Mark Terry

Monday, July 19, 2010


July 19, 2010
Ian and I went to see the movie INCEPTION yesterday. I loved it. I'm not going to describe it except to say that "mind-bending" is a good description. Later in the evening, I was channel surfing and came across the movie INDEPENDENCE DAY and watched that for a while.

Now, if you're not familiar with either of these movies, uh, really, where have you been?

Today's topic is "thinking" stories versus "non-thinking" stories.

INCEPTION is a thinking story. The plot is deeply, wildly complicated and it's one of those Rube Goldberg contraptions where if you don't pay attention you may never figure out what's going on. I had to go use the restroom and I picked exactly the right moment because if I'd left 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later, I'm not sure if I would have been able to figure out what was going on (just before they hopped on the jet to L.A., in case you were wondering). This is a film that not only requires you think and follow closely, it's a movie you'll think about long afterwards. Some of it has to do with the complexity of the plot, but some of it has to do with the many thematic levels to it, which, ultimately, I think, boil down to "what is reality" and "what is subconscious." [Also, as a Trekkie aside, if you ever watched the season premier of Star Trek: DS9, you might remember Captain Cisco finding himself in the wormhole and the time travel beings that controlled it forcing him to relive the death of his wife over and over again and when he asks them why they say, "You live here." That might resonate with INCEPTION]. What I'm saying about INCEPTION is that it's a movie that makes you think, and I suspect, long after you've viewed it. (Or re-viewed it, because I suspect a lot of people are going to go back and watch it again and again to catch the little things they missed the first time around).

Which brings me to INDEPENDENCE DAY, a movie I like quite a bit. The premise, for you who somehow have missed it, is that aliens come to Earth, blow up most major cities, and humans fight back. Unlike INCEPTION, INDEPENDENCE DAY does not bear up well to thinking about it. It doesn't take very long before you start saying, "But why were they so slow to react?" and "He knocked him out with one punch?" and "Don't you think after the ships hovered over the White House someone would have told the President what they knew?" and "those aliens have all that technology, but what they really needed was a firewall and Norton Antivirus?" And please, let's not get started on the First Lady's injuries, the World's Most Belabored Film Conversation ("I'm a dancer." "Ballet?" "Exotic."), [perhaps only beaten out by every single line of dialogue in THE ATTACK OF THE CLONES between Anakin and Padme, which really demands a category all its own]. And the coincidences and...

Okay, you get the point.

I wonder how this applies to books. I think it does. And I like both kinds of books just like I like both kinds of movies (most of the time).



Anonymous Largo Chimp said...

I often give the example of books or movies being like food. Sometimes you want fast food -- something quick and easy, but maybe not all that nutritious. Other times you need a satisfying meal with salad and meat and lots of hot vegetables. A good meal stays with you and you're fueled up for the next day.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...


12:39 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I generally like a thinking book and a thinking movie, but I feel like if I watch the other kind of flick, it is not FAIR to judge against the thinking/erudite one; same holds for fiction. I may not like Twilight, but it delivers FOR ITS AUDIENCE and people need to keep that in mind.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

I am a story slut. There are books I just can't get into, but if I'm in the movie theater, almost anything goes. However, if it doesn't go, then I get rather scathing in my hatred of it. (The only movie I've HATED this year was Grown-Ups. I don't find insulting and bullying friends to be funny. The previews, however, were awesome and funny.)

Or... what Largo Chimp said.

Okay, I'm going to Inception now. Since I have to leave Borders early. :-(

2:45 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I am ridiculously forgiving of movies, actually. I'm not terribly good with stupid comedies or slasher/horror, but I'm otherwise quite forgiving. My sons both despised The Last Airbender, so I'm glad I missed it, but I've gone to see many movies aimed at kids that were fairly lame that I enjoyed. Books, I'm probably not as forgiving. I can sit through mediocrity for 90 to 120 minutes. It doesn't even have to really hold my attention, I can just sort of phase out. Books demand more from me and if they can't do that I probably won't finish them.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

People are complicated creatures, each with a wide range of likes and dislikes. Sometimes I prefer slow, intellectual stuff, and other times mindless stuff. But even there you have can intellectual stuff that does its job well or badly and mindless stuff that does what it is trying to do well or badly. Too often reviewers rate books and movies on what they are trying to do rather on how well they do what they are trying to do. Well, so some comments don't do so well. Oh well.

2:49 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I'm very picky about my stories. It has to captivate me emotionally, and film seems to have a tougher time doing that than books.

But Leonardo is captivating. Not necessarily just handsome, but I really believe when he's acting. He has an authorial command that many writers strive for and never achieve, I think.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I'm glad you liked Inception. I've not seen it yet but to me it is definitely one of those movies that must be seen on a big screen in a real theatre. The reviewer for the Providence Journal hated it (which is a plus in the movie's favor for me). I spent a lot of time this weekend with some people who are major film buffs (we were working on our entry in this year's 48 Hour Film Project) and a couple of them had seen Inception and spoke very highly of it.

5:46 AM  

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