Inception

Don’t worry: No spoilers here

Well, the obvious thing first. Nolan has pulled it off again. He is yet to make a wrong move. Some thought he made one when he took up the Batman franchise. He never looked back. Not even with this one. His strength is his plotting. His trade mark is stamped at the outlining stage itself I guess. Also his ability to build atmosphere. Do you remember the beginning of Batman begins where we open with a haunting score into a blur of grass and the running (boy) Bruce? He is able to maintain the mood that scene evokes through out the whole movie.

Well, with Inception also, his greatest strength is that he is able to maintain that dark atmosphere. It does not just come with writing a good grim script. Plotting, well of course, I should say is top notch. The multiple layers in the second half with the clever weaving of Cobb’s wife’s story to the main plot are typically ‘Nolanian.’ Only problem is that the story frame often sputters and whimpers due of the weight put on it by need to come up with consistent surprises and high concept drama. Another thing I felt is that Nolan has some problems while shooting typical action sequences. I some how feel that they appear disjointed and distant. Continue reading

The Man in the High Castle

What if the Axis powers had won the second world war? The novel by Philip K Dick is set in this alternate world, where the old USA has been partitioned, with Nazi-run Eastern and Japanese-run Western portions and a buffer-zone along the Rockies. Germans have landed astronauts on Mars, turned the Mediterranean seabed into farmland, and have almost entirely wiped out the black African population as a part of the ‘final solution’. The novel follows the parallel narratives of a number of characters, some of which remain parallel even in the end of the book.  The characters include a Jewish hoax museum piece maker, his ex-wife, A German high ranking military officer on a secret mission, A Japanese official etc. But the master stroke of this book is Abendsen, ‘the man in the high castle,’ who had written a fictional book regarding what would happen if Allies would have won the war. He appears in the last few pages of the book, but his book is there through out this book mentioned by various unrelated characters, like an uncanny presence.

This novel made me realise that many narrative experiments that we see today and consider as original (multiple narratives, playing with time between the different narratives, playing with the parallel nature of the narratives too long making us wonder how these individual stories are going to connect) have already been tried in 1960s. Continue reading