“Orson Welles once said of Hollywood, ‘There’s nothing you can say about it good or bad that isn’t true.’ This is how I feel about INCEPTION.”
– F.X. Feeney in a comment left on A.O. Scott’s review of INCEPTION in The New York Times.
If you love cinema and you live in Los Angeles, you know F.X. Feeney as the perpetually disheveled writer’s writer you’ve seen hosting Q&A’s at the WGA, the byline you’ve seen is next to obscure — but influential — obits, the outside voice called upon by the trades from time to time, the guy who wrote the books on Michael Mann and Roman Polanski, and the man who reviewed and programmed films for Z Channel. (If you are young or didn’t live in LA in the ’80s, you may only know F.X. Feeney from the documentary Z CHANNEL: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, which if you haven’t seen you should rent right away.)
This perfect line out of his much longer comment makes me wish F.X. had a permanent, paid home in which to review and discuss film online. We need more of his insight, his knowledge of film history, his understanding that every film — no matter how commercial — has artistic roots, and we hunger for his mastery of cinema’s lingua franca of coupled with his own skillful use of language.
“A.O. Scott is absolutely right to suggest that other films more fully achieve the totemic ambiguity of dreams. Altman’s THREE WOMEN, Tarkovsky’s SACRIFICE, Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE — to name ONLY three — are films that, when they are over, one recalls as if they ARE dreams. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY achieves this too, but unexpectedly. (That monolith is the grain of sand in the oyster that keeps percolating pearls in one’s unconscious.)
INCEPTION does not need to compete at such levels to succeed — precisely because it is a dream SHARED, by the characters, with each other and with us. We’re meant to feel conscious in relation to it. The phantasms it offers are there to suspend our disbelief, but we’re also meant to keep our balance — to be (in the tradition of mystery and suspense), not dreamers so much as enchanted analysts.”
As film lovers we deserve intelligent discussion, and Feeney deserves more than a comment box.