Let's try something new this week, the guilty pleasure of being a movie critic. As an act of full disclosure, other than being an avid movie fan, I have absolutely no formal qualification for critiquing movies. However, I do know what I like and what I dislike in movies and movie venues, so here goes.
First, a little history. One of my family's businesses was owning a movie theater, so I had unlimited access to movies growing up watching almost every Saturday's matinee which more times than not consisted of Johnny Mack Brown, Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Mix, Gene Autry or Roy Rogers westerns, with a Zorro (the original) or Lash LaRue serial thrown in for good measure. Add to that a mid-week feature show or two of whatever was popular at the time along with the ever present Movietone Newsreel of that week's headline stories, and you can see that movies became an important part of my entertainment, not to mention shaping my early view of the world. One amenity that the old Rex Theater had which I have never seen since was a crying room. It was a separate glass-encased, totally sound proof room in the balcony where mothers could take their babies whenever they became upset or their children when they misbehaved, and still watch the movie while not disturbing the other patrons. A modern day use for such a room might be for cell phone users who, despite all of the notices and requests to the contrary, still insist on viewing their e-mails, twits, tweets or whatever throughout a movie. Nothing can be more distracting in a darkened theater, unless it is a crying baby or a couple who chatters endlessly throughout a movie, but I digress.
For my inaugural review I have chosen the movie INCEPTION, which at least one reviewer has already labeled "the best of 2010 so far". I knew going in that it was a complicated story mixing dreams with reality, so I purposely waited for my wife to return from an out of town trip to go with me thinking that two minds would be better than one in keeping track of the plot. Unfortunately, that idea was quickly challenged at a venue where the production volume was the worst of both worlds in that it was so faint one could not hear the dialog (definitely not a good idea in a movie like this) but, strangely, was deafening whenever the background music came on. Appeals to the theater staff by not only us but another couple went unheeded and they finally left in frustration. Add to this distraction the intermittent rattle of an air conditioning fan and an inside temperature that approximated a meat locker, and you can appreciate the obstacles to concentration we were up against. But we persevered.
The basic premise, as I understand it, was that dreams which can become reality seldom have a beginning, so what if a person could design one (hence the definition of its title), control the thoughts and actions of others in that dream and thus alter an outcome in life? Add to that the concept of a dream within a dream carried to the next level of a dream within a dream within a dream involving six people simultaneously and you've got yourself a real doozy of a plot. However, it all began to fall apart for me about half way through the movie when all of the participants' dreams began to collide into each other much like cars in the proforma car crashes; multiple shootings with splattered blood made their repeated and gratuitous appearance; people started floating in mid air; and buildings started exploding. Just to make sure we got it, these sequences were then repeated over and over and over and over. Add to that a ski scene that seemed like it came straight out of the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and it became full of what I call filler which created a real disjointed mixed up mess of a movie that went on way too long. Sometimes being quiet and reflective are much more effective in getting points across in movies, which begs the question of why did those involved with the production of INCEPTION feel the need to default to old worn out gimmicks which for me distracted from the otherwise thought-provoking theme of this one? MOMENTO it isn't in my view, so go see CYRUS instead.
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