If you’re planning on going to see Chris Nolan’s new dreamscape movie, “Inception,” you’ll need to bring along some ear plugs. Hans Zimmer, who did the score, kept the rumbling, menacing wall-o’-sound at maximum intensity, no doubt thinking that that amount of noise would ensure nobody in the theatre fell asleep.
And, you might be well advised to bring along a chaise longue anyway. It’s a long, long, long, long movie so you actually will need a few naps. Plus, consider the power of suggestion: All these folks stopping all the time to plop down for some wired-up naps gives audience the idea that, Yeah, a nice nap right about now would bee a good idea.
Mr. Nolan, whose brilliantly spare “Memento,” a movie made backwards, has fallen into the unfortunate (but typical) state that comes when an artist is given a full box of crayons. The temptation to use them all, again and again and again is simply too great to resist. Not to mention that I’m sure Mr. Nolan has a thrifty soul and it undoubtedly pained him to even think of leaving so much as one frame of footage on the cutting room floor after he’d spend so much of the studio’s money shooting it. So it all went in, creating the kind of scenario you face when your neighbor, who bought a new camera AND recently returned from his vacation in Hawaii, asks you over for the evening to “look at my photos.” And you go and he comes out of the den holding an ENORMOUS box, . . . .. Well, you get the picture, or I should say, you’ll get the pictures; all seven thousand of them, including the 12-shot series showing this interesting water stain on the pavement outside the hotel lobby.
And finally, when will sci-fiy, fantasy film makers learn that you shouldn’t ‘splain too much. Just accept that your premise is ridiculous, the audience likely will be lost pretty quickly anyway, and then just get on with it. ‘Splaining the nature of time and space, the permanence and impermamence of memory, the impossibility of escaping time’s relentless movement forward, the meaning of life and death, the odd fake reality of dreams is the stuff of ruminative writing that too often fails miserably in a visual medium like film. The more you try to ‘splain the worse it gets until you end up with great visuals interspersed with long, boring passages of gibberish that only convinces the audience that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Whatever idea you’re trying to convey will have to be carried by “moving . . . pictures” . . . so dump the expository lecture and get on with it.
Which, for long stretches, “Inception” does in spades. Unfortunately, way cool images a great movie doesn’t make. Next time, I’d recommend a tougher editor and find somebody to tell old Hans to tone it down. Enough with the rumble. I’m trying to sleep here.
Then, after a short nap, get over to the Palm to see “Cyrus.” That one will keep you awake and on knife edge waiting for the film to fall off its very narrow, twisty path and plop into pathos or satire. Balanced exquisitely, it never does. Bravo performances. And no excess shots of water drying on concrete. There is exactly enough film needed to tell the story perfectly, which it does. Then it stops. Excellent!