12 October 2013

A Single Teardrop Floating

I had a dream last night in which I opened the door to the tree house of my childhood. In the dream I studied its four walls and tried to conjure memories. None were forthcoming. I moved on. I later in the dream was cleaning out the basement of the house I grew up in. My brother was helping me. It was all very melancholy. It felt slow and defeated and sad though purposeful and necessary. A lot of what we do in our waking hours is like that. There can be a great joylessness in completing certain tasks but then once they're done we're rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and perhaps some free time gaping in front of us.

Free time. It can be dangerous. If we misuse it. I have a large block of time in the middle of my work day. If if use a chunk of it to get caught up on and ahead of work and another chunk to walk and another chunk to maybe write or read I'm left unsatisfied. No matter how I use my free time its never good enough. I always could have done more or less better. Maybe it'll be that way at the end of my life too. So much misspent time so many things done too much or too little.

Blade of grass poking up from the dirt all alone. No other grass nearby. The solitude. The magnificence of being that lone piece of green around the brown. The life-force of the grass. The power and dignity. The grace of living proudly. Hold your head up. Always.

Today I got out of bed and it being Saturday enjoyed a shower unencumbered by thoughts of work and commuting and making lunch. It was long and lazy. Then daughter and I headed for the nearest cineplex where we were to see what would be my first 3D movie -- Gravity.

I had been reluctant. I'm very traditional about films and don't go in for new fangled things like 3D. But oldest daughter insisted we see it in 3D and I complied. Good thing too.


I flinched. I actually flinched when space debris came -- seemingly -- flying towards me. This should have been disconcerting and annoying and a distraction. But it wasn't. The whole thing worked. For this movie is set almost exclusively in outer space and the depth the dimensions added immeasurably to the cinematic experience. It's like when special effects are used to further the storytelling rather than to replace it. Hey it's been know to happen.

I've never had strong feelings one way or the other about Sandra Bullock before seeing this film but I was quite impressed with her here. She shares equal billing with 3D and the vastness of outer space. Oh and that teardrop. The one that starts from her face and -- because of the lack of gravity -- floats to the the corner of the screen but thanks to 3D we see so clearly and sharply. We are meant to it is insisted upon. Director Alfonso Cuaron has us focus on the little in the midst of the huge. He doesn't mean to dazzle but to invite. We are cordially invited to note the teardrop. And we do.

In its own way Gravity has the ambition of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Gravity does not have the same grand ambition in storytelling but does seek to explore new possibilities in films set in space. In her own way Bullock's Ryan Stone is reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien (1979). Both are vulnerable alone and game battlers in outer space. One faces a monster the other the reality of being stranded in space.

It has been pointed out that Gravity is not scientifically accurate. This is not uncommon in films. To be wrong. It happens a lot in movies that show historical events. That battle was in the winter not the summer or Lincoln never said that or that vase is from another century. If it bothers you it does and that's that and you may not like a movie because of it. But the fact that the Earth's orbit is something or the other that would have meant something or the other in Gravity couldn't have happened that way is of no never mind to me. I remember seeing a film set in the 1970's in which one could see a huge billboard with a web address on it. Ruined the whole damn picture for me which wasn't hard because it wasn't that great to begin with. I never fell head over heals for Field of Dreams because I loved the book upon which it was based -- Shoeless Joe -- so much and the film in my mind had mangled the book so badly. I wasn't too bothered but what the filmmakers did to another beloved book -- Cold Mountain -- just didn't care for the film on its own merits. Or lack thereof. These things happen. Gravity the film defies scientific logic or fact. I'm glad that was pointed out and it should be duly noted. But its not going to effect the way most of the view the thing. Movies -- after all -- often have the excuse of just being movies.

I appreciated Gravity because it took me seriously as a film goer and used 3D and outer space as a vehicle and a venue for telling a story and one where character was as important as that space debris that made me flinch.

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