Movie Guy, at Your Service: Inception

A captivating, culture-relevant movie that explores the mysterious capabilities of the human mind and the weirdness of our dreams.

I realized that the movie Inception would be an inescapable movie for me after at least 37% of my facebook friends had a status update praising it the moment they walked out of the theatre.  Then my sister and brother-in-law told me it reminded them a little bit of LOST; at that moment it became official that I would not only see Inception but that it would be a movie worth writing a movie review/recap about it.

In my first official Movie Guy post (click here to read it: Movie Guy, at Your Service: My Top Ten Favorites), under the “Basic Do Not Watch” criteria for movies I listed “simply by watching the trailer for the movie, you fully understand the plot and possibly the resolution”.  That definitely wasn’t the case with Inception.  When I first saw the preview several weeks ago all I knew was that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was having some trouble finding the floor while for Ellen Page accompanied by Leonardo DiCaprio the floor was becoming a wall.  Perfect.  That meant it would be worth seeing.  Though I had no idea what the plot was.  Perfect.

While the movie does have a strong plot, I see Inception as a vehicle for interesting theories which attempt to explain and explore the mysteries of the dream world and the human body (especially the mind) as it is in a dream state.  For example, the facts that often we usually wake up from dream if in the dream we are falling or if we get killed in the dream are vital to the plotline.

Surprisingly, there were two ideas about dreams in particular I have written about before (which I thought were unique) which the movie touches on:

1)     Years after the memories are made, what really is the difference between a good memory from an actual event and a good memory from a dream, as long as in that moment of the actual event or dream you were truly happy and it remains in your mind as a positive place you can return to when you remember it?  Read Adventures in Thailand: Man Cave Time Machine.

2)     A dream only last a fraction of the time that the dream seems to take place (in Inception, five minutes equaled one hour).  Therefore, if a person could be forced to be trapped in a dream, it could be a horrible type of punishment for a person.  Read Lowercase Punishment.

Aside from being a little like The Matrix (which I never really got into, even after seeing it twice) and LOST, it also reminds me of Vanilla Sky, The Butterfly Effect, and even The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  There is nothing not to enjoy about this movie: A+.

Bonus: Ethnic Backgrounds of the International Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio (as Dominic Cobb): American- 1/2 German, 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Russian

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Arthur): Jewish-American

Ellen Page (as Ariadne): Canadian of English descent

Tom Hardy (as Eames): English of English and Irish descent

Marion Cotillard (as Mal Cobb): French

Cillian Murphy (as Robert Fischer): Irish

Ken Watanbe (as Saito): Japanese

Tom Berenger (as Peter Browning): American of Irish descent

Dileep Rao (as Yusuf): American of Indian descent

Pete Postlethwait (as Maurice Fischer): English

Luke Haas (as Nash): American- 1/2 German, 1/2 English

Michael Caine (as Miles): English

The spinning totem started to wobble before the screen cut to black. While there easily could be a sequel, I believe the totem ended up falling over.

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The Sussudio Effect: Why We Secretly Love the Mysteries of Life

Whether we will admit it or not, we like unexplained mysteries.

Do we really need an answer for everything?  Isn’t omniscience (the ability to know everything infinitely) a trait we reserve for God?  Could we handle the responsibility of having all the answers?  We like to think we want all the answers, but if we did, that would be a life without surprise, suspense, and ultimately, much excitement.

Much of the mystique we deal with revolves around our origin, purpose, and ending.  But even without all the big idea concepts like “why am I here?” and “what exactly happens the moment I die?,” both of which the element of ignorance is attached to, life is still full plenty of petty mysteries to think about.  Which at best, simply reflect the fact that mystery is a part of life.

Like the song “Sussidio” by Phil Collins.  It became a number one hit in July of 1985.  And though I wasn’t quite in pre-school yet at that point, the song has definitely kept a solid spot in the Soundtrack of My Life.  I can’t say that I like the saxophone-enhanced song just because of its feel-good vibes and groovy melody.  A big part of why I like the song is because of its quirkiness.  Because let’s face it, no one really knows what a “sussudio” is.

In recent years, thanks to Phil Collins’ interviews that have surfaced and have been referenced in Wikipedia, I have learned that Phil always did a lot of ad-lib and improvising in the studio.  He often would record the music to the song before he wrote the words, just making up random words and phrases to hold the place; then coming back later to replace the gibberish with actual lyrics.

“Sussudio” was a place-holding made-up word that he never came up with a replacement for.  And so it remained.  The word still doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not the name of a girl, as some have assumed.  It’s just a mysterious word.  You get to decide what it means.  Weird concept, but after all, the song did make it to the number one spot.

Why?  It’s a great catchy song.  And it’s mysterious.

I will deliberately bypass the way-too-obvious fact that LOST’s popularity is associated with its strategic and clever uses of mystique (LOST- Answering Questions that Were Left Unanswered) and instead close with the fact that we can spend a lifetime just unveiling the mysteries of the people closest to us in our lives.

It’s not like we sit down with our parents or spouses or best friends and interview them with a #2 pencil and steno pad about their childhood and see what we can learn about them that we didn’t know before.  Instead, we just wait for those random trigger words to show up in conversation, which prompt a story that we’ve never heard before about them before.

Sometimes when my wife and I are out at a restaurant, we (being “people watchers”) will notice an older couple sitting in silence, only really speaking to say predictable things like “How’s your steak?”  We want to be cooler than that when we’re older; we want to have cool stuff to talk about, even now.

There are so many hidden stories in each of us.  We can only try, in a lifetime, to extract them from each other.  Not that they all can be told even in one lifetime, we ourselves can’t remember them all.  Because unlike God, we mysteriously ended up without an omniscient memory.

LOST Recap: Finale- “The End”

I loved it.  Absolutely.  And I believe it was the best, and really, only way, to end the show.  But it just took me 24 hours after watching to understand why.

The entire show was just about Jack Shephard.  Everything else, including the island and its ability to heal people and time travel, the Smoke Monster, the Dharma Initiative, the Others, Jack’s friends, Jack’s enemies, the light in the cave… All of it were the parts of Jack’s life that ultimately mattered to his existence.

In the likeness of the movie Vanilla Sky, when you’re dead, it’s all over- so why focus on the character’s earthly life after they die?  But the writers of LOST took that concept to a new level by acknowledging that all the mysteries, actions, heartaches, and triumphs all boil down to one thing- the people that were involved in your life.

Even Vincent the dog’s best purpose on the island was to comfort Jack as he died.

I definitely plan to write much more in the near future answering the remaining questions about LOST: Why was The Man in Black never given a name?  Who was the first protector of the island?  Did it really matter that Desmond and/or Locke typed the code every 108 minutes?  What was really accomplished by Juliet sacrificing her life by detonating the bomb in 1977?

But as for today, I think it’s more important to focus exactly what happened in the finale.  The most begging question is what’s up with the flash-sideways?

The first time we saw the characters of LOST in the finale season, they were on the plane.  Note there were never flash-forwards or flash-backs during the flash-sideways, indicating no past or future in that timeline.  They weren’t reincarnated, having to live their lives all over again, in this version with the island being sunk.  The alt-reality was simply an “acknowledge your dead and that your life mattered” precursor to the afterlife, often referred to as “purgatory” or “the waiting room”; it started with the plane ride.

Keeping in mind that life on the island (and “the real world”) continued after Jack died, that Hurley and Ben served as the island’s protectors for the rest of their lives, that Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Richard, Miles, and Frank all left the island and lived normal lives back in the United States or wherever they chose to re-establish their lives… they all still died at some point.  Most of them of old age, living to be in their 70’s.

And once they died, before going to Heaven, they were reunited, having the blessing remembering how they mattered to each other.  And since time, in essence, doesn’t exist in the afterlife, they all met at the same time, since it didn’t matter that Jack died 40 years before most of them did.

But because Jack was the main character of the show, the show stopped with his earthly death.  The rest of the living characters lived their rest of their lives and eventually died, the show just didn’t continue to follow their earthly lives.

So when Jack died in 2007 (three years after originally crashing on the island), and (say, for example) that Kate died in 2051, they met at the same time in “the waiting room”.  (Because time doesn’t exist after earthly life ends.)  Then they went on to Heaven with the rest in the church.  (And Ben went once he was ready.)

The writers were clever to utilize a nearly universal belief that there is some sort of life after death.  The episode was quite saturated in Christianity (which was a smart idea since most of America identifies with some version of it), yet didn’t write off other popular international religious beliefs, thanks to the “major six religions of the world” stained glass window in the church.  The point wasn’t to depict any religion’s specific teaching on the afterlife as specifically accurate, but to instead play and expound on our perceived general ideas on life after death and the importance of the people in our lifetime after we die.

I don’t see how LOST could have ended any other way.  Yes, technically “all our questions” were not answered.  But it involves using our imaginations and clues from the show to fill in the blanks, as we as Losties have been doing the whole time.  It will bring me much joy to take matters into my own hands by filling in these blanks with many more LOST posts to come.

Comments welcome.

(They will most likely be spun off into a new post if they are interesting, insightful, or raise a good question; or instantly deleted if they are full of nerd spite: “NO!  You’re wrong!  What really happened was…  Looks like you never thought of that while trying to make your weak point, did you?…”).

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