Posts Tagged ‘Alfonso Cuarón’

‘Interstellar,’ a space-time odyssey: Christopher and Jonathan Nolan project human destiny through the prism of one man’s journey

November 29, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 29, 2014

Interstellar, the new science fiction drama from director Christopher Nolan, is a domestic drama that takes place across the reaches of space, time and physics.

The ostensible hero of the movie is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widower who farms an increasingly desolate homestead in what may be rural Texas. The ostensible heroine is Brand (Anne Hathaway), a scientist whose drive to salvage humanity is sometimes undermined by her usually tightly controlled sentimentality. I don’t think the film ever reveals Cooper’s first name; Brand’s given name is Amelia, but it’s seldom used, a very deliberate omission that marks the character’s emotional coolness, underscoring the distance — real or figurative — between her and the people for whom she cares, and who care for her.

If the movie, which the English director co-wrote with his younger brother, Jonathan Nolan, ever specified the time in which it takes place, I missed it. The story seemed to me to begin a generation or two after our present time. In this dystopian future, climate change has evidently occurred, bringing with it massive dust storms and global crop failures. The ensuing famine and population collapse bring a singular focus on feeding and expanding the human population at the expense of nearly everything else.

Cooper is a relic in this world. Currently a farmer, he once had an abortive career as an astronaut. He’s bitter because the advanced technology that is now all but officially eschewed includes magnetic resonance imagers, which if available might have detected the cancer that killed his wife. He’s also angry because his children — Tom, who’s about 16, and Murph, 10 — are being taught almost exclusively about agriculture.

How narrow-minded is the emphasis on survival? It’s suggested, rather improbably, that the world’s military forces have disbanded. Also, we’re told that federally approved textbooks describe the 20th-century moon landings as a clever hoax that the U.S. government perpetrated to goad the Soviet Union into wasting enormous amounts of resources on space exploration.

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Astronauts in peril: ‘Gravity’ soars through danger above the Earth

October 8, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 8, 2013

As the new feature film Gravity opens —

Actually, before I complete that sentence, a caveat. I walked into the screening about 10 minutes after the scheduled start. I’m accustomed to the lights first going down 10 minutes after the ostensible start time, which is followed by one or two theater promotions and at least three movie trailers. Instead, when I entered the theater on Saturday night, Gravity had already begun. Based on the expository dialogue that I observed, I’m pretty sure I missed no more than five minutes of the film. But in fact, this write-up will be based upon a partial viewing.

As the new feature film Gravity opens, medical engineer Ryan Stone is adding a device to the Hubble Space Telescope. Matt Kowalski, commander of the space shuttle Explorer, observes. This is Kowalski’s last flight, and he restlessly circles the scientific satellite with his jetpack, tracking how much time remains until he breaks a record for space walks.

The equipment Stone is installing malfunctions. But moments later, the Explorer and its crew learn that they have much more serious issues. An incident involving a Russian satellite is spreading a vast array of deadly, fast-moving debris. NASA mission control orders the Explorer to break orbit immediately.

Seconds afterward, a zooming piece of wreckage knocks Stone loose from the space shuttle. She flies into the dark void, tumbling wildly. Kowalski maneuvers to intercept her.

What follows — the bulk of this intense 90-minute movie — is the story of the pair’s struggle to survive the swarms of debris that are wreaking havoc above the Earth. They must also contend with dwindling oxygen and fuel supplies as well as the naïveté and negativity of Stone, who is on her first trip into space.

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