News Column

This space odyssey is a real thriller ; By David Edwards Film Reporter

November 10, 2013

YellowBrix

GRAVITY (12A)

SANDRA BULLOCK and George Clooney join the Oscar race with this nail-biting, visually spectacular space thriller. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, it has a riveting set-up and there's almost unbearable tension while waiting for disaster to strike.

Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a mission specialist servicing the Hubble telescope, wearing both a space suit and a worried frown. With her is seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney), trying to keep the mood light.

He'll need all his flirtation skills when debris hits their shuttle, Ryan is flung into space and they lose contact with Mission Control. Can Matt and Ryan make it back to Earth? It's nerve- wracking stuff, but Clooney counters the tension with his easy charm.

Bullock is terrific as Ryan, who's forced to take control and wrestle with her internal demons. One memorable scene sees her recalling her tragic past and contemplating her fate, crying and laughing hysterically as she makes contact with a ham radio broadcaster who can't understand a word she's saying.

Set almost entirely in computer-generated space, Gravity is all life and death decisions, strategy and survival, and it all looks stunning in 3D.

You'll be in awe at the size of the universe, yet suffocated by Ryan's claustrophobia, hyperventilating in her space suit as she faces the end of her life.

Gravity is a film which repays patience.

The plot is one-track, the cast minimal and the pace leisurely.

But it's a real pleasure to experience space in a movie without an alien in sight.

LOVE TOMORROW (PG) EVER wondered what would happen if, on a whim, you ran after that attractive person you saw on the train/bus/tube? Well, this promising but drab low-budget London-set drama follows dancer Oriel (Arionel Vargas) as he pursues Eva (Cindy Jourdain), a sullen, willowy blonde who catches his eye in Camden Town.

Insisting that she join him for a drink, Oriel claims he was drawn to Eva because he can tell that she, too, is a dancer.

He finds her melancholy yet desperate for company and the reason for her downbeat mood is gradually revealed as the pair bond over the course of 24 hours, going to dance rehearsals and generally mooching around London.

The problem? It's hard to believe a word of this.

The stars - both dancers rather than actors - struggle with bland dialogue, delivering lifeless lines as if already bored of their new profession.

Dramatic revelations come too late, because by this time, it's hard to care about these two unconvincing characters. The dancing's good, mind you.

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (E) IN 1987, with the Aids epidemic in full-swing, members of the gay community decided enough was enough.

Realising that silence was no longer an option, they took to the streets in a desperate attempt to get the government and the pharmaceutical companies to act.

Nominated for an Oscar, the documentary is largely comprised raw protest footage with talking heads filling in the narrative blanks.

But it's this rawness that gives the film such visceral appeal.

It all adds up to not just a document of the time, but a potent blueprint for today's activists.

SEDUCED AND ABANDONED (15) ALEC BALDWIN explores the Cannes Film Festival in this mischievous documentary about the movie business.

Hitting the French Riviera, he and film-maker James Tobak beg millionaires to finance their version of Last Tango In Paris - set in Iraq.

Loaded with classic film clips and interviews with the likes of Ryan Gosling, it's an odd film, but entertaining.

While he's not in full-on 30 Rock mode, Baldwin still has a naughty twinkle in his eye as he pitches a film in which he has, ahem, "exploratory sex with Neve Campbell".

The proposal may be fake but the reactions are real as money men shake their heads. They might stump up $15m for Natalie Portman or Mila Kunis, but the Alec and Neve combo, they reckon, is valued at around five million.

It's an eye-opening insight into the ruthless world of film financing, set against the attractive backdrop of meetings on yachts and in luxury hotels.

But the real highlights are revealing chats with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Bernardo Bertolucci, while Gosling describes each actor hitting Hollywood as having the same dream.

"No one is sure if it was a premonition or a delusion," he says, knowing he's one of the very lucky few.

Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in a bay-side mansion with a menagerie of servants, who help him throw the most extravagant parties for the whole of New York. Lowly stockbroker Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who lives next door, is granted admission to the millionaire's inner circle, and discovers heartbreak in Gatsby's past linked to Nick's cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan), who lives across the bay with her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton).

3. 4.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (U) MIKE WAZOWSKI (voiced by Billy Crystal) heads off to university to realise his dream of becoming a scarer. He befriends shy roommate Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) and impresses his teachers by regurgitating facts from textbooks. However, classmate James P Sullivan aka Sulley (John Goodman) gets all of the attention and is courted by the Roar Omega Roar fraternity. Eventually, Mike snaps and declares war on Sulley.

THE GREAT GATSBY (12) MYSTERIOUS war hero Jay

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