More Thoughts on “Gravity” / Watching “Witness”

Last night, Peter Weir’s “Witness” was showing on cable.  Self had just read a post on “Great Female Performances” written by Sheila O’Malley, whose blog, The Sheila Variations, self reads whenever she has the time (or, often, even when she doesn’t have the time, ha ha haaa!)  One of her “20 Surprising Female Performances” was Kelly McGillis in “Witness.”  And, wouldn’t you know, in a strange convergence of blog reading and strange-events-that-happen-in-real-life, The Man all on his own last night, without self’s having breathed a WORD about Kelly McGillis, found “Witness” on cable.

We ended up watching the whole thing, from beginning to end.

First of all, how great was the cinematography?

And had anyone before even thought to set a thriller in Amish country?

And how great was Peter Weir’s work with, not only Kelly McGillis, but also Harrison Ford, Danny Glover, and Lukas Haas?

Bonus points:  a very, very young Viggo Mortensen playing an Amish lad; Alexander Godunov in a really deft performance as an Amish suitor; Harrison Ford at the height of his hot-ness; and sequences about the right way to raise a barn in one day.

Give Director Peter Weir his Lifetime Achievement Oscar already!  Self would like to think “Witness” was rewarded with Oscars.  But even if it wasn’t, “Witness” will always be on self’s short list of really great movies.

As for Kelly McGillis, self agrees with Sheila O’Malley:  The actress’s performance, even though she is mostly fully clothed, with hair bundled up under a white cap, is exquisitely erotic.  In fact, it’s far more erotic than any of the recent skin-baring “bold and racy” Hollywood movies could ever be.

*     *     *     *

And now to “Gravity.”  Self landed on some site with a discussion thread called “I Didn’t Like Gravity.”  The criticism ranged around the dialogue, claiming it was hoky and sentimental, and George Clooney was just acting himself, and how come Sandra Bullock’s character had to be metaphorically “rescued” by re-appearance of George Clooney?

Self then began to doubt her fondness for the movie.  But she decided that no, she still considers it a great feminist movie, and a very moving one at that.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!

For one thing, there is a point in the film where Bullock’s Dr. Ryan approaches a turn.  Maybe it’s right after she reveals that her four-year-old daughter was killed in a meaningless playground incident (Hit her head, died), or maybe it’s before that.

Whatever.  The point is: she does turn.  And what self thinks is really moving is: Even though Bullock’s character is a lonely, isolated soul, with no family or children to keep living for, at some point she decides that just HER OWN LIFE is worth fighting for.  And she WILL fight.  Even if it means going out again in space and donning that awful space suit!  Even though she’s seen what can happen “out there.”  But if it’s the only chance she has to survive, my golly she will do it!

And self particularly liked the editing here, because the change wasn’t shown by Dr. Ryan suddenly having a different expression on her face, or anything so obvious as that.  No.  We only realized that Dr. Ryan had decided to FIGHT FOR HER LIFE when she re-appeared, outside the shuttle in that bulky, awful, ungainly space suit.  And we didn’t even realize what we were realizing, not until much, much later.

More thoughts are tumbling out of self’s head about “Gravity” and Bullock’s character, but you know, self also happens to teach and she thinks this is enough of a break for the day.

Stay tuned.

Anthony Lane on Peter Weir

And here is self, curled up in bed, reading yet another New Yorker (She might as well go ahead and renew her subscription.  Yes, she’d better), this one of January 31, 2011.

She’s reading an Anthony Lane review of Peter Weir’s latest movie, “The Way Back” (She’s missed him since “Master and Commander,” one of her 10 Favorite Films of All Time —  along with “Platoon,” “The Usual Suspects,” “L.A. Confidential,” “Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Lantana” —  Self’s list keeps changing, but Peter Weir’s “Master and Commander” is pretty much a constant).

Anyhoo, Lane gives a re-cap of some of Peter Weir’s past movies, and fails to mention:  a) “Last Picnic at Hanging Rock” b) “Witness” and c) “Master and Commander.”  He does get in mention of one of self’s least-favorite Peter Weir movies, “The Truman Show.”  And another that she has never seen:  “Green Card,” in which, according to Lane, “jungle music thrummed at night” through Andie MacDowell’s apartment while “she and Gerard Depardieu lay in separate rooms, awake with unappeasable lust.”  (Sold! Self will rent this one from Netflix, soon as she’s finished viewing “Splice”!)

Here’s Lane again, killing self with witticisms:  He has praise for Ed Harris, who “plays an American known as Smith.”  Someone asks him for a first name.  “Mr.,” he replies.  This is a movie about men who escape from a Stalinist prison camp, but while Harris’ features are appropriately “riven and desperate,” the “rest of the actors, through no fault of their own, never look as shrivelled by hunger as they should.”

And then Lane goes on to reveal aspects of the plot, and —  Stop right there, self! You know you’ll see this movie, no matter what!

So self decides to stop reading.  She does think it is pretty amazing that this movie is based on a true story, and some of the escapees did make it to freedom, “crossing the Himalayas into India after a trek of some four thousand miles.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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