October 13, 2013

in Movies

Film (2013)

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón

Music: Steven Price; Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Film Editing: Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger; Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Art Direction: Mark Scruton

With Sandra Bullock (Ryan Stone), George Clooney (Matt Kowalski)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

A white-knuckle film about problems in space and the will and ingenuity to overcome them.

Two astronauts on a mission to repair the Hubble telescope run into a shower of space debris, which does not do well by them. They are forced to improvise; this involves a great deal of invention and chutzpah to engineer.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, virtually the only people who populate this film for its stretch of an hour and a half, are fine actors and they certainly do hold, by the virtue of their magnetic screen personalities, the audience’s attention for the duration of the film.

George Clooney

George Clooney as Matt Kowalski
in “Gravity”
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
(c) 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Clooney conveys a particular kind of roguish charm that always captivates at the beginning because of its errancy and persuades at the end because of its nobility. This case is no exception and he wins big in both arenas.

Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone in 'Gravity'

Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone
in “Gravity”
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
(c) 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Bullock can trace the odyssey of a fragile interior that threatens to dismantle its more solid housing from within to the realization that the rugged housing is continuous with the core and gives it unexpected resiliency. Here is a variant on that theme, and Bullock, with alternating vulnerability and determination, rises admirably to the psychological quest.

Despite the talents of these two good actors, the real star of Gravity is the CGI or computer generated imagery which enables us to feel as though all of the flying and banging and swinging around is realistically happening in space. That result of that software wizardry is stupendous. The fly-bys, the spin-arounds, the attenuations and the weightlessness all seem effortless, and those who know anything about software realize they are anything but that. The illusion is spectacular.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

I saw the film in 3D, which made all the swerving and dipping that much more penetrating, but I am sure it goes down well in 2D also.

This film, which features only these two actors dominantly, carries its action somehow across the distance of a full length film that mostly stars space junk on the rampage. That is a pretty interesting accomplishment.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

My favorite line in the film is an offhand one Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) offers when she has had just about enough. I hate space, she says, simply. It’s a big statement, but somehow it fits.

Seeming, on one level, to hate space, director Alfonso Cuarón has filled the emptiness with unremitting activity and visual wizardry, making for a platter of charged heart-in-one’s-throat delicacies. And yet, the bigger thing that fills the story, when it gets half a chance, does not charge, swirl and batter, but permeates more subtly and pervasively, with a gentle reassurance and quiet aesthetic charm.

The oddity of the title, about a force which has considerably reduced effect at the orbital level of the main action, is that something absent is so significant.

The hidden magnetism of the film is that, beneath all of the unremitting action without a moment of down time, lurks that which gives shape to all.

Gravity, in this sense, represents a physical force that is most noticeable when absent. In the human sense, gravity signifies that which, when we find it missing in a maelstrom of desperation, can, once found, give renewed shape to our lives.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

– BADMan

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