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Deja Jeux: Video Games Were All Up in “Inception,” Right?

Deja Jeux: Video Games Were All Up in “Inception,” Right? (photo)

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I finally saw “Inception” over the weekend. Unlike Matt and Alison, I pretty much loved it. I liked the way it mashes up a heist flick’s structure with a conceptually ambitious MacGuffin. Nolan hits the viewers with a challenging spectacle in the opening sequence and then explains what they just saw, easing them into the idea of dream manipulation.

Lots of video games start the same way, giving you a glimpse of the powers you’ll be wielding or environments you’ll be exploring. Then they’ll whip you back to a lower rung of the ladder and school you in the systems that govern the play experience.

The weird thing for me is that Nolan doesn’t appear to be one of the new breed of Hollywood filmmakers who spend hours upon hours playing video games — you know, the Brett Ratners and Zack Snyders of the world. I don’t mean that as an insult; rather, both men have been pretty vocal about their marathon gaming sessions. You can see the genre bleed-over between mediums in their work, as far as the way that games want to be movies and vice versa.

I’m not the only one to note the fingerprints of video game influence on Nolan’s latest. But, forget the seemingly obvious stuff: the fact Cobb’s team — assembled through loyalty missions — could be straight out of an RPG title, the snowy military assault in the third layer of dreamtime which looks an awful lot like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”, or that Ellen Page’s Ariadne, as an architect, is basically a level designer.

That stuff seems incidental to me. Instead, the deeper themes of the movie reverberate with several similarities to video games. There’s also the idea that crafting an experience in dreamtime is a pursuit you can lose yourself to. You can also see it in the goal-oriented vectors that run through the film, through a variety of alternate realities. Saito, Fisher and, of course, Cobb all have motivations that require them to manipulate reality, in both the real world and in the dreamscape.

What really drives the video games-to-“Inception” connection home, though, is the idea of interaction. Other people’s consciousnesses exist as static ecosystems, the film posits, and interacting with them not only creates conflict but possibility, too. The best video games traffic in the same kind of idea, that you can change a fate for the better once you learn how it works. The term “video game” gets used as an epithet, when it describe movies. But, to me, “Inception” pings on video game logic in just the right ways.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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