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
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

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.

Karamazov
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Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#103 Post by Karamazov » Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:42 pm

One of the last great disappointments I've seen in theatres lately. Having a soft-spot for sci-fi, I was baffled by how such a promising film could turn out to be so mediocre.

Besides the less relevant scientific innacuracies (infiltration during launch, metal-sheet bodyboarding on Neptunian rings, propelled back to Earth by nuclear explosion) and its clear borrowings from other much better films (2001, Mission to Mars, Sunshine, Interstellar, Alien, Apocalypse Now, etc.), the film is unbelievably predictable and incapable of keeping the viewer in the dark, outrageously melodramatic and corny, inorganic in that it's shoddily written and assembled, poorly acted especially by Brad Pitt, suffering from embarassingly superficial pseudo-philosophical ramblings, and bearing intrusive, derivative and ubiquitous music (even though I love Max Richter) and uninspired cinematography thanks to the prevalent Brad Pitt's extreme close-ups (not disregarding Hoyte van Hoytema's creative chromatic experimentation throughout).

Just plain unremarkable modern filmmaking, attempting to be grandiose and failing miserably, unfortunately given the exciting premise.

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domino harvey
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Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#104 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:16 am

Karamazov wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:42 pm
its clear borrowings from other much better films (2001, Mission to Mars
Image

Karamazov
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:41 pm

Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#105 Post by Karamazov » Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:04 am

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:16 am
Karamazov wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:42 pm
its clear borrowings from other much better films (2001, Mission to Mars
Image
Sure, Mission to Mars may be far from a masterpiece and is definitely not one of DePalma's best, but perhaps because I've seen it as a young man, the impression that I got then was far less disagreeable than the one I got from Ad Astra. Admittedly, my opinion today would be different if I rewatch it, but the point is that Ad Astra borrowed from it, among other films.

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Fiery Angel
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:59 pm

Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#106 Post by Fiery Angel » Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:48 am

Karamazov wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:42 pm
its clear borrowings from other much better films (2001, Mission to Mars
Armond, is that you?

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The Curious Sofa
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:18 am

Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#107 Post by The Curious Sofa » Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:49 pm

Mission to Mars and Ad Astra are decent space films undone by a trite last act.

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TheKieslowskiHaze
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:37 am

Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#108 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:27 pm

I liked Ad Astra a lot, but it feels like a movie that would have a better director's cut*, one with no narration and a longer run-time that lets things breathe a bit.

*James Gray, however, has said his first cut is not much different from the released version.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019)

#109 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:52 pm

Revisited this yet again and then listened to the James Gray commentary on the blu-ray, which is terrific and validated a lot of thoughts in this thread, including some of my own as well as reinforcing many of Mr. Sausage's terrific contributions (and generally those of us who saw the film as both allegory and literal, or mythic and authentic, simultaneously). He cites a Joseph Conrad quote at one point that professes that we can get to the broad through the specific, and really serves as the thesis of his approach to the film pertaining to unpacking humanity's identities through myths. Gray discusses his preoccupation with our cultural emotional suppression, and his explanation around the 40-minute mark on how in space sans distractions we are only left with our internal void (within an actual external void) is the highlight of his existential analysis of the commentary- as well as his psychological formulation on Pitt's character around the 75-minute mark (Gray sounds like the kind of guy I'd want to hang out with in real life). The scientific accuracy and projections, the way certain scenes and setpieces were pulled off, the great weight put on the choices in developing the score, gushing about Gravity's innovative choices, nuggets like Charlie Kaufman's contributions to the voiceover dialogue, Gray's Tommy Lee Jones impressions, and much more all make this a continuously engaging track.

Also, his view, and approach, to the concept of 'madness' is an admirable and humble examination of humanistic beliefs ("How can I say I'm better than Tommy Lee Jones?") - again, I love this guy. Highly recommended.

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