SKY-HIGH SCI-FI

IN­TER­STEL­LAR IS ONE OF THE GREAT FILMS OF THE GENRE: DAVID STRAT­TON

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Front Page -

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

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