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[Editor's Note: Jason Apuzzo has decided to review Inception upside down.  If you are unable to grasp the complex paradox this represents, it's possible that you are simply a philistine.]

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Posted on July 16th, 2010 at 11:43pm.

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49 Responses to “LFM Reviews Inception Upside Down”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mr. K, Libertas Film Mag. Libertas Film Mag said: LFM Reviews "Inception" Upside Down … See: http://bit.ly/ab9sjm [...]

  2. K says:

    It’s a rare critic who will provide a completely new angle in a movie review.

  3. Pong says:

    i didn’t like it either.

  4. hailstate says:

    In the spirit of the review: .echadaeh em evag taht gnidaeR

  5. Party Girl says:

    I agree with K! I don’t know if I’ll bother seeing the film, but you’ve certainly provided a new angle on film criticism (!).

  6. How very clever of you Jason to have been able to figure out how to put an upside down review on the blog…I think I do get the point but haven’t been able to figure out how to be able to read what you have written! More cleverness from you but now in a form that I will not be able to enjoy. Perhaps if I find a big enough mirror and hold it at just the right angle…

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      Thanks for writing in, Looksoverpark, as always. I apologize for the difficulty involved in reading the post. However, In obscuring the meaning of the post to the reader, please understand that I have – in effect – adopted the same attitude that Mr. Nolan takes toward his audience in Inception. This was my purpose.

  7. Aerto says:

    I was looking forward to reading a contrary (to most reviewers I have some respect for) review of Inception. Instead, I find this, which I shall not be taking the time or effort to read. Along with calling anyone who likes the movie a child, by saying the adults came out and gave it negative reviews the other day, Mr. Apuzzo appears to be unable to actually engage in a straight forward, honest debate about a movie that should encourage discussion, not vitriol against the so called “fan-boys” that like the movie. I can understand wanting to critique Inception (it certainly is a cold, emotionless, mostly style over substance film) but rather than pulling this stupid stunt, why not write/post so I can actually read the review. I guess I shall own up to being a Philistine and be glad to be one.

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      Actually Aerto I’ve given Mr. Nolan and his film precisely what, in my opinion, they deserve.

      • Aerto says:

        Understand. I just think that if your opinion is that the movie is “too cute” (and that is my surmise having not read your review), then your “too cute” review stunt is not necessary. Irony, assuming that is what you were going for, is a reviewer’s (and artist’s) enemy. It often puts style, the irony, above the substance; in this case, the flaws you see in the movie. So as I see it, you made the same mistake that Mr. Nolan made.

      • Aerto says:

        And sorry to over comment, but I would ask whether your job, as a reviewer, is to give the film and its creator what “they deserve” (which sounds like you are going after retribution/punishment to me) or to give your audience what they need or deserve, i.e. a useful, readable review. I appreciate your perspective on film and have been reading Libertas, in two incarnations, for quite some time. I would have liked to read your perspective on this film too.

        • Jason Apuzzo says:

          Aerto, thanks for your remarks, and I appreciate your readership.

          Let me simply repeat something I said to another reader, which is that in visually ‘obscuring’ the post (and thereby, it’s meaning) to the reader, I was merely adopting the same attitude that Mr. Nolan – in my opinion – takes toward his audience. This was my purpose. And I actually credit Libertas readers with understanding my point.

          Irony, by the way, is very definitely not the artist’s “enemy” – nor the reviewer’s. It troubles me that you would believe that.

          • Aerto says:

            I appreciate your website and I will continue reading, just not this review.

            I was probably too black and white with my irony comment. Like all things, speaking in absolutes, that irony is always bad for an artist, I overstated my point. I find that irony generally hides and overshadows a point that can be better made through other means. In the right doses, irony can be useful. In this particular case, as I see it used by you, I don’t think it was useful. Obviously, others disagree, given the rest of the comments.

            Finally, I would say that, if your point is to criticize the attitude another adopts, generally it is not wise to adopt the same attitude. One should not respond, for example, to anger with anger, but with calm; it is much more useful. By showcasing the opposite, you shed light on the flaw of the anger. If your goal was to simply show that Mr. Nolan was making things too obscure, point made; though I would hope anyone who saw the movie, or the trailers, or any other Nolan movie for that matter (even the Batman movies aren’t exactly exemplars of clarity), would get that. But if you had made a legible review, which, with clear and concise language made the same point, it might have more successfully made your point that Inception was obscured and shallow. Instead, I would say this particular choice superficially points out the problem while preventing some of your audience from seeing your entire point of view. Of course, you may have decided that turning away that portion of the audience that isn’t willing to make the effort to try and get through the obscurity (I, as a philistine, am raising my hand) for this review is worth the point you are making, and that may be true. What do I know? You’ve run a website and I’ll defer to your creative/business decision. Anyway, keep up the (mostly) good work and I’ll stay in the audience.

            • Jason Apuzzo says:

              No worries, Aerto. In any case, we will return to more normal, lucid reviews in the future. Reviewing films upside down is actually a bit of a hassle.

  8. quiadamatluxignis says:

    Australian readers will be happy….maybe liberal readers too, since they get everything a**-backwards most of the time anyway.

  9. johngaltjkt says:

    I saw Inception last night and can sum up the experience by quoting a single word from a literate movie by an adult character (be it a very disturbed character). The word is “tedious”. (The character is Hannibal Lector from The Silence of the Lambs)
    Jason, I’ll leave you to the in depth analysis of what’s going on in this movie and it’s meanings. All I know is my rear end hurt and that’s what I thought about most of the time while I was watching this movie. What struck me also is there’s a great deal of unformed ideas and dead ends.
    If anyone wants to see a “cool” dream sequence they should watch a 64 year old movie called Spellbound that was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The dream sequence was done by Salvador Dali!

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      John, that’s the funniest damn thing because just a few hours ago I pulled out my Criterion copy of “Spellbound” and was just about to read the liner notes on it. I had the same reaction as you – I immediately wanted to see a better film on the same subject.

  10. Vince says:

    That’s an interesting review, Jason, but something isn’t clear to me. Forgive me if I may have overlooked something in your review.

    1. Why can it “be said that Nolan promotes the use of postconceptual deconstructivism to read and analyze sexual identity …”?
    I think the question is relevant because your entire piece depends on it. To me, anyone who goes down this road has to elaborate on why he or she feels this material is conducive to this sort of treatment.

    2. From my point of view, Marx used the term “textual paradigm of reality” to modify consciousness — I think it was one of his main goals. This has to be important to you since it’s in your lead, but I don’t understand why you used it. I ask because I don’t think there’s any validity to Marx at all, and its curious it’s featured in a review written by a conservative.

    3. In your third paragraph, you deftly used Fellini as a nice point of observation, but later you directly pitted Nolan against Fellini. Even if I accept the parameters of your review, the comparison doesn’t hold up for me because of the story itself. “8 1/2″, for example, is not a sci-fi heist film, and “Inception” isn’t an examination of a film director struggling with creative limitations. Nolan’s characters shoot guns because it’s an action film, and that’s the premise.

    4. I don’t know the exact quote, but because the dream tech was invented by the military, it doesn’t place Nolan in the company of the insufferable James Cameron. In fact, military tech has only served to give immense buying power to the American public, and give people affordable access to great technology.

    5. In my opinion, Ken Watanabe’s casting doesn’t exactly mead Nolan’s work is post-modern. They’ve worked together in the past, and every director has his little group of players.

    This review, while enlightening and challenging, is more of an examination dialectic neomodern theory with “Inception” as an example.

    Perhaps some sort of series about Nolan’s films leading up to this review would’ve provided context. And if I may … I also think a great exercise for you, Jason, would be write a review “Inception” leaving a lot of this Frankfurt School stuff our, and from a purely aesthetic point of view.

    I think you know film, and I’d like to see you work your knowledge of that into your reviews in the future.

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      Vince, I’ll give all this some thought. I want to thank you, by the way, for being the first documented case of a reader who has turned the review upside down and actually read it. I thank you for that, and would take the occasion to remind readers that there is actually some text there to be read, if you’re curious …

      One brief reply on the Fellini thing: Fellini, I think, captures the experience of dreaming in 8 1/2 much more fluidly than Nolan does in his film. As I think A.O. Scott said, “Inception” is essentially a rationalist’s take on the irrational. Inception never really feels like a dream to me, in part because dreams are so uncontrollable – and I think Nolan doesn’t like subject matter he can’t control. It’s telling to me that Nolan feels the need to layer his film with endless sediment of exposition, endless explanatory chatter. He never trusts the images to speak for themselves, even for a moment.

      • Vince says:

        No thanks necessary. I thought it was a fun idea, and it only took an extra step to read it.

        Also, I see your point on Fellini. It’s a great thought, which would’ve fit well into your review.

        As for exposition, I feel it’s necessary in sci-fi / fantasy, but it can become overbearing. While completely noticeable in the film, I don’t think it became intrusive. Nolan may not be Kubrick when it comes to visual storytelling, but think he’s one of the better filmmakers at “showing” and not “telling”.

        For the record, I really liked “Inception” as an action-thriller piece with elements of “Memento” tossed in the mix. It doesn’t work as sci-fi for me because there isn’t nearly enough science, or an examination of the larger consequences of the dream device.

        • Jason Apuzzo says:

          I will give Nolan credit for this: I thought the premise of conducting a heist movie inside a ‘collective’ dreamspace was fairly clever. I would, though, categorize this film less as ’science fiction’ than as a ‘noir’ film, which seems to be his preferred genre.

      • Jennifer Baldwin says:

        I turned it upside down and actually read it too. It was like being in my old Marxist professor’s film theory class all over again! Bravo! ;)

        Seriously, thanks for this, Jason. I needed some entertainment after the two and a half hours of oppressive tedium I just experienced.

        After Inception and Dark Knight, I’ve decided Nolan just isn’t for me. Emperor, meet, No Clothes.

        • Jason Apuzzo says:

          Thanks, Jennifer! Although I should’ve noted that Nolan promotes the use not so much of post-structuralist but pre-structuralist [anti-]nomianism (assuming one accepts such post-patriarchalist de-appropriations) in his attack on capitalist “discourse.” The characteristic strategy of the works of Nolan therefore is not anti-capitalist discourse as much as sub-discourse.

          It was hard to follow all of this while in the theater because I kept choking on my popcorn.

  11. Aha! Finally figured out how to read your review Jason – just had to print it up! Wonder why that didn’t occur to me earlier. That may be what others who managed to read it did. I can’t quite see them turning their heads upside down to read it (or standing on their heads in front of the computer as the case may be.) Very interesting review of what sounds to be a very boring movie!

  12. kishke says:

    Very impressive review, but did you like the film?

    (There’s no need to print out the review; just save it to your hard drive as a picture, then rotate it in the viewer till it’s right-side-up.)

  13. Jesusland says:

    A brilliant review (I did find a way to read it right side up). In short, Nolan is a hopeless poseur.

  14. Nicol D says:

    Clever review. I followed the other reader’s advice and copied as a photo. Funny stuff…if only it were not so true.

    True in that you have not really reviewed the film so much as spoofed the sort of pseudo intellectual rhetoric that passes for “enlightened” criticism in modern film theory.

    I saw Inception the other day and while I did not have the contempt for it that you obviously have, it is by no means the genius many are calling it. And it does have the vibe of…what is that intellectual term…oh yeah, wankery.

    I was disappointed in one thing in your review. How can you spoof modern academic film theory and at least not have one mention of Leo’s repressed sexuality and a reference to Michel Foucault?


  15. Patricia says:

    That’s great, Jason, LOL! Or should I say 707?

    Now I’m dizzy…

  16. [...] Inception reviewed from another point-of-view. [...]

  17. [...] Inception reviewed from another point-of-view. [...]

  18. Jeff P. says:

    “It was hard to follow all of this while in the theater because I kept choking on my popcorn.”

    Dude – that’s because you were writing your review upside down! ;)

  19. Claude says:

    An amusing avant-garde experiment, Jason.

  20. Allston says:

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  21. maatkare says:

    I haven’t fidgeted and checked my watch so much through a movie in ages. Add me to those who found this tedious. And I agree–Salvador Dali’s “Spellbound” sequence evokes a dream world so much better. Kudos to the effects team and especially Hans Zimmer’s score, but this was 2 1/2 hours I wish I had back!

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      Yes, actually Zimmer’s score was pretty good.

      • arhooley says:

        I also enjoyed the score, even though what you rightly call the “repetitive, thunderous music” had little to do with the soulless, suspense-free, unsublime images it accompanied. In fact, I’ll probably get the music and listen to it on my iPod Shuffle in my mid-morning ambulations to the coffee shop. It will give me a sense that I am on a secret mission to subvert reality itself in a fashion that the mind-numbed mortals around me cannot fathom!

        • Jason Apuzzo says:

          And imagine how surprised they’ll be, as they’re pouring you a frappuccino!

  22. Cory says:

    It’s impossible to read the upside down review on an iPhone!

  23. johngaltjkt says:

    Interesting article by A.O. Scott today in the New York Times regarding the criticism of this movie. “Everybody’s a Critic of the Critics’ Rabid Critics”

  24. Mr. Rational says:

    Hmm. It’s a shame we seem to have seen different films. The one I saw was fantastic.

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