Whoa! Did I just have a bad dream? It had to be, but everything seemed so real: the restlessness, the yawning, the exasperated head slaps. I’m telling you, this stuff was freaky. Things were blowing up left and right – in slo-mo. What was this “dream” trying to tell me? That no matter how glossy and well-edited a dream might appear, there’s absolutely no substance behind it?
Whoa! Did I just have a bad dream? It had to be, but everything seemed so real: the restlessness, the yawning, the exasperated head slaps. And why on earth was I dreaming about all these dreamy men: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy? Could it be that when I shut my eyes, I open the closet?
You have to wonder, because I also found the two women in this nocturnal adventure, Juno and that French Oscar-winner who believes the U.S. government staged 9/11, to be – how should I say this – nightmarish.
And here’s the worst part: the director of my reverie was Michael “I love to blow crap up” Bay. Wait, it gets worse. Bay no longer resembled his smarmy, skeletal self. No. He looked more like – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – chubby-cheeked Christopher Nolan. Yes, that Chris Nolan, aka Batman’s Brain.
I’m telling you, this stuff was freaky. Things were blowing up left and right – in slo-mo. And the earth was lifting up and folding over on itself like a scene out of “2012.” But here’s the killer: I kept experiencing moments of “Shutter Island” déjà vu, with Leo obsessing over his dead wife and two orphaned children. At least this time his affected bouts of melancholy weren’t accompanied by torrents of rain; just crocodile tears.
I swear these visions were a manifestation of my having sat through so many bad movies this year. They were all culminating in one restless night of fever dreams billing themselves as “Inception.” And, indeed, this was the beginning of an endless journey in which the same scene played out over and over, albeit in different locations and with slight variations. It lasted something like 2½ hours, subjecting my subconscious to tomes of cliché psychobabble about how we only use a tiny portion of our brains.
Sure enough, my noodle never left the La-Z-Boy. Bay ... er … Nolan did all the work for me. Still, he had some ’splainin’ to do. And the guy doing most of the ’splainin’ for him was Leo, playing a thief who steals people’s dreams as fervently as Nolan steals from other movies. But instead of dishing the 411 to me, he was prattling on and on to Ellen Page, a dreamscape architect (I wonder if she’s available to fix my shabby lawn?) he enlists to join him, Gordon-Levitt, Watanabe and Hardy in a rape of Cillian Murphy’s brain.
But instead of using roofies, they get Dileep Rao, the hilarious soothsayer from “Drag Me to Hell,” to slip a Mickey to Cillian’s heir to an empire, Robert Fischer (get it: like Bobby Fischer, the late reclusive chess master?), before hooking him up to a contraption that lets them access his mind in much the same way Dennis Quaid invaded Martin Short’s body in “Innerspace.”
It’s all staged like an “Ocean’s 11” heist, but instead of stealing money, the team is looking to plant an idea, sort of similar to a terrorist surreptitiously planting a bomb in “The Hurt Locker.” But as is the case with every movie she’s ever appeared except “Nine,” Marion Cotillard keeps literally getting in the way with her annoying singsong acting. She’s the poltergeist of Leo’s wife and somehow I got the ridiculous idea that this was a bad thing – her death, that is.
In reality, she’s nothing but a stainless steel gyro, which, like my dream, kept going around in circles until I was dizzy – not to mention, utterly confused.
What was this “dream” trying to tell me? That no matter how glossy and well-edited a dream might appear, there’s absolutely no substance behind it? That Nolan is an overrated filmmaker? That I need to stop seeing so many mediocre movies? Or, is it all of the above?
I honestly don’t know. The only thing for sure is that this “Inception” was nothing but a stratagem, a cheap trick, if you will. Leading me to wonder: Where are the Dream Police when you need ’em?
Reach Al Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.