(2010) Christoper Nolan. Kip's Bay, 2nd Avenue.

Inception Poster in Times SquareWhen the mind of the unsuspecting sleeper is invaded by the Extractor whose intention is to steal information from the sleeper's memory, the subconscious of the sleeper assumes the humanoid form of a mass mindless population ultra-sensitized to the threat of unknown interlopers, and who mimics the lack of individuation which characterizes any group dynamic, true, huge and dumb.

In the opening scene of Inception, which unravels as a dream within a dream, it first appears that the "real" events occur at the ramshackle flat in a city aflame with insurrection. A mob of street thugs and vigilante citizens, vaguely Third-World, riot in the streets and draw near the location of Cobb and Arthur as if to storm the mad General's palace. The city and the mob make the patterns by which Inception presents the way dreams sabotage the way of dreams. Personology is made the enemy.

Fight scenes take place in zero nerve-gravity, and time is known to expand in relative degree to the steepings of the brain. Arthur masters the stairwell of Paradox, in his slim waistcoat and slicked hair like a London toff in the 1890s. Cobb warns that an idea is a virus, a nefarious, belligerent and furtive being. The biologics of the new serums used to induce the inception are thankfully left unexplicated, and where the story is thin on technology it is thick on the trenchworks of the mind.

The dream world of Cobb and his wife Mal is a sober and shallow vista, as if to suggest they were inUnidade de Habitação, Marselha, França fact shallow people, who lacked the imagination to construct together an otherworldly sleepscape other than Le Corbusier modular luxury project housing. Their metropolis is the kind that destroys its history to replace it with big bright boxes. This is the architecture of the anti-hero.

In Arthur, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Inceptionthe same way, Cobb thinks he is saving his mind by infiltrating it, incepting himself. Is Cobb a master intellectual con man, as Michael Caine hallows him? Or a corporate lackey misfit? He is a humorless man and so his situation suffers by it, causing a stunted, resistable personality. A character with no faith in his own imagination, and who steals life for it, demonstrates the disturbed, penultimate comfort zone Americans love so much. Paris, France folds up like an Escher poster on the wall of a Communications major's dorm room.
Modulor Man, Chandigarh, India, Le Corbusier
The Inceptors, like director Christopher Nolan, hinge the heist upon a histrionic convention. The mega-rich heir Robert Fisher has a daddy complex that ends up forsaking the supreme talents of the actor Pete Postlethwaite, and though it forms the crux of the whole founding concept, it is as dramatically weightless as the van taking forty-five minutes to hit the river. But Cobb is not an artist. He is a thief.

Inception depicts the nightmarish breakdown of a 21st century GQ mag nihilist who claims he just wants to see his kids again. But the family values culminate as a macabre morality. What kind of demented father will he be, even if the spinning top spins ad infinitum? Cobb believes in the vulnerability of the life of the mind, and he tricks the dreamer from their own surreal life by marking phenomena as hack familiarities: elevators, cocktail lounges, a locked safe, a snowy mountain, a train. These are the visual rhymes of movies as played out in the work ethic of a shady securities trader. Cobb is the Joker without the legerdemain, or the honest sticktoitiveness of anarchy.

The Expendables

(2010) Sylvester Stallone. Regal Union Square Stadium.

As "The Expendables" are reminiscent signifiers of aging 1980s action-movie actors, so too the dude audience recognizes itself as having aged and that it too is expendable. There is the nostalgia of Stallone in his 60s for the Stallone of Rambo, and the dude audience, now adults, is nostalgic for the adventuresome, gore-bucked fantasy life of boyhood. These sorts of action movies, exemplified by Cannon Films, prepared a kid for a world of drug-induced 1980s nihilism, bizarre characters, disturbed uses of the fuck word, and the moral code of killing bad guys.

The Expendables hang out at Tool's Tattooes, run by Tool (Mickey Rourke), where they park their motorcycles and talk about the old days, sometimes spouting limericks and having knife-throwing contests. As men of violence, The Expendables are a ragtag dragoon of ex-soldiers hired for dirty missions, and except for getting older, they are much more expendable as men of emotion.  Barney Ross (Stallone) can still fly a plane with brute grace while Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) mans the machine gun outside the nose.

But Toll Road (Randy Couture) is having issues at his shrink. Lee Christmas returns from a Somalian pirate mission to an unfaithful girlfriend. Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) wields a cannon he nicknames "girlfriend." Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) has gone killcrazy and turned against the Expendables, a victim of the post-traumatic stress of a 20th century mercenary in the 21st.

The Expendables are offered a mission leftover from the Reagan-era involving CIA-financed South American juntas. Arnold Schwarzeneggar crosses the fourth-wall of Hollywood action star self-consciousness by simply playing himself, The Governator, who, besides running the state of California, happens to also secretly lead a crackerjack militia on global suicide adventures. Arnold's gang is the Gary's Bar to The Expendables' Cheers. But, as Barney mocks, Arnie "wants to be President," so Schwarzeneggar passes up the mission, and The Expendables are stuck with the job. Bruce Willis gets to ask Stallone and Schwarzeneggar, "You guys gonna start sucking each other's dicks?"

The centerpiece of the movie is not an action scene, but a monologue by Tool, the camera close-up his jacksawed face, telling a Bosnia war story about his failure to save what was left of his soul.

One can easily forget, that along with Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles (and sure Billy Bob Thorton) Stallone is the only Best Actor nominee (1976) to also be nominated for Best Screenplay.  He's a writer's guy.