Monday, 9 September 2013

GRAVITY - Review By Greg Klymkiw - #TIFF 2013 - Sandy Bullock in her astronaut undies is not without merit.

TIFF 2013 - Special Presentation
GRAVITY (2013) *1/2
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón
Sandra Bullock,
George Clooney

Review By Greg Klymkiw

In addition to his electrifying first feature Y Tu Mamá También and the overwrought, but powerful dystopian science fiction thriller Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón has the distinction of making the ONLY good Harry Potter film. The dull and dreadfully directed film franchise based upon the miserable J.K. Rowling kid-lit has always been helmed by the most style-bereft hacks, but Cuarón brought such magic and a genuinely personal voice to Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban that I continue to scratch my head over the number of losers who keep being enlisted to camera jockey most of these blockbuster franchises when clearly, hiring a REAL filmmaker adds so much value to the proceedings.

Cuarón will hopefully get a chance to make films nearer and dearer to his heart, but his studio output has, at least, been blessed with his distinctive touch - bringing genuine aesthetic chops of the highest order to create work that is not JUST hit material in an ephemeral sense, but blessed with considerable shelf life.

Gravity is far from being the best outer space thriller - I'll always have a special place in my heart for John Sturges's Marooned - but it's way above Ron (I'm a dull camera jockey) Howard's Apollo 13. Ultimately though, Gravity is really not much good and would be much worse without Cuarón's visual flourishes.

It's basically a two-hander involving George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as AMERICAN space station astronauts who get bombarded by a storm of debris from a nearby satellite that's been nuked by its NON-AMERICAN overlords because it's no longer working properly. As we all know, America NEVER does stupid things like that because AMERICA is NEVER responsible for creating any form of interstellar (or Earthly) polluton and once again, it is AMERICANS who are placed at risk by goddamned FOREIGNERS.

The result of the incompetence of foreigners is that Bullock gets separated from her tie-cord. Luckily, Clooney rescues her. Unluckily, when he realizes that only one person can properly get into the space station and escape, he sacrifices himself and goes hurtling into space whilst Bullock - on her own - tries to kick start the escape pod.

From here, it's all Bullock all the time.

Sort of.

She's trying desperately to get to a Chinese space station and, goddamn it, they're babbling on the radio in Chinese. Jesus Christ! Can't they speak American? The girl is in trouble.

Goddamn foreigners!

The screenplay, such as it is, doesn't work too hard at providing ideal "characters" for our stars to inhabit. Clooney is handsome, charming and funny and Bullock is reserved and committed to her work. Bullock, you see, is nursing the hurt she feels over the death of her only child. This is supposed to make us feel for her. Poor Sandy - her daughter died. Poor Sandy - she meets a guy she could fall for and he jettisons himself into deep space. Somehow, she needs an extra shot of confidence to defy all odds and get home safely. Will she do it? Will some surprise event occur to make everything right again?

There isn't a single moment that we don't know what the outcome will be. I saw the BIG SURPRISE coming a few light years away and in fact, I pretty much knew what every major story beat was going to be after about 20 minutes. All that was left to enjoy were some dazzling visuals, a lot of annoying dialogue - some of it bordering on sickening - and some nice shots of Bullock floating around in her skin-tight astronaut undies. The latter is probably, for some, worth the price of admission. I, for one, will not take away that pleasure from anyone.

Knock yourself out.

Postscript: Seeing it in 3-D adds NOTHING (as per usual). Try to see it flat and you'll at least be able to enjoy the visual flourishes without the stupid 3-D glasses that mute all the beauty of the colour.

"Gravity" is a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival 2013 (TIFF #13). Get your tickets HERE.