Tag Archives: George Clooney

Another Stupid Opinion About Gravity

4 Nov

People with stupid opinions love Gravity. They love photoshopping pictures of it and they love arguing about it in the comment section. I think we should just rename this blog “101 Opinions about Gravity.” So, with that I figured I’d bring my normal late to the party attitude to the table.

SOWP_gravity_4

Gravity was a great movie. A technical masterpiece that shows the future of movies, and not just on the technical level. This movie is the future of films on a philosophical level.

Consumption of media is at a universal high. People are watching more movies in the privacy of their own home. The main talking points of pop culture are increasingly focused on television serials or . . . well, that’s it really. Talking about a show or talking about waiting for a show to start back up are the only two conversations people have about pop culture anymore. And with this studios are making movies like television series now. Prime example: The Marvel-verse.  Movies have changed. And Gravity is the perfect example of a perfect movie for the future dominated by television.

For the majority of the history of film, filmmakers have assumed that cinema was the best for adapting novels. Hell, they still do, but with the success of Game of Thrones, television is becoming a more viable option of adapting long form stories. Which is better than dramatically cutting the richness of the novel to fit inside of a 120 minute film marketed toward people who didn’t read the book. Films, like Gravity, in the future will be compared more to a good short stories. A short, one off story with a simple plot and engaging characters. I’m paraphrasing a quote from someone smarter than me when they said “A good story is about two things; the first thing and then the other thing.” And the more that the first thing reflects and intertwines with the other makes the story more compelling. In Gravity, we have our first thing, astronauts trapped in space, and our other thing, a woman living an isolated lonely life. There is nothing lonelier and scarier than space. Thematically speaking, the film is practically flawless at 90 minutes. The perfect movie length to become immersed in the world, but not tire of the gimmick of IMAX 3D.

And that is the other thing with the film. It won’t become a franchise. Even if it grossed another 300 million the sequel conversation wouldn’t happen. It stands alone. Which would terrify studio executives at Disney, but it has something better than franchise potential. Built in word of mouth to see this movie in the theaters. As Derek, Carl and a million others have said, this movie was made to be seen in the theaters, in IMAX, this-gawddamn-weekend-before-Thor-comes-and-forces-it-to-the-small-theater-where-the-screen-is-only-double-the-height-of-your-bedroom! GO!YOU!FOOLS!!

This movie was probably the closest a movie has come to being a must see in the theaters. It’s like seeing the Stones or a Beatle while you still can. Cause watching this on your iphone won’t quite have the same effect.

So, in closing, the future of movies will be either be serial-esque franchises marketed at teenage boys or man-boys stuck in arrested development or short simple one-off stories where technique, theme, and plot all blend seamlessly together for the better of all mankind. Oh, who am I kidding, that is the stupidest opinion yet. The future will only be comic book movies and sequels to the first ten Pixar movies. Hoverboards and Jaws 14 can’t get here soon enough.

-C. Charles

 

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Gravity Perfects 3D, Spoils Space

10 Oct Gravity Perfects 3D, Spoils Space

Here’s my pro spoiler review of Gravity making this the antithesis to Mr. Carl Wells’ spoiler free review. Gravity is being touted as the first movie made explicitly for 3D, but whoever is saying that obviously never heard of Spy Kids 3D. Lots of movies these days claim to be made “explicitly for 3D.” From Avatar to World War Z, production companies rake in the extra dough from the apparent unnecessary rental fee for plastic glasses in order to watch a few things “pop out” at you during the movie.

Old People enjoying a 3 dimensional moving picture

No one actually reacts like this in the theater

What makes Gravity different from every 3D movie that predates it is that 3D is a requirement, not a suggestion. Every other 3D movie before this could be watched in 2D without missing much. You might be confused by how many objects inexplicably explode or are thrust toward you, but you won’t be missing out on any of the story. Gravity is unique because utilizing 3D engages you with the setting, characters, and story like no other movie ever has.

The movie opens and the scene is set with a disclaimer that makes every physics-loving, Star-Wars-disproving, movie nerd giddy:

At 372 miles above Earth, temperatures range from 250˚F to -150˚F. There is nothing to transmit sound. No atmospheric pressure. No oxygen. Life in space is impossible.

As this and the title screen are displayed, a soft melodic orchestral tune slowly crescendos into a volume that no doubt tests the limits of Dolby Digital sound, and then BAM… complete silence. You are thrown into space with a beautiful view of Earth – pristine blue oceans, enormous swirling clouds. The eerie silence and the intense realism of depth from 3D effects genuinely make you feel like you are in space (not like I know from first hand experience, but I’ve geeked out on space books a time or two).

Kid being dumb in space

Are you insane, child?!? Put your helmet back on before the blood vessels in your eyeballs rupture!

Director Alfonso Cuarón wanted the movie to have the feel of an IMAX documentary, and, let me tell you, he does such a fantastic job employing IMAX 3D (or RealD 3D) and Dolby Digital sound to depict space. A pitfall with 3D movies is that the polarized sunglasses you have to wear make everything so dark, which actually works well with a movie that takes place in space (and Tron). Being in a dark and silent theatre, the 3D effect of astronauts, space shuttles, debris, and Sandra Bullock’s buttocks coming toward you and floating by make you experience the antigravity and desolation of space.

Bullock's buttocks

Other women considered for this role were Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Abbie Cornish, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, and Olivia Wilde. All winners.

Now, if only theaters could install some refrigeration and heating elements to get the temperature accurate. Space is beautiful as George Clooney’s character, Matt Kowalski, routinely points out, but Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan Stone, says it even more perfectly with, “I hate space!” The epitome of disparity, space is excruciatingly hot and agonizingly cold, blindingly bright and frighteningly dark, full of countless stars and utter emptiness. Without 3D, viewers could not experience the setting of Gravity the way it was perfectly and meticulously planned to be experienced.

The cast list for Gravity is quite small, but the actors are huge. Both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are Academy Award winning actors. There may be other movies that were made “explicitly for 3D,” but none of them have a lineup like Gravity. The only other character you ever “see” is some guy named Shariff, who engages in tomfoolery and then the first time you actually see his face it looks like this:

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Beckoning back to his Apollo 13 days, Ed Harris is one of the mission control voices. The voices go silent pretty early on in movie, and we are left with Matt (George Clooney) and Ryan (Sandra Bullock) in what appears will be a buddy film about two astronauts trying to find their way home in space but find love instead. Clooney does an extraordinary job portraying the veteran astronaut, who can’t shut up, remains clear headed and logical, has a sense of humor, and is determined to break the space walk record. Bullock brilliantly plays a first timer in space complete with anxiety, self doubt, confidence, intelligence, stupidity, and a great buttocks. The emptiness of space reveals the depth (double meaning?) of Matt and Ryan. Matt isn’t only the hunky, loquacious, egomaniac astronaut; he is also a rational, self-sacrificing adventurer. Ryan isn’t just the blue or brown eyed, stubborn medical engineer; she is also an emotional, ambitious ex-single mother. The characters drive this movie. Being that the layman has never explored space, there is nothing else the audience can relate to besides the characters. With the 3D effect, the magnitude of space in the backdrop forces you to focus on the comparatively small characters right in front of you, and Clooney and Bullock hit it out of the park like no other actors have ever done in a 3D movie.

Despite the $100,000,000 budget, this movie is extremely simple. The computer effects are by no means simple, but the story is. To sum it up in a tweet I’d say:

Debris in space causes 2 astronauts trouble. 1 sacrifices so the other can make it back to Earth

Dang. Is that it? I still have 44 characters left, so I guess I would include this short link: http://dailym.ai/1bI02oR. You can tell right from the get go that something is going to go horribly wrong. Ryan is installing some motherboard looking things to the exterior of a space shuttle. Her vitals are all messed up, and mission control won’t stop giving her grief about it. Meanwhile, that joker Shariff is tethered to the shuttle acting more excited than a toddler in a ball pit. Matt parades around the shuttle with his badass jetpack while playing old country songs (apparently NASA installs iPods in spacesuits) and recounting stories of Bourbon Street. Everyone participates in small talk before mission control suddenly gives an emergency warning: a satellite was destroyed. There is an effect called the Kessler syndrome, which causes a chain reaction with debris in low Earth orbit. Satellite debris is orbiting Earth every 90 minutes wreaking havoc on nearly everything in its way, and it is headed right toward the astronauts. Fast flying, silent junk hammers their space shuttle. Shariff loses a majority of his face, Matt jetpacks the hell out of there, and Ryan launches into a stomach turning, revolving assent into the abyss. She is screaming and deranged. The audience, in turn, sees her point of view. Getting a first person perspective of space in 3D does a number on you. You can feel the emptiness and you feel emptier inside every 360º when you catch a glimpse of Earth. Her oxygen levels are depleting, down to only 8%. Things seem hopeless for Ryan. Then Matt comes to the rescue. Ryan tethers on to him to go for a space cowboy ride as they make their way toward a Russian space station in the distance. It is during this time that Ryan breaks down and becomes hopeless. They are together, but are separated by their spacesuits. Space is no isolated island. They can’t take off their helmets, procreate, and pull a Swiss Family Robinson. This is it. They will die here. Ryan reveals that she had a daughter, who tragically died playing tag at school. Matt comforts her and keeps his cool as they slowly drift toward the space station before the debris orbits back around. They arrive at the space station moments before the debris. After it passes, Ryan and Matt are stuck in a monkeys-in-a-barrel situation.

A Monkeys In A Barrel Situation

Matt forces Ryan to let him stray into space, so she can make it inside the Ruskie space shuttle, which very inconveniently doesn’t have an escape pod for re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. He coaches her along on the radio as she desperately tries to enter the shuttle before succumbing to oxygen deprivation (she is running on CO2 fumes at this point). She makes it inside and immediately strips off her suit (this is when you see her buttocks). After catching her breath, she seeks out a radio to try to contact Matt. No luck. She is in this alone now. Matt’s last bit of advice was to take the Russian shuttle to a nearby Chinese station where she would find an escape pod to Earth. A real thriller, at this point in the movie, you want to think she will make it back home, but you would not be surprised if she were to die alone in space. After having contact with some Chinese guy with a radio, dog, and baby on Earth, she becomes delirious. She shuts off her oxygen, which induces a hallucination where Matt returns, drinks some imaginary vodka, gives her hope, and is overall charming. Ryan snaps back to reality and continues toward her Chinese ticket back to Earth. In another thrilling action sequence, she silently uses a fire extinguisher à la Wall-E to reach the space station. She pulls the classic button smashing technique to somehow make the Chinese escape pod burst through Earth’s atmosphere. She lands in some unfamiliar water surrounded by green mountains. For one last shuddering moment, the pod sinks. The viewer sinks with it, “Great, she made it this far and is going to drown?” But after this crazy ride, there is no way Cuarón would let it end that way. She escapes and floats to the shore. Then she looks to her left and sees the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand. Kidding. Or am I? You’ll have to see for yourself. So simple, yet so engaging. I don’t see how that simple of a story could have been as captivating as it was without the perfect use of 3D to set the stage and wonderful actors to portray the characters.

It is no surprise that Gravity broke the October box office record with its $55 million opening weekend beating out such Oscar worthy competitors as Paranormal Activity 3, Jackass 3-D, and Scary Movie 3 (that’s a whole lotta 3). This movie merits the praise it received as the 3D movie. You could probably watch Gravity in 2D, but I have no idea why you would. Gravity perfects 3D making space feel all too real, which takes the romanticism of it away. Instead of the great unknown with endless possibilities, it is the great unknown where life is impossible. 3D effects give some people nausea, but, in Gravity, the intensity of the story is enough to cause nausea. Fellow Stupid Opinions writer, Carl Wells, suggested you watch this movie with a beer. I would not recommend that at all; you want a clear head for this one. With all the edge of your seat thrills, I suggest a Xanax. Then drink a beer after the movie to settle your nerves and revel in the fact that seeing Gravity is about as close as you will ever have to get to space.

Gravity Isn’t Just a Good Idea, It’s The Law.

5 Oct

Here’s my no spoiler review of Gravity. I had to go see Gravity the first day it came out because all the previews made it look so different and gorgeous and suspenseful and I didn’t want to hear what anybody else thought about it before I saw it. I also had to see it in IMAX 3D because I am a sucker for the 3D gimmick but also because the director Alfonso Cuarón said he specifically designed this movie to be viewed that way. Of course that’s what all the movie people say in order to get customers to shell out the extra cash for IMAX 3D tickets, but I trust that when Alfonso Cuarón says something he means it. I decided to go to a matinee show at the only IMAX 3D screen nearby that also serves beer. Because I also felt this movie had been specifically designed to be enjoyed with a beer. So as to slightly mimic the light headed, disoriented feelings the characters experienced in space, even if the director hadn’t bothered to mention that part. (I should point out that I feel like 98% of movies are meant to be enjoyed with beer, at least that’s my excuse.) Anyway getting back to Gravity, in short; it is out of this world! Pun intended. Did you know that “Pun intended” is itself a pun on “unintended”? pretty dorky huh? Don’t worry no more puns in this post because as it was said on the Simpsons “Don’t use puns, that’s just lazy writing.”

Gravity

I loved Gravity and you should go see it, here are some of the reasons why. It is eyeball-burstingly beautiful, every frame is so crisp and clean and detailed. The background of the Earth and sky is dramatic I could just watch them by themselves. The Earth is HUGE and ever-changing; with hurricanes, cities at night speckling the surface, and Aurora borealis all drifting below. It continuously provides a dynamic backdrop for the character’s story. Another thing I like is that the movie takes it’s time to let you soak in all the visuals with very long static shots of the characters just floating by. In fact every shot in this movie is long, there were maybe less than a 100 cuts in the whole movie (most movies have well over 1,000). In Gravity the point of view is always tilting, panning, and smoothly moving in and around the action, it is a great story telling tool. By keeping cuts to a minimum you can really relate to the freedom and isolation of space and it also keeps it easy for the viewer to position where orbiting objects are in relation to each other. If it was just cut, cut, cut, it would be easy to lose the placement of everything. I hate that style of just cutting to add action, it is a relief to see a movie where suspense is built up in one continuous shot. The special effects it took to create these camera moves are unlink anything I’ve seen. You know that the Space shuttle and Space stations are a lot of computer graphics and stuff but everything looks so real. Technically speaking this film is magical.

But what about the story? The story is kept very basic and simple, which I like, and is mostly a survival story. The whole movie takes place in space and is told almost in real time. I can tell you that while the previews looked like they showed the best parts of the movie let me assure you they don’t. The collision sequences in space gave me goose bumps because they are utterly horrifying with surprises the previews left out. There are some equally troubling scenes that take place inside a spacecraft too, which just illustrates that you’re never out of danger in space. I’ve heard people criticize the preview’s  portrayal of Sandra Bullock’s character as the typical damsel in distress who can’t hold her shit together. While that may apply to the previews, Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie is her own hero and pulls her shit together in a big way. I’m as surprised as anyone I just complimented Sandra Bullock’s job in a movie, but she’s good in this. While it’s her story, George Clooney provides some great contrast as the veteran astronaut who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s the only other character, so there’s a lot he has to do; provide exposition, humor, encouragement (not romance, thank god) and I can’t think of anyone else who would’ve been better cast.

Gravity 2

Summing up, you don’t have to have gone to space camp as a kid, like I did, to enjoy Gravity. It is a very relatable human story that takes place in space but isn’t so much about space as about the will to live. But in case you did go to Space Camp and/or just want to geek out, almost everything in this movie is accurate if you don’t nit-pick details. It is far out and intense, but if you want a beer check to see when the theater starts serving. I went to a Noon show and they wouldn’t serve beer until 3pm. What is this Nazi Germany? Shame on you for not taking more of my money. Proving even if you’re sober the movie is still great.

Carl Wells

Optimistic Autumn Movie Predictions

25 Aug

A very brief list of Fantasy and Sci-fi movies that won’t totally suck this fall.

hobbit

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – When Peter Jackson portrays Middle-earth he is basking in his element and in my stupid opinion he has done no wrong in that realm. Despite the flaws in all these films they’re all better than the books. There isn’t a lot of material in Middle Earth left to film; Lord of the Rings is done, The Hobbit is just one book geared more toward children, and The Silmarillion will be forever utterly unfilmable. So The Desolation of Smaug is the second to last movie that will ever be set in PJ’s Middle-earth, so enjoy it while you can. Things to look forward to include more giant spiders, giant wolves, shockingly beautiful New Zealand landscapes, and of course the dragon (finally). So far the best looking dragon I’ve ever seen was in the last Harry Potter movie but I’m sure Smaug will put it to shame, plus he’ll speak, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. I really hate that actor, he is just terrible, at least his character dies (and by proxy him) in this movie, I like that. Things not to look forward to, this movie will probably suffer the most from inserted material just to fill time. Also we’ve probably seen the last of Gollum unless they force that character in somehow. I plan on being there for the whole high frame rate, 3D, saturated experience.

hungar games

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Been looking forward to this but am preparing for disappointment. This was actually my favorite book in the series, where basically this year’s Hunger Games has an all star reunion cast. My criticisms with the first movie were that the characters outside Katniss’s immediate circle were hokey, flat, and underdeveloped, except Donald Sutherland who’s always awesome. The movie’s pacing seemed very rushed even though it was 142 minutes long. By trying to get so much of the book in they didn’t give each moment enough time for it to do its job. Finally, more Woody Harrelson, always more Woody Harrelson especially when he’s playing a drunken has-been. I’m afraid that changing directors for the sequel under a tight deadline will only make these problems worse. My hope is that they actually leave more of the book out like shitty animal mutations in order to give what’s left time to build meaning. Include more drunken Haymitch. Please get the fire as fashion to not look like something Elton John would wear. There will be a lot of dumb crap, that comes with any Y.A. science fiction. Just be happy it isn’t another soul numbing Twilight.

Ender’s Game – I already like that this movie is not a sequel and doesn’t feel like it has to be in 3D. That tells me that they’re confident in their visual effects and story that they don’t need gimmicky 3D. But judging from the trailers they’ve already changed one huge point in the book. Not giving anything away, in the book the story is told from a child’s point of view. The adults in charge put children into a situation they are unaware of and the kids only discover the consequences of their actions when it is far too late to change. The reader discovers the cold truth of what’s happened when the child does. I think the movie is taking this moment away. In the trailer adults are discussing “Should we tell him the truth.” If the movie spills the beans to the audience before the kids suspect anything it’s lost the element of surprise. On the other hand it is possible to build suspense that way. Alfred Hitchcock said that if a hidden bomb just explodes in a room of people you get the shock value but it’s a fleeting moment. To build suspense you show the audience the bomb will go off in 5 minutes. That way everything those characters say and do in 5 minutes has an increased importance that builds suspense and holds it. I hope Ender’s Game uses that strategy.

Gravity – I know hardly anything about this movie and am already sure it will be awesome. The trailer I saw a while ago in theaters was like Apollo 13 x WTF! George Clooney has played an astronaut before so he’ll feel right at home. Before I go any further I have to express my feelings on Sandra Bullock. Remember that movie she did (purposely not looking up the title) where she had to marry Ryan Reynolds or she’d be deported? I feel like we should kind of do that to her in real life. Let’s just as a society make Sandra Bullock gently go away. But I am willing to put that aside if Sandra isn’t a romantic interest. Because Gravity looks chilling, lonely, and visually larger-than-life. Best of all it might be the most realistic portrayal of space travel in the last 10 to 15 years. Notice how as the shuttle is obliterated you hear only radio transmissions? That’s what I’m talking about, any other movie would have “Crorsh” sounds. A Sci-fi movie that mainly uses accurate science is damn impossible to find in the 21st century so Gravity can shut up and take my money.

Well that’s some of what I look forward to in theaters this fall. There will be a poorly written companion to this of what to avoid this fall coming soon.

Carl Wells

Poorly Written Opinion ’bout Sam Rockwell

21 Aug

There are a million things in the world that aren’t fair; this blog gets more page views from the government than from people with a pulse, spam pornbots really don’t care how you’re doing and sometimes they put wide rule notebooks confusingly close to the college rule notebooks. I get it, we don’t live in a perfect world. Shit sucks. And this isn’t even touching on anything in the realm of movies. Blockbusters are tailor-made for foreign markets, Tarantino is only going to make ten films and Scarlett Johansson has only been in one Coen Brothers movie. Life isn’t fair, neither is our escapism entertainment.  I understand, but one thing I don’t understand is why Sam Rockwell isn’t a mega star. I don’t get it, and I think our society should actively feel shame about this horrible misstep in issuing stardom. Even looking at the poor choices we’ve made at deeming who’s a star, this stands out as a glaring omission.

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The man doesn’t make bad movies, and as I look at his IMDB page it looks like he’s done it all. Some supporting roles in huge films, leads in all kinds of great little films, suspense, sci-fi and comedy, oh lordy, does he have some great comedic roles. He is the go-to actor if you’re making a film to submit to Sundance. He’s the male Parker Posey. Yet, when people talk about a movie he’s in, they never talk about him. People are just blown away by his films and don’t realize how much quality comes from Dr. Sam “Love” Rockwell. My gripe comes from the continuing conversations I have with constituents under the larger umbrella of group of my parents film friends. They have recommended multiple Sam Rockwell movies to me, but don’t even register the name when I say it.  And I know they know actors because they’ll be the first people to tell me about a Bradley Cooper or a Chris Evans, but Rockwell doesn’t register a spot in their memory banks. This could be designed by a forward thinking publicist, or the results of not even employing a publicist, either way, people who love Sam Rockwell movies don’t know they love Sam Rockwell movies.  And that bothers me.

For instance, the delightfully well-crafted The Way Way Back. There is nothing earth-shatteringly special about it, no one will confuse it for There Will Be Blood, but it’s a good movie. Structured well, lovingly crafted and good characters. The best character, by design, has to be Sam Rockwell’s Owen.  Nat Faxon and Jim Rash appreciate Sam Rockwell, and show it by lovingly placing the success of their film on his shoulders, and the movie is better for it. This film is destined to be forgotten, rediscovered in ten years and become the first favorite movie of people who will become filmmakers. And a large part of that is going to be because of Sam Rockwell.

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But who knows, I think Rockwell should be a name that is known by everyone from the President to the homeless man still campaigning for Jimmy Carter.  I want him mentioned in the same sentence as Robot Downey Jr., George Clooney or Brad Pitts. Even if that never happens, I can still put him on my own Mt. Rushmore of actors with Warren Oates, Paul Le Mat and John Cazale.

-C. Charles