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Deception

Inception: Daily Caller is a manic, needlessly complex, and ultimately trivial movie—good for a few hours’ entertainment in a sweltering summer, but mind-numbingly insubstantial.  The initial premise is promising: former Beltway star Tucker Carlson, anguished at having dropped to the Schlussel-Breitbart level of American punditry, assembles a team of accomplished sociopaths and professional liars (led by newcomer Jonathan Strong) to sedate young Ezra Klein and journey deep into Klein’s unconscious to find the vault where he keeps the names of the members of a secret society known only as “Journolist.” It’s like Fantastic Voyage meets The Matrix, and some of the special effects—like a free-fall fistfight between Dave Weigel and Jeffrey Goldberg in a zero-gravity hotel corridor—are remarkably convincing.  But the plot goes awry when the intrepid Carlson discovers that the sleeping Klein is dreaming of yet another list.  This is apparently made up of a still more shadowy group of academics and political commentators who are, in turn, collectively dreaming of ways to develop techniques for “inception,” that is, planting ideas in other people’s minds so deeply that the people believe the ideas to be their own.  This could have been an opportunity for some genuinely innovative and challenging filmmaking, the dream-within-the-dream-within-the-dream taking any number of surreal forms.  But it’s just at this point that Inception: DC runs out of imagination, revealing a secret society in an Arctic fortress devoted to some of the most banal and mundane machinations ever machinated.  Middling obscure and openly left wing university professor Henry Farrell is shown dreaming up an “Open Letter” together with 106 fellow sleepers (giving new meaning to the term “sleeper cell”), while on still deeper levels, teams of liberal and center-liberal dreamers plot to criticize Sarah Palin for her ignorance and inexperience.  At which point the befuddled viewer can only ask, was this trip really necessary?

There may be some kind of paradox in the fact that the dazzling high-tech wizardry of Inception: DC is ultimately deployed to uncover the weakest-sauce “conspiracy” in the history of conspiracy theories.  Meanwhile, the real mystery, as always, lies hidden in plain sight: the mystery of how a team of accomplished sociopaths managed to get so deep into John McCain’s brain as to persuade him to nominate Sarah Palin in the first place, and then to “suspend” his campaign in response to the financial crisis so that he could fly back to Washington and stand around the White House muttering and looking angry.  The day that bizarre story comes to light is the day we’ll finally have a political/psychological thriller worth watching.

Posted by on 07/26 at 10:16 AM
  1. I came here looking for Mad Men blogging! When will it commence?

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  12:43 PM
  2. In all fairness, that fist fight was really cool. The depiction of Goldberg’s use of, umm, reaction mass to navigate the hallway was inspired.

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  12:55 PM
  3. the mystery of how a team of accomplished sociopaths managed to get so deep into John McCain’s brain

    Yeah, right this second, JD “The Consistent Conservative” Hayworth is complaining to his campaign manager, ”That’s the John McCain I signed up to run against."* (The whole campaign was pretty surreal in retrospect--but apparently the quantity of US political surreality is not strained.)

    *Poll is Rasmussen so take it with a grain of salt. And semi-relevant to the Daily Caller snark is this tidbit from the poll write-up:

    It is worth noting that McCain gets 51% positive coverage from traditional media but just 44% positive coverage from social media. Hayworth receives just 14% positive coverage from traditional media and 37% positive coverage from social media.

    See how wrong the internet is.
    Posted by  on  07/26  at  01:22 PM
  4. The depiction of Goldberg’s use of, umm, reaction mass to navigate the hallway was inspired.

    Really?  I thought it was entirely banal for anyone already familiar with Goldberg’s oeuvre.

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  01:25 PM
  5. The quantity of available reaction mass was impressive but the ability deliver propulsion both fore and aft is what separates the Goldberg class from the rest of us.

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  02:29 PM
  6. What with the electronical mail and all, Tucker Carlson’s inability to gain admission to Journolist can best be characterized as a high-tech lynching. Not that any of the partisans on the list would admit that. So I think that makes Tucker the Bobby Hall of Liberal Fascism. (And Daily Caller really jumps the leviathan here.)

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  05:30 PM
  7. JP, no one on Journolist used any rope on Carlson, so your reference to “lynching” is incorrect and highly inflammatory.

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  05:34 PM
  8. God, I love a good documentary. I liked Tucker Carlson on the old “Bob Newhart Show,” and I was wondering whatever happened to him. This has got to be better than one of those VH1 specials anyway. Maybe, the film explains some of the odd vacillations in the career of Christopher Hitchens too. Thanks for the tip, Michael.

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  06:07 PM
  9. so your reference to “lynching” is incorrect and highly inflammatory.

    Oh great, now I have to resign my position at the Washington Post. Oh wait, I was being “inflammatory” in support of a conservative personality--I’m OK!

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  06:21 PM
  10. Meanwhile, the Newtster intentionally attempts to alters time and space rewriting Camus and Orwell on his way to running for President. 
    And if that isn’t sufficient, Jeffery Lord has trouble with fellow writers in the American Spectator in defining lynching, rope or not. 
    http://spectator.org/blog/2010/07/26/sherrod-story-true

    23.4: Is Inception really a homage to Dark City (speaking of warping minds and spaces).

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  06:34 PM
  11. What bothers me isn’t that The Bow Tie With Dreams is farting away his pennies on schlock like this, it’s that attention is paid to it at all (beyond opening a window to let out the stench, the polite thing to do would be to tactfully ignore the Bow Tie’s gaseous emmissions, or, at the very least, to blame them on the dog). It really makes you yearn for the days and the places where the Mandarins were better insulated from the yowling mobs.

    captcha: society, can I haz a funkshunning 1?

    Posted by  on  07/26  at  07:55 PM
  12. No time (or brains) to construct nominally passable relevant witticism. Laughing too much.

    Michael, this post is genius.

    Posted by David J Swift  on  07/26  at  08:53 PM
  13. You, sir, are a master.  A critique of populism within an invented alternative plotline within a deconstruction of a film within a great blog post.  There are levels, and there are levels.

    Posted by Andrew Yool  on  07/27  at  06:14 AM
  14. Thanks, but I have the feeling that this is one of those jokes that precisely 144 people are going to get.  Though that’s never stopped me before!

    Posted by Michael  on  07/27  at  01:07 PM
  15. There are levels, and there are levels.

    And there is barely-related three-year-old blog post whoring.

    Posted by  on  07/27  at  01:56 PM
  16. I have the feeling that this is one of those jokes that precisely 144 people are going to get.

    Or perhaps just twelve will get it only on 12 levels.  Meanwhile Nine Crocodile continues to exact his destruction of time; making it extraordinarily difficult to tell the difference between* one space shifted construct and another (3 yr old horror indeed).

    *captcha

    3.16 Why was Amanda Marcotte left off the naming of those on the listserve of secular socialist communist nazi fascists?

    Posted by  on  07/27  at  05:53 PM
  17. This whole thing frightens me.  Tucker has oodles of money, but what about me?  I cannot afford to come down with Schlussel-Breitbart Syndrome.  And it could happen.  Schlussel and I went to the same high school!  (But the universe is not entirely unmerciful.  She was born right about the time I skipped town forever.)

    In the post-Zombie Apocalypse, do you think Swanson’s will start selling delicious Brain Frozen Suppers?  Carlson is always gonna have money, isn’t he, even if the currency is grey and jiggly.

    Posted by  on  07/27  at  06:20 PM
  18. #145!  Sumer is afleeting, and UV fatigue precludes a careful rereading and potential grasp of this day’s gist. 

    Maybe it’ll be overcast tomorrow, which would favor PNW readers’ comprehensive abilities.

    Posted by  on  07/28  at  03:10 AM
  19. The real question is whether Sarah Palin/John McCain are part of a bad dream in an alternate reality “limbo” state on The Fourth Level down. I’m inclined to say “yes,” but then my top is still spinning. And yes, why did the penultimate deepest level of dreaming resemble outtakes from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”?

    Posted by sfmike  on  07/28  at  03:43 PM
  20. So, there was no list of Journalists bantering about strategic coverage of political events, or it’s just bad manners to mention the scum floating on the surface of the hot tub?  Trying to keep up with Jon Stewart are we?

    Posted by  on  07/30  at  03:01 PM
  21. Yes, Demos, liberals used a liberal listserv to say liberal things to each other—liberally.  You may unclutch your pearls now.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/30  at  06:57 PM
  22. Yep, beneath veneers of sensible moderation lurked even more sensible moderation.  Scales have fallen from *my* eyes, I can tell you.

    captcha Hall: what would Stuart say?

    Posted by  on  07/30  at  09:47 PM
  23. There are levels.

    Posted by dvdtoolfreak  on  09/10  at  02:15 AM

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