bucking the draw of delving into sleep post calisthenics,
divad q. nead hastily surfaces in hogye with the bends
and depressurizes to christopher nolan’s “inception”,
a haute couture jaunt into the subconscious of dreams.
down from a run in the foothills in a humid summer rain, fighting
sleep, i ventured deep into the love motel district of old bisan to catch
chris nolan’s first original screenplay since “following”, which I recalled
struck me as wonderfully paranoid and thickly thieving b&w british.
packed bag with gun, sandwiches, and three asahi premium cans,
i rose eight floors into the old kinex 10 gone corporate, stuck sardine
in the lift with florally tinctured local girls, some holding the wrists of
their friendos. i was late for the meet, but ju-lee had the spots sorted
and we hunkered into a couple’s seat [double-wide], reclining opposite
elbows, digging the corn. it was then that she sighed and said, “why not
the imax, daw-ling?”, to which i replied, “have you the legs for seoul, doll?”
neither of us could have waited the 40 ride into the limbo of yongsan-gu,
and therefore we took the local cine-paltry with its cheap sound & digital
projection. there’s just no arguing with a perfect friday night film for two.
ju-lee cracks her first can and jostles for elbow room. fast-forward through a
bevy of discussions regarding the architecture of dreams, a palaver on
mazes between page and leo, and i’m left wondering just how good this
flick is going to get on my first viewing. my billfold jumps up from my back
pocket and says, “you’re in for two views, nead, better get comfy.” i slap at
my leather baby and it retreats. ju-lee pulls out her trusty red penlight
and begins to jot notes, which then turn into birds. i nod off. i’m three rows
away from her, front and center. on the screen “the seventh seal”, yet the
role of antonius block is strangely played by my mother. ju-lee reaches three
rows with her long octopus arms and pulls me back into my seat. i wake.
my beer is full, my socks are wet, shoes dry. a lapping tide brushes my
feet and i look to her for a towel. on screen cotillard rages stuck in limbo.
leo and jgl are telling us something about keeping our minds fit for dreams.
i’m recalling how the foothills earlier that night reeked of charcoal, broken
stems. not caring much for this film as foreplay, but its doing a damn
good job of keeping me thinking. ju-lee, her hair now red like joanie, turns to
me and says, “well, yes, i am going to have you write a thesis.” my beer is
always full. the caramel of our popcorn tastes like a circus, everything’s gone
gray in the theater. we watch the limbo of leo and mal crumble under time,
or whatever “time” is supposed to be in this film. i think i need a math break,
a bathroom too, perhaps. fight scenes with jgl in zero g lead me to believe
that i’m not actually watching anything connected to itself, just thinking a lot.
standing in the darkness to my left, ju-lee hands me a torch, we walk through
a green exit sign and into my apartment. she points to the wall where i see
a vintage poster for fellini’s “8 1/2″. “it’s not the film you thought it was,” she says
in perfect provençal. “when did you learn french?” i ask, but we’re back in our
seats, the film is definitely coming to an end. a van hits the water, everyone is
asleep in the theater and on the screen. i have faint doubts that any of this
is happening, but ju-lee puts her hand on my leg and squeezes. “that felt
real enough,” i say under my breath. lights up, the crowd moves to the one
exit that doesn’t lead to my apartment. ju-lee takes my hand, her hair back
to black. we step into the central park fountain outside the exit. i wake to the
rain, pants off, having never left my room. my mobile phone quietly vibrating.
from bed i see the clock reading 10. i’ve dreamed my way through the show. i sit up.
“inception” served me itself in a dream of itself. ju-lee on the line, she says, “i waited
for you through the previews then walked from the theater. did you sleep through my
calls, divad?” it felt real enough. on my bureau, two tickets for wednesday’s imax,
she laughs over the phone, and we make plans to meet later for dancing, drinks.
reeling from his dreamed-through peyote vision of
the film, divad q. nead finally digests christopher
nolan’s “inception”, favoring the waking life angles,
taking stock of techniques, and most certainly staying
awake for the film itself. the dream deferred until now.
off a 40 ride into seoul’s deep reaches, to a cinema bolstered
by pink [read: red] light windows and whores, i ventured high
into row m, seat 7 for an imax showing quick on the heels
of my local teatro fever dream of “inception”. sans ju-lee, her
dream self detained by sleep in hogye, my eyes accompanied
me along with an ipad of naysayish prose from a.o. scott & david
denby. it’s enough to say that the web’s spoil-heavy reviews
trump the need for taking this long-player into the evening, but
as a steward of taste, i dropped the extra twelve on the big john
imax and sat for a second go at nolan’s as of yet opus operandi.
zimmer begins with enfolding brass, inquisitive minds will discover
the brilliance of this thematic defilade upon digging for edith piaf’s
presence throughout the film, including muse cotillard gone alex
forrest. brought before wanatabe, dicaprio’s opening lines define
the film without any of the following wizardry. he asks us for, “a leap of
faith”. the audience & george michael gotta have it. to re.view this
film without a dvd screener for pause/replay is akin to humping a
typewriter into saving your novel in triplicate. it can’t be done. yet
as a dutiful scribe, i want to fondly convey the absolute attention
this film deserves from levels neither you nor i have yet to ascribe.
in cocteau’s “orpheus”, for example, the director trusts that his
audience will think actively, noting themes, a radio’s music, par
exemple, working it out on their feet. “inception” is a rubix.
nolan has been challenging the line of storytelling since “memento”,
a film, if you remember, that required countless viewings, and took
weeks to digest. thick, richly drawn stories with reflexive arcs
move audiences to thought, and not just that rot-gut emotion that
i recall my mother so dearly loved in “bridges of madison county”,
but that ugly brother part of art appreciation called “participatory
aesthetics”. “inception” got rough on my pals for all the right
reasons, and this is by no means a defense. what schlump wants
to defend art that makes bucks in the first? if you’re the chad-type
who’s tip-toing along the western lines of film canon, taking your
“i see dead people” to new levels every time someone flips you
the bird, or you’re the kind putting down a foster wallace novel
to check “ask metafilter” for a new pithy thread or clever commentary,
then this killer blockbuster is going to sweep kick you into a morita
healing session from which you’ll never slap hands/rub/recover.
you, swarthy digestif drinker, you’re going to sit through “inception”,
step from the theater after halting your applause, and think, “did
i really just love that for the wrong reasons”, as i duplicitously did.
you, cuing bill evans on the ipod ride home, will consider nolan’s many
homages in the film, strung together throughout his plot, and executed
with minimal adherence to an sort of guileless smiling, you’ll applaud.
detractors, those in the back row checking their sms whilst leo sat with
cillian trying to disguise his third level dream hostage taking, they will
hem/haw over their spoons of taboule that the film relied too heavily on
cgi, or get balls deep with npr pundits who said it lacks a hero or warmth.
i will sit through your sugar tears. what you’re looking for isn’t a codice,
nor is it a lexicon of “i love yous”. “inception” hauls us to that oft forgotten
altar of elbow greased audience work. want a quickie, go catch salt’s jolie.
trudging through podcast reviews, the very essence of all the net’s metayawns,
i couldn’t help but genuflect in quiet protest, washing the feet of my beloved
sense of taste, when i heard how so many letdowns were associated with
nolan’s apparent lack of interest in making his love interest suffer to their
liking. now if i recall, depp and cotillard did nothing more in “public
enemies” and got the high five of green tomatoes for their on screen yowsa.
as a third generation nead i am no longer looking, post wong kar-wai 90s
films, for any sort of complicated, intertwined romances beyond my don
draper heartstring penny opera. i doubled down on “inception” for the pure
challenge of taking my multiflorus interests in architecture, psychology,
and chemical abuse to a convergent level. i’m actually enjoying my own
dreams more now that i know how much wrought-iron awesome can be
culled, fictionally, of course, from the pure nature of my subconscious
manifestations. “inception” takes the silver on the pedestal for “best
attempt to get us thinking”. you’re not going to get a baseline backhand
like this from any director until malick or lynch come back from their
coffee bean cherry hunt to kick the dust in our faces. the sad thing about
watching this twice, friends, is that i can’t go a 3rd time for the costumes.
see “inception” for your bookstore strolls through the taschen/phaidon
tomes. see it for the martha nussbaum book you put down in tears. sit
through the cold, gut punching wow for the reasons you dare not share
with your kids, your colleagues, or your subway brethren. it’s not enough
anymore to just say you like/dislike, those words bear no affectation.
dear critic cabal, you’re going to have to serve me a blue plate of considered
commentary for me to take back my ticket fee for this film. show me the secret room
where camus played bridge, and rub my corduroy shoulders for a while. divad wants
you to dig “inception” so that the books on your shelves don’t burn themselves
in a bradbury of 451s. this man is tired of your journaleasy underwhelmathons.