Monday, July 26, 2010


A two-week-plus dry spell came to an end on Friday night and Saturday morning, with all kinds of lightning and rumbling thunder and inches of rain. Our patch of the suburbs didn't fare too badly, but some Chicagoland spots got as much as eight inches, complete with blackouts and floods. Rain is pleasant to fall to sleep to, but not so pleasant when you wake up a few hours later to hear that it's still raining hard. That's the kind of thing that makes you (me) get out of bed and check to strategically located drains near the house.

Before the rains on Friday, it was hot. Even though we have an air conditioner, we ducked out of the heat by going to the movies. It was about 20 degrees cooler in there. How often did that ever actually happen, even in the days when air conditioning was a selling point for movie theaters?

At the same multiplex, the kids in our family saw Despicable Me and the adults saw Inception, since both were starting at roughly the same time. About the former, I have no opinion, except that no matter what the producers did, they couldn't outdo Toy Story 3, so I didn't want to bother with it. Lilly and Ann seemed entertained by it afterward, so that counts for something.

As for Inception, it was high-quality entertainment, a combination of science fiction and action, with some elements of a heist movie or maybe Mission Impossible. Within its own context the story more-or-less made sense, which isn't something a lot of action movies manage to do. As far as I could tell, there weren't any SUV-sized holes in the plot, once you accepted the Leonardo DiCaprio-can-slip into-your-dreams premise, which isn't a particularly new SF idea.

I did wonder about a few things, though. Much of the movie took place in dreamscapes of various complexities, which is reasonable enough, considering the story. But the continuity is too good within the dreamscapes -- the continuity is like in a movie, not in a dream, which are well known for their major lapses in continuity (mine tend to be that way, anyway). Some of the movie's effects are remarkable, a good use of CGI, and some have dream-like elements, but even at four dream floors down in "limbo," you get movie narrative.

I can overlook that. Since it's a mainstream movie, it has to be that way. If the director had tried to add dashes of Un Chien Andalou and Meshes in the Afternoon and Eraserhead to the goings-on, the thing would have flown off the rails. Inception's complicated enough as it is, and in a way I'm surprised it's attracted as large an audience as it has, since you have to pay attention if you want to follow the story. Then again, besides all the science fiction elements, it's got plenty of chases and explosions and gunplay to satisfy adolescent movie-goers.

Oddly enough, the point that bothered me most was the notion that a Japanese industrialist could make one casual call and get unspecified federal (or state, it isn't clear) authorities in the United States to quash an outstanding arrest warrant or maybe a murder indictment (it's isn't clear), on his say-so -- in the waking world, not in a dream state (unless all the movie is a dream, something no scriptwriter has ever thought of). Money talks, of course, but not quite like that. Who did he speak to, exactly, to achieve that outcome? I don't think Akio Toyoda's going to try that maneuver anytime soon.

No matter, Inception's a cracking good yarn.

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