Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Knight and Day posterInception poster

Knight and Day vs. Inception

More Than This

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



Caught one typo so far, Mel: “the movie spills all of it clues at once” - missed a possessive. Cigarillo and the missus! Hah. Now I’ll finish the article.

[fixed. tks! —Ed.]

Posted by Old 333 on 06 Jan 11 at 10:57 AM

Whew! My god, what can I say. I don’t get out to the pictures more than once every few years: Thank God. Thanks for an interesting article - boy, what a lot of stuff to remember! I’m such a surface-person, I guess; the intended condition of the audience. Undercurrents full of sharks, ripple ripple running red. You do us all a service, sir.


Posted by Old 333 on 06 Jan 11 at 11:33 AM

So many errors in this piece, so many that I stopped reading.
Illusion not Allusion.
Zombardo, not Milgram spearheaded the Stanford prison experiment.
You seem to forget the entire audience that simply found Inception visually interesting, as many viewers couldn’t keep up with the plot they just went along for the ride (a la Transformers 2).

<em>[Ed note: The author actually meant allusion, but thanks for catching Zimbardo.]</em>

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06 Jan 11 at 07:05 PM


I am grateful for the correction of my error.  When I write, I do so from memory and without external source, to preserve the unique quality of my knowledge and persona, both of which are delightfully flawed.  I’m not a professional researcher but a punk philosopher. Still, that doesn’t mean shouldn’t clean up my act a little.

Nevertheless, you don’t seem to apprehend that your editorial comments do nothing to counter the message of the article.  As a matter of fact, the whole piece is a sermon on subjective experience, which can always be called “wrong” and yet persists, because it feels so darn good.


Artislav Mel

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06 Jan 11 at 07:43 PM

i am going to write an article on the virtues of ‘Salt’ just to get back at you, Mel ;)

the first half of your article recalls a certain other notorious webauthor’s argument about the band Tool and its fans…

unfortunately, i think you spoil the effect by relying too heavily on the idea that the subjective has no effect on the objective, as a bias to your argument. Inception tries to set an objective framework in the subjective, and shows how that disintegrates, creating a dynamic, living tension. K&D instead sets up a subjective framework in the objective, ultimately validating the objective world by eliminating all ‘illusions’ by film’s end, which, effectively, invalidates the film itself.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07 Jan 11 at 02:15 AM

Hey Quinn,

Thanks for your comment, and its challenging critique.  I am interested in that article about “Tool” and would much appreciate a link. 

I do not wish to condescend, really I don’t, I liked your article very much, as it was the initial inspiration for my piece. But the point of my article is not to show the value of subjective vs. objective, but instead that “subjectivity” is in fact “all that is”.

Objective reality is a lie.  A phantom and utmost falsehood.  Your job is to convince me otherwise, in essence, to force the agreement that “objective reality” is the basis of “all reality”.  Conversely, the very fact of our conversation indicates that subjective perspective is alive and well and showing no signs of stopping.

Have you seen “Knight and Day”?  I think you would be hard pressed indeed to argue that it either proves or even tries to demonstrate an objective standard.  I would be thrilled to see you try and do so.

On the other hand, “Inception” is just another in a long line of theocratic doggerel to hypnotize its audience into the adoption of its self-destructive attitudes, and collect a big paycheck.

As an irony, I propose the following paradox, which is in fact no paradox at all: the single objective truth is that there is no objective truth.

If you ever find it—that objectively stable, verifiable and share-able truth—by all means, share it with the class.  In the meantime all I can say is…

Happy hunting.


Artislav Mel

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07 Jan 11 at 05:40 AM

Put simply, your article is a long bore. Its easy to see when a writer is in love/hate with his words/audience; you clearly love filling the screen with words and filling your readers with annoyance.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10 Jan 11 at 02:14 PM


If I annoyed you AND you hated the article, this scores as an big success for “yours truly”.  Like a hat-trick or something.

Show it to your friends and maybe they will be pissed-off into boredom, too.  No one can please everyone all the time (except Christopher Nolan), so I am willing to settle for bad publicity.

Many thanks and Pax,

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10 Jan 11 at 08:05 PM

Hi Mel,

thank you for the eloquent response. any condescension is appreciated as merely tongue in cheek or an intellectual tete-a-tete; no worries.

yes, i have in fact seen Knight and Day, just a couple of weeks ago. i especially enjoyed it at the beginning (strongest during end of Act 1 start of Act 2?) but felt it got weaker as it went on, simply because it ‘eliminates’ all of the illusions that it originally had so much fun setting up.

i don’t agree with your point about Inception posting subjectivity as all there is—but if we’re going to get philosophical—i would perhaps venture that Inception is a Kantian movie—where there is a sort of transcendental idealism—that there is an *unknowable* quality to reality, a ding-an-sich so to speak.

K and D, however, is purely—what—Hegellian? the rational must be real. and not even the good (by your definition ;)  ), synthesized-value kind of Hegellian—it instead becomes increasingly reductive as the movie wears on. any of the questions/illusions surrounding Cruise’s identity, which side the CIA op is on, the relationship between Cruise and Diaz, Cruise’s own backstory, etc. are eventually removed from the ‘equation’ of the movie until we are left, as viewers, with an absolute value for ‘x’

i rather liked Salt, initially, since it plays with the viewers expectations—we’ve seen the mistaken identity/frame-up trope so often that we are actually surprised when…

perhaps i was just holding out hope that Cruise in K and D would turn out to be a bit more like vinDiesel in Pitch Black—to really, really labor a comparison ;)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11 Jan 11 at 08:05 AM

Hey Quinn,

Before I respond, let me say that I think, by the jib of your comments, that you must be a really cool person.  I especially appreciate your sense of humor, because it highlights that a serious discussion need not be “somber” or “contentious”.  Thanks for that.

I get what you are saying about K&D, and find it quite sound. but yet I “feel” somehow differently.  The central key to my argument is the “You Are Dead Theory”.  My unstated take is that K&D is actually the final dream of Matthew Knight, US Marine, as he dies on the battlefields of Kuwait/Iraq.  I think the dream is febrile and paranoid.

I also disagree that Roy Miller comes off as a “good guy”.  After all, just what has he done over his 15 year career with the CIA.  In all likelihood, he has committed state sponsored chaos and maybe even murder.

Knight isn’t “really"a good guy soldier (the War in the Gulf being a highly suspect campaign) and Miller is no more likely a good guy spy.  Both men are highly ambiguous and so the movie, to me, becomes the tale of the resurrection and redemption of a crooked man. 

Cobb, on the other hand reads as crypto-ambiguous.  But Cobb’s ambiguity is not a “trait/characteristic” but rather a “state”. Cobb is a specter of a phantom of a ghost, and thus, at least for me, completely vague and impotent.

BTW… how about a link for that “Tool” article.  I am curious to read it.

Peace Owt for Now


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11 Jan 11 at 09:14 PM

Drawing unsubstantiated conclusions is not a critical review. The only conclusion that could be discerned while speed reading through your two-dollar-word drivel/high handed ranting was that these two movies are philosophically at odds. Our best philosophers are dead and whether a philosophy matches with your ideals or not is opinion, not a critical review. Basing fact upon opinion and calling it fact does not make it so… unless your of the Christian faith.

Being contradicting by saying you won’t do something and then writing it in the very next line is not wit, it’s being an ass. So is liking someone because they can write a snarky comeback to bolster your ego.

Attacking another critic on the basis of their information is second rate argueing, an Ad Hominem at it’s purest. Oh look, even Wikipedia calls it a logical fallacy.

Your use of fancy words does little to make an educated reader suspect you know what your talking about, either as a critical review or intellectually.

My question is this: Please explain how K & D is a better movie not using philosophy as a basis for your argument… rather using standard and accepted review tactics such as plot devices, scripting, and the like?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 18 Jan 11 at 07:51 AM

Splortched: Even if a review is based on accepted tactics such as plot devices, scripting (which this piece actually does)it would still be ones opinions of these tactics. This is a review of whats behind the curtain, not whats on the stage. I would suggest Ebert and Roeper 4 you. When your snap reaction to reading something you don’t particularly care 4 or agree with is to lash out so harshly to me that is being an ass (at its purest). Even Wiki thinks ur a dick.

Anywho, I liked this piece. I have the two movies coming to me on netflix so I can watch them together as I haven’t seen either. I was reluctent to watch Inception cus of the lead female role. She’s in those “Cisco Human Network” commercials and something about her gets under my skin and lays eggs. Did you think “Shutter Island” was the same kind of movie as Inception of K@D? I would like to hear your take on that. SI seemed to push some negative ideas. Can’t wait till you get ahold of True Grit.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 19 Jan 11 at 03:31 PM


I feel your pain. You are in fact a victim of a life lived inside a media control grid over 100 years old. 

Back in “the day”, prior to the industrialized production of communication, the type of essay above was far more common and could be heard at cafe and street corner, and read on privately produced leaflets. 

It is a mock “diatribe” or mock “polemic”.  It is not a modern criticism or a logical argument, but a sort of “ironic sermon” as if written by the spawn of Ingmar Bergman, Bill Hicks, Zizek and Truman Capote.  Throw in a little Charles Manson for good measure.

Read it in this way and you may find it worthwhile.


Artislav Mel

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 19 Jan 11 at 10:10 PM

@Life Cubed

Interesting that you mention “Shutter Island”  I cut a whole section from the above essay. Looking at the the “SI” “Inception” link.  In the end, I gave it up because it was just TOO MASSIVE for publication short of a heavily cross referenced work.

However, since you notice it too…

Pay special note to the clothing of Teddy/Dom. The cut, draping, color and texture of his wardrobe is remarkably similar in both films.  You will note the VERY subtle bleaching-out of color from darker shoulders/torsos to slightly faded leggings and ankles.  This is especially true of Teddy’s clothing as both orderly and patient of “SI”.

The theme that connects “I” and “SI” has something to do with the"projection” of false imagery, somewhat akin to “The Matrix” but more like the Hindu concept of “Maya”. 

I detect the presence of “ego-destructive” motives in “SI” and “I”.  Both films try to sever the connection to what is real.

It is funny.  Scorcese made “Kundun”.  Nolan brims with Buddhistic motif.  But I can’t shake the feeling these two guys both work for the Roman College under the aegis of a certain Papa B16.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 19 Jan 11 at 10:37 PM

I honestly cannot determine whether you are the most intelligent troll ever to walk among human beings or if this is simply a fantastic review rooted in absolute nonsense. Granted, I do agree with some of your points regarding Inception’s self-indulgence and lack of resonance in any characters save for one who jumps from hotel room. Spoiler alert. She passes through the film like a dream and so I suppose she is. However, I’m not certain I can quite fathom the comparison between The Wizard of Oz and Knight and Day. I suppose an extended metaphor, stretched long enough, can be enveloped over anything. Which one this is, I honestly can’t tell.

I suppose that’s the mark of any professional in film. The reality of the moment, no matter how absurd, is in that moment indistinguishable from the real thing.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03 Feb 11 at 02:47 AM

don’t stop Mr. Wizard.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11 Feb 11 at 01:32 AM

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was amazing, hilarious and instructive.

Posted by Greg on 18 Feb 11 at 06:01 PM

I stumbled across this, as probably many others do. I got lost and bored in about 5 minutes. Not because of your ideas, but because of your writing style that totally frustrates me. Its like you try to show off your vocabulary by extending an idea in as many words as possible, which is pointless in my opinion. Do yourself a favor and simplify it for us stumblers, stoned and not stoned alike, so that we can have a chance at actually finishing your review.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 24 Feb 11 at 12:40 AM

What a lot of interesting comments accreting! Herbie, you are a wizard indeed. Keller, there is famously no accounting for taste. Allow the man his style. Some people wear ugly big hats and live in golden buildings - at least Herbie is just wordy.

I have a friend who is possibly the best undiscovered movie reviewer in history: Fast Forward Mookie can make The Mummy into a twenty-minute funfest, can bring you to forgive George Lucas for those new films of his. HErbie, do you have a movie camera? I think you two would be a damnably good replacement for Siskel an’ Ebert.


Posted by Old 333 on 24 Feb 11 at 01:10 AM


Dear Sir,

As the author of this article, I would like to respond to your comments, because I think they are valid and I have heard them before, in regard to my work, but also in regard to some other pretty great artists.  Like Mozart and Borges and Jackson Pollack.

I single out Borges because he my literary mentor.  Have you ever read “The Three Versions of Judas”?  It is a short article that I am willing to bet might give some a similar feeling to my own humble work, but that is in fact overflowing with vicious wordplay.

I am no Borges, but I reckon that if you were to give me another chance, you would find a wealth of punnery, literary gamesmanship, and even satiric pornography in this-a-here article.

I happen to agree that my style is sometimes rather over done, but it must be so exactly because of the level of fugue that I try to employ.

I write in J.S. Bach, and you want Bachmann Turner Overdrive.  The fact is, both are worthwhile.  Give me a second look.

Thank you for your critique.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 24 Feb 11 at 05:19 AM

Only a fool and a fan of terrible dialogue and plot could think a movie like Knight and Day is better than Inception.  There’s nothing wrong with liking Knight and Day, but Tom Cruise playing yet another young man’s role, with the transparent Cameron Diaz, is by no means a better film than one that made people think so much.  Do yourself, and the internet, a favor and stop watching movies.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05 Mar 11 at 12:00 AM

Jeepers Jack,

You seem awfully prickly over an article that is given to you for free and of only your own will to read it.  I’m glad I’m not your butcher. Things could get dicey.

I am likewise concerned that you have a dangerously appalling lack of simple arithmetic.

Cruise plays Matthew Knight, a soldier recruited into espionage during the Gulf War.  This means that in 2010, Knight, aka Roy Miller, would be between the ages of 40 and 50 years old.

The underrated film-maker Eli Cross once quipped “King Kong was only 3 foot 6 inches tall”.  Of course, he refers here to the original movie model of “King Kong”.  Movies you see, good and bad alike, are make-believe, and are not fit to standard codes of measurement. Perhaps this misunderstanding accounts for your source of mathematical short-coming.

As for your opinion, we are all entitled.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05 Mar 11 at 09:20 PM

This reminds me of that one kid in college who would play devil’s advocate just to get a rise out of his or her peers. It appears you’ve succeeded in carrying that trait into adulthood.

Enjoy feeding the destruction and downfall of modern cinema as you drive producers and studios into making oversimplified, corny movies like K&D as you willingly give them your intellectual nod of support.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 31 Mar 11 at 01:06 AM


You do not need to be stylish in order to write well, but you do need to write well in order to be stylish. My advice, if you’re trying to improve your craft, is to know when your audience wants tricky wordplay, and when they want movie reviews. And proofread your work!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03 Apr 11 at 03:07 PM

There’s a really interesting trend about Inception fanboys, and its that they’re particularly rabid with respect to any critical disassembly of Nolan’s so-called ‘masterwork,’ apparently a ‘9 to 10 year engagement’ with the script. (Wikipedia) I’ve faced similar crits when calling that the emperor has no clothes on this joke of a movie.

On a more positive note: your review (read half way through when you got to the part about Knight and Day) actually MADE ME GO OUT AND GET THE MOVIE Knight and Day so I could see for myself. Previous to reading your comparison of the two films, I wrote K&D off as a superficial star vehicle with no substance, whereas I heartily spent (and, as it turns out, wasted) $11 to go see inception in the theatre because it seemed like such a cool idea… and with nolan at the helm, hell, I thought he couldn’t do any wrong, right?

WRONG!! Your review pretty much put the finger on everything I thought was (s)crap with inception—its vapid and superficial plot constructs, its inexplicable character motivations, and ultimately, its total emptiness at the conclusion. Not to mention the ‘deeper’ philosophical (non)points that were made as a result of having too little character development. 

Well, I have watched K&D, now, thanks to your review, and I found it to be an incredibly surprising movie, given my expectations. What’s not to like? Action. Suspense. Sexual Tension. Ambiguity. They’re all there in spades in K&D, whereas in inception we’re all like, “OK, this is all a dream, so nothing matters anyway,” am I right?

Also, after watching the film, I read the rest of your review, and I found the parallels you made to the wizard of oz to be quite striking, and ones that I only vaguely thought of myself on my first viewing… I’m reminded of the scene where they’re landing the airplane and they crash into a scarecrow. That can’t be an accident.

While your prose may be a bit purple, I think you’ve nevertheless done a great job wrt communicating what you thought about both movies, and you made an otherwise rather sedentary man get off his ass and rent a copy of K&D.

Good job, sir.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 15 Apr 11 at 10:04 PM
Commenting is not available in this section entry.