• There are many ways to attempt to tackle Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It is one of the boldest films of the 21st century. Nolan pushes the conceptual and visual boundaries—he disorients, then reracks and compiles often through his greatest weapon: parallel editing.
  • Hans Zimmer’s hammering score helps open the film—throwing down the gauntlet early (along with the breathtaking visuals of Saito’s (Ken Watanabe) place) for this elaborate work of cinema. Zimmer will mirror Nolan’s intricate narrative by marrying this score to Edith Piaf ‘s “Non, Je ne regrette rien” – pure genius https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB-wuKo9rW0 .

Inception is undoubtedly auteur cinema. The creation of an alternative (often more pleasing) reality, the questioning of the basis of that reality, the protagonist haunted by guilt and a past love is all set up in Nolan’s Memento a decade before Inception. Nolan will again be bravely manipulating time through editing.

  • A consistently handsome, clean mise-en-scene—posh hotels, slicked back hair, the Savile Row wardrobe.

in the first ten minutes of Inception Nolan surpasses the beauty of his previous efforts

it is a test to keep up with the gymnastics of the story– but remember to pause and appreciate awe-inspiring visuals

  • A Bordwell-like study of the threads of the narrative would be exciting to examine—but in broad strokes, there are really two parts to the film. There is the marvelous opening hour exposition. Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur) take turns introducing Elliot Page (formerly Ellen at the time of the film’s release as Ariadne) to the complex world Nolan has built (both in story, and perfectly matched, yet audacious, visuals). Ariadne is the audience’s vehicle. There’s some great banter from Tom Hardy’s Eames (he’s a scene-stealer, even in a cast this loaded) and portions of the deception will remind you of The Sting (1973). Around the 85-minute mark (roughly when the van’s start to twirl and drop in slow motion and Cillian Murphy’s Robert Fischer’s subconscious starts fighting back) the dream within the dream within the dream parallel editing of Nolan’s takes hold. The van is falling, JGL is scaling walls in a rotating hallway, a clever James Bond-like action film (Nolan’s favorite is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with the snow- 1969) is taking place. This portion of the film really lasts for the remainder of the film’s 148-minute running time. This part is basically all of what comprises Dunkirk (and too little a part of comprises Tenet). With all due respect to Nolan the storyteller, it is this parallel editing bravado that makes him one of the greatest auteurs of his generation. And it is this section of Inception, the brilliant compiling, that recalls the works of say Griffith’s Intolerance or Aronofsky’s final section of Requiem For a Dream.

Nolan is assembling, organizing, orchestrating the various levels of the reality and dreams

A few Kurosawa or Bad Day at Black Rock frames of the staggered characters in the open street but Nolan does not hold for long enough—and frankly, despite some jaw-droppers (again, Saito’s masterfully illuminated place to open the film is a highlight) brilliant compositions are not Inception’s greatest strength.

 The cast is perfect. Hardy displays a great playful wit as the thief, Marion Cotillard gives the best per-minute-on-screen performance in the film as a modified femme fatale and DiCaprio’s work as the steady hand at the helm (sort of acting as a Nolan surrogate maneuvering it all) gets better with each repeat viewing.

  • Nolan brilliantly ends with the spinning totem— becoming one of the most indelible images of 2010s cinema.
  • A masterpiece