View Poll Results: AD ASTRA

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Thread: Ad Astra (James Gray)

  1. #1
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    Ad Astra (James Gray)

    Last 11 things I really enjoyed:

    Speed Racer (Wachowski/Wachowski, 2008)
    Safe (Haynes, 1995)
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Parker, 1999)
    Beastie Boys Story (Jonze, 2020)
    Bad Trip (Sakurai, 2020)
    What's Up Doc? (Bogdanovich, 1972)
    Diva (Beineix, 1981)
    Delicatessen (Caro/Jeunet, 1991)
    The Hunger (Scott, 1983)
    Pineapple Express (Green, 2008)
    Chungking Express (Wong, 1994)

  2. #2
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    Extremely good but also often confounding, in ways both positively and otherwise.

    It feels very good to have a movie this "big" (budget, star, scope) feel so intimate, subtle and adult. But sometimes that mish-mash of contradictions works better than other times, when you wonder if the money behind it was a hindrance as a battle between studio and director, well, that is, whenever it isn't managing to be successfully euphoric.

    I also only saw the first trailer on my phone on a lunch break months ago and retained little memory of it other than its general release date and that I was in, but watching both trailers back last night, well.. not only should you probably not watch them (or if you already did, try your best to shake the expectations they set) but they also have so much added exposition and also significantly made up of scenes completely missing from the final film.

    But anyway, the less I say the better. At its best it's as good as anything in the "sentimental sci-fi" sub-genre (which, if forced to make such a decision, might be my most consistent favourite in all cinema) but there are some tiny bumps along the way that don't ruin the experience, but certainly quietly accumulated enough for me to prevent this from feeling like the outright masterpiece it shows vivid glimpses of along the way.

    See it! There may never be another thing like it made again under 20th Century Disney.
    Last 11 things I really enjoyed:

    Speed Racer (Wachowski/Wachowski, 2008)
    Safe (Haynes, 1995)
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Parker, 1999)
    Beastie Boys Story (Jonze, 2020)
    Bad Trip (Sakurai, 2020)
    What's Up Doc? (Bogdanovich, 1972)
    Diva (Beineix, 1981)
    Delicatessen (Caro/Jeunet, 1991)
    The Hunger (Scott, 1983)
    Pineapple Express (Green, 2008)
    Chungking Express (Wong, 1994)

  3. #3
    Sunshine and peace Wryan's Avatar
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    Worth seeing in IMAX?
    "How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home wine-making course and forgot how to drive?"

    --Homer

  4. #4
    In the belly of a whale Henry Gale's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Wryan (view post)
    Worth seeing in IMAX?
    I didn't personally see it that way but I absolutely imagine so. Gray and Hoytema shot it in 35mm and they both know how to keep things wide (and held long) for maximum spectacle, and IMAX blow-ups of 35mm tend to look less harsh than the digital (mostly 2K-shot) ones.
    Last 11 things I really enjoyed:

    Speed Racer (Wachowski/Wachowski, 2008)
    Safe (Haynes, 1995)
    South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Parker, 1999)
    Beastie Boys Story (Jonze, 2020)
    Bad Trip (Sakurai, 2020)
    What's Up Doc? (Bogdanovich, 1972)
    Diva (Beineix, 1981)
    Delicatessen (Caro/Jeunet, 1991)
    The Hunger (Scott, 1983)
    Pineapple Express (Green, 2008)
    Chungking Express (Wong, 1994)

  5. #5
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    Quote Quoting Wryan (view post)
    Worth seeing in IMAX?
    Just coming back from it, and yesssss.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  6. #6
    Sunshine and peace Wryan's Avatar
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    Oh shit didn't realize it was Hoytema, nice.
    "How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home wine-making course and forgot how to drive?"

    --Homer

  7. #7
    Scott of the Antarctic Milky Joe's Avatar
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    Beautiful film.
    ‎The severed arm perfectly acquitted itself, because of the simplicity of its wishes and its total lack of doubt.

  8. #8
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    “We’re all we’ve got.” The film evokes first and foremost from that line the feeling of absolute loneliness, driving some to far-out obsessions, and others to seal themselves inwards at the exclusion of all else, illustrated hauntingly by van Hoytema's stunning images of our minuscule place out there among the stars. But the beauty of the film is that throughout, James Gray challenges that line's tenor of crushing pessimism, with the frighteningly vast vitas of space regularly interrupted by close-ups of human faces searching and doubting, until its final inflection arrives at pragmatic reassurance, all the more touching in its notes of resigned acceptance instead of outright hope.

    I actually think the film works in spite of itself, as the gears of this moving concept turn too noisily, in what should be left to lingering, muted spectacle and Brad Pitt's performance. (Really curious if, in addition to Liv Tyler, the at-times distracting voice-over is added whole after the fact) Pitt especially is more than up to the task of conveying the character's self-imposed mental block increasingly cracked by the possibility of a connection. The "second voice message" scene ranks up there with the best of his career. 8/10
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  9. #9
    Moderator TGM's Avatar
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    Between this and OUATIH, Brad Pitt is easily the MVP of 2019 so far.

  10. #10
    White Tiger Field Stay Puft's Avatar
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    Lots I love about this, but the last act didn't totally land for me. No spoilers, but I was surprised to see Gray go for some of those obvious visual metaphors; expectations aside, I might enjoy it more on a second viewing, as I was hoping(?) maybe for something a little different than what was offered up. (I do like the final revelation, though, and the way Gray twists this journey to the stars back inwards).

    Lots of good action, too, particularly with how it all gets subsumed by Pitt's inner strife ("why am I here..." / "GIVE ME A GUN"). The rover bit was incredible. Kinda want a whole movie about moon pirates now.
    Giving up in 2020. Who cares.

    The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack) ***˝
    Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson) ****
    The Woman in the Rumor (Kenji Mizoguchi) ***
    Bloodsucking Freaks (Joel M. Reed) *˝
    Tromeo & Juliet (Lloyd Kaufman) *˝

  11. #11
    Guttenbergian Pop Trash's Avatar
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    Word on the street from James Gray heads is there might have been quite a bit of studio intervention by Fox and/or Disney (who acquired this after they bought Fox). I guess we should be lucky Disney didn't drop this altogether and sell it off to Netflix or something, but I can't imagine somebody as seemingly smart about cinema as James Gray putting in these clunkers of voice/over and the VERY Nolan-esque cutaways to Liv Tyler.

    HOWEVER, the film is absolutely gorgeous, not just the cinematography (which is great) but James Gray's director compositions. Almost every shot conveys intelligence behind the camera. Music is great. Brad Pitt gives his best performance since Jesse James.

    I guess it goes to his talents that even flawed, studio intervention James Gray can still make one of the best films of the year. I can only hope a director's cut is on the horizon.
    Ratings on a 1-10 scale for your pleasure:

    Inception - 8
    California Split - 7
    Back to the Future Part III - 6
    Back to the Future Part II - 7
    Not Another Teen Movie - 7
    Beastie Boys Story - 7
    Party Girl - 7
    Dog Day Afternoon - 8
    The Long Goodbye - 8
    Slumber Party Massacre II - 5

  12. #12
    Despite some significant positive aspects working in Ad Astra's favor (which I'll get into soon), I can't say that I felt it lived to 100% of its full potential, due to a number of medium-sized flaws such as an unnecessary amount of tonal whiplash between the film's stately, "majesty of space" astral vistas, and the more visceral, blockbuster-style thrills it tries to cram in (such as a jarring detour the film takes into eco-horror halfway through), or the character development or emotional dynamics when it comes to Roy and his father/wife feeling vague and underdeveloped, and almost as detached as the literal distances between the people themselves (the slim scraps of Colonel Kurtz-meets-Doctor Manhattan-style characterization for the elder McBride in particular felt kind of half-hearted and underwhelming, and somewhat undermined a final moral thesis that the film attempts to deliver at the end).


    And that last point leads into the film's biggest problem, which is its over-reliance on telling versus showing, with a bit too much unnecessary exposition which felt written more for our enlightment than the characters', and way too much of Pitt's constant, boilerplate, wannabe-philosophical voice-overed ramblings, which felt like they were to try to force the film into having an illusion of a greater depth that it could've earned with a softer narrative touch (you'd think that for all of the film's similarities to/influences from First Man & 2001, it could've resembled those films more in this regard, and maybe not have Pitt tell us how crass the commercialization of the Moon is when we can so easily see that for ourselves with the replication of the Vegas Vic billboard visible on the lunar surface).


    However, all that being said, I still liked Astra on the whole, seeing as how Sci-Fi is my favorite genre, so I couldn't help but enjoy the film's vivid conceptualizations of the look/technology of a potential "near future", as well as appreciate the film's mere basic existence in a sea of Hollywood franchises as a wholly original, mid-budget production aimed squarely at adults, and, taken purely on a sensory level, it was an all-immersive experience, with its incredibly moody, shifting, saturated lighting, rich, full-bore, worlds-building production design and effects, and its elegant, ethereal cinematography displaying the inherent beauty of the zero-G balletics, while also capturing the immense, cold terror lying within the endless void called space. So, even though it was a somewhat problematic film, it was still a undeniably memorable one, and made for worthwhile trip to the stars (and the cinema) in the end.

  13. #13
    Got a double-bill of this and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Sunday. Can't wait!
    Last 10 Movies Seen
    (90+ = canonical, 80-89 = brilliant, 70-79 = strongly recommended, 60-69 = good, 50-59 = mixed, 40-49 = below average with some good points, 30-39 = poor, 20-29 = bad, 10-19 = terrible, 0-9 = soul-crushingly inept in every way)

    El
    (1973) 70
    The Day After
    (1983
    ) 63
    Duck, You Sucker (1971) 68
    Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) 71
    Noriko’s Dinner Party
    (2005) 61
    The Third Murder (2017) 56

    /Audition
    (1999) 85

    /Toy Story
    (1995) 65
    Vice (2018) 57
    The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) 62

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  14. #14
    Guttenbergian Pop Trash's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting transmogrifier (view post)
    Got a double-bill of this and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Sunday. Can't wait!
    I hope you like unnecessary voice/overs!
    Ratings on a 1-10 scale for your pleasure:

    Inception - 8
    California Split - 7
    Back to the Future Part III - 6
    Back to the Future Part II - 7
    Not Another Teen Movie - 7
    Beastie Boys Story - 7
    Party Girl - 7
    Dog Day Afternoon - 8
    The Long Goodbye - 8
    Slumber Party Massacre II - 5

  15. #15
    Quote Quoting Pop Trash (view post)
    I hope you like unnecessary voice/overs!
    My favorite kind!
    Last 10 Movies Seen
    (90+ = canonical, 80-89 = brilliant, 70-79 = strongly recommended, 60-69 = good, 50-59 = mixed, 40-49 = below average with some good points, 30-39 = poor, 20-29 = bad, 10-19 = terrible, 0-9 = soul-crushingly inept in every way)

    El
    (1973) 70
    The Day After
    (1983
    ) 63
    Duck, You Sucker (1971) 68
    Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) 71
    Noriko’s Dinner Party
    (2005) 61
    The Third Murder (2017) 56

    /Audition
    (1999) 85

    /Toy Story
    (1995) 65
    Vice (2018) 57
    The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) 62

    Stuff at Letterboxd
    Listening Habits at LastFM

  16. #16
    quarantined Skitch's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Pop Trash (view post)
    I hope you like unnecessary voice/overs!
    "...little did he know, unnecessary voice overs were trans' favorite kind of voice overs..."
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  17. #17
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Some nice spectacle here, and a pretty straightforward story. However, there's a lot of unnecessary dragging here in hopes that it's trying to more than it needs to be. The movie knows it too with the abundance of voiceover.

    Really digged Pitt's permanently calm and collected demeanor, and I wanted to see more of the other settings. The Rover chase, cinematography, and score are still among the year's best. All the parts are there.

    Le Choc Du Futur - ** 1/2
    TFW NO - 1/2 *
    Beastie Boys Story - **


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  18. #18
    Easily my favorite Gray.
    Last 10 Movies Seen
    (90+ = canonical, 80-89 = brilliant, 70-79 = strongly recommended, 60-69 = good, 50-59 = mixed, 40-49 = below average with some good points, 30-39 = poor, 20-29 = bad, 10-19 = terrible, 0-9 = soul-crushingly inept in every way)

    El
    (1973) 70
    The Day After
    (1983
    ) 63
    Duck, You Sucker (1971) 68
    Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) 71
    Noriko’s Dinner Party
    (2005) 61
    The Third Murder (2017) 56

    /Audition
    (1999) 85

    /Toy Story
    (1995) 65
    Vice (2018) 57
    The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) 62

    Stuff at Letterboxd
    Listening Habits at LastFM

  19. #19
    73/100

    Pretty much a mainstream Nolan sci-fi vehicle reimagined to fit the mood of Swan's "Helpless Child," tapping into the existential terror of us being all there is in the universe.

    Brad Pitt is exceptional in this, not because he is suddenly an actor with incredible range, but because he understands that this is not a hero picture; instead, a chain of shit happens (a lot of it beautiful or puzzling or brutal) and then you're left staring into the void. And nothing is staring back at you.
    Last 10 Movies Seen
    (90+ = canonical, 80-89 = brilliant, 70-79 = strongly recommended, 60-69 = good, 50-59 = mixed, 40-49 = below average with some good points, 30-39 = poor, 20-29 = bad, 10-19 = terrible, 0-9 = soul-crushingly inept in every way)

    El
    (1973) 70
    The Day After
    (1983
    ) 63
    Duck, You Sucker (1971) 68
    Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) 71
    Noriko’s Dinner Party
    (2005) 61
    The Third Murder (2017) 56

    /Audition
    (1999) 85

    /Toy Story
    (1995) 65
    Vice (2018) 57
    The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) 62

    Stuff at Letterboxd
    Listening Habits at LastFM

  20. #20
    unattainable Zac Efron's Avatar
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    This is a gem of a film. I adore how straight Gray plays this. He's a filmmaker who never overplays his hand and its often startling how simple, sophisticated his filmmaking aims to be compared to other guys out there who want to blow you over with style on both the page and screen. Brad Pitt again wins me over. I've been resisting his charms for years but now, to me, I feel like he's reached a point where he's seasoned enough that he can make the material work to his deft abilities and weathered strengths. This won't be my favorite film of the year but the melancholy tone damn near breaking my heart will be something I'll surely revisit.

  21. #21
    Replacing Luck Since 1984 Dukefrukem's Avatar
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    Not much to say that others here haven't. I was expecting something far more extreme of an ending climax but what I got was equally effective and jarring the way it was filmed.

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  22. #22
    I am alone and isolated in the world, alienated from my family but also ... moon pirates?

    It's so completely earnest that I feel bad for kicking it but oof this is not a good movie. The medium is wrong; this is an interior story better suited to a novel, not a film.

    Gray packs the frame with either close-ups of Brad Pitt or glorious vistas of deep space, so everything is good looking and pretty and easy on the eyes but he rides the too-obvious metaphors until they break and become ridiculous.

    It's also strange that a movie that's so detailed and deliberate in its production design is unbelievable in its physical action and emotional landscapes --- [
    ]

  23. #23
    Guttenbergian Pop Trash's Avatar
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    I wonder if this plays better as an immersive theatrical experience? The takes on it seem to be as divided as Joker. Mike D'angelo fucking hated it and destroyed it in his review. He also inexplicably hated Brad Pitt's performance which I don't get ... like at all?
    Ratings on a 1-10 scale for your pleasure:

    Inception - 8
    California Split - 7
    Back to the Future Part III - 6
    Back to the Future Part II - 7
    Not Another Teen Movie - 7
    Beastie Boys Story - 7
    Party Girl - 7
    Dog Day Afternoon - 8
    The Long Goodbye - 8
    Slumber Party Massacre II - 5

  24. #24
    Body Double Rico's Avatar
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    This bored me to death. I cease to exist now, guys.

  25. #25
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    I quite like James Gray, but this movie was ultimately garbage. It's not like it doesn't have Brad Pitt fighting starved monkeys in space, or a Stagecoach scene set in the Moon with buggy carts, but the end result is boring trite. Come on, people. The father never quite becomes a palpable character and I'm amazed that I'm the first to say this but Pitt's whole third act swimming in space back towards his ship is a ridiculous level of bad writing. It was never established that he was Superman.

    And that voice-over, Jesus Fucking Christ. It's like they never read a screenwriting rulebook. V.O. should add something to the narrative, not overexplain what the images and even the plot itself are already telling you quite clearly.

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