Mal

Editor’s Note: Thanks Kansas City, you’ve been swell. Bring on St. Louis! As I board a train and zip across The Show Me State today, my dear friend Jess Rogers takes her turn at-bat. Jess’ entry interests me quite a great deal because it’s the first this week that doesn’t discuss an original dislike of the chosen film. Instead, Jess chose to deal with the detail and intricacies that she extolled through revisiting Christopher Nolan’s dreamworld. In other words, there’s more than one reason to watch ’em again! – RM

Don’t think about elephants.  Do NOT think about elephants.  You’re thinking about elephants now aren’t you?

I think there are a lot of challenges when making movies.  First, to make a good one.  Next, to make one people want to see more than once (hopefully by buying a ticket in a theater, I suppose).  Sometimes you can make the best movie you possibly can, but people won’t ever want to watch it again, maybe due to violence, sadness, complexity, or it’s just impossible to forget – so why would you need to watch it again.  The movie I’m recommending you watch again, on DVD or wherever, thankfully managed to overcome a level of perfection to actually be incredibly rewatchable.  INCEPTIONChristopher Nolan’s dream-bending thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a cast of incredible depth, finds that sweet spot of being unique enough to make you love it the first time, but complex enough to make further watches a genuine pleasure every time.

The first time I saw INCEPTION in the theatre, I remember leaving and thinking, wow, that was pretty great, but I’m not sure I understand it.  The dreams within dreams and the resolution that the movie brings leads you through thrilling levels upon levels of complexity.   They built a dream world (quite literally) that follows easy to understand, if not believe, rules.  However, upon first watch, your mind is pretty much only reeling.  You don’t know if they were consistent or if you just followed along for the ride and believe them unconditionally (a benefit of really great, but likeable, actors).   The first time I left the theatre, I knew I had seen genius at work.   However, I was flummoxed to actually explain it to someone beyond just saying, “You’ll like it, go see it.”  That’s not really much of a recommendation.  Nor is it something that is easy to recommend.

How do you really describe that planting an idea in someone’s unconscious (without them knowing) can.be a thriller and a mystery and a love story and a science fiction wonder?  Seriously,  how many of those genres just turned you off?  Thankfully, there is more than enough in INCEPTION to keep you watching over and over and begin to find pieces to hold on to,

My favorite part about rewatching is that it gives you the chance to hold on to ideas as they arise knowing what’s coming next.  You can follow the levels of dreams and actually understand what’s going on, rather than just accepting it.  Being able to engage with a movie you’ve already seen is a gift that most filmmakers don’t seem to bother thinking about.  Seeing INCEPTION again recently, I was struck by how well I actually understood the complexity of what was happening – time passes more quickly in a dream, so a dream within a dream happens even faster than that.  The first time I saw INCEPTION I was convinced that they’d just ended the movie on the plane because they’d felt they were done.  By actually following along with the story on rewatch, I understand how they’d arrived back on the plane.

One of the truly remarkable things that INCEPTION achieves, beyond its rewatchable complexity, is being beautiful to look at.  On first watch, it’s almost impossible to take in the beauty of the picture, the simplicity of the color schemes, the depth of the visuals.  The story itself it intricate enough to require most of your concentration.  Returning to INCEPTION gives you the chance to actually notice that there’s almost no green anywhere in the film, except seemingly deliberately.  The colors, reds, greys, browns, even the blue/grey of the poster are the palate that Nolan (and more likely DP Wally Pfister) intended.  It’s more than you can take in on a single view, but it’s something worth appreciating on rewatch.

Thrillers like INCEPTION are unique.  They don’t have the mystery of THE SIXTH SENSE that only require a single revisit to see if you could have picked up the twist earlier.  INCEPTION doesn’t really rely on a twist.  It’s built with the finesse of an architect – structurally sound with details that you miss until you rewatch.

Jess’ podcasting can be found at Reel Insight