Gravity -2013-

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Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. 90 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Seen at Arclight Hollywood)

Fuck, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a movie. I’m somewhat in the midst of a psychological rough patch, and I haven’t felt up to filmgoing as strongly as I usually do. Returning to the Arclight was long overdue, and I hope it’s a sign that I’m on the mental mend.

Alright, onto the movie. I can’t remember the last time something was hyped up to Gravity’s level (Bully, perhaps?). While it can’t touch its lofty expectations, Cuarón’s follow-up to Children of Men – his other sci-fi epic chock-full o’ long takes – is still pretty damn good.

I’ll get the disappointments out of the way first. The ending was too rosy (although maybe that says more about me than it does the film), but the largest flaw was in the unsatisfying philosophical progression of Sandra Bullock’s character and the film as a whole.

This won’t make any sense if you haven’t seen the film, so heads-up.

I was unconvinced that the tone could shift from bleak and existentialist to sunny and life-affirming so smoothly. Like most films that travel this road, it pigeonholes itself in “I cannot go on” territory, and then it shifts abruptly into “I go on” gear. I applaud the film for having more to chew on than most (nearly all) contemporary sci-fi, but it doesn’t quite work.

There’s lotsa good stuff though. The film is visually arresting with plenty of “How the fuck is that possible?” moments. If Emmanuel Lubezki doesn’t finally get his long-deserved Oscar for Best Cinematography, I’ma be miffed. Also, it’s a space epic that’s only 90 minutes long – I cannot stress enough how refreshing that is.

Aside: *rolls eyes at Ed Harris meta-casting *

Aside: The movie really kisses China’s ass.

(Seen and written on 2013-10-05)

The Heat -2013-

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Directed by Paul Feig. 117 mins.

Worth my time? No. (Seen at Arclight Hollywood)

It’s a bad sign when your buddy cop comedy borrows heavily from Another 48 HRS. Not the original, mind you, but rather the abysmal 1990 follow-up. The Heat has some clever quips here and there, but it brings nothing new to its formula. The only reason I can imagine to see it is if you’re desperate for a film that passes the Bechdel Test.

While I enjoyed Bridesmaids (due mostly to great script by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) I now suspect that Paul Feig is a closet misogynist. Why else would he make such a dull film penned by a woman (Parks and Rec writer Kaite Dippold) and starring women on the A-list (Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy)? It’s clearly to perpetuate the tired Hitchensian stereotype that women aren’t funny.

I understand that Hollywood is still a white old boy’s club, and I suppose it’s admirable to switch it up in major motion pictures. Still, if you want to further the station of women in show business, it would help if the projects weren’t so lame. A movie has to be good on its own merits – you shouldn’t settle for crap based on demography alone.

Don’t see Soul Plane or Madea Goes to Jail – see Do the Right Thing. See Barbershop. See Devil in a Blue Dress. See Pariah (seriously, see Pariah).

Don’t see The Heat. See The Kids are Alright. See I Shot Andy Warhol (or anything by Mary Harron). See Clueless. See pretty much anything by Nicole Holofcener. See Near Dark (not because it’s woman centric, but because it’s fucking amazing).

Never settle, yo.

– Aside: I fear that Melissa McCarthy is the victim of “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Make no mistake; she’s a very talented actor. She’s no game-changer, though. I have a hunch that the media treats her like one for the same reason that they lauded Susan Boyle; many people, sadly, are absolutely shocked when they see an overweight person do something well.

(Seen and originally written on 2013-07-08)