Before I talk to you about my very ingenious ideas about Gravity, I must offer an apology. I have been neglecting this blog for the past couple of months because of certain issues that slowed down my movie watching and robbed me of my free time. I posted on here several months back saying that I have returned to school to pursue my furthering education, but I also made a promise that I wouldn’t neglect my “duty” here, such as it is. Well, surprise surprise graduate school is very hard and all-consuming. Between my massive amounts of homework, trying to come up with original research ideas, an internship and the weekends that were full of trying to earn a wage so I wasn’t completely dependent on money that I have borrowed, this blog has taken to the back burner. Well, no more sir! I am back with a freaking vengeance. Expect this blog to get more lively over the next month and hopefully to continue to be lively for several months after that… but I make no promises. Now on to amazing musings on a movie so many other people have watched and spilled virtual ink on before me.
I decided in my infinite wisdom to watch Gravity, a 3D film that was designed to be in IMAX, on a 20 inch television. I also decided to watch this downbeat movie with a woman, my mother, who doesn’t care for anything that doesn’t have humor or at least a good love story to it. Both of these were huge mistakes that would have impacted my viewing of this movie if it had not been as engrossing and beautiful as it was.
As just a refresher course for anyone who doesn’t have a good movie: Gravity is about a scientist, Ryan Stone, who is working on a device that will make a space shuttle… I don’t know, more spacey? That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that she is a novice astronaut in space accompanied by a very talkative veteran astronaut, played by George Clooney. While they are working on something in the wild atmosphere of space a meteor shower interrupts their progress and sends Stone and Kowalski (Clooney) into infinite danger that they both strive to get out of throughout the rest of the film.
The plot line is simple. It is really just an excuse to see what the filmmaker can throw at Stone to hinder her progress towards safety. What isn’t simple is the impressive performance by Sandra Bullock, who plays Ryan Stone. For at least half of it’s running time, Bullock is hindered from the space suit she dons and the laws of space that the movie sets up. She floats, she spins and she grabs all with this cumbersome suit that hides most of her body movements. Thus she must rely on her face to do almost all of the reaction. Her cool, collected persona that she gives off to Kowalski and her other co-workers is nothing more than a front that hides her deep pain at past issues. The plot doesn’t just function as a how far can we push this woman without her cracking up, it also functions as a way to dig past the layers of rigid complacency and self-reliance her character feels she needs. So when she finally cracks up it is all the more painful and heart wrenching. But her ability to get away from that break down of spirits and push towards fighting for her life with all of the energy she has left is what makes this a strong character. I was quite frankly surprised that Bullock could pull this type of character off. I had sort of given up on her as an actress that could produce anything more that was worth watching. I struggle with her as an actress. I have seen several of her movies (my mother is a big fan of hers) and she always seems to be putting in an effort that draws the watcher towards her and roots for her but her abilities to choose the worst material (All About Steve, anyone?) relegated her to the cash grabbing hack category that is embodied by Nicholas Cage. I first realized how incredibly terrible her decisions were for suitable material when I watched her in The Proposal. By the time this movie came out, 2009, I knew enough to avoid her other disaster movies, but when my mother is watching something that is strange and off-putting, I must give in to my temptation and take no responsibility for it afterwards. (In this way, I watched two absolutely wretched Hallmark Original movies. In one movie the couple are pulled apart by a false accusation of stolen faberge egg. But it was all resolved when it was revealed that the dog of the house really stole it…. Groan)I watched with my mouth wide open as Bullock trounced around being this insane whack-a-doo character that was not based on any reality at all. I was convinced that some alien inhabited her body and tried their best to act as all humans do, but couldn’t quite pull it off. It was appalling to watch. When I heard that she was in Gravity, I was dubious. Many a great director can pull out a riveting performance from an actor or actress that aren’t really known for them but could Cuaron? He is a director that could get great performances out of already great actors, but could he get someone who has so debased herself that she has become a caricature and a punch line? I think that Cuaron proved himself to be a great director, not just by creating a riveting atmosphere, but by extracting a performance out of Bullock that got her a deserved (as opposed to the Blind Side) Oscar nomination and gave us a great strong woman performance.