Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

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terabin
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Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#101 Post by terabin » Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:28 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:27 pm
An Overlong Interrogation of a Minor Point: The CriterionForum.org Story
I’ve enjoyed the latest episode. Thanks Tenia and Mr. Sausage! Until next time...

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#102 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:31 pm

A rewatch fared much better with a bit of digestion. I still think it works best as an allegorical narrative functioning as real within the film as well as a physically-driven metaphor through space (in both a literal and figurative definition), but Pitt’s movement away from the comfort of his bearings towards the unknown, shedding security and defense mechanisms as he faces his own emotions and existential comprehension of his identity is a layered engagement that transforms the adventure story, the psychological character study, and the philosophical transcendental visual meditation style into one under the science fiction umbrella. The realism in attention to science, as other have mentioned, only highlights the practicality and logical securities that Pitt’s character implements to comprehend the world as well as the sobering intensity by which he moves through it. He feels every step of this painful and difficult journey as he loses traction in relying on his defining skills to untangle the intangible, which only intensifies his feeling of their brash effects as well as the discomfort of his emotional flooding through physical manifestations.

The physical in this film it utilized to extreme dual purposes: it resembles the only sense of concrete reality and security, but also the terrain one must travel to achieve growth, change, catharsis, to live one’s life. Things to overcome and things to respond to, thing to shape us, things we understand and things we don’t perhaps depending on context. The monkey scene is a perfect example of this displacement of the familiar in an unfamiliar circumstance which becomes jarring and is another physical variable to overcome. The tangible experience of being in a room with Ruth Negga and unpacking truths hidden away in a space that overloads our senses with light is disorienting, and Gray uses sound, music, and visual effects masterfully to elicit a complex experience between the deeply physical, realistic milieu and an emotional, existentially rattling one. It’s a wise choice not to have Pitt lose sight of the physical or expand his mind totally outside of its confines, for it’s always there as the focal point of his journey and the one grounding metric alongside which he can notice his change (of which his psychological tests, recording devices, etc are examples, just as much as his memory which acutely focuses on physical representations to draw significance). Of course this is how we interpret information but I think Gray’s attention to the physical blending with voiceover and abstract acknowledgement is one of the better depictions of the value of these signifiers by which we make meaning.

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