Cuaron's Gravity

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Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Telemachos » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:10 am

I caught an early screening a couple of days ago. It's majestic and insanely intense: no quiet existentialist film here, it's far closer to a straight-up action movie (albeit with art-house tendencies). I pretty much guarantee you've never seen (or heard) anything like it -- it's an absolute cinema experience for the ages. See it on the biggest possible screen, in 3-D (yes! you read that right) with a huge sound-system.

(If you aren't familiar with it, it stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts who're trapped in orbit after their shuttle suffers a disaster. The story is extremely simple: will they live and find a way to get back to Earth before they run out of oxygen, propellant, and/or have their life-support systems ruined by some of the deadly shrapnel that's flying about?)

Here's the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiTiKOy59o4
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Tookish_Traveler » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:41 am

gah.

I would be watching that through my fingers....covering my eyes. I would freak out in such a situation. :P

It would be different if I knew whether it had a happy ending or not. :roll:
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Telemachos » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:40 am

You WILL see it, Tooks, through your fingers or not. The power of Tele compels you!
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby portia » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:43 am

This got a glowing review from the man on CBS Sunday Morning. Unfortunately, I usually disagree with him, so now I do not know what to think.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Telemachos » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:07 pm

Go in expecting an adrenaline-filled action movie done with art-house style, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting something more meditative that explores the human condition on a vast scale (a la 2001), you'll be disappointed. 2001 was very objective and clinical -- this is diametrically opposite, completely focused on being as subjective and immersive as possible.

It's a very simple, straight-forward movie, done very very well, but it is not the philosophical successor to Kubrick's masterpiece (or Tarkovsky's SOLARIS, or others in a similar vein). It's much closer in heart to something like SPEED.

edit: I should also point out it's reasonably faithful to actual science. I know there are a few quibbles in terms of relative orbits and so forth, but the film is *far* more rigorous about its science than almost any other movie (2001 excepted, probably) -- there's no sound in space except for occasional muffled noises picked up through space-suits when people are gripping actual metal structures; objects don't explode, they shatter in a cloud of shrapnel; etc.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby basil » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:12 am

I saw this a few days ago, in 3D, which for this film IMNSVHO is necessary, at least once. Wichita is running it on IMAX 3D, I might just have to spend the bucks to run down to see it there too.

A real astronaut, the one married to a real famous politician, who most likely would not have liked to gain her notoriety in the method she did, if she had the choice, comments:

But the truth is, most of this doesn’t matter. Cuarón has given us a glimpse of the awe that is the universe beyond our atmosphere. And physics aside, he does it remarkably well.


He does comment on the physics of "Gravity", and it is interesting to read his experience on that.

I was delighted to see Bullock do her version of the opening of "Barbarella". Though there's a cheap theatrical trick about 10 minutes or so into the beginning, the thing is very visually stunning.

Very much worth seeing on a big screen.


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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby heliona » Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:06 am

Oh dear, it's that comment "physics aside" that worries me. I've spent too many films watching in agony as the laws of physics and common sense are continually violated and my tolerance level is extremely low now. I'm unlikely to see this in the cinema anyway (our cinema is tiny, and probably won't show it) so if I do see it, it will have to wait until it becomes available on the small screen.

But as a physicist and astronomer, I'll probably be drawn out of the drama of the film on occasion. It's the same reason I can't watch films that have sailing in them. :|
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:33 am

I'd say more but would not wish to spoil. ;)


Speaking of which--if you haven't already seen the trailers, including the one here, don't. Just see the movie. There's much more to the movie than is in the trailer, of course, but I'm very glad I got to see that sequence without knowing it was coming.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:48 am

Dang, did I somehow wipe out my longer post? I meant to just quote.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Gungnir » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:37 am

heliona wrote:Oh dear, it's that comment "physics aside" that worries me. I've spent too many films watching in agony as the laws of physics and common sense are continually violated and my tolerance level is extremely low now. I'm unlikely to see this in the cinema anyway (our cinema is tiny, and probably won't show it) so if I do see it, it will have to wait until it becomes available on the small screen.

But as a physicist and astronomer, I'll probably be drawn out of the drama of the film on occasion. It's the same reason I can't watch films that have sailing in them. :|


Heliona, I've been avoiding spoilers but I did read an article by Neil deGrasse Tyson grumbling about the inaccuracies. The biggest one, as far as I can tell, was that the ISS moves in a different orbital inclination to Russian satellites so some of the orbital intersections shown in the film couldn't happen. If that is the worst mangling of physics in the film then I will be a very happy chap indeed.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:11 am

As my missing comment said, that's not a physics problem at all. That's just a minor difference between the histories of the space programs of the real world and the world of the movie. Hubble and ISS and the other satellites may not really be in similar orbital positions, but they could be.

I think the physics are mostly good. Some effects happen faster or slower than they really would, in order to make them more understandable on screen.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby heliona » Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:50 pm

If you read the link basil linked to (although that has spoilers in it) there are some other problems that are physics-related. I've seen so many films now that defy the laws of physics that I get quite picky. I can understand some of the reasons for changing things but that doesn't mean I won't be drawn out of the film and thus my enjoyment diminished.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:06 pm

The Kelly comments? I'd have to watch the movie again to be sure how the dialogue handles it, but I think he may be getting hung up on an elision, not a contradiction.

In any case, though it has a generally realistic feel, it's not meant to be hard SF. It's not really science fiction at all, in my view, despite the setting. If you approach it with too literal an eye, I think you'll completely miss its real depth and power.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:25 pm

To wit,
Telemachos wrote:Go in expecting an adrenaline-filled action movie done with art-house style, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting something more meditative that explores the human condition on a vast scale (a la 2001), you'll be disappointed. 2001 was very objective and clinical -- this is diametrically opposite, completely focused on being as subjective and immersive as possible.

It's a very simple, straight-forward movie, done very very well, but it is not the philosophical successor to Kubrick's masterpiece (or Tarkovsky's SOLARIS, or others in a similar vein). It's much closer in heart to something like SPEED.


I agree that it's not 2001, or a successor thereof. It is simpler, not vast in scope, but it is not shallow. Calling it just an "action movie"--comparing it to pop(corn) junk like Speed (!)--is really missing the point. Though I think Gravity may turn out to be remarkable in the proportion of its audience that does miss its point and still goes away thoroughly liking what they saw. The action sequences are great in several ways--but the thematically important scenes are mostly the quiet ones.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:31 pm

heliona wrote:I've seen so many films now that defy the laws of physics that I get quite picky. I can understand some of the reasons for changing things but that doesn't mean I won't be drawn out of the film and thus my enjoyment diminished.


You say in the other thread you really liked Inception, right? (I did too, though I wish it had been a lot longer, had more time to breath before ramping up into the climax... within climax...) Well. It would take an awfully selective kind of pickiness to stick with that ride but be taken out of this one. :grin:
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby heliona » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:48 pm

No, it doesn't because Inception takes place in the dream world which means anything goes. This film is presumably meant to be in the real world, in which case when things are unrealistic I'm more likely to notice.

Anyway, as I already stated, I won't be seeing it in the cinema, so I wouldn't get the full cinematic effect.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:51 pm

The outermost layer--the 'real story'--of Inception is not in a dream world.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby heliona » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:03 pm

Peremensoe wrote:The outermost layer--the 'real story'--of Inception is not in a dream world.


In your opinion - it's a film that can be interpreted in many ways, and that is only one of them.

Besides that, it is what I would class as a fantasy, in which case I make some allowances. ;-) And also the laws of physics aren't broken in the "real" world (unless you count Cobb jumping from a great height and not breaking a leg). Going into someone else's dream is something else entirely. I'm concerned only with physics. ;-)
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Peremensoe » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:20 pm

...
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Telemachos » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:29 pm

David Brin, noted SF writer and physicist, loved it; he talks about the ways it was realistic and the ways it wasn't, but overall he's very enthusiastic: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/10/g ... bbles.html

Phil Plait, of Bad Astronomy fame, is also very positive: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronom ... avity.html
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby heliona » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:46 am

Unfortunately, I'm one of those sad people who notice things and it takes me out of the film. (I had an issue with the end of the first Star Trek reboot, and I enjoyed the film up until that point.) Aside from that, it does sound like Gravity isn't really my mind of film - I'm not too keen on films set in close space. Or rather, the subject doesn't really interest me that much - I much prefer deep space. Saying that, I do like Alfonso Cuaron - when the chance becomes available, I'll see if I can watch it. (As I said earlier, our little town cinema is unlikely to show it - the films it does show don't seem to follow much logic!) Being forewarned about "bad" science in a film is better, then I'm not surprised by it. ;-)
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby portia » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:26 am

I am of at least two minds on seeing this. I have made two decisions to go see it, and then changed my mind.
The reason is I'm a space nut, who had to get off the phone with my son when I learned of the Challenger blow up, as I couldn't talk. I am concerned that I will be blubbering in my seat or something, or that I can't take the suspense, or something.
I am keeping an eye on close by 3-D theaters and I may force myself to see it before it goes away.

But this discussion is interesting.

Later: I read that post again and decided that I needed to take action. So, I went to a 3-D screening of the movie.
In spite of having to look away from the screen once or twice, I liked it.
The space suits' helmets were difficult for me, thanks to claustrophobia.

I am sure than I have read at least one story with a similar theme; it is not exactly an obscure idea.

I am not a physicist, but the only item of that kind that bothered me was Sandra Bullock's hair. It would have been standing much more on end. There were also some sounds that I didn't think would really be audible, but that didn't bother me.
The physics were not the main point, as someone has observed. It was the emotional story, and Ryan's growth.

Of course space is dangerous. That idea is lost on no one. If they would take me (HA!HA!) :shock: :hair: :hair: :-o I would go, even with the in-your-face- helmets.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Steerpike » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:30 am

Wasn't there a Ray Bradbury short story with the same premise?
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Telemachos » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:15 pm

The general concept is old as dirt. It's basically a Jack London short story in outer space. (Well, in orbit). Heck, there's another movie about to come out with exactly the same premise on a sailboat (with Robert Redford, no less; it's also an Oscar contender).

I can forgive the hair because it would be insanely expensive to create CG hair for all those scenes. :)
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby portia » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:01 am

True, but I think she could have been given a "standing up" wig for the weightless scenes. I have seen broadcasts from space where the woman's hair was standing STRAIGHT up.

The style was good for her, though.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby heliona » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:05 pm

Telemachos wrote:The general concept is old as dirt. It's basically a Jack London short story in outer space. (Well, in orbit). Heck, there's another movie about to come out with exactly the same premise on a sailboat (with Robert Redford, no less; it's also an Oscar contender).


Okay, that's definitely a film I'll have to avoid. A film based entirely on the water would drive me nuts, particularly with my maritime search and rescue experience. :-D (Even though I do love Robert Redford.)
Image<-- Sir Gwaine representing the letter "G" in the TVM!

Life is short; break the rules, forgive quickly; kiss slowly; love truly; laugh uncontrollably; and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for the might-have-beens. - Arthur Ransome

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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby siddharth » Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:45 am

Watched it. Loved it.
Brilliant movie. I went in expecting a Space-thriller with lots of action and exploding things and I walked out wondering about the human nature and the various mindsets. That the film made me think about it even after it was over, itself says that it certainly was an above average movie.
I actually think, till date this is the best 3D movie I have seen yet. I am not a fan of 3D, but I have no complaints for this. It's also a brilliant depiction of what astronauts experience everyday. risking so much. And how infinitely lonely we are in at least our Solar System.
Hats off to Sandra Bullock, for the incredible acting. And also the fact that she looked like an Astronaut.
And hats off to Cuaron as well, for the direction and also to the one who did the Cinematography.

SPOILERS
I think my favorite scene is just before Stone is about to commit suicide. The talk with Anigag and all the dog-barking and Ryan possibly hearing the last human voice she will ever hear. For a moment I felt the whole movie got spoilt when Kowalsky returned. But later was glad it was not so.
I had actually expected that I would see more people at the end. People rushing towards Stone, when she lands. But nothing sort happens and a one-character story remains a one-character story. Which is something I like.
BTW, am I the only one who didn't feel much when Kowalsky sacrificed himself?

/SPOILERS

As for the physics of the film. I read the article mentioned before in this thread.
And honestly, if it takes one to delve into something as complicated as orbital-pathways to find out flaws, I would say it's near flawless. (Nontheless there are a few conspicuous inaccuracies). But hey, Astronauts don't write the scripts, do they? :D
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby portia » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:31 am

siddharth wrote:BTW, am I the only one who didn't feel much when Kowalsky sacrificed himself?
[/color]
/SPOILERS


No, you are not. Under the circumstances, and with a character as happy about space as he is, I wasn't surprised. To drift off through the cosmos is not such a bad fate.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby siddharth » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:03 pm

portia wrote:
siddharth wrote:BTW, am I the only one who didn't feel much when Kowalsky sacrificed himself?
[/color]
/SPOILERS


No, you are not. Under the circumstances, and with a character as happy about space as he is, I wasn't surprised. To drift off through the cosmos is not such a bad fate.


Yes, I realize that now. :D

Telemachos wrote:It's majestic and insanely intense: no quiet existentialist film here, it's far closer to a straight-up action movie (albeit with art-house tendencies).


Okay, here I completely disagree.
While Gravity has a lot of action in it, it is not an action movie! What I liked most about the movie is how it shows the day-to-day life, their feelings, their thoughtlines, their risks in zero-G. You can almost feel as if you are an invisible part of the crew. Not to mention, Ryan's own transformation in her thoughts about the will to survive, that for me was the major story withe action acting just as an eye-popper, which sometimes enhanced the feelings and emotions coming from the screen.

It has GREAT action, no doubt.
But when I left the theatre I was still thinking about the movie, which has never happened to me after seeing an action movie.
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Re: Cuaron's Gravity

Postby Telemachos » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:41 pm

Telemachos wrote:It's majestic and insanely intense: no quiet existentialist film here, it's far closer to a straight-up action movie (albeit with art-house tendencies).


Okay, here I completely disagree.
While Gravity has a lot of action in it, it is not an action movie! What I liked most about the movie is how it shows the day-to-day life, their feelings, their thoughtlines, their risks in zero-G. You can almost feel as if you are an invisible part of the crew.[/quote]

I'm not using "action movie" as a pejorative. I think the best action films all have more to them than just action.
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