sandra bullock

Gravity (2013) Review | Jamie Daily

Gravity (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 10 awards, of which it won 7.
Nominated for Best Picture (Alfonso CuarónDavid Heyman), Best Actress (Sandra Bullock), and Best Production Design (Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne Woollard).
Won Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Best Film Editing (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger), Best Original Score (Steven Price), Best Sound Editing (Gienn Freemantle), Best Sound Mixing (Chris Munro, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Skip Lievsay), and Best Visual Effects (Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Tim Webber).
Watched April 7, 2014.


What was undoubtedly this year’s overall “winner” at awards night, Gravity is a huge accomplishment in all areas of filmmaking.  To get ten nominations is impressive enough, but to walk away at the end of the night with seven wins is a testament to the skills behind this piece.  If that isn’t enough, the movie even lives up to the hype.  From story and casting to visuals and sound, the film is a feast for your senses.


Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first space mission.  While out on a routine space walk making repairs, their shuttle is hit by debris and Ryan finds herself detached from the shuttle and spinning helplessly into space.  Luckily, her colleague Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who is vastly more experienced, was attached to thruster jets when disaster hit and he is able to tether Ryan to himself and begin a horrifying orbit around the earth towards a space station.  Every breath is terrifying as Ryan’s space suite constantly reminds her how little oxygen she has left.  She has to learn to overcome her fears and must refuse anything but survival as a possibility.


We know very little about the characters, but the back story that is revealed about them gives all we need to know.  The story is not simple and predictable, although it has the possibility to be that.  While Clooney’s performance is simple and to the point, his character is exceedingly impressive and calm.  Bullock commands attention, adding to the crescendo of sound and visuals that make Gravity hard to look away from.  Her nomination was extremely well deserved.


The film does not make a grand statement.  It revolves around the ideas of “you never know who might be listening” and that space is not able to be conquered–that life in space is impossible.  Almost right away Ryan says, “I hate space,” which sets up her character for what she is about to experience.  You might laugh, you might cry, and you will definitely be sitting at the edge of your seat.  I can only imagine what the film was like in the theatre in 3D, but even on my HD 47inch it was to die for.


Director, writer, and editor Alfonso Cuarón paired with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki are unstoppable.  I cannot rave enough about the imagery and the lighting.  To be fair, there was no weak link.  All of the puzzle pieces fit.


Clearly I would highly recommend this film.  It is one of the best films out of Hollywood in a long time.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 2 awards.
Nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin) and Best Supporting Actor (Max Von Sydow).
Watched September 6, 2012.


My emotions about this film are so all over the place, I don’t think that I can write a proper review.  Originally I had refused to see it in theaters.  I worked at a Regal at the time and the fact that I wouldn’t see something that I could get into for free was odd for me.  For the purposes of this blog, I had to watch it , but I did in four sittings and cried the entire time.  9/11 is always something that hits me hard, especially on the day of.  I will be the first person to admit that I wear my emotions on my sleeve and am the type to cry at a Hallmark commercial, so my tears are no surprise, no matter what the content is.  However, I will do my best to step away from my own lens and look at the technical side of this interesting interpretation of September 11, 2001.


It is about the World Trade Center, and it isn’t.  It is more about life, and death, and how we deal with our humanity.  Most importantly, it is about how children deal with heartbreak and tragedy, and how they heal from it.  How do you make sense of something like a man flying a plane into a building?  You can’t, because it doesn’t make sense, which is something that Linda Schell (Sandra Bullock) says emphatically in the film.  Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is her socially awkward son whose dad (Tom Hanks) was more than his father and more than his friend.  From the opening seconds of the film I was gripped by a stunning sequence of shots showing a man falling, not through dust and smoke and debris, but through blue sky.  Thomas Schell was a jeweler, because being a scientist wouldn’t have made the money to support his family.  He was constantly inventing adventures for his son so that he could step outside of his comfort zone and grow.  He knew how afraid Oskar is of almost everything – trains, planes, smoke, loud noises, strangers.  For a boy who claims he can’t talk to people, he spends a lot of time doing it.


When Thomas dies in one of the twin towers, Linda becomes barely a presence in Oskar’s life.  He spends the first year in a sort of daze, knowing that his “eight minutes” with his dad are almost up.  But then, he finds a key that he is sure his dad left for him–another adventure and another clue that he has to follow.  Most of the film follows him as he runs around New York trying to find the lock that the key unlocks, and who the key belongs to.


I almost feel as if the film tried too hard.  The sequences where Oskar opens up and reveals his secrets, primarily to The Renter (Max Von Sydow), the mute man renting a room from his Grandmother, are over the top and exaggerated.  The editor used a lot of jump cuts* to emphasize the chaos and disorder of Oskar’s raging mind.  Things do not flow smoothly when you are trying to make sense of your father’s death.  There is a lot of chaos implied by the editing in this film, especially when Oskar reveals his fears to the audience or is overwhelmed by emotion.  The slow quiet moments are when he is with his mother and her hurt is a constant ache that hangs over the entire scene – the ache of her loss and the ache of her son’s loss.  They both wish it had been her in the tower, not him.


I’m not sure about my thoughts and feelings on this film.  They are so very clouded by my emotions toward the original event that I cannot separate the two.  I gave it one star because I rarely voluntarily watch something that makes me cry so much.  I cannot make a recommendation that you do or do not watch Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  That is a choice I leave entirely up to you.



*jump cut
noun Movies .
an abrupt break in the continuity of a scene created by editing out part of a shot or scene.

an immediate transition from one scene to another


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