The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

« Previous Post | The Big Picture Home | Next Post »

Will there be an 'Inception' backlash before the movie even opens?

Chris_nolan I've been getting the feeling lately that Hollywood movies are finally driving our nation's embattled film critics completely crazy. Reviewers are either full of vitriol and indignation -- as they were with recent films such as "The Last Airbender" and "Killers," which received almost unanimously contemptuous thumbs-down reviews -- or they're in a frenzy of awe and adoration, as is clearly the case with the early reviews for Chris Nolan's "Inception," which currently has a perfect 100 at Rotten Tomatoes, based on a batch of raves from early screenings of the film, 

The critics are so over the top about the film that I thought it would be fun to start keeping track of the most wildly overblown, hilariously highbrow claims for the film, which opens July 16. (If you spot one before I do, please share.) First up is Justin Chang's wide-eyed review of the film in Variety, which not only calls the Nolan film "commandingly clever" but compares the look of one sequence to Magritte and M.C. Escher, while also theorizing that the film contains an homage to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."

As if that weren't enough, Chang also makes the claim that having applied "a vivid sense of procedural detail to a fiendishly intricate yarn set in the labyrinth of the subconscious, the writer-director has devised a heist thriller for surrealists, a Jungian's 'Rififi,' that challenges viewers to sift through multiple layers of (un)reality."

Hey, isn't that just what you'd tell your friends to get them to see a movie? Come on, guys -- this one's not a Freudian's "Topkapi"! This one's a real Jungian's 'Rififi'!" I don't know about you, but I may have almost thrown out my back trying to bear the weight of all those pretentious references in a single sentence.

When the critics start building a film up like this, it only inspires other critics to assert their independence from the overwhelming groupthink by taking pot shots at the movie sooner rather than later. At this rate, the "Inception" backlash could begin before the film even plays Peoria.

Photo: Christopher Nolan, left, with Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of "Inception." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros. Pictures

Comments () | Archives (50)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Nolan himself has cited "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" as having an influence on certain aspects of Inception. How is that an off-base comparison by Chang?

Clearly, you just hate Justin Chang. I was hoping this article would be longer with a few more examples. That said, I also hate Justin Chang.

thank you for proving time and time again what a pompous assh*le you are patrick.

Patrick, you are such a cliche when it comes to being a columnist. It's quite hilarious. "Let's go against the grain and get a rise out of people. Woo!" I, for one, am very happy to read these positive reviews as Christopher Nolan is a director I admire. By the way, aren't you the same person was raving, no, "hooked" on the Social Network TEASER?? "I haven't even seen the film but I'm gonna rave about it."
In other words, you're a bigger fan of Fincher than you are Nolan. Just say that in one sentence without coming off as a whiny 9 year-old.

patrick, have you even seen the movie? cause it sounds like you haven't and are simply throwing stones like a little child.

Perhaps this is the "Pitchforkization" of movie reviews. The problem with such a form of review is that the author never needs to ground his or her claims in any sort of coherent definitions. Blockbuster films don't rely on their audiences to know anything about psychoanalysis, so why should the reviewers? Perhaps to make the film seem more sophisticated than it really is? (I'm thinking about all the waxing poetic over Batman 1 and Batman 2.)

Frankly, I'd guess that anyone referring to *any* film as a 'Jungian Rififi' hasn't the slightest actual understanding of *either* part of that equation ...

So, educated film goers who may have read a book or three shouldn't be reading your column, is that your gist? OK, point well taken; I'll just let myself out.

By the way, I don't think this movie looks any good, but certainly not for the ridiculous reasons ("it's too smart! pretentious critics find layers of meaning!") that you list. It looks like meaningless eye candy attached to the tired trope of the dream you can't die in or you'll die in real life -- a ridiculous plot device that's been beaten into a greasy smear in the dust over the last 20 years.

I don't believe that a film critic making a reference to Rififi pretentious.

Then, I guess your article is the inception of the backlash.

« | 1 2 3 4 5 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Stay Connected:

About the Bloggers



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: