Gravity

What really matters is that I was right


If Gravity doesn't win for Best Picture, fuck all y'all.
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Reported on 23rd of December, 2013

I am a genius. I didn’t say it; my notes did. They also give a reason. Now I am also a genius for calling Sr. Alfonso Cuarón the best living shot chooser three years ago, but this is not me or my notes, but my blog.

Gravity

5 December 2013 @ The Dukes @ Komedia


$59.96 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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This film certainly proved me right, at least according to me. But I’m not here to talk about Gravity, probably the best studio picture since The Matrix, and one of the best examples of pure cinema since the correctly translated A man escaped. Honestly, this is why I see movies, and so fucking many of them. Even now, because once in a while, the film is Gravity, and it’s worth all the dreck in between. I’m not here to talk about Gravity. I’m here to talk about these:

Also, they don't fold like the Sennheiser HD380, but their impedance is like 54 ohm. I'm not listening to Motorhead, fer chrissakes.

Also, they don’t fold like the Sennheiser HD38s0, but their impedance is like 54 ohm. I’m not listening to Motorhead, fer chrissakes.

These are my GermanMAESTRO GMP 8.35’s. This is the reason I am a genius (this time, according to my notes, not me). They are extremely bulky and weird, and when I put them on, I look like a cyberman. During the screening of Ender’s Game, I was accosted for wearing them by the staff, as it seemed to them like I was taping the film. And yes, one could spend a lifetime wondering why they even check theaters for camcorders, since pirates just rip screener DVDs, and further wonder why, if I was such a camcorder pirate (‘AHR!’, which is actually the sound of the tape getting stuck in the machine because it’s 1981), and didn’t want to draw attention to myself, I would be wearing giant headphones. But one would really spend a lifetime unpacking the statement the nice man made about why they were being cautious: I was watching, it seems, a ‘high-risk film’.

Never, under any circumstances, say anything potentially metaphorical to a PhD student.

Scratch that. Just don’t talk to a PhD student under any circumstances. It’s not worth the headache.

Despite the risk (get it? get it? I warned you), I’m going to spend your lifetime praising this beautiful audio invention, whose whose isolation is rated at 68dB. 68! This is is real thing, and it means that unlike the earbuds, or even regular cyberman headphones, I cannot hear what is being said in the theater, just as the poor man next to me cannot hear the strains of Satanicpornocultshop, or, worse yet, my band name dropping of Satanicpornocultshop, which is just embarrassing, since I don’t even really like them. Damn, I did not introduce that phrase to the world correctly. It should read:

‘When I was at the 1983 Culturcide show in Tuscon, with like twelve other people…’

‘Band name drop.’

Pause.

‘Band name!’

And we’re back. Though virtual reality goggles were always an option, headphones are more than enough. As far as your eyes go, you only have to avert them. Being that most films are radio plays, and most trailers simply cut together the salient plot points ‘You have to be a better father’ ‘I can’t until my father is a better father!’ In other words, it is the sound that gives away the majority of what I don’t want to see, so to speak, in trailers. Somewhat apropos, at the screening of Gravity I saw, or rather, glimpsed, both the Mitty and Saving Mr. Banks trailers, the latter of which was actually playing in the theater next door. They were both easily five minutes long, and no, I’m not going to fact check and ruin the correct perception that they were in fact ten minutes. Which they were. Unless they were longer. Which they also probably were.

Well, they are now.

In any case, that’s the point of the glance: is the trailer over? In fact, as way of success on the part of making, and then ruining, my entertainment, Hollywood gave me such a glimpse of Ms. Bullock underwater in trailer 2 (see below) of Gravity. Underwater?, I thought, throughout actually watching the film. When’s that going to happen?

At the end. It’s going to happen at the end.

And yes, what follows is going to ruin the film for you if you haven’t seen it or the trailers. Which I do not want to do, as it is good. There is no version of 8.35’s for you, buddy, except your own free will. Which you can exercise right now.

Yeah.

I thought so.

Teaser

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Ah, why couldn’t they just leave it at the teaser. It’s an object lesson in filmmaking anyway, given to us by Mr. Roger Corman. The story goes that Mr. Corman would demand blood or tits, preferably both, in the first ten pages. As his company made the majority of its return in the foreign film markets, the foreign film buyers, being that it was pre-screener, would only have time for the first ten minutes of the film at one of those insane and impossible to believe existed film markets. Strangely, I actually wrote, submitted, and was subsequently rejected on the basis of not one, but two of these scripts. And yes, the second one began with a shoot out in a strip club. See, ‘I’m a genius’, above.

The problem is, Corman’s is extremely sound advice. You’ve got 90 minutes of my time (note that both Gravity and Spring Breakers, the year’s two best, are this, correct, feature length. A coincidence? No, it’s not. Even though they are different films from different studios, they both have secret easter egg teasers for the new Avengers/Hobbit team-up on Pandora, the teaser itself has an exclusive reveal of the actor who’s going to play Jesus in alternate ending to Inception re-issue blu-ray.

Kill one person, and it's an adventure. Kill a million, and it's Man of Steel.

Jeez, there’s just nothing I can get you to see films, is there?), get to it. Obviously, you don’t need tits and blood, but it’s a good idea. Show me something in the first ten minutes. If I don’t want to see the film after that, you’ve made a bad film. But don’t go back to the drawing board. Oh no. Don’t pour all your money into script writing and story instead of post. Don’t even do reshoots. No need for the trouble. So you’ve made an unwatchable film. No problem! Just cut…

Trailer 1

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Look, the first trailer kind of makes sense for a wakefulness contest like Thor: Oh my, it’s so dark in here, has anyone got a match and a nitrate print? or the unwatchable was probably directed by Mr. Shawn Levy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But I keep thinking of the first minute Gravity, which is just a shot of space, the earth, and everyone being tiny. I literally teared up being in the presence of a filmmaker who was willing to make us wait, with that level of, well, command. There’s so much confidence in the film, I would think that it would rub off on the ad guys. You can imagine a Capra-like moment, where trailer one is set to show us that Ms. Bullock makes it to the ISS, but that it blows up, you know 65 minutes in. But ho! Just before it goes world-wide, the old cynic exec walks out of the screening of the film itself, stunned. This is something new, she thinks, and, as she gently places her hand on man who’s about to press the ‘Market This To The World Button’:

No, she says, the teaser is enough.

Sadly,

Trailer 2

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Gravity

Not to be Homer Simpson, but the cookie sucked.

Yeah, this is pretty much the whole film. I talked about the underwater bit, which is at the end, not the last shot, but the second to last, so it’s the penultimate trailer point. See, ‘never say anything to a PhD student’, above. It would be fun to rant about how this is the worst trailer ever, and had I seen it, it would have ruined the film, but in reality, trailers are getting worse even in the least three months, or at least longer. I wasn’t kidding about Mitty and the new Ridley Scott trailer is at least as long. There’s some kind of suburbia metaphor here, that we since we sell suburbia on the dream of the countryside, and in the act of selling destroy it,. There’s the same sense of diminishing returns for film audiences, the more we show to get the increasingly disinterested into the theater, the less we have to show them. There’s some critical threshold, and it may in fact be a genuine legal issue, that when the first trailer crosses that six minute mark, I can finally prosecute the studios for piracy.

So worth a try.

Now I could end on a note of cynicism, but I have free will, which made me (wait, how does free will work again) buy the headphones, and, for the most part, has saved my movie-going experience, not coincidentally for this film. Since apparently the universe revolves around me, or at least Sr. Cuarón does. This is a great film. He killed Clooney ferchrissakes! And more to the point, like a Shane Black might, he did it in such a way that we thought he might come back at any moment. When it comes to the idiots who yammer on about three act structure, here is the forty-seven act film, with each sequence containing more tension than most films ever muster. Maybe that’s the point of Syd Field: hey, kids! Good news! You only have to think of three.

And, final shot excepting, he’s found something about the single shot, which was more of a fetish in Children of Men, which gets down to its essence, which I think is tension. Watching some of the cuts and single takes is not unlike holding your breath, and it works, and the situation does, because something so long and perfect makes it feel like it has to break. But it’s also what he didn’t do. He didn’t make it about saving the fucking world, which is boring to the point of, well, oblivion I guess. Or Oblivion. Either one. It’s about two, then one person surviving, and guess what, this works. Kill one person, and it’s an adventure. Kill a million, and it’s Man of Steel.

That’s me not ending on a note of cynicism. You could say that there is no movie exec with a heart of gold in this story, but there kind of is. This film got made. And I don’t know the story, but if Soderberg can’t get final cut, there’s no way they’re giving it to a guy who made the depressing pro/anti-population epic Cuarón did seven years ago and then nothing after that. So there really was that moment. Go ahead, she said. Kill Clooney. Don’t show us what’s happening on earth. Don’t Create More Jeopardy with space stuff threatening The Planet. Don’t explain everything. Don’t cut when you don’t need to, but cut when you do.

Leave it. Leave it as it is.

The Take

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Profits!
Even dropping the screw is tense.
$34.00
The scene with the dogs howling.
$30.00
Yeah, I could list a bunch of stuff, but the point is that once you’re the kind of film that has these scenes in it, you’re already there.
Total Profits
$64.00
Losses!
The last shot, strangely not in the trailer, was a bit awkward in the middle. That’s all I got.
$0.04
Total Losses
$0.04

$59.96

Thoughts on Gravity

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  1. Mary says:

    I liked Gravity too. The whole choose your own reality thing. Generosity of spirit: ‘I give my life to you that you may live.’ Not a theme usually seen in today’s dumbed down society (see Zoolander2). The ending where she gets out and crawls up the beach naked, to live…seemed archetypal, but I missed the message. Was that a good thing? Bad thing? Horror movie? Is hell “other people” or not? At least we know, through countless and constant examples, the reason why life is worth living, or at least why we choose to live in the end (see Spectre). Adieu.

  2. Scott Scott says:

    Can’t see Zoolander 2, as I live here. Though I am looking forward to what it will be called. Hot Angry Models 2? Faces Look Back 2? No idea.

    My problem with the ending is probably with the final shot, which makes her look like a titan getting out of the water. The film didn’t need to get all pretentious, it had earned her just surviving, and wanting to.

    See Spectre? No.

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