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Interstellar (2014)


Nick Olson
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The last scenes in this movie are so blatantly unreal that I half-expect people to start coming up with the sort of "this whole last act is the fantasy world that he is trapped in now" theories that they came up with for Minority Report and Inception.

 

You called it. (hat-tip to Justin Hanvey)

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To quote what I said on Facebook: "Hahahahahaha!"

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I would say this a few notches below Inception (one of my favorite recent films) and a few above the Batman movies.  We could have done with less Dylan Thomas perseveration, less climactic character arc intersections, and less pseudoscience; but I still liked the end result quite a bit.  I liked the dynamic between Cooper and Murph very much, and what the film has to say about the endurance of the parent-child connection.  I loved the picturing of wormholes and alien planets.

 

Anywho, here's my review:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tinseltalk/2014/11/an-alternate-view-interstellar-flies-high-even-if-it-doesnt-quite-reach-the-stars

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

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Quotes are from the Big Hero 6 thread.

 

 

 

Big Hero 6 opens this weekend. I had kind of forgotten about it in all the Interstellar talk, but it's getting strong early reviews.

 

I'm thinking that Big Hero 6 could upset Interstellar as this weekends box office winner, much like Happy Feet beat out the aggressively promoted Casino Royale.  Very possible, since it can have at least one, maybe two  more showings per day.

 

 

 

Big Hero 6 is also probably in 3D, and thus will benefit from 3D ticket surcharges, whereas Interstellar is not. (Then again, Interstellar is in IMAX.) (Then again again, Interstellar is opening two days early in IMAX and 35mm theatres, which could drain some of the opening-weekend box-office potential.)

 

 

It's going to be close.  Both films are looking to earn around $58 million by the end of tomorrow (that includes Interstellar's two day IMAX and 35mm pre-run).

 

Hollywood Reporter box office estimates.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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John Drew wrote:
: Both films are looking to earn around $58 million by the end of tomorrow (that includes Interstellar's two day IMAX and 35mm pre-run).

 

Oh, well, they normally don't count the early-week stuff as part of a film's weekend numbers. Late-night Thursday previews, yes. Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday-matinee screenings, no.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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John Drew wrote:

: Both films are looking to earn around $58 million by the end of tomorrow (that includes Interstellar's two day IMAX and 35mm pre-run).

 

Oh, well, they normally don't count the early-week stuff as part of a film's weekend numbers. Late-night Thursday previews, yes. Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday-matinee screenings, no.

 

True, the weekend will most likely go to Big Hero 6.  The article wasn't adding those initial days to Interstellar's weekend numbers, they just referenced that the total take of each films initial run the will be about the same by the end of tomorrow.  Interstellar is looking at about a $53 million haul for the weekend.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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***Spoiler Alert***

 

****

 

Initial impression: lot to like here, but I can't recall the last time I found a scene/sequence as simultaneously dazzling/deflating as I did when this film tries to pull itself up by its bootstraps. McConaughey (who I like quite a bit in this film) exclaiming repeatedly that "they = us" had the effect, for me, of sealing the cosmos airtight when, up to that point, there were quite a few questions/lines of thought that might be described as mystical. Are there hints here that the humanism presented in this film (aspects of which I like quite a bit) isn't thoroughly secular--particularly after the they = us conclusion? Again: lot of remarkable things in this film that I genuinely enjoyed, but wow, I really can't recall the last time I left a film that I mostly enjoyed feeling so deflated. It's like he filtered The Tree of Life through a History Channel special on astrophycist's most materialistic explanations for spiritual realities. I'm not kidding. In fact, I saw the film with a colleague who predicted act 3 during act 1 because, he said, he'd recently watched several such episodes on television.

 

I'm still wondering what this film's definition of abundant life (or "love") might be? That's a genuine question I have given its conclusion. How does its conclusion shape the answer to that question in such a way that is still a sharp contrast with the Dr. Mann approach? Is the essential contrast here between: killing to survive and loving to survive? And so ultimately we're still just striving to survive?


I'm focusing here on my major issue; there are several things I like/love about the film, but they're almost overshadowed. The tone of the conclusion after the bootstrap sequence feels like a noble lie.

Edited by Nick Olson

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
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***Spoiler Alert***

 

****

 

Initial impression: lot to like here, but I can't recall the last time I found a scene/sequence as simultaneously dazzling/deflating as I did when this film tries to pull itself up by its bootstraps. McConaughey (who I like quite a bit in this film) exclaiming repeatedly that "they = us" had the effect, for me, of sealing the cosmos airtight when, up to that point, there were quite a few questions/lines of thought that might be described as mystical. Are there hints here that the humanism presented in this film (aspects of which I like quite a bit) isn't thoroughly secular--particularly after the they = us conclusion? Again: lot of remarkable things in this film that I genuinely enjoyed, but wow, I really can't recall the last time I left a film that I mostly enjoyed feeling so deflated.

 

That was exactly my response to this big reveal, and what I tried to express in these two paragraphs: 

 

Alas, at the big, mind-blowing climax, the film wraps around on itself in a curious, Mobius-like way that is touching with respect to the character drama, and possibly provocative with respect to normal assumptions about causality (can the effect precede the cause?), but which I find to undermine any suggestion of cosmic mystery and meaning. Consider this a vague spoiler warning: The pattern that looked like a face was only a reflection; the footsteps we were following turned out to be our own. We are the ones we've been waiting for.

 

The climax confirms Nolan's status as a puzzle-maker rather than a poet, a technocrat rather than a visionary. He can't resist the impulse to explain the trick, to reveal the identity of the man behind the curtain, which of course dissolves the aura of mystery and awe around Oz the Great and Powerful. The monoliths in 2001 are loci of mystery and awe because they are never explained; the more closely we inspect them, the more inexplicable they become. In Interstellar, there's an equation for everything.

 

On that note, Peter, I was very interested in your comments about Nolan possibly following Clarke's take on 2001 more than Kubrick's.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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***Spoiler Alert***

 

I'm focusing here on my major issue; there are several things I like/love about the film, but they're almost overshadowed. The tone of the conclusion after the bootstrap sequence feels like a noble lie.

 

Which is entirely fitting, since the "noble lie" is one of the key tropes in all of Nolan's films.

 

I track with your criticism and SDG's more than most of the other criticisms I've read, since it seems to fundamentally be a disagreement with a certain philosophical underpinning of the film - Peter was exactly spot on in identifying why I think this film has so much in common with CONTACT. But because it is so in line with that particular strain of hard science fiction, a genre that doesn't exactly get much cinematic play (in this case, Christian's can't really complain because most sci fi is really just unexamined metaphysical speculation), I'm still into this film.

 

I'll come back to say some more about the film in a bit, since my brothers and I are working on a roundtable piece for Three Brothers Film. 

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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SDG wrote:
: On that note, Peter, I was very interested in your comments about Nolan possibly following Clarke's take on 2001 more than Kubrick's.

 

This might not be significant, but I do note that Clarke's 2001 takes place near Saturn, not Jupiter as it does in the film (though in Clarke's sequels, he retconned the story so that it took place near Jupiter, because that was what readers were most familiar with).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Anders, my line about the "noble lie" was definitely on purpose (it's even an obvious trope in this film with a particular character); I'm just not sure that Nolan would say the positivity of the denouement was his noble lie. And I'm not saying that it necessarily was (intentionally, I mean)--just saying that's what it felt like.

Edited by Nick Olson

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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One other thing about my issue with the ending--it's not even limited to philosophical difference with the film (though that's part of it), it's especially that the very climax of the film is something of a rug pulling reversal as it relates to the spiritual/mystical suggestiveness in the film up to that point. In other words, I think my issue is less with the philosophical difference of "they = us" and more with "they = us" being the climactic reveal.


And, to be clear, I'm still into it insofar as I gave it a relatively positive rating and insofar as I'd pay to see it again in IMAX.

Edited by Nick Olson

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Guys, guys, guys,
 
We've been asking all the wrong questions about Interstellar.  The Important QuestionTM is: Does Interstellar Have an Environmentalist Agenda?
 
Apparently, it doesn't, but there is:
 

Light mixed pagan worldview with strong humanist elements (especially at the end), but with characters exhibiting strong moral, redemptive values of courage, sacrifice, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation along with positive references to prayer and to some Biblical figures, including one character even says he was raised from the dead by his rescuers, with light Romantic elements and minor influences of pantheism, plus strong Pro-American, somewhat capitalist theme of innovation and pioneering with some statements that go against leftist politically correctness

 
Whew.  Sounds like it must be a good movie.  However, I do wonder what "politically correctness" is.

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Kyle Smith:

 

Man can conquer all — ‘Interstellar’ breaks with leftist pessimism

 

From the opening moments of “Interstellar,” the new film from director Christopher Nolan, it’s apparent that his vision of a grim future is a little different from the many apocalyptic films, from “Wall-E” to “The Road” and “Children of Men,” that chastise modern man, implying with a barely restrained sense of zeal that our wicked treatment of one another and especially our environment must lead to a spectacular retribution.

 

A near-unanimous fondness for end-of-the-world porn is one of the least attractive aesthetic impulses of today’s culture critics. But Nolan, who’s both the leading blockbuster filmmaker of his generation and the one least constrained by conventional liberal pieties, offers a magnificent twist: In “Interstellar,” he suggests man is by his nature master of his environment, that the heroic actions of daring individuals can rewrite history and that our problems have technological solutions.

 

In other words: This is an optimistic apocalypse flick. . . .

 

Um, well, if you can call reliance on a deus ex machina from outer space "optimism" about humanity's ability to save itself. Also: I thought I remembered a passing line of dialogue to the effect that the future's environmental problems were caused by consumerism?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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For the first hour and 40 minutes, I was loving it.  I thought the spectacle was incredible to behold, I thought the characters were sketched just compellingly enough to be believable and engaging, and I was caught up in the story even though I knew what the twist was going to be. (As soon as Murph mentioned her ghosts, I knew where Nolan was going; however, I suppose Nathanael's comment about  Steven Moffat may have helped my deduction.)  As soon as Hathaway began her BIG SPEECH about love transcending all boundaries of time and space, the film began to go off the rails, and it continued to go off the rails for the remaining hour and 10 minutes.  I agree with the plot holes and inconsistencies that others have mentioned.  Since I brought it up earlier, the score was, for the most part, fine.  I just hated that one motif which underscored any scene that was focusing on love.  The perpetual rising fourths on the organ destroyed any emotional weight those scenes could have had.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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I'm glad I'm not the only one that was deeply troubled by the "closed universe" feel that Interstellar has, in contrast with the "open universe" feel that Contact has. That was really my main huge problem with Interstellar.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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This. (It's about the "Cooper is dead" hypothesis and the general spread of that trope.)

 

But wait, you say — if the character’s dead, what am I watching, exactly? Shouldn’t the movie be over? No! Because you’re watching a character’s dying fever-dream. This is very important to understand. In a dying fever-dream, anything’s possible. So all you need to do is select the exact moment in a TV show or movie’s narrative when things start to go a little hinky, then decide that, at that moment, the main character and/or all the characters are dead. It’s that easy!

Edited by Tyler

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This is big, bold sci-fi.

It is. That's enough to get my attention and serious engagement. It's not enough to win me over.

It's a glass half-full/half-empty situation, so I don't begrudge anyone who was dissatisfied.

That said, there's very little out there that delivers what Interstellar delivers.

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That said, there's very little out there that delivers what Interstellar delivers.

 

 

That's pretty strongly where the brothers and I come down in Part I of our INTERSTELLAR roundtable ("Interstellar roundtable" sounds like some kind of ruling space government).

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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This is big, bold sci-fi.

It is. That's enough to get my attention and serious engagement. It's not enough to win me over.

 

 It's a glass half-full/half-empty situation, so I don't begrudge anyone who was dissatisfied.

That said, there's very little out there that delivers what Interstellar delivers.

 

Fair enough. That's an argument I've made in defense of any number of films.

 

For that matter, it's a point I've made over and over with respect to Interstellar, not least in the opening paragraphs of my review. Yet with Interstellar it strikes me as a basis for engagement, not enthusiasm. However I draw the line between "flawed but precious gem" and "interesting noble failure," Interstellar shades more toward the latter for me.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Yeah, while I registered my disappointment earlier in the thread, I do hope to write about various aspects of the film, many of which I enjoyed. Technically, it's often a marvel.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
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