So Friday night was my night to go and do whatever I wanted. Since I could stay at home, cook a great meal and drink myself into a stupor while watching a movie, I thought, "why not do all those things somewhere else?" God, I'm brilliant. I like getting dressed up. I don't mean in period costumes -- what I do in the privacy of my bedroom is my own busines; don't judge me -- but rather by putting on a coat and a dress shirt and some good shoes. I don't have to dress like that for work, very few people like me enough to invite me to weddings, and Death has so far spared pretty much everyone I know. So once in a while I like to put on some fancy threads and go out on the town.
This explains why Donna and I were dressed to the nines while standing in line to get popcorn at the West Acres cineplex next to the mall at 4:40 pm on an 85-degree afternoon. We were there to see Inception which radiated all kinds of awesomeness through the TV screen during each and every one of the fourteen million iterations of the trailer. Everything I read about it was positive. Everything I heard about it was positive. And for 2:25 of its 2:30 running time everything I had seen, read and heard was mostly correct. Then Christopher Nolan went all Captain Ambiguous on me.
Nolan directed and wrote the screenplay for Memento which is a totally awesome mindbending movie that everyone on earth should see. Inception is a mostly awesome mindbending movie that nearly everyone will enjoy until the ending.
THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS CONTAIN SPOILERS. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE THE ENDING RUINED FOR YOU OR HAVE YOUR DESIRE TO SEE THIS MOVIE SUCKED OUT OF YOU STOP READING NOW.
I won't recap the whole thing, as you can read about it here. Basically, it comes down to Leonardo DiCaprio making it back home to his kids and Michael Caine. When he walks in the door, he spins his top to see if it falls (long story short, if it falls, he's in the real world. If it doesn't he's dreaming). A sense of dread settled about me as the camera panned away from the spinning top to follow Leo to the back door where his kids were entering. The extended shot was meant to build tension -- would the camera pan back to show a spinning top or one laying gloriously on its side, proving that he was in the real world? Either one would have been fine. Despite my penchance for human misery I actually would have preferred that Leo made it back to his kids. The happy ending here would have seemed right somehow, unlike in most movies where "happily ever after" feels wholly unearned.
I would, however, have accepted the "Leo's dreaming" ending, even if it would have been a bit hackneyed and completely expected. Instead the dread I felt solidified when the camera moved back to the image of a spinning top that wavered ever so slightly (the top had always spun smoothly in all the dream sequences) once, twice, then... cut to black. Goddammit. This was obviously meant to be ambiguous, a chance to let the viewer decide if it was real or not. I don't know the answer to that, but I do know this: next time pick an ending Nolan.