CineMe 2013: Gravity, and Conclusion


2013: Gravity

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Written by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón

Gravity_Poster“Because either way, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!  I’m ready.

It’s fitting that my CineMe project ends with a film that is as much about the pure cinematic experience as it is about character and story.  This list itself has been about the cinematic experience, both in the content of the films on it and in the stories behind my seeing them.  Unlike the characters in Gravity, films don’t exist in a vacuum; our reactions to them are greatly shaped by the circumstances around them, as much as we’d like to think we maintain some kind of objectivity.  A bad mood can ruin a great film.  A good ending can make a bad film seem better.  And the right film with the right mood can become an all-time classic.

Gravity, when viewed with all the technological bells and whistles, strives to put you in that right mood.  The IMAX makes you feel the vastness of space.  The 3D makes you feel part of the scene.  As long as these gimmicks have been around, Gravity feels like the first time they’ve been used to their fullest, most immersive effect.  I’ll maintain that there’s enough brilliance in this film for it to work without the added flourishes, from its bravura filmmaking to its soaring spirituality.  But I’m definitely glad my first experience with it was the full boat.  I remember feeling my pulse race and my breathing get faster as I watched the opening scenes, waiting for that sudden disaster, as fully involved in the created reality of a film as I had ever been.  And being swamped by the size of that screen and the depth of the 3D was a huge part of that.  It was almost a relief when the bad things started to happen; the moment of dread  had finally come, the long slow climb up the roller coaster was over, and now the ride could begin.  It was a memorable experience.

Which is true for all 46 films on this list.  Each one, in its own way, left a lasting impression, either when it came out or when I finally saw it.  Some were good, some were bad, but all were part of this unique tapestry that only film can provide.  I’ve traveled to the future and the past, been galaxies away and right in my own backyard, met people great and small, good and evil, and all of it from a reclining seat or comfortable couch, huddled around those modern-day campfires of the movie and TV screen.  I’ve been inspired, repulsed, overjoyed, saddened, doubled over with laughter, wracked with tears, and taken on hundreds of journeys thanks to the imaginations of so many gifted storytellers, whose talents I can only hope to capture a fraction of in my own endeavors.  While this list may not be a full portrait of the films that shaped me — my self-imposed restrictions kept it from being mostly Spielberg and Pixar films, for instance — it’s definitely been an interesting voyage back through the years, remembering these films and the experiences around them.  I don’t know if I have another 45 years of films left in me, but for the 45 that I’ve had, I can only echo the final words of Gravity‘s Ryan Stone, as she takes her first steps into a world both familiar and seemingly reborn:  “Thank you.”

CineMe:  Years in the Dark

1968 The Producers Mel Brooks
1969 Destroy All Monsters Ishiro Honda
1970 Patton Franklin J. Schaffner
1971 A Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrick
1972 The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola
1973 Live and Let Die Guy Hamilton
1974 The Towering Inferno John Guillermin and Irwin Allen
1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
1976 The Food of the Gods Bert I. Gordon
1977 Star Wars George Lucas
1978 Superman: The Movie Richard Donner
1979 Alien Ridley Scott
1980 The Hollywood Knights Floyd Mutrux
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Steven Spielberg
1982 The Road Warrior George Miller
1983 The Right Stuff Philip Kaufman
1984 Ghostbusters Ivan Reitman
1985 Brazil Terry Gilliam
1986 Little Shop of Horrors Frank Oz
1987 The Princess Bride Rob Reiner
1988 Die Hard John McTiernan
1989 Henry V Kenneth Branagh
1990 GoodFellas Martin Scorsese
1991 JFK Oliver Stone
1992 The Last of the Mohicans Michael Mann
1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas Henry Selick
1994 Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino
1995 Apollo 13 Ron Howard
1996 Independence Day Roland Emmerich
1997 Titanic James Cameron
1998 Shakespeare in Love John Madden
1999 The Matrix The Wachowskis
2000 Almost Famous Cameron Crowe
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Peter Jackson
2002 Spider-Man Sam Raimi
2003 Big Fish Tim Burton
2004 The Incredibles Brad Bird
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Mike Newell
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest Gore Verbinski
2007 The Mist Frank Darabont
2008 The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan
2009 District 9 Neill Blomkamp
2010 How to Train Your Dragon Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt
2012 The Avengers Joss Whedon
2013 Gravity Alfonso Cuaron

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