So you hated [...] Shawshank Redemption?
Inception proves to be a movie about the destruction of the self—not of the false self, but the sovereign self. We know at once Mal is a suicide case. She acts like a bored socialite on pills, without even enough impotent anger or sentiment to seem sorry for herself, her lover, or her children. When she does jump, it’s hard to feel for her at all. But Dom will follow Mal into her deadly web of false dreams—for nothing. C’mon! What could it possibly matter? It’s all just a dream, right? He might wake up one day to find he has been Ralph Kramden or Johnny Knoxville all along, and probably forget the whole thing, as these men would do. So who cares? Yet just exactly because of its stunning artifice, Inception states a certain and active intent to draw its audience into despair and absolute hopelessness, into the void of Dom Cobb, paper man. For 140 minutes, Inception tells its audience that they in fact do not exist. One may as well be staring into blank space while the kettle boils down. It is a very bad movie.
Knight and Day is unabashedly open about matters of human digestion. Roy’s handy-dandy cellphone plays “Louie, Louie, oh baby, we gotta go” and announces a movement alert on its screen. A moment later and June informs that “. . . all of the best scrap is in Kansas,” which is a contraction of the terms can and ass (from Kansas), and crap (from scrap). We consider this motif another traditional transmission from Kubrick, who was a brazen bathroom bawdy-man, including fine-tuned toilet humor in many of his best productions.
We invite one attitude that is overlooked by many movie-lovers in earnest. Overlooked because of a common gap in the apprehension of cinematic theory. Here it is: most good movies are at least a little bit about movies themselves, about the special problems and techniques of film-making, about the discreet relationship between the film and its audience.
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