Gravity

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all_rating

Gravity
swan_excellent
Runtime 90 minutes.
OK for children.

From l, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in “Gravity.”

From l, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in “Gravity.”

Wow; this is a movie! Much as I loathe movies that rely on special effects, this one is, well, special. With a cast of two, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (others receive voice credits), it is spellbinding. They are floating around in space, weightless, the entire film. The special effects are mind-boggling.

Clooney and Bullock are astronauts on a routine mission when disaster strikes. Clooney is an experienced, happy-go-lucky jokester while Bullock is an overly serious novice. It’s a tale of survival in the starkest environment known to mankind, space.

Although superstar Clooney is in the cast, this is Bullock’s movie as she is in almost every scene. Equal credit must go to visual effects supervisor Tim Webber, who was Oscar®-nominated for The Dark Knight, because they are the best I’ve ever seen, along with director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, whose photography is nothing short of spectacular. That’s not to diminish the award-quality work of production designer Andy Nicholson and director Alfonso Cuarón (who also wrote a pretty good script with his son, Jonás Cuarón).

Shot in exceptionally effective 3-D, this had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Obviously Bullock and Clooney were not really floating around weightless. The film is a hybrid of live-action, computer animation, and CGI with sets, backgrounds, and costumes rendered digitally. A unique 12-wire rig was used and manipulated by puppeteers that allowed Bullock to look as if she really was floating in some of the scenes. Even knowing this, what you see on the screen will blow your mind.

But just because this is a space-age movie with 21st Century graphics doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pay homage to what came before. The scenes of the inside of a devastated space station are strikingly similar to the scenes of a similarly devastated WWII bomber limping back to England in 1946’s A Matter of Life and Death in which directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have their camera pan through the stricken plane in almost exactly the same manner and with similar views as Cuarón uses to display the condition of the space station.

Cuarón creates the isolation and solitude of space brilliantly, making the audience feel the desperation of the two astronauts when things suddenly go terribly wrong.

I was scheduled for another screening the same evening as I saw this in the morning, but was so overwhelmed by this that I cancelled the second. It wouldn’t have been fair to see another movie after I had just seen this.

‘Nuff said. This is one not to miss.

Don Jon
swan_bottom_of_the_barrel
Runtime 90 minutes.
Not for children.

From l, Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “Don Jon.”

From l, Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “Don Jon.”

It’s probably not possible to make a tasteful movie about a subject as distasteful as masturbation, but this movie doesn’t even try. Filled with frank conversation and gutter language, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a successful ladies’ man who can pick up a beautiful woman in a bar and have his way with her with a snap of his fingers. He finally meets his “10,” gum-chewing sexpot Scarlett Johansson, and thinks he’s fallen in love.

Problem is, he’d rather have sex in front of his computer watching porn than with a woman, even one as beautiful as Johansson. He goes to confession every week and confesses a few dalliances with females, but 20-30 bouts with masturbation in front of his computer. The priest duly gives him absolution, so he goes on and continues.

The movie doesn’t understand how confession and sin work in the Catholic Church. You can confess your sins and be forgiven, but only if you have a firm desire of amendment. In fact, you don’t get absolution unless you have such a firm desire. Generally, if it’s clear you’ve got a problem, the priest will talk to you a little and try to guide you down a better path, help you deal with your demons. Not in this film, though. Confession is pictured as imagined by someone like Gordon-Levitt, who was raised in a Jewish family, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Although the film is written and directed by Gordon-Levitt, it is not only misogynistic, it’s got misandry thrown in, too. All of the guys in the film are crude, foul-mouthed stereotypes who objectify women as sexual targets, nothing more. Even Gordon-Levitt’s father, Tony Danza, is a misogynistic clod who speaks like a motorcycle bum at the dinner table, dropping one F-bomb after another in front of his wife and daughter at the dinner table dressed in his sleeveless undershirt. No man in this film shows any respect for any woman. And no man is featured sympathetically.

Julianne Moore enters the film in the middle as an older woman who tries to bring Gordon-Levitt into the real world. Her character is maddeningly and unconvincingly contrived, as if Gordon-Levitt just wanted to include another big name in the cast.

If this was intended as a comedy as it is advertised, it misses the mark because there is nothing the least bit humorous anywhere.

Whatever was intended, after only five minutes I started looking at my watch and continued to urge those hands to move faster throughout the rest of the film.

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