Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blog #67 -Inception - Dreams as Movie Making

Movie - Making.  Inception, as a film, is all a dream (it's been speculated), but it's also an extended metaphor for filmmaker Christopher Nolan.  Like a dream, the movie is a shared dream for the audience and has its own rules and functions along those lines.  Some characters and scenes happen like dreams in which there seems to be no rhyme or reason: Mal comes out of a crowd and stabs Ariadne; the train in the first dream that blasts through downtown where there's no tracks; the elder Fischer's hospital bed in a huge vault inside of a mountain fortress; Cobb squeezing between an amazingly small gap of two buildings.   Mal even makes the case to Cobb at the end that he is in fact still stuck in a dream, with feelings of persecution (the authorities or Cobol's security forces), creeping doubts, and little remembrance of how he got there.   On another thought, the way the dream team works is similar to how a movie is made - they plan the scenes and sets down to the smallest details, always conscious of the audience (the dreamer's projections) and its reaction.  And, the way the movie ends with the cut scene of Cobb's totem and then kicking into the music (Edith Piaf's haunting melody) as the credits roll is kind of like a dream because sometimes we are ripped out of a dream before its ending and we want to know how it ends.  Yet we can't go back.

 -- all of this is controlled by the master manipulator, the director, Christopher Nolan.  Everything in this movie is done for a reason.  In the movie, Cobb is the director, Arthur is the producer who does the research, Ariadne the screenwriter when she acts as the architect, Eames is the actor and Yusuf is the technical guy that makes it all happen.  Saito is the money guy (also a producer) who finances the whole operation and Fischer is the audience who is taken for an exciting adventure by the director, Cobb.  Yet we are also the audience too, since this is a movie/ dream.  Arthur mentions continuously that they cannot mess with the dream too much, otherwise the dreamer knows something is wrong.  The same can be said for movies - when there's too much fakery or interference from the director, we as the audience snap out of the trance that the movie is weaving for us and see the movie for what it is.  We lose ourselves in well-made movies b/c we're not paying attention to the poor acting or screenwriting or plotholes or ridiculous scenes.  We care about the characters and want to see a satisfying resolution.   And so Cobb, as the director, makes an amazing movie / dream, but also brings part of himself into the movie (Mal) which can influence the audience (she shoots Fischer in the 3rd dream).  Most of the jarring scenes in Inception include Mal.  And it's Mal who questions Cobb and raises doubt as to his true purpose. 

 - And since the movie is like a dream, it has planted the idea of itself in the mind of the movie audience as well - is this a movie or was the whole thing a dream?  This is where the movie becomes almost a meta-movie, a movie that is more than just a movie; it is Christopher Nolan dreaming about Cobb. 

Director Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio.

You job: Do you think that Inception was just a movie about dreams, or was Christopher Nolan, the director, trying to say something more with it?  If so, what was he trying to say with the film?

250 words total for your response, due Thursday, January 29 by class.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Blog #66 - Adjustment Bureau questions

While we watched the Adjustment Bureau, I had several questions as did many of you. Here were a few of them:
1. Who was the Chairman? Did Norris and / or Elise see the Chairman during the film or was it earlier in their lifetimes before the film ever began? (Do you buy my idea that it was the guy that said hi to Norris on the street after the second time Norris and Elise meet?)
2. When Harry said to Elise and Norris that the Chairman rewrote the plan, the book showed a blank space ahead for the two of them.  What do you think that meant? 
3. Kids in past classes have asked why there weren't any female adjusters.  I didn't have an answer for them as to that question.  I also criticized the film's Western / Euro - centered bias when it talked about giving mankind free will during the Roman times and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Assess the film in light of these flaws. 
4. Is Harry the Chairman?  Why or why not? 
5. Think about Harry's crisis of conscience when Elise and David broke up for the 3rd time (when he left her at the hospital), and he asked Richardson about the rightness of the plan.  Put yourself in one of the adjusters' shoes and try to make sense of it all when you're only given part of the picture. 
6. Looking at Harry's statement at the end (see below), what do you think is the filmmaker's message? Why?

“Most people live life on the path that we set for them to afraid to explore any other [path]/ Sometimes, someone like you comes along and knocks down the obstacles that we put in your way. People should realize that free will is a gift that you’ll never know how to use until you fight for it. I think that’s the Chairman’s real point. And maybe one day, we won’t write the plan, you will.”

Pick two of these questions and answer them for Tuesday, January 13 before class begins. 
250 word minimum.  Thanks.