It's difficult to say for sure with all the movie delays in the current health crisis. But, fingers crossed, we should be getting 'Tenet', the 11th feature from Christopher Nolan, in August. This week, in the meantime, sees a fan favourite from the director, 'Inception', turn 10 years old.
No doubt there are numerous 'The Dark Knight' devotees out there who will be calling outrage at the notion that it's not Christopher Nolan's best movie. But there is a case to be made for 'Inception', which has the most Oscar wins (four in total) of any movie by the writer-director. A decade on, the sci-fi action movie holds up incredibly well. Some even believe 'Tenet' will draw inspiration from its success.
The design and look of 'Inception' is simply gorgeous, its landscapes and architectural structures are striking. When one thinks of the feature, shots from it like the city folding over itself or the spinning top come immediately to mind because the visuals are so strong. The lighting, muted colour palette and textures are exceptionally captured by Nolan's frequent collaborator, cinematographer Wally Pfister. The DoP also uses slo mo effectively (not in a hammy way as Guy Ritchie's 'King Arthur' and 'Aladdin' did) in moments like when Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb is pushed into a bathtub, or when the characters are waking up through the various dream levels in that epic finale. Plus who can forget the expert choreography of that rotating hallway sequence with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Arthur?
Nolan is of course renowned for resisting the idea of adhering to genre. But 'Inception' borrows from various movie types - science fiction, thriller, romance, drama, action, and even heist movies - to come up with something totally original and unique. While it seems complicated enough as we learn of how the dream layers function in relation to the subconscious, the movie is ultimately a high-concept work (a team of experts goes about planting an idea into someone's mind via their dreams) that's well-executed.
The narrative structure of the movie is effective too, opening on Cobb washing up on a beach and being brought to Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe), before flashing back to a similar scene involving the two characters, coming back around to the start in act three. The thrilling organisation of the heist and execution of it take up the majority of the movie, of course. But the subplot and explanation of what happened to Mal (Marion Cotillard) also proves emotional, tragic and romantic. Cobb's struggle to get back to his children is another simple, but poignant, point of the story. From start to finish, the movie feels completely whole.
The editing strikes a terrific balance, and is especially exhilarating when it cuts between all four dream layers. And you've got to love that open ending shot, which still inspires debate, all these years later. The casting is note-perfect, and Hans Zimmer's beautifully composed soundtrack deserves a major shout out. In essence, 'Inception' is exceptionally made, a all-enveloping, rip-roaring experience, and a real movie lover's movie.