2013 had been a very frustrating year for movies because some looked like they might be great, either great concepts like Elysium or great directors/writers like Pacific Rim, but until this week, all had been disappointments.
Maybe it was the charm of a NakedJen visit, maybe the only one of the year, and our mini-film-fest, we saw two movies in 24 hours, who knows why -- and maybe I've just been missing the good ones, at least Quentin Tarantino thinks so.
Regardless, here are three good ones, and two of them at least qualify as great.
It was an involved, complicated plot, but you don't really see that in all its glory until the end of the movie. It's a story of human beings and our hopes and fears, at all ages. So many rich characters, so well played and the story so well told. The NY Times reviewer compared Enough Said to the earlier Woody Allen movies, and I think the comparison is a good one. It has what I was missing in the latest of his movies, the real awkwardness of being human. This would have been a great movie even if Gandolfini were still alive. And we'll always be wondering if he had lived, what other roles he might have played, because this most definitely was not Tony Soprano. Somewhat like the feeling I have about Heath Ledger in his last movie, what treats were we deprived of due to his early demise?
I knew the story pretty well, but it was nice to see all the Palo Alto spots where he grew up, all in neighborhoods I've lived in, and hear the story in the star's own words. It has all the elements of a Hollywood sports film, a Rocky of basketball.
The young star who no one gets because he's not like all the others, has two games left before getting cut from the Knicks, and this time it's probably for good. He sucks in the first game. Gets one more chance, realizes it might be his last NBA game, decides to have fun -- and he kills it. All of a sudden his mates are looking at each other with a look of WTF just happened here? They keep letting him play, and he keeps kicking ass.
The climax comes when he goes against the big star, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, who says he doesn't even know who Lin is. Lin then whoops his ass. After the game the reporters ask Lin if he thinks Kobe has heard of him now. He says he thought of the obvious snotty comeback, but realized that Jesus probably wouldn't have said that so he says the gentle thing -- "You'd have to ask him." It's nice to know that inside Lin is a proud young man, but also nice to know that he keeps his hubris in check.
Would it be believable if it weren't the truth? Who cares!
This movie isn't getting a lot of distribution, so you may have to wait to see it on your computer, but it's a good one, especially for kids. Show them that talent lives inside you even if no one else gets it, if you believe in yourself there's nothing you can't accomplish.
It's a cliche, but in this case it's also the truth.
Gravity puts you in a strange world, one that we've all wondered about. It gradually becomes your reality, without you realizing it's happening.
I don't care that it gets some of the physics wrong, and that the plot is totally improbable (more likely impossible). I care that it has a story to tell, does it beautifully, makes you care about the characters, and takes you somewhere that I've never been and will never go, in reality. That's what great movies are about, and Gravity is a great movie.
That said it's a cringe-inducing film, at moments you want to close your eyes and not watch, but try to resist because it's all so beautifully done. Don't think about how they did it until you're out of the movie. And there's not much chance of that because the story is so compelling.
BTW, the name of the movie is something of a puzzle. Gravity is not one of the stars, in a physics sense, but it is the theme of the movie almost from the very beginning.