dir: Christopher Nolan, 2014
November was a wonky month for me personally. With the cold creeping up out here and the onslaught of holiday ads, I just wanted to lay down somewhere and not do things.
Sadly, life moves continuously, and I find myself back in the regular loop of it. All of that is to say: I’m a little tired and ready for Christmas break. The irony is I just came off vacation.
I brought all of that up to
establish pathos, because I found myself wanting to watch so many films that have come out recently. And, I had neither the monies nor the time to catch them all.
But I did see Interstellar.
I’m not going to say I feverishly anticipated Nolan’s latest effort. Much the contrary, I was just more inclined to pay money for it than the latest Hunger Games flick.
Anywho, Interstellar is, if you suspend a decent amount of belief, a very solid film.
In a word or two: Earth is dying and it’s up to wanderlust smitten pilot Cooper and a ragtag group of NASA engineers to venture through a wormhole to find a new habitable world. Things however go awry both planetside and in space, as these types of expeditions often attract all types of fuckery.
The first act spends its sweet time establishing Earth as Cooper’s center of disdain. Some of this could’ve been excised. Or, it could’ve been put into establishing some more emotional connections between Cooper and his son. In contrast to his contentious relationship with Murph, Coop’s love for his son can be misconstrued as anything but. I’ll attribute this to lazy writing, as the film is long as hell so it clearly wasn’t an issue of time.
Speaking of time, Interstellar echoes Inception in its focus on understanding and manipulating the passage of time. There are several large time compressions that occur during the film that create profound moments of tension and suspense. These are, in passing, the easiest things to understand in Interstellar’s universe. I say this because, once we begin introducing the levels (because with Nolan, there are always levels) of time itself, things get timey-wimey.
From “gravitational anomalies” to “quantum data,” and a tesseract that’s a pocket dimension, Interstellar has exhaustive fun fucking with your notions of science and reality. Some of this is supremely entertaining. In contrast, some of it is so heady that you just have to nod and act like you understand.
Thankfully, in the midst of this
para-scientific goo-gab framework, Nolan throws in many human moments for both the viewer and the characters. Chief in my mind are the effects of a trail of fuckups on the initial planet they encounter. Due to the planet’s wonky physics, an hour planetside translates to seven years in orbit. The look on Romilly’s face when Coop and Brand return is just one for the ages as he declares “I waited 23 years.”
These peril in space scenarios continuously ramp up as the crew venture deeper into an unknown galaxy. From a surprise (and honestly, wtf) cameo to the exponential increase of stakes, Interstellar does good on keeping you glued to the screen.
Now, for my biggest issues with the film (and there aren’t many). They may seem petty. But, in the course of trying to poke holes in Interstellar, they were the only ones that resonated enough to write about.
Firstly, while there are many vague references to when Interstellar takes place exactly, one can’t deny that the film is based on multiple utopian assumptions. In order for it to work, from the outset, we must believe the following:
-Once the food began to run out, there were no large scale conflicts that resulted in mass death.
-The various governments on Earth peacefully renounced weaponry in the name of preservation.
-The crops on Earth were all, or mostly, Monsanto-esque breeds based on a small number of viable genuses. Thus the nameless blight Deebo’ing its way through the land makes sense.
Secondly, there are even vaguer references to the effects that “gravitational anomalies” have had across the globe. While this is center to the conflict in the second act, it does raise questions. Namely, even if NASA’s base was the center of major anomalies, they clearly were able to get * a * rocket off the planet. So, why didn’t
Alfred Dr. Brand instead focus on building ships in different locations where the anomalies were not an interfering factor?
Thirdly (yes, I’m having fun here), Dr. Brand the Younger’s argument for love was a pitiful scene. Not because the idea itself was bad, but, because it was used to nullify Brand’s emotional lady opinion in favor of clear rational man opinion. This was incredibly shitty because the exact fucking argument is used in Coop’s favor when he miraculously survives the black hole singularity. How feminist of you, Nolan Bros…
Lastly, in Coop’s leaving to find Anne “Love Gon’ Find A Way” Hathaway on the habitable planet, it struck me as strange that (geriatric) Murph would allow him to go alone. If you put aside the fact that she claims to have made her peace with his disappearance in her life, I found myself asking: wouldn’t they not want to send this man back into space, alone?
This plot point strove for romanticism and idealism without much else backing it. It just made no damn sense to me. Especially because Murph’s narration claims the planet as “our new home.”
Alas, if you suspend your activism and belief just enough, Interstellar is a resoundingly beautiful and solid film that bodes well for McConaughey’s meteoric resurgence. One could even say he himself may have found the wormhole that takes a once largely ignored actor to the Oscars (and beyond).
The original Homeboy With A Keyboard ™, dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things. Find his rants and retweetery @dapisdope