July 20, 2010 [Inception]
Inception has been getting in some trouble with the critics, both professional and online-amateur, for the pliability of its internal rules and the facile nature of its critique of big business. But I think that these elements unpack what's vital about the movie: its assertion that, as Vonnegut says somewhere (Galapagos?), we're headed toward extinction because we've decided that crazy made-up stuff is true, such as that money is important. In Inception, one must be fabulously wealthy to dream inside of one's dreams—unlike Alice, or the King in Alice's dream. They dreamed of dreams for free—but Inception insists that is an idea suitable only for children: the real dreamers are all grown up and dream of flying, but first class, with a hot towel.
But the movie pushes that one step farther—and over the edge: As we cascade off the bridge, we go past the spinning corridor, through the superspy-secret-lair spy film, and into some kind of private town where guilt hides. As in Shutter Island, DiCaprio's character has to press his hand against the unyielding surface of the dream, past the money and privilege that allows one to be an architect of such a town, until—well, the surface is unyielding, so one has to become the surface, melt into it and become unreal to make the dream come true—or to snap out of it and wake up and be more or less free of crazy made-up stuff.