In ten days Inception
arrives, redeeming this shitty summer at the movies. For the next two
weeks I’ll be running sporadic feature articles counting down to this
occasion; some will be directly related to Inception while some will be
conceptually related. I’ll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible.
And I’m not trying to make the two week wait unbearable… but that
could be one side effect of this series.
keeping track: my review of Inception counted
as the 11 Days To installment.
to Inception: No Sex Please
Good luck getting a straight answer
out of Christopher Nolan. The inscrutable director will deftly dance
around actually answering any questions, as he did again and again at
the Los Angeles press conference for Inception. But sometimes a non-answer can be
as fascinating as an actual answer.
One of the few junketing press to
actively dislike Inception, Coming Soon’s Silas Lesnick had a
few intriguing problems with the movie, foremost of which was the
complete lack of sexuality. Obviously everybody dreams quite
differently, but for many people sexuality is a part of dreaming
(especially for men, who pop spontaneous boners all night long). And
sexuality is a huge part of Pink Floyd’s The Wall,
a movie that Nolan screened for the cast and crew before starting
production (and which he screened as part of the LA Film Festival a
couple of weeks back).
Silas, being a good junketeer and not
just a spineless quotewhore, asked Nolan point blank about the lack of
sexuality in Inception‘s dreamworlds, and he got this
weird, intriguing reply:
Well, there are certain
areas, when you’re talking about dreams, the analysis of
dreams and how you might examine them in the film that you do want to
avoid, because they would probably be either too disturbing for the sort
of action film genre that we’re working in or funny. And so
one of the things we talked about, tonally, I talked about with Leo, we
talked a lot about in the period when we were looking at the script very
closely is never tipping over into comedy, this funny version. I mean,
one of the things all these guys have done in their performances, which I
think is extraordinary, is that they’ve created very subtle
differences in the way the characters appear in the dream levels and in
reality — they’ve never made it funny. They’ve
never taken it to that comedic place. And certainly I think
there’s probably a great comedy version of this movie
somewhere — but I don’t want to make it.
of the central concerns of the film is the relationship between Cobb,
played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his wife, Mal, who keeps bursting out
of his subconsciousness while Cobb and his team are in dreams. The
inability to control this dream version of Mal is Cobb’s greatest
weakness, and he has, within his own dreams, constructed places where he
can revisit important moments of his life with her. None of which, it
turns out, are sexual.
I don’t think that DiCaprio and
Cotillard being sexual would be either disturbing or comical. Looking
back at Nolan’s filmography, sexuality has never played a huge role –
which is especially weird with the highly fetish-oriented Batman films.
Other versions of Batman on film have tackled the sexual component of
bondage implicitly – most memorably Burton’s twisted Batman
– but Nolan’s Batman isn’t just virginal, he’s utterly desexed. At this
point having Catwoman in Batman 3 seems unlikely just because it
seems unlikely that Nolan would want to tackle the relationship between
the Bat and the Cat, which is largely lustful.
It’s also interesting that Nolan is a
huge Bond fan, and that he sees Inception as his version of a Bond film; Bond
is notoriously one of the most sexual of all screen heroes, and Nolan’s
version of a Bond adventure might as well have everybody wearing
chastity belts. There’s more sexual heat in the Twilight movies, which are abstinence
is a key element of the Nolan filmography, both on screen and behind
the camera. Nolan controls every aspect of production as closely as he
can, including marketing. Sex is, arguably, one of the times when we’re
least in control (if we’re really throwing ourselves into it, anyway) –
lust overwhelms reserve. Nolan again and again deals with emotions that
overwhelm the reserved man, but it seems like he’s not quite ready to
tackle how an uptight hero deals with a hard-on.