Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Gravity - Sandra Bullock - George Clooney

Saturday 9th November 2013 my daughter Squid hit 23. My eldest daughter, Thumbscrew and her girlfriend Ria had taken Squid, Charlotte to everyone else, to see 'Thor 2 -The Dark World' at the cinema at Waterloo. It is a great venue and they watched the whole sheebang in glorious 3D. 

Being a big fan of films especially at the cinema, Squid asked if I, along with my other daughter Tweezil and my son outlaw Brett would mind taking her to see 'Gravity.'
I knew little of the film thinking it was a bit like 'Avatar.' How wrong could I be?
Avatar was a good film. It showed us just how far we, or rather technology had come with regards to 3D (something I am not keen on) and CGI animation. 'Gravity' is different.  It takes risks and yet it remains what it is meant to be - entertainment.

The film begins with an image of the Earth floating blue and large and lying slightly to our left. Beyond the blue and green jewel rolls the vast expanse of the universe. A seemingly infinite space that our limited intellect finds hard to grasp but which our limitless imaginations forever grapples with.

This scene remains static. Minutes pass. A tiny dot of silver appears right of Earth and slightly off centre on screen. A barely audible cackle of telecommunications is heard. Minutes pass. The telecon grows louder as the dot grows bigger. As the dot grows larger and its shape becomes defined so we see It is a space craft. Country music plays. George Clooney is speaking to some one back on Earth. . He is retelling an anecdote of the last time he was up in space communicating with his wife who was,, unbeknownst to him at the time, running away with another man.
George Clooney is a very handsome man but also a fine actor. He is much like the American fried egg, easy over. His method is natural, calming and yes, real. His talking to Earth base grounds us and at the same time as we observe the vast heavens stretching before us reminds us how small we are in the scheme of things and how terrifying a prospect being lost in that dark expanse must be. It also shows us how alone we are. It is this daunting fact that haunts the films duration.


Without spoiling the film for others, what happens during the point after the meteor storm brings home that fact - of being utterly alone in something so unimaginably big that I had felt the small murmurings of a panic attack. The thought scared the living lights out of me. Being up there and floating knowing that one wrong move would be the last mistake I made. It is a horrible proposition.

Alfonso Cuarón.'s direction is superb. Brave though he is he never forgets that this is a drama and though he pushes the boundaries to breaking point he keeps tension taut. This is not merely a device to show how good effects are. It has an emotional connection. 

Having little dialogue means Sandra Bullock really has to act and I can think of nothing harder when you have few lines to speak. The few she does she does well but it is her almost silent film approach, the way body movements convey human emotions and reactions that reveals her ability beautifully..

The brief time she and Clooney are together are moments of sheer cinematic pleasure. Their parting brings a huge lump to even the driest throat.

There are fantastic effects but effects are not the whole ballgame. There is also human frailties and human loss and human fear of that dark that surrounds us brought sharply into focus. 

I tried to find fault, tried to find some obvious flaw - was that Russian manual in English? No. Were those Chinese buttons in English? No. 

The calamity that strikes the orbiting satellite strikes real. the consequences also. The dead that float after, the man with the hole in his face horrific but without the fraudulence of graphic horror- there is no blood, no gorey scenes of violence. 



In Cuarón's scenario, the space-shuttle mission is the victim of a phenomenon first explained in a 1978 scientific paper called  "Collision Frequency of Artificial Satellites; the Creation of a debris belt" by Donald Kessler and Burton Cour-Palais. The researchers explain how debris from a satellite collision can have a cascading, or chain-reaction, effect with other satellites. Unlike shrapnel here on Earth, which travels for a distance before gravity pulls it to the ground, each piece of collision debris in space just keeps moving, circling the planet in its own independent orbit—until it hits something, or eventually (like, years later) burns up in the Earth's atmosphere.
This phenomenon is called the Kessler Syndrome, and it is not theoretical: Earlier this year, a Russian satellite was desroyed by a fragment of a Chinese satellite that had blown up six years earlier. 
So, it's completely possible that a vehicle in a crewed space mission could be damaged by debris in orbit—even catastrophically. - quote from The Atlantic


There are flaws though but they should not stop anyone apart from those with overly large anal cavities from enjoying this piece of cinema. At the end of the day there will always be those who will find fault. Being negative is so much easier than saying nothing.  One of the things that showed to me how captivated by this film I was came toward the end as I belatedly realised I had been watching Sandra Bullock in a vest and boxers and hadn't noticed. This is a remarkable film.



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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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