interstellarParamount/Warner Bros./Legendary (2014) 169 min. PG-13

Director: Christopher Nolan

Screenplay: Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan

Cinematography: Hoyte van Hoytema; Editing: Lee Smith

Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Garry Fettis

Costumes: Mary Zophres; Score: Hans Zimmer

Stars: Matthew McConaughey (Cooper), Anne Hathaway (Amelia Brand), Jessica Chastain (Murphy), Michael Caine (Prof. Brand), Wes Bentley (Doyle), Matt Damon (Dr. Mann), Casey Affleck (Tom), MacKenzie Foy (young Murphy), David Gyasi (Romilly), John Lithgow (Donald), Topher Grace (Getty), Ellen Burstyn (old Murphy)

Jingoistic homespun set in space, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar feels very loosey-goosey in its pseudo-intellectual way, propounding the universal truths as it does, while at the same time immersing itself in nativist and isolationist sympathies. It’s an unrestrained celebration of America’s expansionist policies, exalting the idea of manifest destiny by extending Western civilization’s never-ceasing spread. This time, we’re exhorted to push upwards, into the stars, in order to open up virgin territory ripe for the plucking to a whole new space age of exploration. Once depletion of this planet’s resources is complete, we set out for new lands and new civilizations to conquer, stripping their resources and raping the environment anew. Apparently it’s open season for colonization when the focus is outside the current ecosphere.

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Upside Down

UD-PosterMillennium Ent. (2013) 107 min. PG-13

Director: Juan Diego Solanas

Screenplay: Juan Diego Solanas

Cinematography: Pierre Gill

Editing: Dominique Fortin & Paul Jutras

Production Design: Alex McDowell

Set Decoration: Paul Hotte

Costumes: Valérie Bélègou

Score: Benoît Charest & Sigur Rós

Stars: Jim Sturgess (Adam), Kirsten Dunst (Eden), Timothy Spall (Bob Boruchowitz), Blu Mankuma (Albert), Kate Trotter (Becky), James Kidnie (Lagavullan), Nicholas Rose (Pablo), Holly O’Brien (Paula)

All that glitters is not gold, so in the midst of award season hyperbole it’s prudent to step away from the madness for a moment to better assess the situation. To my mind the most visionary movie about Gravity released in 2013 was not made by Alfonso Cuarón but fellow Latin American director Juan Diego Solanas. For its imaginative breadth and creativity, the Argentine artisan’s gravity defying Upside Down has it all over the more hyped, big-budget epic with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Still, it’s curious that both directors chose to explore the subject of ‘space,’ figuratively and literally, this same year. The emergence of their mirroring movies, eerily akin to Solanas’ own subject involving parallel planets, seems more than simple synchronicity. Perhaps it has to do with the interest Latin American governments have recently shown in developing their own space programs. Continue reading