Product categories

Alfonso Cuaron

October 7, 2013

New Release! Gravity

MIND-BLOWING

Gravity – Mind-Blowing

I never start a review this way, until now of course; “Gravity” is amazing, emotional, groundbreaking, revisionist, wonderful, innovative, and of course, mind-blowing. There hasn’t been a movie since “2001: A Space Odyssey” that has elicited so many emotions over the course of 90 minutes until “Gravity.”  If the genius of Alfonso Cuaron hasn’t been noticed yet, this is the film that puts him in the lexicon of Spielberg, Lucas, Kubrick, and other luminaries that have re-defined cinema for a new generation.  Cuaron is this generation’s Stanley Kubrick.

“Gravity,” at heart, is the tale of survival, redemption, and the power of belief.  Most of Cuaron’s films all have an undertone of hope found within utter despair, see “Children of Men as a prime example.  Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski, respectively, two astronauts on a routine mission to repair a shuttle.  Before you know it the two are adrift after space debris strikes the shuttle, and a battle for survival begins.

While I was in the theater so many emotions came over me.  Based on the trailers, you know shit is going to hit the fan, but I didn’t know the context in how said shit hits the fan. The set pieces are wonders to behold, and while CG is heavily relied upon, I never felt that I had to suspend my disbelief and realize that all I was watching was make believe.  Cuaron has officially blurred the lines between reality and fiction.  I was blown away.  Add in his trademark long takes, the first scene lasting roughly 15 minutes with no cuts, and you are sucked into this vision of space that hasn’t been seen since “2001.”

While I’m not going to say politics were involved, it’s interesting to see three superpowers (USA, Russia, and China) mentioned in a film about space and how one said superpower is to blame for the problems that occur throughout the film.  I’m not saying the Cuaron has an agenda, but it seems clear that he either has a distrust or distaste for the the Space Program, or perhaps his entire allegory in “Gravity” is that the Space Program is dead or needs to die.

There are quite a few references to death and rebirth in “Gravity.”  One is pretty clear, where, SPOILER, Bullock enters the International Space Station, strips her suit off, and curls into a fetal position.  After being in the vacuum of space for a long time, she finally has a place to feel safe, and regresses into a child-like position of safety.  Later on in the film we pretty much see the death of the Space Program, with once again, SPOILER, a US, Russian, and Chinese space module destroyed, with the latter plummeting to Earth.  Is Cuaron saying, “Look, space doesn’t want us anymore, it’s time for us to return to Earth and take care of things domestically before we deal with the vastness of space.”  I tend to think this is a very important, and timely, message for people all over the world.

For over 50 years, the world has been obsessed with visiting space, “landing” on the moon, visiting Mars, sending probes to the far recesses of the solar system, while the Earth continues to become over-populated, natural resources are slowly running out. climate change is a creeping death, and pollution chokes us.  Why is the space program a viable option anymore?  Yes, we use satellites for communication and surveillance, but why do we need to keep sending probes into space to hopefully meet E.T?  With NASA finally ending their Space Shuttle Program in 2011, “Gravity” tells us two things; good riddance to the program, and two, lampoons the program with the disaster that you see in the film.

Politics aside, “Gravity” is a technical marvel that lets us experience space from a perspective we’ve never seen, before in a realistic way.  Should you see it in 3-D?  My answer is always no to 3-D.  People might argue that it puts you INTO the film, but why do you need to be in the film when you can watch the film in
2-D and still feel like Cuaron is holding you hostage for 90 minutes, and that’s a compliment to the director.  I haven’t felt at the mercy of a director in a long time, where you can’t escape what you’re experiencing until the director lets you go.  If “Pacific Rim” was the action film you couldn’t take your eyes off of, “Gravity” is the mind-blowing, technical marvel that you can’t take your eyes off of this year, and maybe the past decade.  “Gravity” pulls you in, literally.

Fun Fact:  Ed Harris, who you might remember as Flight Director Gene Kranz in “Apollo 13,” reprises the role, in voice form, of “Houston” in “Gravity.”

March 13, 2013

London Calling: Children of Men

Children of Men – Captivating

Lately in film, especially futuristic sci-fi fare, the preferred city of devastation is London.  It used to be that Godzilla would stomp Japan into oblivion, but of course we all know that giant lizards bred out of nuclear irresponsibility is completely far-fetched, right?  But putting fantasy away, London has been a hub the past decade or so for apocalyptic visions of the future.  From Rage viruses to an infertility pandemic, I’m not sure “Keep Calm and Carry On” would be enough for even London’s strongest citizens to get behind.  This brings me to 2006’s “Children of Men” one of the most captivating sci-fi films to be released in recent memory.
Here’s the scoop; we visit London in the not too distant future where there hasn’t been a reported new birth in nearly 18 years.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the youngest person in the world, lovingly named Baby Diego, has just been murdered.  With the world in mourning, we follow happy-go-lucky Theo, played by Clive Owen.  Theo is the type of guy that loves to get high with his hippy friend Jaspar and get kidnapped by a terrorist group called “The Fishes” led by his former activist wife, Julian, played by Julianne Moore.  The plot thickens when it’s discovered that Theo is carrying some precious cargo, namely a baby in the belly of a young refugee girl named Kee.  With the government, crooked cops, and members of the terrorist group hot on his heels, Theo has no choice but to protect Kee and try and deliver her to The Human Project, a mysterious group researching why humanity become infertile so many years ago.

“Children” went largely unnoticed during its theatrical run, which is odd for how good this film really is.  The acting is spot on, the setting couldn’t feel more real, and the message is relatively universal.  Sure, there are some preachy moments, and even some of the imagery and names are obvious, case in point, the young girl Kee, (even though it’s technically pronounced “chi”) who just might be the “key” to civilization’s survival.  But those are minor quibbles.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who some might know for “Y Tu Mama Tambien” or to an even wider audience as the director the best Harry Potter film installment “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”  Some might disagree with that assessment of the “Harry Potter” franchise, but it was the moment that the series went from light-hearted and childish to dark, brooding, and serious.
Cuaron lends that trademark style to “Children” and creates a dystopian London where all hope seems to be lost, refugees are treated like Jews during World War II, and ethnic tensions are slowly coming to a head.  With all of that being said, Cuaron is still able to capture small glimmers of hope in a hopeless world, and some humanity in some of the more monstrous characters.  But the highlights of the film revolve around the long take action sequences which last upwards of 6 minutes.  Even though it has been debunked that these scenes are not one long take, the fact remains that these scenes highlight the film and create the most memorable moments in “Children.”

Despite the fact “Children” was critically praised, the fact it didn’t bank more at the box office was a crime in and of itself.  It’s also a movie I’m always shocked people have never seen; at that moment I slap them in the face, hand them the DVD, and bid them Godspeed.

Fun Fact:  In the Bexhill block scene, Theo can be seen wearing a London 2012 Olympics fleece jacket.

Scroll to top
The Simplistic Reviews Shop is now open! Due to COVID-19 shipments are being heavily delayed.  
Holler Box