Regarding the difference between Sci-Fi and Fantasy:
Science Fiction describes stories that are based on theoretical possibilities. Fantasy doesn’t, it allows for the creation of new worlds and abilities that are outside the realm of possibilities.
So, I would qualify Star Wars (my favorite film of all time) as fantasy, not sci-fi. While it has sci-fi elements, the world (so to speak) of the film is based more on fantasy (the force) than science.
Sci-Fi: dystopian societies, time travel, alien encounters, cloning, robots, space travel.
Fantasy: magic, creatures/monsters, super powers, immortality.
Cinema, you really need to step it up. So far 2014 has been a pretty bad year for you.
Can we get a film with a developed, logical and complete story and cease this run of visual spectacle films void of coherence that fall apart 2/3rds of the way through. I know it’s easy to throw money at special effects, but don’t do it at the expense of telling an interesting and engaging story. I have yet to walk out of the theater satisfied after any of the films that I have watched this year. (Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men DOFP, Captain America 2, I’m sure there are more, but I’m trying to block them from my memory.
I have high hopes for couple of films scheduled to be released in the second half of the year(Interstellar, Inherent Vice, Gone Girl, I, Origins, Birdman). I won’t be at all surprised of none of the films that I have seen so far this year fail to make it on my best films of the year list.
By comparison, television has been having a stellar year. Look at all of the great shows that TV has given us this year: True Detective, Game of Thrones S04 (maybe the show’s best season), Louie S04 (a masterpiece), Orphan Black S02, Fargo, The Good Wife S05 (second half), Mad Men S07.1, Sherlock S03, Orange is the New Black S02, House of Cards S02 and Cosmos.
TV, keep doing what you’re doing. The competition of different networks (Netflix, FX, AMC, HBO, BBC) has forced the establishment to try and deliver better content to compete with the new and more interesting shows.
Film, can we just stop with the summer blockbusters? I know they are easy money, but can we please get something intelligent, new and interesting? And audiences can you please stop throwing your money at terrible movies? Please, pretty please.
2010 Stan Lee Claims “Marvel is Prepping” Ant-Man Movie Disney’s Domain Name Purchase Hints at Possible Ant-Man Movie
Reaction: Who the hell is Ant-Man?
2011 Edgar Wright is Writing a New Draft of ‘Ant-Man’ For Marvel
Reaction: Edgar Wright’s writing and directing, I’m in. Now I need to figure out who the hell Ant-Man is.
2012 Edgar Wright Just Directed An ‘Ant-Man’ Test Reel Is ‘Ant-Man’ Marvel’s First Comedy? Edgar Wright Screens Test Footage
Reaction: That Ant-Man footage from Edgar Wright at SDCC is amazing, Ant-Man is now one of my most anticipated films for 2015.
2013 Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’ Moved Up From Fall to Summer 2015 Edgar Wright Says ‘Ant-Man’ Is More of a “Standalone” Than Connected Marvel Film Edgar Wright Says The ‘Ant-Man’ Script Is Complete Edgar Wright Talks ‘Ant-Man’: “People Will Be Surprised”
Reaction: Marvel moved up the release date and they’re letting Wright make Ant-Man his way, excitement building.
Early 2014 Marvel Confirms Paul Rudd as ‘Ant-Man’ Michael Douglas is Hank Pym in ‘Ant-Man’ Edgar Wright Discusses the “Challenges” of Making a PG-13 ‘Ant-Man’ Patrick Wilson Joins ‘Ant-Man’ ‘The World’s End’ Composer Steve Price Scoring Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’
Reaction: Rudd and Douglas in a superhero film? I don’t know. But, I trust Edgar Wright, he can balance the line between comedy and action and deliver a fantastic film. Ant-Man is still on my most anticipated of 2015 list.
May 2014 ‘Ant-Man’ Loses Edgar Wright
Reaction: No Edgar Wright? That’s the only reason I was into Ant-Man to begin with, I’m out.
June 2014 Will ‘Ant-Man’ Be Delayed? Rumor Control: James Gunn Will Not Direct ‘Ant-Man’ Adam McKay Pulls Out Of ‘Ant-Man’ Talks Peyton Reed Directing ‘Ant-Man,’ New Synopsis Released
Reaction: Really Marvel? You literally hired the guy who made the movie Yes-Man to replace one of the most innovative and entertaining action-comedy directors. That’s it Marvel, I’m out. Wait, Guardians of the Galaxy looks pretty good, then I’m out. Actually, I guess I should see Avengers 2, but nothing after that. Marvel will be dead to me starting May 2, 2015.
Transcendence explores the strife between humanity and the artificial
Transcendence has received overwhelmingly negative reviews since its release just over a week ago. But the strange thing is that it’s not a bad film, actually it’s fairly good. So, how did the film tank at the box office, causing financier Alcon Entertainment to lose millions of dollars, and ultimately classify the film as a flop?
The simplest explanation is that the film was grossly mismarketed. The first name in the credits, as well as the face on every promotional poster for the film is that of Johnny Depp, who plays Dr. Will Caster. And of course it is. Depp is an internationally recognized actor with multiple box office hits on his resume. But Will Caster isn’t the main character of Transcendence, he’s actually a secondary character. The main characters of Transcendence are Evelyn Caster, Will’s wife, and Max Waters, their best friend. While Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany, who play Evelyn and Max respectively, are talented actors, they don’t command the same audiences or name recognition as Depp. And because Depp is a secondary character, fans of his would be greatly disappointed to find that he doesn’t have very much screen time. While Depp’s character is vital to the film and is the cause of tension between Evelyn and Max, he is not the main character.
Aside from the blundered marketing and lackluster box office performance, Transcendence is an interesting film that conveys engaging ideas. Directed by Wally Pfister, longtime cinematographer of Christopher Nolan including work on The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, The Prestige and Memento; Transcendence looks beautiful. The major theme of the film is the struggle between the natural and artificial and how they affect the world. Pfister, along with cinematographer Jess Hall, visually convey these two forces as they collide throughout the film. From the sterile, black and white environment that houses the artificial Will, to the beautiful, vibrant scenes of nature.
The story, written by Jack Paglen, establishes a world in which multiple scientists are on the verge of creating artificial intelligence. At the forefront of this research is Dr. Will Caster (Depp). After delivering a speech on the subject, Caster is mortally wounded and has only weeks to live. Along with the attack on Caster, the group known as R.I.F.T planned and executed multiple terrorist acts against the leading research in AI. Will, Evelyn, and Max all decide that it could be possible to upload Will’s consciousness to a computer in order to save what remains of his life and his work. Once online Will, with the help of Evelyn, starts to grow and evolve science and technology years beyond what is possible. Max is abducted by R.I.F.T and convinced that the digital version of Will isn’t really him. It all leads to a confrontation between Evelyn and Max as they must confront whether what they have created is Will or something else entirely.
The story is dense and at two hours in length the film rarely slows down. To the determent of the film, it is paced like an action film even though it isn’t one. A few of the storylines could have been tightened or omitted altogether in order to better the film. The performances from Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany are exceptional in the leading roles. Depp works as Will Caster with his off-kilter essence, as Will is not meant to be normal. Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, and Morgan Freeman each bring unique sensibilities to their supporting roles.
Despite its unfortunate circumstances, Transcendence is a singular and thought provoking film. The film does stumble at times, however its accomplishments far outweigh its faults. The end of the film, while on the verge of being heavy-handed, pulls the story to a fitting and satisfying conclusion.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Marvel's feeble attempt at a political thriller
Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe sometime after the events of The Avengers. At the onset of the film Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, is still in the process of reintegrating into modern society. He is being helped along in the process by the government agency SHIELD who uses the super solder for what he was made to do: go on impossibly difficult missions. But, this is SHIELD and it seems like every character in the Avengers at one point or another has called their methods into question. And in Captain America: The Winter Soldier the situation is no different. From the first assignment of the film, Rogers calls SHIELD’s tactics into question and this leads into the political story-line of who is really in charge of SHIELD and it’s not SHIELD director Nick Fury. While this is going on there are a series of attacks orchestrated to remove or incapacitate certain members of SHIELD carried out by a mercenary called ‘Winter Soldier’.
The film is successful early on in its unique action sequences showing why Cap is a super soldier. But, soon enough the action scenes regressed into fast-paced, over-edited, incomprehensible sequences. Between the action scenes Directors Anthony and Joe Russo attempt to build suspense via the mystery investigated by Cap and Black Widow of who is controlling SHIELD and why. In this attempt the film falls flat. Every twist and turn is so obvious that every blundered reveal has no impact. This is especially obvious in the final action sequence where the heroes are set on a task with a literal timer and the audience is supposed to believe that there might be a chance that they don’t succeed.
The film introduces a handful of new characters including Winter Soldier, Alexander Pierce, Agent 13, and Falcon. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely underutilized the film’s central villain Winter Soldier. He only has about 3 lines of dialog throughout the film, but is outstanding in action sequences. The character could have been much more developed and interesting than the boring puppet he ended up being. Pierce is a fairly effective character, but Robert Redford would probably be effective in any role at this stage of his career. What the point of Agent 13? She was a completely useless character which is unfortunate. Falcon was also interesting, but underdeveloped. Throughout the film his single purpose is to go along with whatever Captain America wants to do. Aside from Redford the cast, not surprisingly, delivers fairly mediocre performances.
With Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel delivers another uninspired, average film. The only memorable moments of the film are a pair of action sequences early on and a couple of references to other superheroes (Iron Man, The Hulk and Doctor Strange) and a brilliant, but easily overlooked nod to Pulp Fiction. This film puts Marvel Studios at 2 successful films (Iron Man and The Avengers) out of 9 releases. Hopefully the studio’s next two releases, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2, will help out that average, but it doesn’t seem likely.
This film would look interesting if the entire premise wasn’t based on a misconception. Most people believe that we only use 10% of our brain’s capacity, this is incorrect. This misconception is based on a century old quote stating that, at that time, they only knew what 10% of the brain was used for and somehow that was reinterpreted as we only use 10% of our brain. Please stop perpetuating this myth.
For 9 years I watched Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney and I will admit it, the only ending that I could imagine for ‘How I met your mother’ was Ted sitting in front of his kids saying the lines, “And that kids is the true story of how I met your mother.” And for a moment I had the ending that I wanted. Just cut to black.
But the show wasn’t over.
And you know the ending.
I was torn. The ending that I always wanted was taken away from me and those last two minutes undermined the entire ninth season. Cut them off and I would have been just fine with how the show ended.
I couldn’t get it out of my head. Ted ends up with Robin? It just didn’t feel right. Why would they do this? As a fan of the show I was disappointed, the show didn’t give me the ending that I had always wanted.
But, then I thought about the show as a writer and it hit me. I realized why the show ended in the way that it did.
As a longtime fan of the show you know what Ted’s favorite book is, right? The book that he’s reading on the train platform the night he met the mother, the book he’s reading when she’s in the hospital.
Love in the Time of Cholera.
(spoilers from the book to follow)
Haven’t read it, well here’s the synopsis from wikipedia:
(But honestly, you should read it, it’s an excellent book.)
The main characters of the novel are Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. Both Florentino and Fermina fell in love with each other in their youth. A secret relationship blossomed between the two with the help of Fermina’s Aunt Escolástica. They exchanged several love letters. However, once her father, Lorenzo Daza, finds out about the two, he forced his daughter to stop seeing him immediately. When she refuses, he and his daughter move in with his deceased wife’s family in another city. Regardless of the distance, the two continue to communicate via telegraph. However, upon her return, she suddenly loses interest in Florentino. Dr. Juvenal Urbino meets Fermina and begins to court her. With her father’s persuasion and the security and wealth marrying Urbino offered, they wed. Urbino is a medical doctor devoted to science, modernity, and “order and progress”. He is committed to the eradication of cholera and to the promotion of public works. He is a rational man whose life is organized precisely and who greatly values his importance and reputation in society. He is a herald of progress and modernization. Even after their engagement and marriage, Florentino swore to stay faithful and wait for Fermina. However, his promiscuity got the better of him. Even with all the women he was with, he made sure that Fermina would never find out. In their elderly age, Urbino attempts to get his pet parrot out of his mango tree, only to fall off the ladder he was standing on and die. After the funeral, Florentino re-proclaims his love for Fermina and how he has stayed faithful to her. Hesitant at first because of the advancements he made to a newly-made widow, Fermina eventually remembers her love for him.
The two main characters fall in love at an early age, but then she falls out of love with him. She ends up marrying a wealthy man. He ends up sleeping around. In the end, against all odds they end up with one another later in life. Sound familiar? Like how Ted and Robin were together when they were young before Robin broke up with Ted. Robin goes on to marry Barney, who is wealthy. Ted sleeps around (I know, he meets the perfect woman and has two kids, just, ok? Damn, be cool.) Then, against all odds Ted and Robin end up together later in life.
Do you remember the title of the last episode?
Here’s a fun fact: the last lines of Love in the Time of Cholera is, ” ‘And how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going?’ he asked. Florentino Ariza had kept his answer ready for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights. ‘Forever,’ he said.”
But what does this all mean?
I choose to interpret the end of ‘How I met your mother’ as creators/show runners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas’ contemporary retelling of Love in the Time of Cholera. And if it is? If they were able to construct the entire show around the book and have the answer hidden in plain sight the entire time, that would be legen - wait for it - dary.
12 Years a Slave follows the harrowing journey of Solomon Northup, a free man living in New York who is captured and sold into slavery. The screenplay by John Ridley is based on the first hand account written by Northup, retelling his time living in captivity. Ultimately, it is the skillful work by Director Steve McQueen that elevates 12 Years to a become a masterpiece. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt captures McQueen’s vision of the agonizing story of Northup’s enslavement. Every scene of the film is planned and executed with unmatched precision. The cast of the film is astonishing as well in their portrayal of the best and worst in human nature, notably Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender, and Sarah Paulson. The film is escalated by the striking score by Hans Zimmer.
Man of Steel 9 out of 10
Faced with the challenge of making the oldest superhero new again, Director Zack Snyder made many unconventional decisions in the making of Man of Steel. Some fans of the traditional Superman comic book canon were upset by the changes implemented in the story from Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. But, these changes helped to make this telling of Superman’s origins unique. It would have been a very boring film if it was a direct retelling of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie. While the story isn’t perfect and some of the dialog is heavy-handed, the story brings up some interesting ideas regarding the origins of Superman and Clark Kent. The cast of the film is excellent, from established actors Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon and Diane Lane to the breakout stars Henry Cavill and Antje Traue. The score by Hans Zimmer is extraordinary and fits the scale of the film. The Cinematography by Amir Mokri is unique and apt. The pacing set by Editor David Brenner is impeccable. The digital and practical effects are seamlessly integrated into the film. Snyder’s followup to Man of Steel is set for release in 2016.
Gravity 8 out of 10
Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is a technical marvel. From the first extended shot, Cuarón engages the audience and ceases to relent for the duration of the film. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is extraordinary, especially in the multiple extend shots throughout the film including the impeccable lighting and reflections. Sandra Bullock gives an impressive performance as Ryan Stone, an astronaut in a fight for survival in one of the harshest environments known to humans. The screenplay by Cuarón and his son Jonás is the weakest link in an otherwise stunning film. The musical score by Steven Price complements the visuals of the film by excluding percussions which gives the film a unique feel.
The Wolf of Wall Street 7 out of 10
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street has been called many things, but the most fitting description may be that the film is a thematic sequel to Goodfellas. Wolf and Goodfellas share many similarities including the corruption and attempted redemption of their central characters. Also, Wolf depicts multiple acts of debauchery, much like Goodfellas multiple depictions of violence, both films show the inevitable consequences of those acts. In The Wolf of Wall Street the cast delivers great performances particularly Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Matthew McConaughey. Surprisingly, the film has one of the funniest scenes of the year containing a bit of physical comedy by DiCaprio as he portrays his character trying to overcome the paralysing effects of his choice prescription drug. The story does wonder and get lost at times, however it is one of Scorsese’s best films.
Inside Llewyn Davis 7 out of 10
Inside Llewyn Davis, written and directed by the Coen Brothers, follows the titular character as he navigates the folk music scene based in New York City in the early 1960’s. Early in the film Davis remarks, “If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.” after finishing a performance. This line of dialog embodies the anti-quest nature of the film. Davis constantly and consistently makes choices that lead him away from progressing his life and the story forward. Perhaps that is what Inside Llewyn Davis is: a folk song played out on screen. Oscar Isaac is brilliant as Llewyn Davis including the multiple musical performances throughout the film. The cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel casts the film an stark, often dream-like state.
Only God Forgives 7 out of 10
Only God forgives is the latest collaboration between Writer/Director Nicolas Winding Refn and Actor ryan Gosling, following 2011’s Drive. Set in Bangkok, Only God Forgives is set around Julian, played by Gosling, who after the death of his brother searches for his killer only to be faced with a force he can barely understand. Gosling is fantastic as the central character as he is confronted with his past and must face his future. Refn is a master of visual storytelling and large portions of the story are told solely through the images rather than dialog. The cinematography by Larry Smith is stunning and precise in the use of color and position.
To the Wonder 7 out of 10
Terrence Malick is a genuine auteur and the most polarizing director working today. His unique storytelling method focus more on the internal and emotions of his characters, rather than lengthy dialog and overwhelming action that saturate many current films. Malick, along with Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, capture the beauty of historic Paris and idyllic Texas. Even scenes consisting of two characters in a nearly empty house are stunning and powerful. Olga Kurylenko, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem give subtle and emotional performances supported by little or no dialog.
Labor Day 7 out of 10
Labor day is the latest release from Writer/Director Jason Reitman, based on the book of the same name by Joyce Maynard. The story follows a mother, Adele, and her son, Henry, as they navigate a Labor day weekend with a wounded stranger, Frank, who is later revealed to be an escaped convict. The reason that Labor Day works is that the film focuses on the relationships and tensions between the characters and conveys the nuanced emotions that arise. The chemistry between Adele and Frank exists largely outside of dialog, it is conveyed by a look or a touch between them. Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, and Gattlin Griffith all deliver strong performances as the central characters.
The Place Beyond the Pines 7 out of 10
Director Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is centered around the parallel lives of Luke and his son Jason. Luke is a stunt motorcycle performer who travels with a circus. When the group returns to Schenectady, New York Luke discovers that he has a son with an old flame, Romina. With the help of Robin, Luke decides to use his motorcycle skills to rob banks in order to provide for his new family. Later, the film revolves around a teenaged Jason as he searches for clues about his father and ends up in similar situations in the process. The film shifts focus from one character to the next and includes more storylines than are necessary. The idea of the story is more interesting than the actual execution of the story. The visuals of the film by Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt are outstanding and convey visual cues of the parallels between Luke and Jason. Ryan Gosling delivers another terrific performance as the tattoo-covered Luke.
Ain’t them Bodies Saints 7 out of 10
Written and directed by David Lowery, Ain’t them Bodies Saints follows young couple Ruth and Bob. Ruth is pregnant and Bob robs banks. One of Bob’s robberies goes wrong, he and Ruth are hold up in an abandoned house surrounded by cops. Ruth shoots one of the cops, but to protect her and his unborn child Bob takes the fall and is sent to prison. Ruth gives birth to a daughter and years pass before Bob escapes and tries to stay ahead of the cops and others as he searches for his lost family. Throughout the film Lowery is able to establish a unique and intimate tone. At points, however, the film fails to deliver necessary portions of story that could have improved the overall quality of the film. As Ruth and Bob, Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck are impressive. They convey nuanced performances set against the desperate backdrop of rural Texas captured by Cinematographer Bradford Young.
At the end of every year I like to look back over the films that I was looking forward to and see what lived up to the hype and what fell short. What follows is my list of my most anticipated films of 2013 along with my rating.
Man of Steel (Zack Snyder) - 9/10
Labor Day (Jason Reitman) - 7/10
Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn) - 7/10
Knight of Cups, Voyage of Time, To the Wonder (Terrence Malick) - Pushed to 2014, Pushed to 2014, 7/10
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro) - 5/10
The World’s End (Edgar Wright) - 7/10
Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) - 7/10
Elysium (Neill Blomkamp) - 5/10
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez) - Pushed to 2014
Kick Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow) - 5/10
Star Trek Into Darkness (J.J. Abrams) - 5/10
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese) - 7/10
This is the End (Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen) - 4/10
The Prestige is One of the Greatest Films of All Time
Many cinephiles have claimed that great films reward repeat viewings and The Prestige does.
**SPOILERS FOR THE PRESTIGE**
Are you watching closely?
This line appears twice in the film. As the opening line of the film and right before Borden is led to his execution. Both times the line proceeds a magic trick (see below), the first is Cutter making a bird disappear/ reappear and the second reveals the truth about Borden.
Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called The Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t.
The film has 4 central tricks. (from top-left, clockwise) The first is Angier’s Disappearing Man. Second is Borden’s version of the trick. The third is Borden’s execution and reappearance. The last is Cutter making a bird disappear and then reappear.
The second act is called The Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back.
Angier clones himself, drowning the original. Borden steps into a wardrobe. Borden is hung. Cutter makes the bird disappear.
That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call The Prestige.
Angier’s clone appears in the balcony. Borden’s brother stops out of the wardrobe. Borden’s brother finds Angier with his prestige materials. Cutter makes the bird reappear.
Are you watching closely?
Do you remember Sarah’s nephew? The boy who cried when the bird was killed for a trick?
Boy: He killed it.
Borden: Look. See? He’s all right. He’s fine. Look at him.
Boy: But where’s his brother?
In other films this would be a throwaway line and the boy would be a plot device to bring Borden and Sarah together. But, in Nolan’s film the boy foreshadows the biggest mystery of the film: How does Borden do his trick? By the end of the film the mystery is revealed.
Angier: A brother? A twin?
Borden: We were both Fallon. We were both Borden.
So, when one brother is killed those who are watching closely would ask, “But where’s his brother?”
Gravity is the latest film from director Alfonso Cuarón, it comes seven years after his previous film Children of Men. Gravity is the new standard for films based in space. From a technical standpoint the film is remarkable. Although largely computer-generated, the first shot of the film lasts for nearly twenty minutes, a feat vacant in other action films. The film is paced almost flawlessly, constantly progressing the story and the action. Half-way though the first shot Cuarón grabs the audience and never lets go.
The weakness of the Gravity is the story. The screenplay was written by Alfonso Cuarón and his son Jonás Cuarón. Gravity centers around Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer in her first journey to space. While working on a satellite docked to the shuttle a debris storm creates a catastrophic chain reaction that sends Stone and fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) adrift in space. Stone and Kowalski devise and attempt to execute a plan to survive the incident. During the journey Stone reveals that she had a daughter who passed away at a young age. Through Stone overcoming her adversity from the space debris, the film becomes an allegory for the process of overcoming loss. The story lacks any subtlety or depth, diminishing the rewatchability of the film.
Sandra Bullock is outstanding in the lead role. She is able to bring life to a character navigating her way through this catastrophe in space as well as her own personal tragedy. George Clooney is sufficient as the veteran astronaut Kowalski, although the character is mostly a plot device to help Stone progress through the film.
The star of the film is the technical team behind the film. Director of Photography, Emmanuel Lubezki along with Cuarón capture amazing and unique shots that give the film a singular look. One of the most impressive elements of the filming process of Gravity is the lighting. An example of the flawless lighting is in the opening scene when Stone is sent spinning through space and the only source of light is the sun reflecting from Earth. The light in the reflection of her visor as well as on her face is in perfect sync. Throughout the film the lighting continues to be perfect. It is evident that the entire production team paid attention to countless details that added to the films overall integrity.
Despite a mediocre story, Gravity relies on superior technical achievements to produce a suspenseful film that will set the bar for years to come.
The East Explores Eco-terrorism and its Consequences
In 2011 Director and Co-Writer Zal Batmanglij premiered Sound of My Voice at the Sundance Film Festival. Two years later he returned to premiere his follow up,The East. With The East, Batmanglij reprises his collaboration with Sound of My Voice Co-Writer and Actress Brit Marling.
The story of The East centers around Sarah (Brit Marling) a former FBI agent turned operative, working for a private security company, Hiller-Brood. Sarah is selected by her boss Sharon (Patricia Clarkson) to infiltrate an underground anarchist group focused on eco-terrorism called The East. Once in the group, Sarah meets several key members of the collective, including: Benji (Alexander Skarsgård), Izzy (Ellen Page), Doc (Toby Kebbell), Thumbs (Aldis Hodge) and Luca (Shiloh Fernandez). Over the course of the film The East take part in ‘jams’ or targeted missions to force the heads of companies to face the truth about what their companies produce. While embedded, Sarah discovers more about each member of the group and what has led to their involvement which leads her to sympathize with the group. Sarah also discovers the true motives of the assignment from Sharon. This leads to a choice for Sarah of which life is real and in which organization she belongs.
Brit Marling is outstanding in the lead. Her character is forced to endure a series of horrific events without breaking her cover, but when she finally faces everything that she has encountered she must decide what path to follow. Alexander Skarsgård gives an understated performance, which fits the character of Benji. Ellen Page is great as Izzy, one of the more eager and relentless members of The East. Patricia Clarkson, Toby Kebbell, Aldis Hodge and Shiloh Fernandez all deliver solid supporting performances.
Through Sarah, The East conveys the idea of morality being a perspective. At the onset of the film Sarah is a diligent and eager employee. Over the course of the film via the actions of The East, Sarah is shown the truth behind several corporations actions, even Hiller-Brood. During a briefing with Sharon she is warned, "If they find out who you really are, they won’t give a second thought to your destruction." In the context of the scene Sharon is referring to The East, however it soon becomes apparent that this statement could also be applied to Hiller-Brood itself. If they find out that Sarah has turned against them, they will destroy her. This leads to the question: Are the East and Hiller-Brood really that different?
The East is a worthwhile thriller that explores a subject scarcely seen on film. The story keeps a steady pace, continually moving and examining new ideas. The performances are strong throughout, most notably Brit Marling. Writer/Director Zal Batmanglij, along with Marling have delivered another exceptional film, hopefully with many more to come.