Gravity

gravity-posterI thought our time together was over. I warned you as often as I could, but lately things have been on a pretty even keel and I sensed you didn’t need me any more. Directors have moved onto new technology, found new ways to tantalize our senses, and every film I went to was like watching angels ice-skating or majestic condors gliding on air. I was going to slip quietly away into cyberspace; let the Barf Bags pile up on some server in the clouds, uncounted and unnecessary.

But then something happened; this movie started to get a lot of chatter about special effects and floating and space and bad things that can happen if you ever leave your basement and suddenly I realized: You DO need me! Someone has to warn the world about this film! Someone has to stand on the edge of the internet and shout into the void: this movie is going to make you barf!

Gravity has opened to fabulous reviews, academy award talk and lots of positive buzz. The film deserves the press it’s getting and it will probably garner lots of nominations. But this about more than just striking camera work and awesome special effects masterminded by director Alfonso Cuarón; this is about what is going to happen to your lower intestines. While the critics are tossing accolades, you are going to be tossing your cookies.

This movie is ninety minutes of spinning in space; spinning while things fly through the air and smash into stuff, spinning while floating weightlessly through corridors, spinning while tethered to other astronauts and spinning just for the sake of spinning. There is no fixed horizon to latch onto because they are in space, so you end up about as pale as Sandra Bullock does as she tries to hold it together in zero gravity. It’s actually a very clever way to really feel like you are part of the crew in peril, but if I had wanted to be an astronaut I wouldn’t have cut all those algebra classes in high school.

I have to admit that much of the spinning took place in my imagination because I had my eyes closed for a large part of the film, but between the 3D headache and the queasiness from the swirling, it was really the only way to survive to the end to see if Sandy and George made it out alive.

Sandy and George; they’re like old friends, aren’t they? They are so familiar to us as movie stars that in some ways it felt like they were miscast in the film. Sandra Bullock was quite good, and managed to get beyond her popular persona and meld with her character. But George Clooney was George Clooney; I never for one moment thought he was an astronaut. There were times you heard only his voice and it sounded like he was narrating a beer commercial. But I have to admit if I was stranded in space with only one voice to soothe me, his is probably the one I would want. And in return, I hope that he would hold my hair back after what his movie did to me.

Four BagsBarf Bag Rating: FOUR BAGS  This movie joins other four baggers in the Barf Bag Hall of Fame, nestled right between The Bourne Supremacy and Exit at the Gift Shop. As you can well imagine, the Barf Bag Hall of Fame does not smell very good.

Random thought: I’m sure the skimpy tank top and boy shorts that Sandra Bullock wears under her spacesuit are standard NASA issued gear. I would just like to know why we didn’t get to see George in the same outfit.

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Blue Jasmine

BJ-posterI try to remember the words of Garth from Wayne’s World when I go to see a current Woody Allen film. I tell myself this isn’t about how I want his movies to be. It’s about how he perceives himself as a filmmaker and an auteur and how his art completely represents who he is in today’s world of cinema.

Okay, who am I kidding? It’s totally about me! Because I represent the paying audience and even if Woody makes his films for himself with no worries about how they are perceived, my opinion still counts! I’ll bet Woody doesn’t have to write a blog post every 51 days!  (I’m guess I’m a little behind.)

Blue Jasmine has been Woody Allen’s best reviewed movie in years. Praise has been universal for the script and the cast and the acting.  And yet I sat through this movie and thought, okay, been there, done that. What other critics called an homage to A Streetcar Named Desire seemed to me to be lukewarm Tennessee Williams copycatting. It was Blanche DuBois meets Bernie Madoff, only the disgraced financial consultant was played by Jack Donaghy as interpreted by Alec Baldwin, who now seems to play every part as if he were still on 30 Rock.

Coincidences abound in the script and shape the story in a convenient way that simply seem like he couldn’t bothered to work out the plot. The characterizations are all remnants of well-known stereotypes, and while the actors try their best, nothing on the screen seems original. The word that I kept writing in my notes was lazy.

I remind myself that Woody Allen is 78 years old, that he has been making films for over 40 years. He knows what he wants to say. I just think I’m tired of listening.

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS