A buoyant crowd settled into lunch at The Explorers' Club to celebrate Gravity. Producer David Heyman exulted about the beauty of the film, about two astronauts stranded in the weightless ether. Wow, "You should see the sun on the Ganges! It's amazing!"
This movie does what CGI, 3D, all the bells and whistles of movie technology were meant to do, put audiences literally there, in this case, outer space. Under the superb direction of Alfonso Cuaron, with whom Heyman had worked before on the most critically successful of the Harry Potter franchises, "Prisoner of Azkaban," the director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber even invented a trick or two. But Heyman could not say enough about the two actors who suffered the rigors of those heavy space suits for the 62 day shoot with nary a complaint. All you see is part of their faces, eyes and breath registering joy, fear, relief, humor, whatever is required, creating, in fact, an old school narrative.
Hoping to get attention from members of the academy for his actors, Heyman also spoke about the movie's themes, of living in the moment, of rebirth, of the intelligence and poetic sense of the writers, Cuaron with his son Jonas Cuaron. Visually, Bullock's Dr. Ryan Stone is tethered umbilical style to a space station working to return to earth, alive. Perhaps survival is an old story, but told anew in space, an Academy Award should immediately be offered for the sound with its syncopations of boom and silence, making Gravity a thrilling, if lonely, ride, and a satisfying emotional experience.
When asked what challenged him to make this movie, Cuaron said, one word, "Adversity." Amidst the club's wood paneling, Clooney held court conversing with reporters. As he began to answer a question about his relief efforts in the Sudan, Bullock came over to say goodbye. "You're drunk, right," she said, her elegance devolving into goofy Miss Congeniality cop mode for a second. "You have to drink to be in a movie with Sandy," he joked, not the least bit high, even though, as seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalski, only he knows where the vodka is stashed.
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