“Have you seen ‘Inception’ yet?” is the question everyone has for me, from my teenage nephew to my college roommate’s colleague in London to people I bump into in the hallways at work. The answer: no, not until Monday night. “Do you think it’s going to be awesome?” is often the follow-up question. The answer: yes, I hope so, all signs are promising. (I try not to read reviews before I’ve seen and reviewed something myself, but haven’t been able to help hearing that early reports have been very good.) But I’m trying not to get too worked up; we’ve all had the experience of hearing great things about a movie for too long, then seeing it and being vaguely disappointed. Best to keep expectations calm, and instead amuse myself by reading how marketers are troubled by “Inception” because they don’t know how to market an original, thoughtful, difficult-to-classify creative film about grownups starring great actors. Yeah, that does sound tough. I suspect “Inception,” if it’s good, just might market itself.
And it’s fun thinking about how much I’ve enjoyed all of Nolan’s films, starting with his elegant, noirish “Following” in 1998, then the twisty “Memento,” “Insomnia,” “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige,” and of course “The Dark Knight.” Rather a nice little resume for twelve years, no? I interviewed Nolan eight years ago, just before “Insomnia” came out (interesting how he said then that his next project would be a Howard Hughes biopic starring Jim Carrey, but Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” obviously put an end to that), and he had this to say about the time-shifting element of his films; specifically referring to “Insomnia,” in which his main character was unable to sleep:
After doing two films that had nonchronological structures, you start to develop quite an appreciation for the efficiency and peculiar quirks of conventional film grammar,” said the London-born Nolan on the phone from San Francisco. “What it does with space and time is easy to underestimate, almost invisible. I wanted to use the invisibility of it, and the way conventional film grammar compresses time, elides things, to put the audience into the head of a character who’s losing the sense of time through not sleeping.”
“Inception,” whose vaguely defined plot has to do with dreams, seems to be following in the same tradition, perhaps taking it another step further. Trying not to get too eager, but I can’t wait to see what Nolan has up his sleeve this time.
Leonardo DiCaprio, doing — what? Photo credit: Melissa Moseley, copyright Warner Bros. Pictures