Category Archives: “Gravity” film

Comparison: 2 Survival Movies

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My family likes to discuss and analyze movies after we watch them.

There are two fine movies we watched where the theme was survival.

Both movies have been given critical acclaim and awards. They have

outstanding casts and performances. One is about man against the

sea while the other one is astronauts against the odds, up in Space.

My brothers, particularly, are science-oriented, while I am more into

character development and overall “impressions” or “feelings.” I liked

both of these movies, for different reasons. We agreed the following

movies are worth your time, if you have not already seen them:

 

1.  2013’s “All Is Lost,” with Robert Redford,  playing a man who has

decided to embark on an ocean adventure aboard a boat. It is directed

by J.C. Chandor, who also wrote the intensely fascinating screenplay.

This story is about a veteran and resourceful sailor lost at sea, in the

Indian Ocean, when the movie opens.

Having been a member of Mariner Scouts, co-ed sailing experiences

aboard sailboats on Lake Erie, I know I would not be fully prepared

for being stranded on a lake; let alone the barrage of challenges the

man is faced with in this film.

In most cases, the mariner (R. R.) is able to cope. For example, when

the boat fills up with water, he can use a hand operated pump to get

the water out of the boat. When he wishes to find his location, due

to loss of radio waves, he is forced to use a hand-held sexton. I was

amazed when I looked this navigational instrument up to find how

old this was. Before 1757, the sextant was built differently and was

called an ‘octant.’ Both devices use the angles of the sun’s position

to figure out location. It has to due with comparing two locations,

one can be ‘celestial’ and using the level of the water or the horizon,

as the other ‘fixed’ location. When the character is able to find a ‘busy

section of the ocean,’ which means it is a thoroughfare for water

vehicles, I am amazed.  But I believe this is possible due to his vast

knowledge about the sea. This is called ‘the shipping lanes’ in the

water of the ocean. He compares and measures them, using a map.

He is able to naviagate this way, which they show him carefully

calculating this procedure.

 

I don’t want to let you know any further details about this movie,

since you may sometime spend a few hours watching this great

actor, showing his ability to literally carry out many of the physical

tasks presented to him, as a strong, older man. Along with “carrying”

the whole movie on his shoulders, as an actor. My youngest brother

took it home from my Mom’s house, (where both brothers, Mom

and I had watched this) so that he could view this one more time.

This expresses something impressive to me. It means it was such a

powerful story, it captivated his interest enough to see it twice in one

weekend.  He will help ‘weigh in’ on the next movie’s review, too.

 

2.  2013’s “Gravity,” with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

playing two astronauts with different levels of experience, while

out on a space shuttle proceeding through what was supposed to

be a routine journey.

This movie was co-written by and directed by Alfonso Cuaron. It is

“billed” as a science fiction thriller, but many scenes seem very real

and believable. The astronauts who watched the private screening,

were pleased, overall, with the emotions and the beautiful filmography.

They may have seen some imperfections and mentioned them, along

with flaws in the details. They probably were thrilled to have been

asked along for the ride, since there were not many complaints among

them.

My brothers both had a few times asked to ‘stop the movie,’ to rewind

along with discuss something that seemed to be ‘far-fetched.’ They

really felt the scene where the debris was flying at the astronauts,

shuold have sent them to hide behind the sturdy Hubble spacecraft.

Also, one brother felt that Matt (George Clooney’s character) should

have not been using up his extra energy and jet packs by ‘playing’

and ‘tooling around the stratosphere.’ He is often characterized as

an easy going character, this is true once again in the action movie,

“Gravity.” He has the qualities of ‘laid back’ and confident astronaut

definitely ‘down pat.’ Matt is senior officer and experienced veteran

while Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan is on her first mission. She is

the medical engineer. There were ‘holes’ in her choices, not showing

a strong ability to think ‘outside the box,’ nor being aware of her

surroundings. (She passes some wires that are giving off sparks,

but doesn’t think about potential fire danger. I gave a sharp intake

of breath, with a strong premonition when she did this. It was very

apparent to me; so not sure why Ryan doesn’t notice them.)

There are a lot of loopholes in “Gravity’s” plot. Which if I mentioned

all of them then you may not be surprised when they occur. If you

are like I am, you prefer to hear a short synapsis and not be given too

many plot devices. I am sure that this would not be a good review if I

let you know too much ahead of time. Nor will I reveal the endings of

either movie I am talking about.

 

Summary of Mom’s and My Opinion on Both Movies:

The way Mom and I are, we were enthralled by the way Earth and

Space looked. The much played comment by Matt (George Clooney)

in movie trailers was (paraphrased), “Enjoy the view.” This would

be our strongest reason to suggest you see, “Gravity.” It is why people

leaving theaters would be so excited. There are many positives that

outweigh the negatives.

When Mom and I watch movies, it takes a major upset to get us

to give up on a movie. We would have probably let the problems

within the scientific and technical realm, ‘go.’

We sometimes sit together, leaning against each other or holding

hands. The excitement and danger in both “All Is Lost” and “Gravity”

seemed quite realistic. We held on tight in several parts of the man

facing eminent death upon the sea and when the astronauts kept

drifting away from secure holds on their positions. Both movies tell

engrossing stories, gripping and holding your attention.

 

We felt when “Gravity” was finished, (Mom and I) one must suspend

your disbelief and enjoy the adventure of the movie.

When we concluded our discussion about “All Is Lost,” we felt this

could have represented a real person’s experiences. At the end, we

wished we could learn his name. It seemed totally believable, which

makes this movie almost like you could be able to read an autobiography

of this man.

 

 

 

The Main Event: The 86th Academy Awards Ceremony

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The 86th Oscar presentations began with the humor and

grace shown by host, Ellen DeGeneres. She has been a

host for the Oscars before and made a point that it had

been ‘awhile’ since she had been there.

In actuality, Ellen had been the host seven years ago.

She also made a joke about being the “most important

person,” because the show needs someone to name who the

next honoree will be. I liked that Ellen also reminded

the ones who have won or been nominated multiple times,

like Meryl Streep for 18 times. The way she plays off

this, making Meryl feel honored plus kidded at, shows

her comedic skills. Adding that being nominated and

having to buy expensive fancy dresses meant Meryl

‘could not afford any more nominations!’

Then she told Amy Adams that she was “selfish” for

her multiple nominations.

Most of the time, Ellen was humorous, making

playful jabs. Not sure how the one joke will be

received when she did say, that by not letting

certain movies “win” would prove the ones who

voted were “racists.” This is in reference to

“Mandela,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Butler.”

You probably have heard of the ‘selfie’ she took

with almost all the big names in the front rows

included, that it shut down Twitter by ‘going

viral!’

Another humorous part of Ellen’s playing the

host was she “ordered pizzas” for the front rows

and had the pizza delivery man help her serve

people. Ellen made sure to give the pregnant

women in the audience a piece of pizza. She later

got a hold of a hat that resembled Pharrell

Williams’ hat, (at the Grammy’s it looked like the

Smokey the Bear hat) and was passing it around to

collect money to pay for the pizzas. Plus, Ellen

was specifically calling on famous people for a tip

for the delivery man.

She also emphasized,

“Meryl, you gave enough!”

Jonah Hill must show some nudity in his movie

with Leonardo DiCaprio, “Wolf on Wall Street,”

since there were a couple of jokes about his

body. Ellen said, in an intentionally innuendoed

way, “I saw something of yours, I have not seen

for a very, very long time!”

Then, later after a commercial break, standing

looking down at Jonah, in his seat, she said,

“No, I don’t want to see it.”

Jonah replied, “What’s the big deal?”

Jared Leto was the first actor who was chosen for

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. This was

for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Jared gave a

great, planned speech. It included an homage to the

other actors in this category, saying ‘thanks to

his fellow nominees’ for their terrific performances.

Then he said, “Thank you to my Mom and my brother.”

Thirdly, he said, “To all the dreamers out there,

those not in the Ukraine and Venezuela,…”

emphasizing recent current events, turmoils and

struggles, he wished others to keep on dreaming of

possibilities.

Jared did a final tribute in his speech to those victims

of AIDS who have passed on, those that are still in other

countries, needing medicine (for HIV positive), too.

Jim Carrey, as a presenter, said it ‘must be tough to

be nominated.’ He said, “I wouldn’t know how it feels

to be nominated.” (There was one serious movie that I

felt he deserved to be nominated for in “The Majestic.”

He did a meaningful and understated acting job in this

which showed his talent. I like his comedies but they

don’t always get nominated…)

Jim also did a joke about Bruce Dern’s facial appearance

and the way his character said things, in the movie,

“Nebraska.” He also said something I didn’t quite get

about LSD, “No I meant animation like penguins, beloved

movie heroes…” This led into a great series of animated

cartoon movies, including more than these:

“Brave,” “Snow White,” “Dumbo,” “Finding Nemo,” “Kung Fu

Panda.” I enjoyed this flashing back to humorous films

that children and adults alike enjoy.

Of course, Ellen plays “Dory,” in the “Finding Nemo”

movie, so she pointed out,

“Did you see I made sure they had more of ‘Finding

Nemo’ in the clips?”

Pharrell Williams came out and sang, with a lively

entourage of varied ages the song, “Happy.” This

was nominated for the “Best Song” category for the

movie, “Despicable Me 2” (which my grandsons loved!)

You may want to remember this man’s name, since he

has already been to the Golden Globes, Grammy’s,

and the “Fifty Years of the Beatles” tribute show,

singing with Stevie Wonder and the like. This young

man has captured the little M & M granddaughters’

hearts and interest with this “Happy” song. It is

very pleasant, if you have not heard it, put it

on Youtube, close your eyes, and picture that he

sounds familiar, like Frank Sinatra or another

‘crooner.’

I was happy to see that the early 2014 movie,

“The Great Gatsby,” got both “Best Costume”

and “Best Set Design.” That was one movie I think

I reviewed, after I saw it with my youngest

daughter, Felicia.

Even though the critics ‘panned’ the movie,

“The Lone Ranger,” I liked it. I was sorry it did

not get the “Best Makeup Award” or something like

this, although it did get nominated for this award.

Dallas Buyers Club won, for making those thin,

anorexic AID’s male actors believable, along with

Jared’s pitiful makeup job to look like a woman.

Harrison Ford, upon arrival, his entrance being

heralded with the great John Williams “Indiana

Jones” theme song music, got cheers from the

audience. He incorporated a quote from Marlon

Brando about a ‘lot of hustle.’ He was there

presenting about the movie, “American Hustle.”

Matthew McConaughey with Kim Novak came out,

both looking very comfortable together. Kim

still has a husky and sexy voice, was from

many movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s

“Vertigo.” I remember her in a sexy romp

comedy role in, “The Apartment,” with Tony

Randall. She wore a black silky pant suit,

with vividly bright blue lapels on it. She

has one of those ‘frozen’ faces, that sadly

due to her age, she has allowed too much

plastic surgery and is nearly unrecognizable.

She is 81 years old and I cannot fault her

on this. If anyone wants to see an equally

sad and ‘bad’ job of cosmetic surgery, check

out Mary Tyler Moore. She would have looked

great, has she gone the way of Betty White,

her fellow comedian on her show. Allowing

herself to age gracefully and not trying to

hang on to her youth.

Matthew and Kim were there to present the

awards for the short animated films and the

longer full-length animated films. Kim told

the audience she was excited to be there after

so many years had passed and to be there on

stage with Matthew McConaughey was a special

treat, too. I took her to be nervous and felt

bad for some of the comments I heard at work

and on one of the morning shows while I had

my first work break. I was very happy that the

movie, “Frozen,” won best animated movie. I

know my grandsons’ recommended “Despicable

Me 2” but they haven’t seen “Frozen” yet.

I have a good friend at work, Tammy who has

gone with Mike twice to the winning movie.

The Best Actor award went to Matthew McConaughey

and he gave a fantastic speech, giving the three

directions that we all need to go: Look up to

God and Family, Look Forward to other roles and

Chase after something… He said he is planning

on chasing to a ‘better self.’ In the part about

family, I liked that he included personal details

about his Mom demanding that they respect others

and themselves (first) and his Dad loving gumbo,

lemon meringue pie and a cold beer. When he was

finished with his acceptance speech, he said his

enthusiastic, “All right” three times, he is

known for this in his Southern drawled voice.

The Best Actress went to Cate Blanchett who

said that females still have a ‘niche’ and

they still can ‘sell movies,’ and buy tickets

to go to movies. She was happy with her role

in “Blue Jasmine,” a Woody Allen movie.

Lupita Nyong’O won the Best Supporting Actress

in “12 Years a Slave.” She had a long speech

prepared, although she started with some fun

smiles, surprised looks and very excited

responses. She said Thank you for the incredible

award, saluted the spirit of her character,

(based on a real person) named, Patsy. She said

the past few months it has haunted her, realizing

that her joy in being recognized as an actress

is due to a person who suffered much anguish

as a slave. She reminded “every child, your dreams

are valid.” I liked that word, “valid.” We hear

people say, “Your dreams can come true,” so often

it gets ‘old.’

The Academy’s President came out and spoke. She

is the First Black Woman to be given this honor.

It was about preserving the past,

honoring the present

and shaping the future.

Sally Fields looked fabulous, in a short

sleeved black dress, the bodice having black

sheer fabric with hand-sewn sequins look. She

introduced, “Movies with Real Heroes.”

There was a montage of film clips that included

“Ben Hur” (Charleton Heston), “Milk” (Sean Penn),

“Jackie Robinson,” “Erin Brockovich” (Julia Roberts),

“Ali” (Will Smith), “Braveheart” (Mel Gibson), “All

the President’s Men” (Robert Redford and Dustin

Hoffman), “They Call Me MISTER Tibbs,” (Sidney Poitier)

and the movie that Sally Fields held up the infamous

sign, that said, “Union:” “Norma Rae.” I also suggest

anyone who likes Sally Fields to see the movie,

“Abraham Lincoln.” She does a very good job in her

role as Mary Todd Lincoln.

The Special Effects montage included “Iron Man 3,”

“The Hobbit,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Star Trek into

Darkness,” and “Gravity.”

A simple song that is very sweetly sung, although it

did not win, listen to “The Moon Song,” from the

movie with Joaquin Phoenix, “Her.” (I don’t recommend

the movie, though!)

A Special Honorary Oscar went to Angela Lansbury,

who amazingly at age 88 is going to be in a theater

production play on the London stage. She was unable

to come to accept this award. They definitely said

she has quite a wide range throughout her lifetime

in film and theater. She also, amusingly enough,

sings well, in one of my children’s favorite movies,

“Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

There was a standing ovation for Darlene Love who is

in a documentary with other famous/close to famous

back-up singers. She belted out a song about a

sparrow that was rich, spiritual and religious. She

came up to accept the award for the 20 or more singers

featured in, “20 Feet From Stardom.” I would like to

see this movie! Bradley Cooper was her co-presenter.

Although I enjoyed “Ordinary Love,” along with Mandela’s

quotations flashing behind Bono with U2, I think that

the funniest line all night was when the song from

“Frozen” won! The married couple who wrote the song

said that they worked well as a team and we…

“Beat literally rock stars for this Award!”

Pink sang the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,”

gently, not overdoing it, with spine tingling tone,

as a tribute to Judy Garland. Her children, including

Liza Minelli were present, asked to stand up and take

a bow. There was a montage of clips from the movie,

with both the black and white copies and the colorized

ones.

Whoopie Goldberg introduced it, showing us under her

black gown, she was wearing black and white striped

hose with red shiny shoes.

Ellen arrived at the end of the presentation, hurrying

on, once the stage was empty and all were gone, in

her huge fluffy pink Glinda the Good Witch costume!

Ellen only wore tuxes and once had a long white silk

scarf, another time a black tie. There were no big

wardrobe changes and this was her only grand finale

one!

Bette Midler had me crying a few tears, since she

sang after all the ones who had been in the film

industry and died in 2013, the eerily haunting

song, with her still radiant and strong voice,

“The Wind Beneath My Wings.” I love that line

in the song, “Did you ever know you were my

hero?”

This was not the end of the show but it

fits the end of my summary of the Oscars!

Tomorrow, I will post about the wild and

unique commercials shown during the Academy

Awards. It will be called, “Intermissions.”