Thursday, July 03, 2014


This is an Oscar nominated and winning film. Let me be clear, Gravity is a B-grade scifi thriller that got very lucky. It breaks tradition. It has stars, it has special effects, a high caliber for cinematography and direction, so it gets a pass. I truly wonder if the names George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, and Ed Harris were not involved, would the art film snob crowd that usually haunt the Oscar movies even be interested?

Astronauts are on a Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope when debris from a destroyed Russian satellite scrag the mission and the shuttle. Untethered and lost, two of them, Kowalski (Clooney) and Stone (Bullock), try to get to the International Space Station after the debris hit. Only a preliminary knowledge of gravity and physics is needed to know how truly and totally screwed they are.

Kowalski is the voice of reason and experience in contrast to Stone's inexperience and panic. Their audio interaction when we really can't see facial expression is testament to these two actors' superior ability. These are two professionals, two artists in the field. Once separated, with only Clooney's voice, he proves what real acting is. Bullock substantially carries the film solo after that. No Oscars, Academy? Really?

Those awards went to director Alfonzo Cuaron, and to the cinematography and visual effects folks. It won the most Oscars that year and similarly swept the BAFTAs, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Golden Globes, while still being basically a 1970s scifi thriller with a good pedrigree. The visuals are stunning, and I can imagine it might have been dizzying in 3-D, or simply on the big screen.

I dug Gravity a lot. Despite its space trappings and apparent scientific inaccuracies, it explores the truly horrific themes of loneliness and helplessness in a very real way. Highly recommended.

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