When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it. NOTE: My last “Five Things” was on ELYSIUM back in early August. I was available to see movies during this time in between, but the industry releases in August-September largely left something to be desired. Let us rejoice that the fall movie season is now upon us.
5 Things You Need to Know About…
1. Gravity, a 91 minute anxiety-inducing and awe-inspiring cinematic master work, is, unlike the fated space stations that encounter the unrelenting and destructive debris storm that set the action of this motion picture in play, primed to be a lasting achievement of the medium for decades to come.
2. Gravity is the most immersive and realistic (despite Neil Degrasse Tyson’s “I know a lot about the universe” tweet vomiting) cinematic experience I have ever had. With perfect support from 3D and an IMAX theatre featuring the sound and physical seat wonders that are the Jordan’s Furniture “Butt Kickers” (pronounced, in your best Boston accent, Kic-kahhs), I was given a first hand account of Sandra Bullock’s harrowing fight for survival in the lonely world of oxygen tank depleting open space. Although Gravity only uses point of view shots on a few occasions, you otherwise feel as though you are a fellow astronaut watching, constantly moving on your own orbit around Sandra as she fights for her life. Every second of the picture is an exercise in unrelenting tension and anxiety – the only breaks are to stop and see the magnificent beauty of the Earth from the eye of Cuarón and his go-to and soon-to-be Oscar winning cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki. In a time when we can consume a movie in the comfort and diminutive size of our smart phone (and I admittedly have), Gravity is meant to be seen in the best of cinemas (and I strongly suggest an IMAX) in which the full scope of this work of brilliance can be fully experienced.
3. Alfonso Cuarón, the visionary filmmaker whose last release, Children of Men (grossly under appreciated, brilliant in its own right, and one of my fifteen favorite movies of all-time), was bestowed upon on us nearly seven (long) years ago, is in the conversation for best director on the planet. His batting average may be a bit higher than some of his rival contemporaries because of fewer at-bats (Christopher Nolan has played this same strategy as effectively, despite helming the most important cinematic trilogy of this century), but he continues to manufacture runs in such a diversified number of ways every time he comes up to the plate. A Little Princess (1995) and Great Expectations (1998), both unique adaptions of literary treasures, were hard lined singles to the opposite field. Y Tu Mamá También (2001), a Spanish language coming of age road trip picture that explores friendship, compassion, and sexual awakening, was his ground rule double. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), the Harry Potter movie that best embodied the magical whimsy of J.K. Rowling’s world, was his stand-up double off the wall. Children of Men (2006), a thrilling triple perfectly place into the gap between right and center, explored a most realistic near future dystopia of infertility, burgeoning totalitarianism, and deep moral questioning. Gravity is Alfonso Cuarón’s home run. (I never thought, with my lackluster present day interest, that I would use baseball as a running metaphor. I guess some October things never change. Go Sox!)
4. Gravity is not a movie about its actors (two of the best in the business), their execution (both Mr. Clooney and Ms. Bullock were expectedly outstanding), or its script (at times slightly oppositional to the “less is more” philosophy of backstory justification), but I would be remiss if I did not mention just how phenomenal, especially for the physical and emotional challenges that were required to achieve the seemingly effortlessness that is the end product, Sandra Bullock’s performance was. In a movie that requires the audience to face unwavering vulnerability, it is Sandra’s most human guide that so successfully grounds our own most realistic and immersive movie encounter. The level of difficulty (she spent the majority of her time in a 9×9 box, carefully and precisely marking each movement and emotion so that CGI post-production could do their thing) could not have been higher, and she nailed it.
5. Gravity is a motion picture that takes the cinematic medium leaps and bounds forward, giving its audience an unforgettable ride that both touches our deepest vulnerabilities and allows our most expansive imaginations to have no limits. It is shot (the first being almost twenty minutes long) after shot of beauty, wonder, and the most pristine filmmaking execution (so worth the delayed release!). Mr. Alfonso Cuarón has created a movie masterpiece that should be considered a classic of the medium from this point forward.