Thursday, November 13, 2014

interstellar [2014]

the world is fucked.  again!  the reason is hinted at around 30 minutes into this nearly three hour feature.  a global blight caused by an increase of nitrogen in the atmosphere which is caused again by climate change [which is barely hinted at by coop, played by matthew mcconaughey] have decimated agriculture worldwide.  the only crop that still grows in abundance is corn.  coop was an astronaut cum test pilot who gave it up to become a farmer of corn.  it is again suggested that the world's governments have given up all techno industries in order to concentrate on the production of food.  nasa, coop's prior employer, folded up shop.  technology is advanced by present-day standards but flattened out.  even the schools have changed their history books in order to call the 1969 moon landing a hoax.  coop finds a secret nasa facility headed by michael caine.  a wormhole was detected near saturn.  it is now possible to travel to another galaxy to search for possible habitable worlds.  coop is soon tapped by caine to lead a crack team of astronauts across the vast interstellar space to find us a new home.

shall i tell you more about the plot?  bear in mind this is a long and confusing movie.  the science is fantastic [theoretical physicist kip thorne is listed as a producer and science advisor].  the fx is mindblowing.  the narrative is mixed up.  director christopher nolan's movie is a mash of cold abstraction and the warm fuzzies.  pick your own set of influences on this film.  go ahead.  it's pretty easy to do.

there is a wrinkle in the plot.  coop is a single father.  his daughter, murph, played by mackenzie foy and jessica chastain, is tugging coop's heart and when coop leaves murph becomes embittered by the abandonment.  there is a very moving scene when coop and fellow astronaut brand, winningly portrayed y anne hathaway, lose twenty-three years of time.  don't worry there is a pretty good explanation for the loss of years.  coop catches up with his messages and we watch his face as he sees his children age.  beautiful, and a wonderful example of the magic of movies on the big screen.

i'm at a loss.  this is a very watchable movie.  nolan hits upon a subject very dear to my own thinking and feeling, the power of love.  this movie has the heart of a hippie.  and yet this is a very meandering film.  it moves thru ideas like a pro tennis player defending the net.  the movements make sense to the player but to us watching we might be left alone to scratch our heads.  that doesn't mean i think this is not a good movie.  it is possibly even a great movie.  i want to see it one more time on the big screen in order to digest nolan's, and thorne's, theories and ideas.  however i am dissatisfied.  nolan went big with this movie.  as big as space, almost.  yet the ideas presented in this feature are only poked at.  they do not come to full fruition. 

you have noticed that i have not made any comparisons of this movie with other films.  i've done that on purpose because i think this movie should be considered on its own merits.  this film is not sui generis.  it is a fascinating movie, and frustrating too.  for if only for those reasons nolan has created a memorable picture.

oh, one complaint.  the score by hans zimmer is too loud in the mix and drowns out the dialogue of the characters.  i thought that the problem was with the theater then i read another review that commented on the score drowning out the language.  film scores are critical to the success of a film.  but when you have a movie that embodies very abstract theories you need the characters sometimes to explain why x = y.  you need to hear them.  you need to turn down that damn score.


At 4:34 PM, Blogger John B-R said...

Hi, Richard. What do you think of this review?

At 9:29 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

fascinating in his read of the film, i think. colored i think by our current socio-economic polis. at any rate, the reviewer makes good point that the conflicted self-interests of the film are fueled by both cynicism and piety. and yet, he mistakes coop's self-interest to be only for the individual which by god happens to be the right one for our human being. i did not read the film that way. coop counsels -- spoiler alert! -- against brand's own self-interest in traveling to the planet on which her beloved landed 10 years earlier because it the data on the planet yeilded little in the way of habitability. coop orders the team to matt damon's planet because the data of that world was more promising to life. so self-interest for the sake of the individual was trumped by the needs of the collective.

i've read an essay that was also critical of the plaid shirts and trucks of the midwest as the reviewer pointed out there is something in contemporary sci-fi that valorizes a particular kind of american lifestyle. i don't know what to make of it. surely in this picture we come to know coop became a farmer not out of love but because his government demanded that he grow food.

i think nolan has made a grand, but flawed, film. it is not fueled, in my opinion, but cynicism but motors on by the power of love. if in space no one can here you scream, the beloved can still feel your heartbeat.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger John B-R said...

Thanks, Richard.


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