(Wait, no--I technically saw Sherlock Holmes on January 1st. There you are.)
So. SPOILERS FOR INCEPTION:
>> I'm not exactly sure how, because there are a lot of great things in this movie, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is somehow the best thing. I don't even know. Like, him, and his three-piece suit. And Tom Hardy calling him "darling."
>> My absolute favorite part of the movie is the scene(s) in the hallway where gravity is wonked out. It's so good that the second time I saw that part, I still felt like I'd never seen it before. And one of the things I like about it is that it's messy and imperfect; it doesn't have clean, precise choreography the way the Matrix movies do. (I felt like I was watching clockwork figures in the Matrix sequels, or maybe really angry ballet dancers.) But when people are pulling each other's hair and slamming into light fixtures in very inelegant ways, you get a sense that it's real, that people don't know what they're doing because it's really happening, and it's not a routine the actors are dutifully, exquisitely performing. And I'm sure the Inception fights were planned out (if nothing else, you have to block these things out for safety's sake); the important thing is that it didn't feel like it.
>> Meanwhile, if Christopher Nolan wants to put out a movie of nothing but chase scenes, I'd go see it. Twice in one day, probably. I still can't get over that entire sequence in The Dark Knight that ends with the truck flipping over. It's not that he reinvents the wheel with creative stunts or anything; it's that he has such a great sense of timing and visuals.
>> "I'm getting off at Kyoto... I don't like trains." Nicely played, sir. And something I didn't catch at all until the second viewing. In fact, despite Ariadne bitching that Cobb might send another freight train through one of the dreams, I didn't quite grasp that the one that rammed their car was actually from his subconscious. I just thought all the complications came from Fischer's. Remember, we didn't know the significance of trains at that point. (Shudder.)
>> Ariadne: will build mazes for food. Minotaurs cost extra.
>> I spent the whole movie thinking Marion Cotillard's name was "Moll," because that's how they pronounced it. Then I check the credits and see that she's "Mal." Not even "Mal," rhymes with "pal," like short for "Mallory" or something. No, Mal... the French word for "bad" or "evil." Really, movie? Really?
>> There seems to be a question as to who's dreaming each dream level. On the second viewing, I finally caught that they were ragging Yusuf about not going to the bathroom (on the plane in reality) first because he was the first lead dreamer, and that's why it was raining (har har har). They make it pretty clear that dream #2 (the hotel) is Arthur's, because they cut to him asleep in the van almost every time they cut back to that dream level. And he's the one person who can't go into dream #3, because he's the lead dreamer in #2 and has to stay around to set up the kick (the same way Yusuf can't follow them into dream #2). Thus, the person responsible for the kick is the lead dreamer on each level (Yusuf with the van, Arthur with the elevator, Eames with the explosives; Cobb is the dreamer in limbo, because he's the only one on the team who's been there before, and Ariadne improvises dream-deaths/kicks for Fischer and herself. The flight attendant is the non-dreamer monitoring dream #1 in reality). But there seems to be some confusion about the Eames level, because there's a hurried bit of dialogue about how they're going to tell Fischer they're going into "Uncle Peter" Browning's subconscious, but they're really going into Fischer's. Also (and I just realized this): on the hotel dream level, Browning isn't real. He's a dream projection of Fischer's. He can't be a dreamer; he's not a person. So therefore...
@cleolinda: I thought [dream] #3 was Eames', not Fischer's. RT @mtvmoviesblog: 'Inception': Attempting To Address The Big WTF Questions http://bit.ly/92A1gS
@mtvmoviesblog: @cleolinda Why did you think that? I don't think there are any definitive answers in that post, just discussion points.
@cleolinda: @mtvmoviesblog Because Fischer turns to Eames and says, "Couldn't you have thought of a beach?!"
@mtvmoviesblog: @cleolinda Right, but Fischer is being misled all the way through, isn't he?
@cleolinda: @mtvmoviesblog I think they told Fischer they were going into Browning's *subconscious,* which isn't the same as a *dream.*
@cleolinda: @mtvmoviesblog And it was Eames who put the duct shortcut into Ariadne's plan, I thought? They needed a dreamer who knew the layout.
@mtvmoviesblog: @cleolinda My head hurts.
So yeah. I got super confused around the time they announced that they were going to go into Fischer's subconscious and not "Browning's," and then suddenly everyone seems to know that Eames is the one dreaming. I guess you reconcile this by saying that what they meant was that they were letting [whoever's] subconscious populate the dream, but the actual lead dreamer was always someone else. Like the opening sequence, when they were trying to steal secrets from Saito's subconscious, but it was either Cobb or Arthur's dream inside of Untrustworthy Architect's dream. (I'm still confused about this, because Mal seems to think it's Arthur's dream, but Cobb is the one they've got set up over a tub of water.) Saito, whose mind they were extracting from, wasn't ever the lead dreamer. But his subconscious was the one populating the dream. And Fischer apparently understood this even while thinking they were in his godfather's subconscious, because he's all crankyface with Eames about the setting of it, so it was a given that a lead dreamer (Eames) would take them into someone else's subconscious.
>> And yet, you can roll a van, but that won't kick anyone awake.
>> LOOK, A WIZARD DID IT, OKAY? A WIZARD DID IT.
>> Level 3 was a hospital? I know Ariadne said, during the planning stages, "The bottom level will be a hospital," but I seriously did not grasp that the James Bond Snow Fortress was the hospital until the second viewing. In fact, I came out of my first viewing going, "Wasn't there supposed to be a hospital?" I mean, yes, I noticed x-rays and medical equipment lying around on the second viewing, and there's What Fischer Finds in the Safe, but I was a bit distracted by the SKI ARMY to pick up on this at the time.
>> It cracks me up that the climax of this movie--the moment that the entire caper hinges on--is basically DADDY LOVES YOU, CILLIAN MURPHY!
>> I actually think there are four options for the ending:
A) Yes, Cobb is still dreaming, because we didn't see the top fall over, and his kids seem to be the same age, and they're wearing the same clothes as in the first scene.
B) No, he got back to reality, because two sets of kids, different ages, are listed in the credits. Also: you never had a favorite outfit as a kid?
C) Christopher Nolan is fucking with us, and has made it impossible to come up with a single coherent interpretation. You can choose which one you like better, but he's put in enough contradictions that neither one is airtight.
D) Reality is unknowable. That, to me, would be the point of showing the top wobble a little bit--suggesting that it might fall over, but cutting before it does, so that you never know. Because it's not a clean spin, the way it is all the other times when it doesn't stop. And isn't that really what Mal's problem was--not being able to tell? And the problem Dream Projection Mal then insists that Cobb is having? I mean, for all we know--she might be right. Maybe there is another level of reality above this one; she didn't die at all, and she is with their "real" children. Because...
>> The more I think about the ending, the more significant I think it is that Cobb broke one of his own cardinal rules: don't touch someone else's totem. (Both he and Arthur make a big deal about this to Ariadne, even though we never see Arthur or Ariadne use theirs. It's all about the relevance of totems to Cobb, in the end.) He was, after all, using Mal's totem instead of an original--something he first touched in a dream state. It's completely unreliable as a reality check for him.
>> Which raises the question: is anyone else in the movie even real? Are Cobb and Mal (and their family, I guess, since that's who they're obsessed with getting back to) the only people we know for sure must be real? Cobb's team members might be projections of real people he knew; Ariadne might not have ever been real (which is maybe why she has such an anvil of a name?). In fact, it would almost make more sense for Ariadne to be a pure projection of Cobb's subconscious. We're told that she catches on to the way the dream world works unusually fast; she's always up in his business and, quite frankly, talks to him more like a therapist than someone he's just hired for a job. But then, the characters have interactions in the dream levels that Cobb is not present for, like Arthur explaining "Mr. Charles" to Ariadne--I don't know if that kind of POV issue matters here, because it's possible that a dreamer could have an omniscient perspective. But it's worth noting as a reason why the dreams and their dreamers must exist outside of Cobb's head, if you go with the more straightforward interpretation. On the other hand--shit, for all we know, dream-sharing isn't even possible in the world of the movie, and all of this is just a garden-variety, ominscient-POV dream that Cobb is having, to work out whatever issues he's having up there in reality-reality.
Or is it?
Basically, it's turtles all the way down. That's the best I can make of it.
ETA: I should add: the discussion above sounds confusing because I'm leaving a lot of stuff out. It sounds more cryptic than it is. In fact, I thought Inception was remarkably straightfoward, considering, and this is in large part due to really good editing, I think. I had no problem following it on a first viewing, aside from that one point that got discussed on Twitter, and it's a lot more accessible than it sounds.