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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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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

 
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Hey, my apologies for some of us possessing higher brain functions that keep us from being hypnotized by drivel like "A-Team". If a film emulating M.C. Escher's style is enough to have it knocked for being desperately pretentious then I really fear for the future state of popular cinema exponentially more than I already fear the present.

When a critic has to fight off an urge to be contrarian, then he no longer is qualified to be a critic. The contrarian urge shouts that the critic places himself above the subject matter he is called upon to evaluate.

It's time, I see, for all the critics to get up off their beds, from where they write reviews on their notebooks, walk outside and remember that there's a REAL world. It's a frikn movie...

Definition of a non-article: criticizing the critisim of a movie that isn't released yet.

Furthermore, your point is incorrect. There have been plenty of luke-warm critical reviews this summer, take a look at the spread on The Karate Kid.

Watch the movie, like it or don't. You answer your own question in this article. You ARE the backlash sir. Or to put it in terms more "of the people" -- you are a hater.

This is funny because you're doing the exact same thing that you (the Times) did to a small indie last year that I really loved that played at the Laemmle, Yesterday Was A Lie. A bunch of great reviews that were very intellectual, discussing Jung, praising its intelligence etc. Then the film came out and a couple of critics (incl. the Times) rebelled against the trend and attacked the movie viciously, "it's full of itself, too hard to understand, pretentious etc." Which is when I knew I had to see it. Precisely because it was intellectual, Jungian, etc. and not for the stupid popcorn-action-or-romantic-comedy crowd.

What is it with the Times? I think you guys think everyone in Los Angeles is an idiot. Way to patronize your readers.

Dude, just because you are intimidated by references to Dassin or Jung doesn't make them pretentious. Stick to Pixar movies if you find this sorta thing highfalutin, but spare me the indignation. Hollywood movies are dumb enough as it is.

one of nolan's favorite films is "on her majesty's secret service." this is well known among nolan fans as he has stated it on many occasions.

Jealous much, Patrick? Justin Chang's review sounds intelligent, well written, and downright interesting. He actually took the time to... gasp... analyze the movie! Bravo to him! I wish more critics would do the same. What's the matter, Patty, were the words Chang used too big for you? Would you have preferred him to say something moronic like "It be a good moovee?" Would that have been acceptable to you?

Anyone with a basic appreciation of art history would understand the M.C. Escher reference he used. It's not some impenetrable, egg-headed reach. It's basic info. I don't believe for one single second that you had any difficulty "trying to bear the weight of all those pretentious references in a single sentence. " So why pretend otherwise? What's the point of acting like an anti-intellectual dimwit? I honestly don't get it. Are you trying to score points with numbskulls? Are you branching out to a new demographic of worldwide wrestling fans? What gives?

Here's something I'm sure you already know. Rififi is a CLASSIC film. Have you heard that word before? Classic? Ring any bells? Referencing a classic film like Rififi in a movie review is not a problem. Your boneheaded "article" is, however, a problem. It speaks to a lowering of standards. Why contribute to that?

Chang's review is excellent. It makes me want to see the film even more than I did before. Your dopey "article" deserves the backlash it's clearly getting.

I rule this an Epic Fail.

Yes, Inception is as good as the reviewers are saying, but that doesn't mean that they're not going over the top. Instead of quoting philsophical versions of foreign films, how about this for a review to make you see it: "It's awesome" =) It is an intelligent movie -- just enough to make you keep paying attention, but not too complicated that you will be scratching your head by the end.

Patrick: This is the most fatuous blog post I've seen in a while. I assume you wrote your headline here, a question you're answering by trying to create your own backlash (way to be objective!). OK, it's an opinion piece--but you don't make it clear if you've seen the film as of this writing and therefore have grounds to disagree with Chang or others you accuse of group-think. I've seen the film, and everything you quote in Chang's review is completely valid; you may find it "hilariously highbrow" (sounds a little anti-intellectual--a sign of the blog?), but none of Chang's comments are "wildly overblown." The film IS "commandingly clever," it DOES (purposefully) evoke Escher, and it's hardly crazy to be reminded of "OHMSS" during a scene involving armed men on skis (I thought of Bond too: seems to me the scene was partly a comment on how are dreams are shaped by Hollywood). But I'd better stop: I'm being hilariously highbrow. Give me a break. You're as entitled to your opinion of the film as Chang is--as soon as you offer one other than blind contrariness.

 
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