Goodbye and good riddance, summer. That’s what I say. People talk about how short it was and how they didn’t get to go to the beach as many times as they wanted, or get enough tan lines, or wear enough Crocs and flip flops, or rock out at concert festivals in their plastic sunglasses, or whatever it is that summer-lovers do. I say summer was too long, and not just because I’m tired of sweating every time I go outside. I’m excited for the fall movie season, when the big studios finally push out their top quality product for Oscar consideration.
Some people have actually told me they saw a trailer for it and thought it looked boring. How? What about astronauts getting exploded off of their space stations is boring? I guess it’s just a matter of taste, but I found all the trailers, teasers, and behind the scenes footage I watched in advance of the movie to be exciting. And I don’t even like Sandra Bullock.
Having seen the movie, I can assure you it’s anything but boring or slow-paced. It goes from one nerve-wracking space mishap to another. Just when you think Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are safe, it turns out they have something else to worry about. To me it seems like a broadly appealing, suspenseful and thrilling movie, but — meeting commerce with art — is done in a unique style by cinema auteur Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, A Little Princess) that really does impart the sensation that you’re floating in space along with the characters.
I’ll admit it wasn’t a perfect movie. I didn’t care as much about Sandra Bullock’s character’s back story as much as the movie wants you to. I’m not totally against it, but toward the end of the movie they kind of ram the point home in a way that took me out of the movie somewhat. Based on the visuals and the music — more on that in a second — it was more than compelling enough without trying to splice in artificial meaning with the generic sentiment that the protagonist hadn’t been living life to the fullest.
The soundtrack was masterfully done. It had an interesting cycle to it, where the volume and tempo and intensity would creep up and up and up slowly and steadily, until it became nearly deafening and then … Silence. I found it to be deeply affecting and a perfect complement to the action onscreen. Check it out on YouTube. It looks like you can find pretty much the whole soundtrack there already.
Another aspect that impressed me was that it didn’t take shortcuts by showing us flashbacks like so many movies do. I had been fearing that it would just be a movie where Sandra Bullock drifts out into space and then we see her memories of her life leading up to being lost in the beyond. Cuaron thankfully does nothing of the sort and instead keeps us in the moment the whole time, which keeps the story tidy and amps up the suspense. I’m not the first to mention this by a long shot, but the mere fact that Cuaron limits the movie to a compact 91 minutes is impressive, considering how most ambitious prestige movies of this type sprawl out in all different directions and flirt with three hour runtimes.
Gravity is a real achievement in filmmaking, a visually stunning work that must be seen in theater. Like Avatar, but without troubling narratives about the virtues of going native. Don’t be the person who waits a few months and buys this to watch on your phone or tablet. Pay good money and treat yourself to the kind of experience that should be a reminder of why you fell in love with moves in the first place.
Coming up next weekend: Captain Phillips! And maybe even Machete Kills if I have time.