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I’ve been getting the feeling lately that Hollywood movies are finally driving our nation’s embattled film critics completely crazy. Reviewers are either full of vitriol and indignation — as they were with recent films such as “The Last Airbender” and “Killers,” which received almost unanimously contemptuous thumbs-down reviews — or they’re in a frenzy of awe and adoration, as is clearly the case with the early reviews for Chris Nolan’s “Inception,” which currently has a perfect 100 at Rotten Tomatoes, based on a batch of raves from early screenings of the film,


The critics are so over the top about “Inception” that I thought it would be fun to start keeping track of the most wildly overblown, hilariously highbrow claims for the film, which opens July 16. First up is Justin Chang’s wide-eyed review of the film in Variety, which not only calls the Nolan film “commandingly clever” but compares the look of one sequence to Magritte and M.C. Escher, while also theorizing that the film contains an homage to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”


As if that weren’t enough, Chang also makes the claim that having applied “a vivid sense of procedural detail to a fiendishly intricate yarn set in the labyrinth of the subconscious, the writer-director has devised a heist thriller for surrealists, a Jungian’s ‘Rififi,’ that challenges viewers to sift through multiple layers of (un)reality.”


Hey, isn’t that just what you’d tell your friends to get them to see a movie? Come on, guys — this one’s not a Freudian’s “Topkapi”! This one’s a real Jungian’s ‘Rififi’!” I don’t know about you, but I may have almost thrown out my back trying to bear the weight of all those pretentious references in a single sentence.


When the critics start building a film up like this, it only inspires other critics to assert their independence from the overwhelming groupthink by taking pot shots at the movie sooner rather than later. At this rate, the “Inception” backlash could begin before the film even plays Peoria.

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