INTERSTELLAR IS ONE OF THE GREAT FILMS OF THE GENRE: DAVID STRATTON
CHRISTOPHER Nolan’s Interstellar, which he wrote in collaboration with his brother Jonathan, is one of the best science fiction films. That’s a major claim, but the combination of the director’s febrile imagination, his ability to gather around him a team that can translate his vision of distant planets and black holes on to the screen, the rich denseness of his meditations on the nature of time, gravity and the dimensions, and the sheer exhilarating excitement of a grand space adventure make this film something very special indeed. If it falls short of masterpiece, it’s not for the want of attempting something immensely grand and spectacular, and it is likely to be a touchstone for sci-fi fans for some time to come.
The film is set in the not-too-distant future, but one in which the fate of the Earth and its people is threatened. Whether because of climate change, global warming, a disease affecting the world’s flora or a combination of these, mankind seems doomed. Famine is the world’s greatest enemy, and the world’s armies have been disbanded as there seems nothing left to fight about. At school, young Murph (Mackenzie Foy) learns that the Apollo flights of the past were faked; they had nothing to do with space exploration but were solely staged to provoke the Soviet Union into an unwinnable space race that would bankrupt the communist giant. So much for the rewriting of history.
Murph’s dad, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), now a farmer, was once a NASA astronaut, and he misses his adventurous past, especially with life on the farm so grim. Crops are failing and dust storms ravage the landscape. Cooper, a widower, cares for Murph and her older brother, Tom (Timothee Chalamet) along with his father-in-law (John Lithgow).
Cooper discovers NASA hasn’t entirely closed down as he had been informed. Professor Brand (Michael Caine) is still in charge of the reduced facility and is convinced that only by relocating humans to another, cleaner planet can the race be saved. Some time earlier, a wormhole had appeared near Saturn offering a way into another galaxy. Several adventurers had voyaged into space to explore the new planets and three are still communicating with Earth. Cooper agrees to lead a mission to discover if any of these three planets is habitable.
On board the spacecraft are Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Brand’s daughter, and two research scientists (Wes Bentley, David Gyasi) as well as two robots with voices far less metallic than that of HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. The notion of the scientist’s pretty daughter is such a cliche that I feared the film wasn’t going to live up to its early promise, but Nolan knows exactly what he’s doing.
The mission involves a dazzling journey through a black hole, a landing on a planet covered with water whose surface is interrupted by gigantic waves, another landing on an icy, rocky wasteland, and ultimately a journey into other times and dimensions. In the second half of the film, though the astronauts have hardly aged, those they left behind have waited many years; Cooper’s adult children are played by Casey Affleck and Jessica Chastain, with the latter fulfilling a major role in the drama as Nolan skilfully cuts between her experiences on Earth and her father’s in another dimension.
I saw the film projected with 70mm film on an IMAX screen. Visually this was impressive, though a bit overwhelming. But the sound was less acceptable. McConaughey has poor diction at the best of times; he drawls and mumbles his lines, some of them important to the plot, and the over-amplification further distorts the dialogue. As a result important plot points were impossible to comprehend. Maybe this is a device to get you to see the film again. The film also takes rather a long time to get going but, these flaws aside, Interstellar is a towering achievement. Sci-fi buffs, and film fans in general, will be talking about it for years to come. THE down-to-earth activities of a woman fighting to keep her job in a period of unemployment in the Belgian film Two Days, One Night are a far cry from adventures in outer space. This latest film from the Dardenne brothers (Jean-Pierre and Luc), tells a deceptively simple story.
Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is a woman under considerable stress. She works in a small factory that manufactures solar panels, but she has been on sick leave for depression and her boss informs her that he will have to sack her. For all the families living in this area two jobs are essential; Sandra and her husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) will struggle to make ends meet if she loses her job. But there is an alternative: the boss explains that he will keep her on but if he does each of the other 16 workers in the factory will lose a forthcoming bonus of 1000.
Juliette (Catherine Salee), Sandra’s friend, urges her not to give up, so she spends a humiliating weekend going house to house in an attempt to persuade her colleagues to forgo their bonuses so she may keep her job. Some are supportive, others are not, but through these encounters the Dardennes reveal a cross-section of a community in a time of anxiety. The result is an intelligent film about the pressures on working-class people. Though deceptively simple in structure, there’s a profundity here. THE novel Where Rainbows End, by Cecilia Ahern, has been adapted into the film Love, Rosie by director Christian Ditter and screenwriter Juliette Towhidi. It’s a romantic melodrama about a couple obviously made for one another who keep getting separated and making bad decisions. Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin) have been friends since they were children, but every time it looks as though they’ll get together, fate steps in to keep them apart. There are some delightful elements, most of them attributable to Collins, but in the end it feels overextended and laboured.
Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and David Gyasi in Interstellar