Gravity: A Play in Outer Space
When I first heard about Gravity, I suspected it would be similar to Avatar: expansive, massive in scope, a gorgeous piece of cinematography on the brink of visual chaos. I just didn't predict it would be so intimate. To his immense credit, director Alfonso Cuarón leverages three dimensions not simply as a cinematic gloss or eye-catching gimmick, but also as a tool for storytelling. When a nervous Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock, both delicate and fierce) fails to catch a loose screw in space, she sighs, watching as it spins slowly, noiselessly away from her and toward the viewing audience. Fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney, charming as ever) slides toward us, snatching it just in time, then smiling back to reassure Ryan. It's a throwaway moment made incredibly significant in 3D: Ryan's resignation and Matt's nonchalant grin are underscored visually, their subtle actions paying off tenfold as we learn more about each character throughout the film.
If we've learned anything about Serious (with a capital S) action films, it's that they must play out in one of two ways.
Option A: Establish a villain of non-specific European or Asian descent. Avoid killing off any good guys, but if you must, kill only one, and see that she dies protecting 13 others from certain doom. Once all the baddies die, have your leading man stare back in solemn victory, as though wondering whether it was all "worth it." But smash cut to a wedding / family reunion / beers-with-the-boys after a maximum of three seconds. (Examples: Air Force One, Taken, Inception, Apollo 13)
Breaking Bad Series Review (Spoiler-free!)
Breaking Bad has been many things over its five seasons: glum, sterile, exact, clever, unforgiving, unrelenting. And yet, the series finale seemed like something else entirely. It was, for once, satisfying. With "Felina," Bad dealt with every plot line as neatly as Walter White had once organized his high school lab. Where other television series have slunk away from firm resolution, Bad resolved with cold relish, knocking out viewers' questions with the efficiency of an assassin.