Be My Frankenstein

karloff2
The Perfect Human

Being a rather impressionable little boy, that is, when I was a little boy, I recall one of the most terrifying creatures of my childhood was Frankenstein, not Victor Frankenstein mind, but the Monster, or The Creature, also known as Adam, something I was reminded of by a friend. For now I am not talking about the book, but the movies. This huge bolt necked square headed silent killer that walked slowly and never stopped until you were dead was a prototype Terminator that was out to get me. Scary. Frankenstein haunted my dreams and my waking life. I had no doubt this creature existed. That scientists were building him somewhere, and that Victor Frankensteins Monster was a truly malevolent force. I became profoundly conservative in my thinking. I needed things to be safe and ordered and filled with ritual and nice middle class motifs. This was because my mind was frightening me. It was because he, the Frankenstein Thing was evil. Science was a doorway to a terrifying unknown. We should not mess with the natrual order of things.

Robert Cametti Frankenstein Heads art project for St. Jude's Charity
Frankenstein as Borg

 

This is of course was long before I actually sat down and read Mary Shelleys remarkable book and saw that this was not what the book was about and that the Creature was a fascinating damaged and complex being.

I mentioned earlier I was an impressionable little boy. I guess I am being a tad disengenuous. I was a scaredy cat. I was filled with phobias and terrors and oversensitivites. I had too many ideas and dreams, and I couldn’t control them or cope with them. Also I had no one to talk to about them. I had an incredibly vivid imagination and ghost stories and such like really gripped me. Frankenstein was real to me and something had to be done about it. I had to understand the monster. Getting to sleep at night became a real challenge. I tried strategies. I listened to the radio. I played music. I left the light on. I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. And eventually, I dropped off asleep only to see ghosts and monsters of the Frankensteninian ilk lurch out of the shadows and come ambling for me with arms outstretched and a dull empty gaze that spoke of murder.  I would wake with a start and go downstairs and drink a glass of milk or something and try to settle myself. I didnt know what to do with all these ideas and dreams. It seemed to me that the world of science, of creativity was filled with possibilities for good or ill, but it seemed also that no matter what we did, how many countless brilliant advances we made, we were always left with the fruits of our creation, our monsters, our Frankensteins. In the future there would be the mass production and corporatization of pharmacology that we have now, along with drone warfare, robot troops and police, mass surveillance, and Donald Trump. Back then in the sixties and the seventies there were science fiction novels and small indications of the future one would occassionally see on Television and the Movies. The problem was that all the top minds in the world of the arts predicted a bad end to our journey into scientific progress, despite the fact that millions of lives were being saved by science and that statistically the numbers of people being killed in wars and other conflicts were dropping precipitiously. It all made no sense, that is until I realized what they were talking about was not what science cured, but that our potential for self annihilation was now absolute. That was the real monster. Not the Creature.real monster

One of the things that cured my terrors was the experience of enlightenment. I actually picked up Shelley’s novel and read it. Victor Frankenstein was not the mad gothic genius with a cliche eastern european scientific sidekick working in some fire and brimstone lightning filled huge secret laboratory. He worked alone. Mainly in dissection rooms. His goal was to create the perfect human, a creature free of human foibles and defects. And by all accounts he succeeded. Except like all very intelligent sensitive beings, the Creature, as it was called, longed for human companionship, for love and meaning and because it, the Creature, was isolated and shunned, loneliness and  rejection drove it insane and led to its downfall, not least because Victor Frankenstein destroyed the Creatures potential mate and condenmned it to a life of isolation an desperate meaninglessness. The Creature was eloquent, poetic, thoughtful, sensitive, and given to long philosophical soliliques. Victor Frankenstein was a classic romantic character. In him we have what is now a veritable movie and fiction trope of the lonely genius labouring to create a better world using the gifts of intellect and skill, trying to replace blind assumptons with knowledge, undermining groundless fears with the power of insight. Instead of doing that, Victor created a being that had no place in the world, a being that went mad and had to be destroyed, a lonely desperate highly gifted creature who because he was a new type of transhuman, he had no peer, no companion, no home.

frankenstein and bride
The Creatures in love

I am no longer afraid of the Creature. I feel a great sadness now about his fate. His creator, Victor Frankenstein killed his bride and left him to go mad and become a psychotic killer. Deep down The Creature dreamed of going to South America, far from everybody, and living quietly with his mate, a female Creature, someone who would understand him, share his life as an equal, drive away the sense of his unbridgeable distance from others, a distance he neither wanted nor created for himself in the first place. The truth was that Frankensteins Creation had no place in ths world. If he and his bride could take a rocket ship to the stars, perhaps he might still be out there, but alas he was a being ahead of his time, so the tragedy of Frankenstein is the tragedy of his creation. Each destroyed the other. As the meme generators on the internet so like to remind us, Frankenstein was the name of the doctor, not the so called monster.

Hitman

SCIARIO

(Or ‘Hitman’)

Director:

Denis Villeneuve

Writer:

Taylor Sheridan

Plot:
An idealistic FBI agent (Blunt) is enlisted by an elected government task force (Brolin, Del Toro) to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

*Please note: The storyline is discussed form here on in*

TERRIFYING, BRUTAL, AND THOUGHT PROVOKING - SCIARIO 2015

This movie is disturbing. Its incredibly visceral and describes the true nature of the war on drugs. It makes clear how there is absolutely no way the so called ‘War on Drugs’ can ever be won, namely it is too profitable . Theres that, and the fact that people take drugs, lots of drugs. Some become hopelessly addicted. Others do not. But people will never stop taking drugs. Josh Brolin’s rather unsavoury CIA character laments how one fifth of the US population at one time or another are consuming drugs, with no indication of ever stopping.

Its also a business. The drug business is a high yield low investment business with high mobility and an infinite demand. With such a unimaginable profit margins the providers of such illicit drugs as Heroin, Cocaine, Crystal Meth, and so on, can continue to operate no matter how many times the drug leaders get arrested or shot or disappeared. If you are a drug trader and you make a mistake, you are killed. Someone more skilled will replace you, until they are killed. And so on with a kind of Darwinian inevitability. Their already labyrinthine business operations are highly portable. And due to decades of experience and connections, they know how to shut down shop and start elsewhere very quickly indeed. They know how to hide in plain sight (and people will, for instance, hide their local dealer mainly because, well, they like drugs and they might be killed if they tell the police). So vast are drug operations they could be floated as a huge multinational Corporations on the Dow Jones or the NasDaq (An estimated 1% of total global trade is in illegal drugs).

The global reach of drug traders is legendary. The fight for global dominance in this trade is reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Shut one down and others will start up again with the full knowledge that they or others like them can at any time find willing accomplices with sufficiently highly developed skill sets to continue to operate a business that has always and forever and unto the end of time a viable highly motivated market, an unlimited number of recruits that will ones bidding to be paid such monies, and the possibility of unlimited expansion so long as you are willing to stop all opposition. In the movie one of the purposes of the ‘raid’ the CIA conducts into Mexico is to actually ensure that the is only one new drug lord in the area. To have more than one drug king is to risk a horrific cycle of slaughter. Its interesting that the notion of eliminating the drug trade in the poverty stricken areas they flourish in doesn’t even enter the picture.

So, in Sciario, a revenge raid is conducted by US authorities into Mexico in order to neutralize a brutal drug lord and stop all opposition and install a new Columbian based drug lord. I use the word ‘stop’ in the last sentence rather euphemistically. This means levels of violence and horror that would fill our nightmares forever. The drug business, since it is illegal and unmonitored and free of taxes and government control despite the best efforts of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world, continually learns from its mistakes, refines its technologies, bribes the highest and most influential members of whatever governments they operate in, do deals with literally anyone, and continually find ways to launder their cash in ever more imaginative ways. As their market never goes away, they, like the proverbial Gorgon, keeps growing new heads. The sociology and economics of drug addiction, its areas of production and the socio-economic poverty visible in such regions, are all the subject of fierce debate. The history of prohibition shows how profitable for criminals and how disastrous the idea of making illegal drugs that are commonly consumed. Considering that alcohol-like cigarettes, are far more dangerous than many of the banned drugs, it all seems more and more peculiar, as if making either of those drugs illegal would stop us consuming them. One thing is clear. People take drugs and always will. Keeping it illegal lines the pockets of the worst people imaginable. Addiction can be treated, but not with prohibition, and far more lives are destroyed by incarceration than the drugs they are being incarcerated for.

EMILY BLUNT ENTERS THE HELL OF SCIARIO
EMILY BLUNT ENTERS THE HELL OF SCIARIO

Speaking of truly bad people, in  Sciario, Benedicio Del Toro plays probably the worst person imaginable. The worst person imaginable is the man (in this case, a man- named Alejandro played by Del Toro) who has had everything taken from him and has become poisoned by hatred and the desire for revenge. He becomes as evil as those who has hurt him. He is entirely washed of all humanity, and while he remains intelligent and perceptive and knowledgeable and able to operate seemingly normally, there is literally nothing of which he is incapable. Del Toro’s character, Alejandro, is a drug cartel operator whose wife was decapitated and daughter was thrown into an acid bath by a rival cartel members gang, is taken on by the CIA to be the hit man for an operation into Mexico in order to send an unforgettable message of revenge to the Mexican Drug Cartel who had recently kidnapped and horribly murdered twenty people and blew up two police officers. They go into Mexico and as Josh Brolin’s character says, they ‘wildly overreact’. They also murder and torture with impunity, use police officers as live bait for corrupt cops, beat corrupt police officer to a pulp for information, execute other corrupt cops without trial, kill just about anyone who gets in their way with ruthless highly skilled efficiency, murder unarmed civilians including women and children, and break so many international laws one simply loses count. Naturally about half way through this lengthy and breathtakingly paced thriller, its impossible to tell who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Like all good revenge stories, the futility of revenge and the endlessly upward mobility of degrees of horror is ably demonstrated in a movie that’s brilliantly and horrifyingly written and paced, that’s beautifully and rawly shot, and wonderfully and convincingly acted, and a message that’s by no means forced down the throat of the viewer. Some who watch this no doubt would see the cops as the good guys and the criminals as bad and that sometimes one has to do terrible things to do good. The film, being an excellent one, takes a sympathetic approach to both sides.

But Sciario is not just about drugs. Its about death. About how war breeds killers and killers breed death, and death breeds more death and the cycle of horror, the horror of war, goes on through the cycle of hatred and revenge and atrocity. Dead bodies hang everywhere, torture is everywhere. Emily Blunts character, with young swan like frail innocent idealism, is horribly violated and we see the death of innocence at the hands of the monstrous Alejandro, for whom in true Shakespearean fashion, we feel a level of sympathy for despite his crimes, and we realize somewhere along the line the madness began when this insane war on drugs was first declared.

*Sorry about the over-dramatised footage above. It was the only one I could find with Nixon’s famous Declaration of war on Drugs.*

 

 

The Queen And I

    The Queen (2006)

Directed by Stephen Frears. With Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings.

The notion of any kind of hereditary monarchy simply incomprehensible to me. It is a system of government so riven with problems as to be potentially catastrophic for a country. This is why the UK have reduced the monarchy to figurehead status. That being the case, the UK remains with a Queen, and Helen Mirren (who won an Oscar for her role in this movie) plays Elizabeth II just after the death of Diana Spenser in 1997, formerly Princess Diana. Diana Spenser is named by Blair as the peoples princess (Tony Blair is played by the creepily brilliant Michael Sheen who also should have gotten an Oscar for his role as the obsequious power hungry worshipful Machiavellian Tony Blair )


Blair, though ostensibly promising to modernise the UK, in many ways sees his path to power along the road of maintaining the status quo. Blair wants power and is intelligent enough and a gifted enough politician to be no socialist revolutionary anti monarchist. He is not long in office and Elizabeth II is wary of him. Diana is dead and she refuses to treat the death as a royal affair despite a very public outpouring of grief and the fact that Blair refers to her as the ‘people’s princess’ – a divisive term to say the least and something that causes a deep division in the Royal household. Elizabeth couldn’t compete with Diana in terms of popularity, or even her capacity to communicate with people. Diana was a girl chosen to be the wife of Charles, who was already deeply in love and in a long term passionate relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. Not a recipe for a sound long term arrangement.

Diana Spenser 1961-1997
A portrait of the princess as a young girl

Diana surprised the royals. She was beautiful warm and charismatic and was unafraid to display her many flaws in public. Elizabeth was the polar opposite. She was precise and cerebral, cold and driven by duty. There was a sense that she loathed this person, this Diana, who had invaded their carefully controlled royal cosmos and refused to conform to its mores. In some ways the movie is more about the ghost of Diana Spenser and her effect of Elizabeth II than anything else.

Blair pressurizes the Queen to come down out of the hermetically sealed forty thousand acre estate in Balmoral in Scotland and meet the people in London. The sheer distance between the Royal Family and the lives of the ordinary people becomes apparent as the Queen reads the news day by day, watches the interviews Diana gave after her divorce, unprecedented interviews which broke the code of silence, and sees her own ratings plummet as the tabloids turn on her. She concedes to Blair’s entreaties and returns to Buckingham Palace and meets the people and looks and the swathes of flowers and expressions of regret and she is horrified. It is obvious that many hold her and the machinations of the Royal family household personally responsible for Diana’s death. Which is both interesting, tragic, and at the same time not unusual. A much loved public figure with royal connections dies in a Parisian tunnel with her boyfriend while being chased by rapacious paparazzi. The driver of the vehicle was drunk. Had he not been drunk the crash may not have happened. Anyway when a terrible unforeseen tragedy occurs, such as this one, there is an outpouring of grief and of anger and people look for someone to blame (something I can understand only too well from my own life experience). They blamed the Royal Family and particularly Elizabeth II.

We are tearful....
We are tearful….

The pain of this very public condemnation struck her to the core, but like all leaders and political figures, she summoned the resources necessary to survive, to maintain her distance and her dignity and to keep the Royal Family as a central facet of English life and culture at a time when a Labour Government was in power, a time when there was real talk of abolishing the Royal Family as a historical anachronism. Mirren shows the intelligence and the depth and the coldness of Elizabeth II. Michael Sheen shows Blair as the untrustworthy nasty piece of work he seems by all accounts to be.

All in all this is a great film, an ensemble performance about a truly surreal world, the world of the Royal Family and how deeply dysfunctional they are. I was glad I saw it. I switched on the TV and there it was. How Fortuitous.

Pretty Woman Three Miles from the Czech Border

2014-12-25 15.23.03

I am watching the movie Pretty Woman with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Gere is so stereotypically leading man material. However his tendency not to look directly at his interlocutor, this shy downward glance followed by his knowing smile is a little irritatingly condescending. That being said, his acting skills and his commanding presence overcomes this. Here he is looking his usual dashing self in this  eighties film about a yuppie who is so focused on money and power that he hires a beautiful prostitute to be his companion for a difficult series of business negotiations simply because it looks so much better for him to have a date on his arm during the time he makes more millions. the bonus for this deal is here he with Robers’ character he has someone he can control like everything else, using money. Anyway the annoying thing is the entire movie is overdubbed in Polish, and my Polish is non existent. I promised myself I would learn the language, but circumstances and a little laziness on my part prevented me from doing my homework. I keep watching the movie. They don’t use multiple voices for the various characters in the film. Just the same slightly basso translator. But I can still make out bits of dialogue. This room is old and the television takes about ten minutes to warm up. You switch it on and the screen turns a fuzzy blue and yellow and then after a while you see bits of a picture and then eventually Julia and Richard appears in all their opulent Lear Jet Stretch Limo glory. I keep thinking about the name of the film. Pretty woman. The room I am in is wooden. They build houses, houses that last lifetimes upon lifetimes, out of the wood from around here. The forests surrounding are vast.  The room is warm and warmly coloured and varnished wood. The ceiling is wooden. There are two sets of windows as I am in a corner room, an inner and and outer, to keep the cold, the freezing cold, out. Its insulated here. its well below zero here. and I am in a t-shirt. I sometimes go hunting in the presses and the drawers in the room. This is because I am immensely nosy man. I find pictures of beautiful women, far prettier than the very attractive Roberts, who lived their entire lives without ever becoming iconic. One must embrace the absurdity of things, I suppose.

The thing is the camera loves Julia Roberts. Thats her gift. And the fact she is an excellent actor. She completely steals the entire movie, and I imagine that was unexpected on the part of the producers, despite the giveaway name of the film.

Christmas in Poland, especially here in the south of Poland is immensely quiet. The forests that go on for miles act as a huge sound barrier. Add to this the circling mountains, a slight blanket of icy snow and you get an impression of the kind of soft quiet I am talking about. The odd car passes, but the noisiest thing I saw earlier was a snow truck that rumbled past as I went out on a night walk. With its flashing yellow warning lights, its frontal yellow rubberized snow scoop and its tail spewing vast quantities of salt, it looked like a huge mutant grumbling bumble bee hovering over the mountain roads. I passed dogs either chained or in their little houses and see many signs inpolish that say “angry dog”. No wonder the dogs were angry, I think. Its five degrees below zero on Christmas night. One wouldn’t put a milk bottle out in this weather. I passed the Hermann Goering Hill in the nearby distance. There the legendary Nazi supposedly had a domain in South Poland during the Second World War. There are arc lights and lasers reflecting from the forests onto the sky. Surreal stuff. Like a landing signal for an alien craft. I feel my ears freeze a little and wonder if the hat I have on is warm enough. Its half ten at night. I walk back, afraid I might slip despite the ministrations of the bumble bee salt spreader.

Families gather on Christmas Eve and eat carp and herring dishes and pirogi and drink borscht and wine and beer and play games. I got a game of Monopoly as a Christmas gift. I looked skeptically at the game and somewhere remembered the game was originally designed as a moral tool to teach people the dangers of greed and the pointless accumulation of money. I don’t think that intention worked out so well – mainly because Monopoly is awesome. Also I should point out that till then I had never played Monopoly before. The problem with this game was it was in Polish and I was the banker. These two factors made for the perfect storm of hilarity where the rules of Monopoly were to say the least not strictly observed and there were many lengthy pauses where I was asked to read out certain phrases for my education and have them explained back to me in English, much to the mirth of everyone present at my appalling Polish pronunciations. I went to bed about two AM. What a great Christmas Day. I go from Karpach (where I write this) to Wroclaw in a few days. Then I fly back. I will  miss here when I go. oh heres a picture of the Polish monopoly set. (awesome, isn’t it?)

2014-12-26 11.40.03

Crucifixion?

Calvary (2014)

Written and Directed by John Michael McDonagh

“Killing a Priest on a Sunday, that would be a good one.”

A Catholic Priest, especially on a Sunday, while he celebrates Mass, acts In Persona Christi  (in the person of Christ) transforming the bread and wine in to the body and blood of Christ, re enacting the transforming healing and redemptive act of Jesus through his life death and resurrection, all focused on the moment of Crucifixion and resurrection, which is were the point of Mc Donaghs title Calvary comes from. This is a movie about death and resurrection, about the death of an old order, the condemnation of corruption, and the on-going self analysis and self questioning Irish Society must go through in order to resurrect itself. Its also funny.

Dealing with more issues relating to contemporary Irish society than one could shake a stick at (the decline of faith, the corruption of bankers and their non subsequent imprisonment, the consequent increase in affluence and education on the population, bankruptcy, the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Clergy  and its devastating effects on belief in the Church, the erosion of a cohesive sense of identity in Irish Society, the decline of Catholic Culture, Suicide and its after effects, the meaning of marriage, forgiveness, love, sex) starring Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly ReillyAidan Gillen, Dylan Moran and Isaach de Bankolé, this is a must-see despite its flaws:  for the writing is as excellent as are the performances by the actors.

I use the word flaws because the movie gives a somewhat unbalanced view of both society and clergy in order to make its many sharp edged points. Set in a small Sligo town whose windswept countenance truly gives an uncomforting feel to every encounter with its population, one experiences a portrayal of the Catholic Clergy, with notable the exception of Gleeson’s warm wise and lovable character, as idiots or corrupt, which is unfair. The other problem with the film is its reduction of the society which Fr. James mixes in as representative of archetypes rather than real substantial people, mainly for the purposes of portraying the black comedic elements in the film. One has the atheistic doctor scientist, the sensitive daughter of the priest who has tried to kill herself because of her despair at an unloving world, the depressed soulless self loathing corrupt property owner, the furious bankrupt pub owner, the world weary writer finishing his final masterpiece on a lonely island and the victim of horrific sexual abuse. Where are the mothers and the fathers and the cinema goers and the ordinary shoppers and the tourists and ‘the lonely men in shirtsleeves leaning out of windows’ (to crib T. S. Eliot) who comment and chat and come and go and for whom life goes on as it always has? This is a film filled with intellectual pyrotechnics and lacking in a touch of everydayness.

So in the first moments of the movie the aforementioned victim of horrific sexual abuse confronts Fr. James in the confessional and says he will kill James the next Sunday, because James is a good man and it would be worse for the Catholic Church than killing a bad priest. The other point being that the real criminal, the true abuser, is dead. This is Fr. James’ personal Calvary. James has seven days to his death. He knows he will die in seven days and though he can get out of it, he doesn’t. Just as Jesus knew he was going to die for others’ sins, so James too will accept death for the purposes of atonement for the  crimes of others. He goes through his week seeing his church burned down, his dog killed, his sobriety wrecked, his integrity and authority as a clergyman treated with disdain, and the final awful moment when he too is treated by a worried father as a possible paedophile simply because he is a priest. Its too much. James goes on to his Calvary on the beach. And there in the final moments of the film we reach a kind of resolution. The incalculable psychological, spiritual and  personal devastation that child rape leaves upon  its victims is played out in the final scenes of this film, the betrayal, the pain, the loss of selfhood, the loss of power, the bleeding and the horror, are beautifully portrayed in the moments as the movie closes.

Watching it as someone who long long ago lost his faith but understands the mythology and the poetry of this cult of death, this is a powerful and beautiful piece of work, a call for honesty and truth and reconciliation, and most of all the imprisonment of those who abuse children.

‘I Cant Feel Anything’

NYMPHOMANIAC I [LARS VON TRIER](2014)

I have always considered Lars Von Triers movies excessively apocalyptic in the most black humour sense imaginable. Its like as though he premises every story with a worst case scenario and pushes it to the limit to see what might happen. He does movies about the end of all life on Earth or  horrific Injuries of loved ones or parents dealing with the accidental death of a child or the consequences of living with nymphomania. Having  watched a few of them already, I sat down to watch this one with a certain apprehension. The thing about sexual addiction is that its an unknown. No one really know what the origins of the addiction is, in this case the addiction is that of a person having between seven to ten sexual encounters a day as well as having a full time job, but the nymphomaniac, played by Charlotte Gainsborough (and her younger self by Stacy Martin), is deeply concerned about the havoc and destruction her behaviour has wreaked  upon others, a pattern of behaviour she felt unable to stop. Her foil in this lengthy story telling is Stellan Skarsgård, who plays an excessively open-minded intellectual who ruminates endlessly on fly fishing, the prose of Edgar Allan Poe, and in the most reasonable easy going manner imaginable, how Gainsborough’s character must in some way see her sexual compulsiveness as simply that – an addiction.  While carefully detailing the experiences and encounters of her life, from the sexual games played as a teenager to characterizing her lovers in musical components of a Bach polyphony (an unforgettable and beautiful piece of cinematography), Gainsborough neither abdicates responsibility for her actions, seeks easy psychological explanations for it, or does anything else save tell the truth of her life. She recalls one moment in her childhood, a moment where she feels utterly alone in a vast and unforgiving cosmos, utterly empty, beyond sadness. She couldn’t feel a thing. and this is an ambiguity one feels throughout the movie, sometimes shock, sometimes hilarity, sometimes profound sadness – even and especially when the heights of eroticism are being reached. The beauty of this kind of good storytelling is that one is left with an awareness that, as always, there are no short easy explanations for the human condition, which is in its own way very satisfying to see on screen. Moreover the injection of humour into Von Triers style of storytelling has added much colour to an already multifaceted brilliant palette.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this movie review

The movie Gravity 2013, at the time of writing, has grossed over $700 million world wide. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, and directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Also, at the time of writing, it has collected up more awards than you can shake a stick at.  Gravity  won seven awards at the 86th Academy Awards, the most for the ceremony, including Best Directorfor Cuarón and Best Original ScoreBAFTA Awards, including Outstanding British Film and Best Director, the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, and seven Critics Choice Awards, which I will at this stage pass over in silence.

Gravity is a disaster movie. Gravity is a space chase movie where the main actors are escaping orbiting space debris travelling at speed. A triumph over adversity movie. A movie about new life. A movie about the overview effect: that cognitive shift of awareness where one sees the whole of the earth before one and one experiences a kind of spiritual awareness.

In this movie the  brilliant medical scientist (Bullock) and veteran astronaut (Clooney) are disconnected from mission Control, separated from their crew and  blown into space due to debris flying faster than 20 thousand miles per hour. This all happens during Bullock’s first mission aboard a fictitious space shuttle mission. The shuttle is destroyed by space debris and with oxygen running low the Principals move from one derelict space station to the next till eventually Bullock lands on Earth having experienced a new lust for life and inner rebirth and gotten past the trauma of losing her daughter (despite the fact that everyone else is dead except her) –this is including her co-star.

The acting in this movie is matched only by the story I have just outlined. Even the catch phrases ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this mission’ is stolen from the brilliant movie ‘Aliens’ (1987) when Frost talks about getting a bad feeling just as the ship goes into orbital drop of LV 426. 

Frost: Man, I’m telling you, I got a bad feeling about this drop.

Crowe: You always say that, Frost. You always say, “I got a bad feeling about this drop.”

Frost: Okay, okay. When we get back without you, I’ll call your folks.

Aliens is a brilliant thrilling beautifully paced action movie with a great plot and equally wonderful effects. Gravity on the other hand is an appallingly acted, appallingly scripted, poorly paced, badly written movie. It looks simply spectacular but looks in this movie are truly deceiving.  One gets beautiful sweeping views of the earth, fantastically accurate shots of interiors and exteriors of space stations,  lingering shots of Sandra Bullocks buttocks and gym toned body (irritating and sexist). One also gets  a truly two dimensional performance from the usually excellent Clooney, who reminds one more of Buzz Lightyear than a grizzled witty thoughtful veteran Astronaut. There were so many times through the movie one longed for the demise of the principals : Burned up on re entry or blown to pieces by space debris,  drowned in water or suffocated by oxygen deprivation, lost forever in space or burned alive – at least one limb cut off by debris. Thankfully Clooney suffers a merciful release, and in a truly ridiculous twist to the story. But Bullock had to survive – with nothing more than a beautifully crafted  scratch on her perfectly made up face. Why? because its part of a story arc. Despite the fact she had been smashed around several space stations and flung through space and bounced off countless bulkheads, there she stands  heroically on the beach: unburned, unbruised, and not a hair missing on her head.

Gravity is just so lightweight. Its a movie filled not with real emotion but sentiment, not with a powerful script but hackneyed phrases, not with acting but re acting. And the worst part was, it won all those awards.