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#496: What Dreams May Come, Part Four

August 4, 2010

Notes from the Manager

Related Strips: #493: What Dreams May Come, Part One; #494: What Dreams May Come, Part Two; #495: What Dreams May Come, Part Three

Don't forget that there are THREE STRIPS this week, so I'll see you on Friday, with the conclusion of this arc, more or less.

WARNING: The blathering below might be spoilery about Inception to some sensitive types, even though I don't get very specific at all. See it already. It's good, clean fun.

When I come up with the characters' opinions about a movie, I have a few resources: my opinion, my friends' opinions (hi, Peter!), and the asshole of the universe… a.k.a. the internet. 

Reading comments on the internet about movies like Inception gives me a freakin' headache, because you end up with everybody crapping out their theories and "evidence" (many of which are factually flawed) and half the people insulting anybody who disagrees with them — or simply didn't like the movie — by saying they "didn't understand it." ugh

For instance, two details often raised as "proof" that the ending was still in a dream: the children at the end of the movie are neither the same age, or in the same clothing. They're played by different kids and identified as two years older than the other (dreamed) appearances in the movie, and the costume designer has confirmed that they were wearing different clothes.

I (and Jason, who usually — not always — shares my opinions about films) are in the minority here, it seems, but as much as I liked it (I've seen it twice) I felt that it was a pretty straightforward movie. My "interpretation" is that the whole movie is utterly face value. Other than the opening, which flashes forward to Cobb's second time in Limbo, the entire story is completely linear — even when they're jumping in and out of dreams and going up and down dream "levels," or whatever. And the "ambiguous" ending is really cut and dry if you understand that tops that spin infinitely do not wobble because of physics.

Yes, it's a dream, but they previously showed the top spinning infinitely and it never wavered. To say it's still a dream even though it wobbled requires some other explanation about why the totem…

GAH. I don't even like talking about this stuff. The big question of "was the whole movie a dream?!" to me is just… well, frankly, it's annoying to me, because honestly, if Inception isn't straightforward — if the events as we see them and as the characters explain (a bit too much) to us throughout the entire movie — then I like it less, because it's one thing to misdirect and then have a reveal, or to have an ambiguous ending — neither of which I think Inception does — and it's another to waste an audience's time with utter bullshit. That's simply not good storytelling (to me), and I don't think Christopher Nolan is a gimmicky bullshit director.

If you give me a puzzle, I want enough pieces there that I can make some sense of it — like in the time travel mindfuck Primer, for instance, which I've also seen twice and still am not totally sure what happened (because they don't show you all of the pieces of the puzzle). And it's brilliant.

Don't give me a jumble of cardboard and pretend it's a puzzle — I'm looking at you, Donnie Darko. I enjoyed you while I watched you, but you don't make a goddamn bit of sense. I don't care about the endless theories of time warps that were on the website or whatever; if it's that crucial to the story, it should be in the freakin' movie.

So yeah: Inception. Lots of fun. The zero G hotel fight was fantastic. It's also not at all hard to follow, complicated, or ambiguous. And if you really want to make it out to be more complicated than that, go right ahead, but… seriously. Why make life harder on yourself than it needs to be?

(By the way, if you disagree about any of this, feel free to pop into the forum and tell me why — but keep it polite, or I will punch you in the throat.)


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Review: Coherence (2013)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

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Written and directed by James Ward Byrkit.
Starring Emily Foxler, Hugo Armstrong, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Lauren Maher, Alex Manugian, Lorene Scafaria, and Maury Sterling.

A new Patreon backer at the $50 level opted out of the usual reward of a plug in the “Become a Multiplex Patron” box (above, on the website), asking instead for me to plug the 2013 indie science fiction filmCoherence (with which he is not affiliated). I was happy to oblige, and so “A fan of Coherence” — a.k.a. The Patron, as I’ll refer to him from here out — is, for the duration of his patronage, among Multiplex‘s supporters. (And, yes, I will review just about any movie a $50 backer asks me to.)

What really got my interest in the film (aside from being asked very nicely to see it) was that The Patron compared it to Shane Carruth’s Primer, one of the best no-budget sci-fi movies ever made. I can definitely see the comparison: both are decidedly low-budget films with small casts and a science-fictiony premise. I feel like seeing the film fairly blind is probably the best, so I won’t summarize the plot beyond the premise of eight friends having a dinner party when a comet passes over and Strange Things Happen, but I don’t think I’m quite as enthusiastic as The Patron.

Unfortunately, the “go in as blind as you can” suggestion means I feel like I need to be pretty vague. Some clunky (and largely unnecessary) exposition gets spat out early on, which tried my patience a bit, but it gets fun as the plot gets rolling. And the plot is definitely the star of the film, not the largely forgettable cast of affluent, Southern California white people or the dialogue, which often feels improvised (in that it neither pushes the story forward nor reveals character, as good dialogue ought to).

Despite some genuinely terrifically creepy or suspenseful moments in the film, a handful of contrived plot points hold it back from being much more than a fun genre flick for me, but I found myself wondering what would happen next — almost up to the very end. A late turn in the film got more of an eye-roll from me than the shock that I think it was supposed register. As always, your mileage may vary, but the film’s merits make it well worth a viewing, particularly for science fiction fans suffering from blockbuster fatigue.

Here’s the trailer! If it piques your interest, please do check it out. It’s available for rent from Amazon Instant Video or for purchase from its official website, among other places. (I never recommend reading YouTube comments, but definitely on’t read the comments if you want to stay away from spoilers.)

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