Knight and Day posterInception poster

Knight and Day vs. Inception

More Than This

Knight and Day delivers all the profundity that Inception only promises.

Artislav Mel

Right at the get go we are a long-lost underdog. A serious dark horse. Our quarry and sworn enemy, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, is a movie canonically accepted as one of the best films of 2010 and an all-around ground-breaker. Critical champ. Darling of bloggers. Oscar contender and top-ten list favorite. A serious movie for serious movie-headz.

Yet we stand opposed to this gaseous behemoth as a beacon of plain reason. Our aim: to show that another film—Knight and Day—is not merely a much better film than Inception, but that it also provides within its text all of the highly touted filmic excellence and specific profundity of Nolan’s over-examined excremeditation, and that it does so in a package as sweet as a chocolate truffle and a flute of Cristal.

Moreso, we will illustrate that Inception is in fact a very naughty, nasty trick upon its target audience. Not in fact a “bad” film, but an “evil” film. A kind of high-toned copromancy, which serves up a bountiful plate of soulless sub-intellectual meta-shit, leaving legions of bewildered fans blinded by a false discovery, a pseudo-discovery of themselves as demigods. And all clamoring for another helping.

Copromancy, like all the other -mancys, is a branch of magic, and magic is of central concern to our adventure. Nolan himself must allow the allusion, exploring as he does the subject of magic in the dreadful The Prestige, which is a movie as much about movies and making movies as it is about magic.

Now, old school Magic ain’t what it used to be. Compare it to the art of better dramatics—your Shakespeare, your Sophocles, your Wagner—and the stage and parlor magician is already in a fools cap. The gap widens into a chasm with the invention of cinema, TV, and related technologies, which are at once globally hypnotic. In the shadow of such giants, the once proud prestidigitator now shares a smudge of sidewalk space with the three-card-monty hustler, whose victims don’t have the common sense to take their five bucks and go see a matinee instead.

Yet abraded as the visage of stage magic is become—“comped” in Vegas, as it were—the technology is exactly that of cinema. Cinema and its ethos is a simulacrum, a hyper-copy of stage magic, and just as in the more ancient trade, cinema keeps its tricks under wraps. Way under. Those DVD extras and special features are just part of the show, folks, and mean to confound as much as clarify.

See—the movies have a secret language, kept from prying eyes, difficult. And within it a magic trick with a prestige so dazzling that the audience is fooled not only by “the method,” but altogether seduced into the belief that they actually know what its “all about.”

Not so much.

We discuss Inception and Knight and Day. This pairing is not random. These two films are copy-created to compete as surely as are A Bug’s Life and Antz. They are the two leading-man star-vehicles of Hollywood 2010, but there is more. They represent and are indeed carefully designed as starkly diametrical and warring ideologies. As a pair they propose a pissing contest so fierce and complex that it seems to emerge from the skulls of some impossible megalithic sorcerers at battle on a field of everlasting quantum chess.

We’ll get there . . . but for now the implication is that there is a hidden technique in cinema, the technique of “big-W” Wizards. Brilliant men and women out to make-up the minds of untold millions, and without a trace of their passing. In fact, we mostly pay ’em for the pleasure—cuz after all, who doesn’t love a good movie! Not our kind, that’s for damn sure.

So, let us anon! 

Good For You

The persistent desire that Good must vanquish Evil and then ride off into the happy sunset is the most naturally satisfying model for a rousing story. Our story, Inception vs. Knight and Day, is such a tale. A tale of the struggle and ultimate victory of a good man trying to find his way in the world—the real world. His antagonist is more than just a shadow. He is a living, breathing, opposite number in a dangerous game of rigorous Jesuit logic and sociopolitical chicanery. A game that promises apocalypse and a battle for the souls of humanity. And it delivers.

As a sketch, here is the tale of the tape.

Knight and Day vs Inception
Good vs Evil
Crypto-Accessible vs Pseudo-Elite
Entertaining and Fun vs Portentous and Self-Important
Empathetic vs Disassociated
Rich Super-Text vs Effete Sub-Text
Subjective/Phenomenological vs Objective/Empirical
Ordinary Self Acceptance vs Theocratic Shame and Guilt

We’ll tackle these measures and a few others, but to begin, we need a definition of “good” that will allow our readers to recreate this experiment to their own increase.

OK, I think we can all agree that a cool glass of water on a hot day is “good.” Fewer still might prefer a stiff Bourbon and a chunk of the finer German chocolate. Some folks like a post-prandial cigarillo and snuggle with the missus. The combinations are many, profane and sacred and everything in between. All of these things are good in their own way, but only the glass of water is “universally good.”

Let’s look at it another way: from idealism. Verily, it would be good if all that is was also good. Thus, in our definition we seek this rare combination of that which both refreshes, restores and balances, yet also delights, intoxicates and perhaps even disturbs a wee-smidgen. It may not exist, this fullness of goodness, but it must surely be the finest state of our desiring for one and all.

Now, one can expect only so much goodness from a movie, but the definition given remains easy enough to apply. A good movie ought to meet our standard of what is “good” as much as a movie can do. Knight and Day does so, and in a manner most deep: of this we will convince. And we mustn’t ignore the “evil” part of our equation. It too must be defined, and as we continue, the evil that is Inception will self-evaluate as counter-intuitive to all that is made transparently “good” by the definition we have given. 

Everyone’s A Critic

Our first appeal is to the hard core fans. It’s the movies we are talking about here, not world economy, the horrors of Congo, or Prop H8. Just the movies, right?

Well, there is a supreme symbol of the movie experience as described by the Grand Dame of Moviegoers, Pauline Kael, who writes that “. . . when the lights go down, all of our hopes and dreams are concentrated on the screen.” The grandiose range of this comment can be focused into our hopes for just the movie itself. That is to say: we hope for the best possible movie. This tool remains razor sharp regardless of the genre or sub-classification of the film in question. A movie with a social propaganda, an art house smoke-out, a slasher flick, a tear-jerker, an educational film, a legitimate masterwork—whichever and in any combination. All movies are equally subject to the rigors of Lady Kael’s perfect symbol. If not, why bother?

To this we add what must be innate: the best movies are those that draw the audience inside. Movies where one hunkers into the seat, awash in silver bliss. Movies where the theater disappears and one becometh lost within the film itself. It can happen at home, too. Alone or with a lover or loving friend, watching a beloved late night classic for the umpteenth time, undisturbed by usual household happenings, paralyzed by the cathode light. Feels all right.

But enough romance. The image is stable. We have clarified the proverbial “good movie.”

Well, if one finds oneself in tune with this image, then one admits a natural bias against the blatantly virulent intentions of Inception. For example, the campaign leading up to the release telegraphs in no uncertain code that the movie is not going to be something the audience will really get into body and soul, and instead primes viewers for an already standard “mindfuck.” With a little knowledge of this campaign, the movie spills all of its clues at once—purposefully. Many viewers, especially those out merely for a good time at the cinema, bust Inception in a few minutes and come away disappointed. This reaction, somewhat akin to the well known “Avatar Blues,” is key to Nolan’s first dirty trick: Inception immediately classifies its target audience as pseudo-intellectual. The experience is to be void of subjective emotional responses. 

In this way, Nolan dishes a sort of anti-movie that oozes with entropy but rejects the viewer’s attempt to reach the emotional frequency of its dark core. This disconnection is an evil act. The viewer is encouraged to touch into the void, but is severed from any legitimate phenomenal sensation. No one leaves Inception uplifted or moved, frightened, annoyed, or maybe amused by the action itself. We just feel a little smarter because we are let in on the joke within a joke. Oh so clever! And all of it by way of such an egregious spectacle and technique that we are somehow certain it must be “important” and “meaningful.” So it’s off we all scamper to brush up our Jung, Lacan, and Foucault, hoping to mesmerize the gang at the next coffee-house sesh.

And yet what is abundantly obvious from a demanding look into Inception is that the doings of Dominic Cobb and his team of derring-do, caught in a web of dreams within dreams, can provide not the slightest “meaning” at all—to anything. The world of the “dream-team” is hyper-objective. No matter where they may be in their respective dreamscape, there are multiple levels of pressing critical action entirely outside of the field of perception, influence, and even good intuition. This fact means that within each individual mission, there can be no unbroken connection between the phenomenal environment and the participant therein—no life. Now, Nolan makes a clumsy much ado about the sensations of his players, but in fact, given the necessary logical frame-up, his characters must be without the slightest feeling, perception or sensation of reality. Subjective or otherwise. Dream or reality. They know of less than nothing.

Thus, Inception is a puppet show wherein the both puppet players and the characters they represent are both ignorant and blind. Nolan is the puppeteer and by way of disengaging his audience from a phenomenal sensation, he tries to blind them too, and widely succeeds. The technique is that of the Saturnine demiurge, or if one prefers, the infamous psychiatrist Philip Zimbardo in his experimental prison simulation monstrosities of the 1970s. Break the connection with what is subjectively real, what can be only felt and intuited. Break the sovereign self from the critically unique phenomena of his reality, sit back and collect the data. At best, parochial grab-ass shenanigans. At worst, reprehensible transhuman clap-trap. We suspect the worst.

Narrowed back into a cinematic or aesthetic context and the model remains intact. Inception is an artistically barren film. To confirm, all that is required is cursory investigation into the ample critical literature on the matter, which demonstrate appallingly flavorless conformity. Sure, there is a marginal debate, but it is religiously confined to polite nit-picking over the appropriate theoretical source material and semantic labels to be applied to a proper study and never, we aver, never to the emotional and intuitive impact of the events on screen. 

We must (and not gladly) allow here for Nolan’s real genius. With Inception, Nolan has nurtured and perhaps even outright conjured-up a massive class of third-rate literary critique and third-rate text theory. An global army of hopeless zombie pseudo-intellectuals that verge on pseudo-humanity. The kind of bourgeois nitwits that can be cajoled by their own cherished logic into acting on behalf of empirical, data based knowledge in place of their own vibrant experience. Piped away to nowhere just like rats by the piper. And thus, to Chris Nolan the technical wizard, we tip our hat. To Nolan the man, we put it back on.

Oh, snap!

“I Know Stanley Kubrick, Sir, and You Are No Stanley Kubrick”

Again, our chosen allusion is self evident. Nolan is widely hailed as the new Kubrick. This is a pernicious myth and a cinch to dispel. 

Let’s look quickly at the title placard for 2001: A Space Odyssey, both to further refute Nolan and introduce the proposed cinematic superiority of Knight and Day. As we press on, keep in mind that our star, a certain Mr. Thomas Mapother III, worked intimately with Stanley on the longest continuous shoot in movie history. Eyes Wide Shut is arguably Kubrick’s ultimate masterstroke, his supreme puzzler. The debate is raging onward to this day. But one thing is for darn tootin’: the relationship between Cruise and his director, for close to two years of gut-wrenching truth-seeking, was edifying for both parties.

Tom Cruise knows Stanley Kubrick. For a while, they were friends. Stanley Kubrick knows movies and his work is the immortal testament that he wanted to share that troubling knowledge with everyone—whether they wanted it or not. He certainly shared it with Tom. Tom Cruise knows movies and proves it beyond the slightest doubt in Knight and Day, a film developed from behind the curtain by one of his many dummy companies.

OK, the infamous placard of placards:

There is a raft of intriguing discussion about the meaning of this image. We invite one attitude that is overlooked by many movie-lovers in earnest. Overlooked because of a common gap in the apprehension of cinematic theory. Here it is: most good movies are at least a little bit about movies themselves, about the special problems and techniques of film-making, about the discreet relationship between the film and its audience. And from the cream of the crop, one can prise this thematic jewel to the heart’s limitless delight.

We see the 2001 title card in just such a light. The small bright light at background is in fact the light from a movie projection booth. The center orb is the backlit head of the viewer in her seat. The great dark foreground arc is the top edge of the movie screen, presented in curved space, as pictured from behind.

With this boggling title, Kubrick has invited the participant to see the movie from behind the movie, to see the self gazing in from beyond the looking glass, to see the movie peering at itself. Seriously fucking spooky. It’s a trick nicely cribbed by Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery, which stages its climax backstage during a repertory screening of “The Lady From Shanghai.” The output of this motif is a cup that runneth over, and also illustrates effortlessly the fascinating philosophical paradox called “infinite regression,” a paradox that intuitively exposes the ugly corporate underbelly of “theocratic” and “empirical” systems, which are the bane of all healthy freedom.

The natural evolution of this motif is not lost on the film-makers. It is in fact cultivated and celebrated. It is exactly why the best and most exuberant films exist at all. But here is what’s funny. These intricate textures, these images within images and worlds within worlds—they needn’t matter at all, even to the ideally open-minded viewer. Such are the proverbial “good movies,” taking one so smoothly right inside of the text. They urge personal and emotional participation. They are designed to be subjective—without tears—and thus are always reported as an ecclesiastic event, with as many unique path-impressions as there are unique participants.

By the same evaluation, the Nolan disconnect does not achieve inception, much less a satisfying realization, although we worry he has done it on purpose. Whatever the case may be, he sure as hell ain’t no Stanley.

On the other hand, the title imagery of Knight and Day is a direct hit. Tom and his crew step up as a legitimate grandchild to Kubrick, or at least a very well-liked niece.

The image is a mid-screen head-and-shoulder shot of our hero, Roy Miller (Cruise), seen from behind as he gazes squarely off into the center of the image. The depth is blurry and as such, Roy’s world inside a busy airport is still coming into focus. An airy yet energetic music fills the ears and the action begins.

To unravel this excellent image, we can project it into a crude 3D. Now, Roy’s head and shoulders can squarely line up as those of someone maybe sitting in the row in front of us. If we extrapolate backward into the theater behind, the shot becomes the image of our self in our own seat, as seen by a present, tangible “other,” perceiving our self as we perceive our self, as a moviegoer. Farther to the back by likewise steps and we reach the projection booth—the holy of holies. Inside this theoretical space and one has regressed into a monad at the center of mind, without a body but with senses magically intact, where a kaleidoscopic panoply of images, symbols, semaphores and signs bombard the mind and soul like the bubbles of some Pierian plasma soda-pop.

Thus, the title scene of Knight and Day exhibits a lavish, subtle, and carefully planned initiation into film theory and text theory at large. An initiation time-edited to end exactly as the title credits themselves. This last image imitates that of of John Ford’s fabled closing shot of The Searchers, which pictures John Wayne from behind as he stands in a doorway. A symbol practically sacred to movie lovers and generally agreed to illustrate the inevitable ending to the anarchistic life “out-doors” enjoyed during the development of the US Western colonies. It is a haunting image and is repeatedly reinterpreted like some kind of freemasonic password.

In Knight and Day as the title credits close, we see Roy Miller in the same frame-up as the searching John Wayne. From behind in silhouette, lighted from the direction he faces, as he pauses before stepping onto to airplane, enshrouded in darkness. This deception conceals a scathing irony as commentary on the film audience and in particular the type of audience that is likely to seek out a movie like Knight and Day. 

The entire title sequence is designed to be ignored or barely half remembered—semi-liminal. It is the precise sort of sequence that is often completely missed by viewers as they remove their coats, settle into their seats and what not. A few late-comers will fumble in as the sequence plays out, but none will mind too much to miss it, as everything in the scene can be easily extracted from the action that will follow the titles. And yet this title action conceals a fiendishly accomplished movie within a movie that is chock full of info about the players, the story to come, film theory, identity and gender issues—and more. A stunning live-action short that just keeps on giving. A secret gift for the deep-field moviegoer, who loves movies like Faberge loves eggs.

The final gem of the title sequence encodes a dynamic Alpha and Omega. The image of Roy, frozen for a moment as he boards his flight, is that of a moviegoer as he may file into the theater ahead of another patron. And it is no coincidence. Roy is about to take his seat in an odd sort of room, an airplane flight cabin that is set up an awful lot like a screening room. So, as the “little movie” missed by almost everyone closes in a gentle cadence, the main body of the film begins and the audience is focused on the big journey at last.

Simply . . . wow!

Knight and Day is a cinematic masterpiece and modest only in the natural dignity of its magnitude. To all the haters . . . we proclaim: of James Mangold, Director; Tom Cruise, Star and Crypto-Producer; and Writer Patrick O’Neill, that Stanley would approve. 

Fuck the Oscars!

Suspension Bridge of Disbelief

It is here we can explore one of the most effervescent features of Knight and Day, the use of a screwball gag that probes the cinematic convention called “suspension of disbelief” with impressive dexterity. We also tighten in upon the distinct nature of the opposition of the two films, and how they each attempt to establish the selfsame model as a dichotomy of objective nihilism (Inception) vs. subjective phenomenalism (Knight and Day).

A series of scenes shall be called “bridges.” The specific action of these scenes is meaningless to the development of the story and the characters, but is critical to over-arching themes. The strictness of architectural detail is often avoided in this kind of scene, not because it doesn’t matter, but rather in the manner that one does not consult a blue print before crossing a bridge or crossing a street.

Nevertheless, “bridges” and the methodology of their use is essential to understanding the intent of the thematic text.

In our chosen scenes from Knight and Day, our hero and his lady travel over a distance under extreme duress. In each snippet, one or the other player is also heavily drugged and/or semi-conscious. These misadventures are set up as a classic and nicely effective running gag. The reasonable chance our lovers will make it alive, together and uncaptured, degenerates progressively from high marginality into playful absurdity. Of course, the specific engineering of these events could be included, but they don’t need to be to take the viewer across the “bridge.”

To clue in to our comparison to Inception, we call upon a repeated motif from Knight and Day: the “You Are Dead” motif. Roy plays a video game wielding a plastic crossbow (knights use crossbows). On the screen he is immolated and we read “You Are Dead.” We will learn that Roy’s old ego-self, Matthew Knight, died during the Gulf War. June will say, of the airplanes cockpit, “Everyone in here is dead.” June frees Roy with the words “Stay down, you’re dead.” Moreover, each of the “bridges” is a death-trap beyond survival. 

We hypothesize a potent speculation: that each of these deaths, these ephemeral “bridges” from Knight and Day, are carefully paired to match the progressively interior worlds of Dominic Cobb’s Inception dreamscape. The difference is one of perspective, but also of artistic and moral intent. Dom is trapped within a dream while Roy is the theory of a dead man, so it’s gotta be six of one, half-dozen of the other, right? Well no, because Roy’s world is positively self-centered by his connection to personal sensibility and intuition. It’s all happening before his eyes and he has the good sense to live inside of it, to the fullest of experience and phenomenal self-appraisal, where each of Dom’s Cobb’s inner “kicks” become more and more detached from the hopes of a subjectively desirable event. And just as Dom bleeds away all meaningfulness into the maelstrom of his brooding, vacant interior, Roy Miller is resurrected repeatedly into feeling and experience thanks to an active empathy with his immediate subjective environment.

Likewise, as a movie, the prodigious Knight and Day does not lure the participant into a single interpretation or monochromatic experience, but summons instead layer upon layer of invigorating substance, both from the imbedded text and as the organic by-product of an honest inquiry into that text.

Bitchin’.

The Defined Comedy

We would like to suggest a few applied readings into Knight and Day, which are herein presented only nominally, to avoid being an outright spoiler.

1. “The Wizard of Odds”

Plenty of fine films grapple with the presence of the luminous 1939 stalwart, The Wizard of Oz. Knight and Day gives a fresh twist. Sidestepping the story of TWOZ, our movie chooses a wholesale import of players from out of the ’39 classic and smack into its fantastic 21st century wonders.

Knight and Day stars Glinda, the Good Witch of the North as our heroine June Havens. Dorothy Gale gives a strong showing as Roy Miller. Here is The Cowardly Lion, in an endearing turn as the fireman Rodney, June’s ex-boyfriend. The Scarecrow is super-genius Simon Feck and The Tin Man steals his scene as platinum grade assassin Harvey Wallbanger, an unstoppable terminator. With a special appearance by The Wicked Witch and her Flying Monkeys as, respectively, Isabelle George, CIA apparatchik and Machiavellian Agent Fitzgerald and his army of chaos.

Fun for the whole fam damily.

2. “Blue Mondays”

Knight and Day is unabashedly open about matters of human digestion. Roy’s handy-dandy cellphone plays “Louie, Louie, oh baby, we gotta go” and announces a movement alert on its screen. A moment later and June informs that “. . . all of the best scrap is in Kansas,” which is a contraction of the terms can and ass (from Kansas), and crap (from scrap).

We consider this motif another traditional transmission from Kubrick, who was a brazen bathroom bawdy-man, including fine-tuned toilet humor in many of his best productions. 

From The Shining: On a tour of the Overlook food stores Chef Halloran chides “. . . you gotta stay regular if you want to be happy.” From Full Metal Jacket: in the head (military slang for toilet), Joker begs the Private Pyle to “. . . go easy, bro.” Pyle then shoots himself in the head while squatting on a toilet. 2001 pairs a visit to the toilet with the use of a telephone booth. And the triumphant intro to Eyes Wide Shut, where Alice Harford, patting her crotch with a wad of tissue declares “. . . you’re not even looking,” and Stanley admits not only that his audience is probably already getting bored, but that to many, participation the film will in all likelihood be about as helpful as a handful of toxic Charmin. Hilarious.

In Knight and Day the message is mainly homeopathic and healing, but just as funny in its execution: have a good poop, have a good breakfast, have a good laugh. Nap to follow.

3. “The Wind That Dreams Are Made Of”

There are a host of witty references to other great films. Vertigo, The Matrix, Dr. No, Three Days of the Condor—the list goes on, but there is one all time homer that is paid an especially graceful homage: John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon. Knight and Day is a florid re-imagination in color process. Our film’s macguffin, the battery called Zephyr, and more deeply, Zephyr’s designer, the whiz-kid Simon Feck, stand in as the famous falcon of Huston’s title—the “black bird”—an item, and the case of Feck, a character, that is worth nothing but that drives the plot straight into the red zone and keeps it hot. 

And Peter Sarsgaard is dead to rights in his portrayal of the reptilian Fitzgerald, who wears the same pair of well beaten wing-tips as the Fat Man, pedophile and pirate villain of The Maltese Falcon. Fitzgerald is a pedophile too—a sadistic pedophile rapist. In both films the precisely cold-blooded, repulsive, and utterly evil nature of this character is dressed as a polished, polite and sometimes even charming scoundrel. And thus, we are invited to identify and maybe even dare to empathize. Dangerous stuff.

To some, these kind of inter-filmic references are are trite and perhaps a bit vulgar. We strongly disagree and instruct that instead, they serve as an actual on screen conversation between film makers, and indeed a living discussion between movies themselves.

Garbo Talks! Oh, how she talks. Scheherazade should talk so much.

4. “Don’t Take It So Hardware”

This theme transforms Knight and Day into a gender bending The Matrix by way of the screwball comedies of the 30s and in particular Adam’s Rib.

In our movie, June Havens lugs 50 kilos of hard steel like an bruiser mechanic—and she never breaks a sweat. Conversely, hero Roy Miller just drops his own precious spy-gear whenever he is done using it, often handing directly it to an over-burdened June. And yet wherever he is, Roy always has the right tool. It is almost as if he is a video game avatar. By way of this trick, we are treated to the complexities of gender roles in the post-industrial and digital age. It’s the battle of the sexes all over again, but this this time it’s in binary and grease! Batteries not included.

5. “John Wilkes Truth”

Is Knight and Day a 9/11 truth movie? We say it is so, though we stress it is not at all the usual conspiracy-fueled anger that seeks out for a window on blood justice and restorative atonement. Rather, the message is medium-cool and moderates a mindfulness that the explanation of the horrible events of September 11, 2001 have not been properly addressed, adding a nice tribute to the first responders and firemen who died that day.

On the plane June says “Wow, no wonder these airlines are going out of business, there’s no one on the plane.” The plane then crashes in a corn field over the Northeastern US. In the next scene, with fireman Rodney, June will try to organize the meaning of her misadventures on the I-93. Taken as a unit we find a hidden contraction for the thought phrase: “I was on the 93.” I-93. Flight 93. But there is no one on the plane. 

’Nuff said. 

Zen and the Art of Auto Restoration

To close, we summarize the opposing appeals of Roy vs. Dom, and of movie vs. movie, and join each man as he talks to his lover across the abyss. Dom and Mal, before Mal kills herself, from the ledges outside their oddly separate hotel rooms. Roy and June, before Roy takes another fall for the love of June, from the balconies of their naturally separate hotel rooms.

Inception proves to be a movie about the destruction of the self—not of the false self, but the sovereign self. We know at once Mal is a suicide case. She acts like a bored socialite on pills, without even enough impotent anger or sentiment to seem sorry for herself, her lover, or her children. When she does jump, it’s hard to feel for her at all. But Dom will follow Mal into her deadly web of false dreams—for nothing. C’mon! What could it possibly matter? It’s all just a dream, right? He might wake up one day to find he has been Ralph Kramden or Johnny Knoxville all along, and probably forget the whole thing, as these men would do. So who cares? Yet just exactly because of its stunning artifice, Inception states a certain and active intent to draw its audience into despair and absolute hopelessness, into the void of Dom Cobb, paper man. For 140 minutes, Inception tells its audience that they in fact do not exist. One may as well be staring into blank space while the kettle boils down. It is a very bad movie.

From the opposing moments, Roy and June on the hotel balconies, it is Roy who will jump into the unknown, not from the despair he fears, but out of his empathy for June and Simon, and in the best way available to keep his subjective reality intact. Roy is a man worthy of salvage. Luckily, Knight and Day is a movie about auto restoration. June Havens, as it happens, actually restores cars for a living, and this fact is blended into the story as a vessel to carry the participant, the moviegoer, on a marvelous ride. Auto restoration is self restoration—one and the same thing. And this is how our movie restores. By speaking to us each to each, as Roy speaks to everyone he meets, as a person. Not as square-eyed thralls with the malformed addiction to the certainty of higher order, human progress, and objective merit, but as living, breathing people. Does anyone desire it to be otherwise?

There is nothing more that need be proven. Knight and Day is a really good movie. 

And it’s here our journey begins again. We’ve made our case and so each of us must choose, because that choice is all we have. We choose Knight and Day.

Get strapped in to the ’67 Pontiac Goat, lovingly restored by Havens’ Auto Shop. Let's take a ride, maybe catch a movie. Unroll the window and let the breeze touch your skin. Man it’s a sweet ride: plush tuck-and-roll upholstery, an original dashboard, and—somehow—that new car smell. Listen to the engine rumble like a purring tiger. The radio is on; sounds like Roxy Music. We are the navigator, so turn it up a little.

Where we’re going—it’s up to us now—up to us because we choose to feel and open our eyes to the marvels that surround us at every moment. The little things.

. . . I could feel at the time there was no way of knowing
Fallen leaves in the night, who can say where they’re going
As free as the wind, hopefully learning
Why the sea on the tide has no way of turning
More than this, tell me one thing
More than this, there is nothing . . .

And we are away. :::

posted by editor ::: January 05, 2011 ::: philms ::: (40) Comments