I haven't been the world's biggest Simon Morris fan but his notion that we're in an age of prog-rock movie-making -- evidence: Avatar, Tim Burton's tired and hollow Alice in Wonderland, the new Inception -- seems inspired to me. (But no Lovely Bones? Surely exhibit B after Avatar). Whether Inception is the movement's Dark Side of the Moon is questionable -- I'd say Wish You Were Here if it had to be a Floyd album. As in: highly polished but less profound than it tries to persuade you it is. Lacking some human centre. An effort to produce a masterpiece rather than an organic masterpiece (the Dark Side/Wish difference). An undreamlike mix of known Nolan themes and faces (Caine, Watanabe, Murphy) and movie worlds opening onto movie worlds; in One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich, Chris Marker imagines Tarkovsky's body of work as a series of rooms in a house, one leading to another. Here, Babel leads to The Matrix to an 80s Bond film (is it A View to a Kill that has the snow scenes?) to The Constant Gardener to Shutter Island to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the empty apocalyptic city at the terminus of AI. We dream in movies? But we don't.
What would I have changed to complicate or deepen the picture? Make the kids at the end ten years older than Cobb remembered ... It doesn't mean the final dream/reality problem is fixed but it does suggest a dimension the film lacks and seems to me to need: passing time.