“Gamers get it; geezers don’t” is the headline in the Los Angeles Times. The older generation doesn’t get it, says Patrick Goldstein. The subject is the new movie, Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed and produced by Christopher Nolan. The movie is science fiction, fantasy, a psychological thriller — all of the above and more. When I first read about it, I immediately wanted to see it.
I’ve never much cared for science fiction and fantasy, but this film sounded like more than that to me. It’s about a man who is an “extractor,” invading the dreams of others to get hold of information that would otherwise be inaccessible. But his challenge in the movie is even more difficult: instead of extraction, the goal is “inception,” the process of planting information in the dream worlds of others. Dreams inside of dreams inside of dreams. This is a movie about dreams and reality, about what is or is not real.
It’s a subject that’s always fascinated me: one of the papers I most enjoyed writing in college supposed that the world was a dream of God, and God — well, God might also be someone’s dream, and ad infinitum. I was looking forward to seeing the movie until I saw Goldstein’s story. For Goldstein, Inception is one of those movies that open up a generational divide. He cites polls showing that young people love it while old people are mostly confused by it, and lists past films as examples of the same phenomenon: Breathless, Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, A Clockwork Orange….
I’ve never been too good at puzzles; I’m not quick the way a really good game player is. Especially a video game player, since I’ve devoted only minutes to the simplest of them. I am, without question, a geezer.
Goldstein points out that this is a movie that video gamers especially will enjoy. It’s constructed the way a video game is; it requires the same kind of intelligence. Not my kind, I’m afraid. He quotes Henry Jenkins, a professor of communications, journalism and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, to emphasize his point
Inception is first and foremost a movie about worlds and levels, which is very much the way video games are structured. Games create a sense that we’re part of the action. Stories aren’t just told to us. We experience them…. With Inception, if you blink or if your mind wanders, you miss it. You’re not sitting passively and sucking it all in. You have to experience it like a puzzle box….
(Just an aside. Has anyone done a poll comparing the response of women to men? Boys play video games; as a rule, girls don’t.)
At the earliest opportunity I plan to go see Inception. I know I’ll find it difficult to follow. Poor Goldstein owns up to not being able to follow it for the last forty minutes. No, I don’t think I’ll get it, at least not a lot of it, but some of us geezers just want to know what everyone else is doing.
After all, we may learn something for our own aging and art.