impressed with the end product.  There isn't a single moment in Inception that is half as audaciously awesome as TS3's Mr. TortillaHead or a quarter as tense or emotional as TS3's incinerator scene.

3) Shutter Island
Shutter Island is a Titan standing next to Inception.  Inception talks big and walks big, but it's all bluff and bluster.  Shutter Island is the real deal.  Both star Leonardo DiCaprio.  Shutter Island may be his best performance.  Inception doesn't give him anything to work with besides mouthfuls of exposition.  Shutter Island has some of the most beautiful, daring, and disturbing dream images that I've seen in a movie.  Inception felt less like a dream and more like I was stuck listening to someone else tell me at length about their dreams over breakfast.  Shutter Island explores living in a shifting psychological reality in a much more emotionally satisfying way.  Inception barely scratches the surface.  Related to all of this, Shutter Island effectively explores grief and living in the wake of loss.  Inception cheapens every relationship in it.  None of the characters feel any more real than the tidy dreamscape that they find themselves in.

4) Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland is a much more pleasant dream than Inception.  It's that simple.  Alice is good and reflects on how her behavior affects not only herself, but others.  Cobb is selfish and almost evil and this is never questioned.  I choose Alice.

5) How to Train Your Dragon
Again, good-hearted simple stories are more enjoyable than bad pop pyschology.  How to Train Your Dragon's reluctant hero is floating around in mine and Jung's collective unconscious while Inception's despicable Cobb and his neutered ugly dreams have no place alongside the truly wondrous, so clearly evidenced in How to Train Your Dragon.  Nolan's vision is an obvious sham in comparison.

6) Robin Hood
I admit that I may be a sucker for medieval garb and that that may be the only reason I liked this film at all.  Inception?  No medieval clothing.  No interesting clothing at all.  And Robin Hood's set design and action set-pieces are all better than Inception's soulless shifting staircases. 

7) The Ghost Writer
The Ghost Writer has a great sense of physical location and atmosphere that is completely lacking in Inception.  Also, explain to me, Mr. Nolan, how Polanski can make a ferry ride feel more tense and menacing than any single second of your big budget dream action sequences.  I hated the falling van (multiple dream time) sequence especially-  really, not an ounce of suspense- I just wanted the damned thing to hit the water already.

8) Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 has a great cast having great fun with weak material. Inception has a great cast sleepwalking through weak material.

9) Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass is juvenile and ridiculous, surrendering to the very comic book tropes that it tries to comment on.  That said, there's no denying that there are plenty of isolated fun moments.  Inception, a few instances of lame humor aside, is way too serious in pursuing its ideas.  Unfortunately, the heist is centrally uninteresting and all of the really interesting dreamstuff that could have been explored is entirely ignored. 

10) Jonah Hex
Megan Fox is awful to look at in Jonah Hex.  Even so, Fox still manages to be 100% more compelling than the completely bored and boring Ellen Page in Inception.  Enough said. 

In summary,

I hated Inception.

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