Clooney made me cry

The first thing I ever looked up on the internet was a photo of Sandra Bullock. I didn’t know what to do next, so I printed the picture out.

So baffled was I by the thrill of it all, that I didn’t know how to react.

Watching the film Gravity is a similar experience. However, it also requires the suspension of a few things.

1. Your belief that, due to escalating prices and reduced service, the era of attending cinemas is over.

2. Any opinion that Sandra Bullock should appear only in rom-coms.

3. SPOILER: You could not possibly enjoy watching George Clooney die, even after his Nespresso ads.

Clooney loves a pre-packaged coffee of no particular origin or ethics

Flat white acting

When I left the cinema, I had the usual pow-wow with my brother and we agreed that the film was excellent but also overrated. (Much of the world seems in awe of it – the film has an incredibly 97% average rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

I did not think the film had the legs to be a classic, let alone pull an Oscar or two, as some are predicting. It was pretty much Speed in Space – both films featured Sandra careening into things while struggling to maintain control of a vehicle she is ill-equipped to pilot.

Gravity is just Speed In Space

Gravity is just Speed In Space

But here’s the weird thing; when I went to explain a few pivotal plot points to my wife, I was overcome with tears. Twice I found a salty residue streaming from my eyes at the retelling of the corny yet believable story.

The movie had moved me much more than I had realised. Something about the moment of being faced with your mortality, with George in a dream, with yet another incredibly challenging life-threatening scenario.

 “I have to warn you, I’ve heard relationships based on intense experiences never work. ”

 – Jack to Annie.  Speed (1994)

Some people have been moved in other directions. One Christian professor has said the entire movie points to a creator, with undercurrents of sacrifice and redemption, while the writer/director Alfonso Cuaron is more interested in his film’s Darwinian leanings.

jesus is an astronaut

Heavens above the stratosphere

WIRED magazine, rather than rejoicing that a film based around scientific breakthroughs is breaking box office records, has instead gone to town on its inaccuracies.

It’s a film, people. It is not Kubrick. It is not the messiah. But it may make you cry.

Cinemas are for suckers… like me.

I ventured out to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, along with thousands of other Aussies this week.

The main reason I went was to be convinced, once again, that despite his oddness, shortness, and proboscis, Tom Cruise, is still fantastic in action films.

Seriously, Cruise gets the same look hanging from the world’s tallest building as does a two-year-old in a sandpit.

But, the cinema experience was slightly betrayed by yet another leap in cinema ticket prices. Prices had even risen since I last saw a film… last month.

$21 per ticket. Twenty-One Dollars.

I can accept Australia’s high taxes as we receive great services. Likewise, I can accept Sydney’s preposterous real estate prices because it’s the best city in the world and supply-demand means I’m going to pay more to live here.

But why, when the prices of DVDs are still tumbling (thanks eBay) and my options to watch films are always increasing (downloads, file-sharing, smart-TVs, Netflix, RedRoom, T-Box streaming) does the cost of seeing a movie continue to rise?

Cinemas have had me annoyed ever since I had to confront the manager at Hoyts in Sydney CBD after I spent an entire Batman film sitting in the floor in the aisle. I was not alone in the aisle. The film was so over-booked there was ten or more of us who slummed it just to see a new release blockbuster.

And that’s not the only madness going on at one of Australia’s biggest movie franchises.

Cinema customers wanting to see a film at Hoyts these days must jump through several hoops that did not used to exist.

1. Plan your night early, allowing time to use the glitzy hoyts.com.au website.
2. First-timers must sign up to the Hoyts Rewards Program, which does offer one free introductory ticket.
3. Pay $21 per ticket for any friends you mistakenly thought to invite.
4. Pay a $1 booking fee per ticket.
5. Print tickets to scan at self-serve cinema.
6. Sell soul to devil to partially replenish your bank account.

Although that is only six points, there are several things wrong with this.

Being an avid user of the internet, I can’t help but use a web-based analogy.

If you had to install a Flash plug-in every time you used a particular website, would you return to that website often?

Or, if you like shopping, imagine you had to call Myer to warn them you were coming, prior to any trip. Absurd.

I certainly recieved a good movie on a big screen with loud sound, but, as the cinemas try to deter illegal downloading of films, what more are the cinemas offering me at this grand event?

They’ve replaced the staff selling tickets with vending machines. The toxic choc-tops are still a ludicrous $5. The chips cost so much I had smuggle in my own Cheezels to save $3. Why do I still put myself through this for two scenes that would still look pretty good on my own 42″ TV, assuming I sit really close?

The screen has been given a special name like Vortex or Mammoth-Vision or something.

This cynical strategy is to hide the fact that as prices have increased, screen sizes have reduced. More films can the be shown more often to more people.

In the industry, it’s probably called “Sucker-Churn”.

(It may also explain why the price of my ticket was $3 more than lat week but the website was unclear.)

Be warned: If your cinema screen is not called Senstadium, Mega-Visiontacular, or some such, be sure it’s barely bigger than your wall at home. And at home, you can put your feet up, make your own popcorn and tell people to keep quiet without risking a fight.

Plus, no one has to sit on the floor.

Social Not-working

My review of The Social Network

This film should really have left me feeling better about something. Even if it were just liking the director or writer more than I already did. Did, in the past tense.

But I had no such luck when I saw The Social Network last night. I found the film flaccid, indulgent and it confirmed Aaron Sorkin has a bag of chips on his shoulder.

The film was an uninteresting tale, written well enough that you nearly didn’t notice how dry the subject matter or acting was, and all designed to attract a ready-made audience of 500million registered users.

The machine that makes movies just combined a few skilled tradesmen and spat out a palatable, marketable 90 minutes of slick pap.

Then, Sorkin appeared at the Golden Globes and said something that made my stomach literally churn…

“‘And I want to thank all the female nominees tonight for helping demonstrate to my young daughter that elite is not a bad word, it’s an aspirational one. Honey, look around, smart girls have more fun, and you’re one of them.'”

As this blog (http://criticalnarrative.blogspot.com/2011/01/hollywoods-aaron-sorkin-elite-is-not.html) says,

Hmm. I wonder what Sorkin thinks of the word “pretentious”?

me tweeting

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