James Gray's "inward-looking" sci-fi film AD ASTRA starring Brad Pitt

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

I'm there for whatever Gray makes.

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/6567-james-gray-s-ad-astra

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 3 September 2019 22:14 (four months ago) link

yeah I am excited about this

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 3 September 2019 22:20 (four months ago) link

Gray is one of my favorite journeyman directors. Didn't this get delayed a lot? From what little they give away in the trailers it seems to have some Interstellar vibes.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 3 September 2019 22:28 (four months ago) link

how do you define "journeyman"?

I have my screening next week.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:08 (four months ago) link

I mean that every one of his films is very different from the one before it, like a classic studio system director.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:11 (four months ago) link

Like here, which I just found:

http://collider.com/journeyman-directors-explained/

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:11 (four months ago) link

he's not a 'journeyman' to me; not even in the auteurist Allan Dwan sense

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:31 (four months ago) link

I read "journeyman" and think, I dunno, Henry Hathaway or something

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:32 (four months ago) link

more like Jack Smight

p sure the guy who wrote the Collider thing has not seen any pre-Jaws movies

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:34 (four months ago) link

every one of his films is very different from the one before it, like a classic studio system director.

the difference is I believe Gray originates all his projects. Also a lot of commonalities in the ones before (or even through) The Immigrant.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:39 (four months ago) link

Yeah, I guess that's a distinction. No one is bringing him projects.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:53 (four months ago) link

Like, Curtis Hanson, that's the type of director I'm thinking of.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:58 (four months ago) link

ughhh

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 4 September 2019 01:00 (four months ago) link

I like Hanson.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 01:01 (four months ago) link

It’s very interesting, because they have found that it’s a very different thing for the astronauts that go up 200 miles up in the ISS, where the Earth is still most of your vision when you look out the window.... And it’s a very different psychological effect, apparently. They don’t know for sure what would happen the further you go out, but they’re anticipating that it has potentially serious consequences. When the Earth is just a blue dot, what does that mean?

So, this certainly went into the kind of thought process that Brad and I had discussed about the character. It became very important to us, this idea that the Earth all of a sudden gets smaller and smaller, and the sun gets smaller and smaller. All the things that we know—all the things that are tangible and beautiful—seem further and further away. We thought this was an excellent context for something....

You know, I have huge admiration for Alfonso Cuarón, because I don’t know how he made that movie Gravity, knowing now what it is. What we tried to do, as much as we could, was go old school. We built two sets; a horizontal set, and then a vertical one. On the horizontal set, you would put the actor on a moving rig. And then the vertical, you’re shooting from the bottom looking up, and you hang the actor on wires. Usually, they’re blocking the wires. When they’re not, you paint them out. It’s a very effective effect when you combine the two sets, and the wides and the close-ups....

It’s basically like making a kind of semi 3D painting. You have pre- and post-vis, but it doesn’t really approximate what the thing is going to look like, and you have to get it right. If you make a mistake in judging the animation, they turn to you and they say, “What are you talking about? That’s rendered. You did that with the animation you chose.” So, I realize I really have to be so specific about the animation on a very basic level. And that was painstaking. That took forever.

https://deadline.com/2019/08/ad-astra-james-gray-interview-sci-fi-future-fox-venice-1202705879/

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 9 September 2019 18:21 (four months ago) link

“There’s a level of bullshit that the culture is now embracing,” Gray said. “The other day, the doctor is poking around my pancreas, and he’s, like, ‘You see “The Avengers 2”?’ I’m, like, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Why not?’ I’m, like, ‘I’m not nine!’ ” Gray thought that public reporting of movies’ gross profits, a practice that took off in the eighties, changed the popular conception of what a successful film looked like. (“My dad will say, ‘That was a very big hit!’ I’ll be, like, ‘I don’t think you’re a stockholder in Time Warner!’ ”)

johnny crunch, Monday, 9 September 2019 21:00 (four months ago) link

uh oh he's flirting with getting an old man gif ILX'd at him

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 9 September 2019 21:09 (four months ago) link

I’m, like, ‘I’m not nine!’

lol these movies aren't for 9yos, they're for manbabies

Οὖτις, Monday, 9 September 2019 21:35 (four months ago) link

“They rate everything according to Francis Ford Coppola movies,” Ali Gray explained. A superb meal on Gross’s scale is a “Godfather.” A meal better than superb is a “Godfather II.” One that’s rewarding but an acquired taste (such as Gray’s lemon fettuccine with jalapeños) is an “Apocalypse Now.” Once, there was a “Jack” meal, but they don’t talk about it.

Fuck this dude; he can fall under a bus.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Monday, 9 September 2019 22:18 (four months ago) link

I'm seeing this on thursday :) Quite excited, and I'm not really the biggest Gray-fan anyway.

Frederik B, Monday, 9 September 2019 22:46 (four months ago) link

I'm a fan (less so of Brad Pitt), and I'll be there Thursday.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 9 September 2019 22:52 (four months ago) link

I've seen two, maybe three of his movies (Little Odessa, We Own The Night, and I might have seen The Immigrant, I don't remember). Zero interest in the others, this one included.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Monday, 9 September 2019 23:01 (four months ago) link

Two Lovers and Lost City of Z flirt with greatness often.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 9 September 2019 23:05 (four months ago) link

haven't seen his other films but I liked The Lost City of Z

Dan S, Monday, 9 September 2019 23:07 (four months ago) link

We Own the Night is such a weird clunky obvious movie that I feel it's almost a commentary on something. I thought it looked great but felt very stupid.

omar little, Monday, 9 September 2019 23:08 (four months ago) link

Oh, I'm seeing this thing! But had to bail on that New Yorker profile 1/3 of the way in. Excruciating, and not because Gray himself is a ludicrous human being.

Lactose Shaolin Wanker (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 9 September 2019 23:09 (four months ago) link

I even liked large bits of We Own the Night. He has a gravity that never turns to camp.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 9 September 2019 23:15 (four months ago) link

the weirdness of WOtN is in its total sincerity in presenting absurd material, which isn't necessarily a demerit...

omar little, Monday, 9 September 2019 23:22 (four months ago) link

now u know how I feel about u, unp

Tommy Lee Jones is plying Pitt's father here... he is a mere 17 years younger than Brad

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 9 September 2019 23:28 (four months ago) link

Wow how does that work

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 01:10 (four months ago) link

lol

WmC, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 01:46 (four months ago) link

relativity.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 02:09 (four months ago) link

Love all this guy's movies and I'm really excited about this.

ryan, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 02:58 (four months ago) link

otm

johnny crunch, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 03:14 (four months ago) link

i'm starting to really hate every fucking thread in this fucking middle-aged asylum

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 10 September 2019 05:28 (four months ago) link

Saw it this afternoon and I was sadly unimpressed. Brad Pitt's ok and there's some decent space spectacle and a few dark laughs, but it's portentous in the extreme (thankfully dialogue is relatively scant, but I thought both it and Pitt's voiceover border on cringe- and/or laugh-worthy at times) and the whole thing is so utterly unsurprising/unadventurous, in terms of ideas, plot or the emotional side of things. I liked both Gravity and Sunshine, and thought this bears a lot of similarities to and/or took cues from both, without really doing anything different enough for me. Not terrible, but not great either.

Press reviews I've read have been incredibly positive though (Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian and the Skinny and List here in Scotland), so I was surprised and disappointed. Anyone else caught it yet?

brain (krakow), Friday, 20 September 2019 16:52 (four months ago) link

I watched it, loved it. Loved the way it just dives headfirst into banality.

Frederik B, Friday, 20 September 2019 16:56 (four months ago) link

TLJ has some beautiful line readings.

I enjoyed it more than the average metaphysical space film, but this is not my genre.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 20 September 2019 16:59 (four months ago) link

Ah, I wish I had loved it! I'm generally a fan of this kind of film and could have done with a couple of hours proper escape.

How do you mean you loved the dive into banality?

brain (krakow), Friday, 20 September 2019 17:06 (four months ago) link

yikes

Is it true the star Beetle Juice is going to explode in 2012 (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 20 September 2019 20:05 (four months ago) link

i would imagine Gray would not mesh perfectly with big-budget expectations

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 20 September 2019 20:17 (four months ago) link

I liked this a lot and look forward to seeing it again, but a lot like Z it felt relatively muted to me on first watch. Just like Z I found myself wanting it to go just a bit further *out there* (funny thing to think during a movie that ends literally at Neptune). The music was good but nothing quite as effective as the Ravel in Z.

Perhaps unfair to compare them since I feel so strongly about the prior film, but I think I actually enjoyed this more than Z after the first watch. I will see this again with my aging father (lol) who is a sci fi nut and hopefully untangle my feelings a bit more.

ryan, Friday, 20 September 2019 22:25 (four months ago) link

It’s always upsetting to me when movies like this—ambitiously flawed thoughtful and personal, lyrical, adult—are handled poorly and then bomb—which this will. Every great movie is a miracle but it feels like we could have movies like this pretty regularly.

Also: no idea why 2001 is being metioned with this...the real comparison is Soderbergh’s Solaris.

ryan, Friday, 20 September 2019 22:30 (four months ago) link

I enjoyed this, wasn't totally blown away by it. It's too facile to say "Terence Malick's Apocalypse Now," but I can't shake the phrase. The moon chase and space critters were weird side roads to take, and Natasha Lyonne's cameo was a lol.

There was a shitload of Movie Science in this picture.

WmC, Saturday, 21 September 2019 01:14 (four months ago) link

it sounds interesting, hearing about it makes me think of High Life, but I guess this has more action

Dan S, Saturday, 21 September 2019 01:23 (four months ago) link

Just saw. Really enjoyed this, need to think about it. Kinda wanna see it again.

Lactose Shaolin Wanker (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 21 September 2019 01:35 (four months ago) link

It's interesting to reflect on the fact that the reserved emotional nature of these last two films is both text and subtext...both are about men with an inability to have intimacy, inhabiting movies that keep us at arm's length (Ad Astra *talks about* feelings, but only in the negative)...but what's particularly intriguing to me is that they see masculinity itself as a kind of woundedness, or a way to cope with being wounded, a survival strategy or search for security that's enormously empathetic and not really interested in scoring cheap shots against "toxic masculinity" so much as it is concerned about charting a way through masculinity towards something...more yielding.

ryan, Saturday, 21 September 2019 02:20 (four months ago) link

The story of how Natasha Lyonne ended up in this movie is so very... Natasha Lyonne: https://slate.com/culture/2019/09/natasha-lyonne-ad-astra-cameo-explained-james-gray.html

I love her.

Roz, Saturday, 21 September 2019 02:48 (four months ago) link

Sound design was stunning in this, really felt like being in a space pod seeing it in a decent sized theater. Voiceover was overwrought and some clunky lines but w/e, awesome score and it looks magnificent and there's maybe half a dozen stunning shots. not as good as First Man or BR2049 but still very solid.

I like that Natassha Lyonne is the greeter on the moon (or Mars? idfk)

thought it was funny when they get to the moon and the inside is every airport/strip mall, complete with Sbux and Subway

flappy bird, Sunday, 6 October 2019 22:35 (three months ago) link

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is better than BR2049

this is not a fuckin' space movie

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 6 October 2019 22:44 (three months ago) link

idc about space movies but la flor's most tedious hour was more engaging than this

devvvine, Sunday, 6 October 2019 22:48 (three months ago) link

ohhhhhhhh god no

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 6 October 2019 22:50 (three months ago) link

Brad Pitt did the VO beautifully.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:08 (three months ago) link

"what am i doing here?" - both me and brad pitt during ad astra

devvvine, Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:11 (three months ago) link

yeah he was great, it was the script that was on the nose

I did like one of his final lines about galaxies and nebula being beautiful "with nothing underneath"

flappy bird, Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:13 (three months ago) link

also there's a pirate chase on the moon, this is a space movie

flappy bird, Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:14 (three months ago) link

I haven't read the reshoot story I posted a couple weeks ago (spoilers). What scenes did they add?

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:25 (three months ago) link

The story didn’t give specifics abt scenes, just that supposedly there were reshoots done against Grays wishes

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Monday, 7 October 2019 01:29 (three months ago) link

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is better than BR2049

Otm

Οὖτις, Monday, 7 October 2019 01:46 (three months ago) link

I bet it was those stupid space wolves xp

flappy bird, Monday, 7 October 2019 03:54 (three months ago) link

If even that can't make it through the studio system without Disney demanding cuts and reshoots and voiceovers and extra ending scenes (and in one really dubious instance, removing a character's entire sexuality), what chance does anyone else have anymore?

— M.K. Rhodes (@mkrultra) September 21, 2019

devvvine, Monday, 7 October 2019 10:03 (three months ago) link

I'd have lost at least a third of the voiceover... but it was ALL the studio's idea?

(I was confused by "Disney" until I remembered the Fox merger)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 7 October 2019 11:04 (three months ago) link

flappy, they wuz baboons

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 7 October 2019 11:13 (three months ago) link

The scenes between pitt and the commander of the mars base give me a reshoot vibe, I wouldn't be surprised if those had been at tinkered with in some way. Her character seemed oddly truncated, and the way she moved the plot along seemed v perfunctory to me (I didnt totally buy that the government decided to tell the best-kept secret in the galaxy to her but not pitt, and she has the video evidence of it on her ipad ready to call up at a moments notice. unless I missed something, my memory's not clear on why exactly she had that video.)

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Monday, 7 October 2019 14:05 (three months ago) link

gray said the space baboons were in his orig script iirc

johnny crunch, Monday, 7 October 2019 14:07 (three months ago) link

yes, M K Rhodes' further tweets say that Negga's part was truncated.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 7 October 2019 14:11 (three months ago) link

obv the previous Pitt film this is most relevantly paired with is The Tree of Life

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 01:19 (three months ago) link

hadn't considered evaluating it along the Pitt axis. insightful!

mh, Tuesday, 8 October 2019 01:30 (three months ago) link

Yeah

gray said the space baboons were in his orig script iirc

― johnny crunch, Monday, October 7, 2019 2:07 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

That is a wonderful sentence.

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Tuesday, 8 October 2019 01:32 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Thought this was pretty good--my first Gray film, will catch up with the others at some point. I thought I was clever to pick up on the Apocalypse Now affinities...but I guess every person who's ever reviewed or commented upon the film got there first. I missed that that was Liv Tyler until the credits. One unintentional laugh: when Pitt sneaks onto the spacecraft headed for Neptune, and when he fought the guy in a slow-motion space-grapple, the film seemed to follow the rule that if it's now an action film for a minute or two, somebody has to say "son of a bitch."

clemenza, Sunday, 3 November 2019 04:38 (two months ago) link

"Ad Astra" is one of my favourite Deerhunter songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuSgpL3J1bw

clemenza, Sunday, 3 November 2019 13:52 (two months ago) link

this movie was pretty to look at but i couldn't get past the hokey plotting and cliched character conflicts

davey, Monday, 4 November 2019 09:09 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

this was terrible. so glad I didn't see this in a theater.

akm, Thursday, 26 December 2019 18:40 (four weeks ago) link

it did give a lot of heft to the action/effects episodes tbh. and not sure I would have gotten through some of the other bits in one sitting otherwise.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 26 December 2019 19:16 (four weeks ago) link

The moon car chase was perfect for a 7am flight from Charlotte to Jacksonville.

Yelploaf, Thursday, 26 December 2019 21:23 (four weeks ago) link

but pointless? who was attacking them? who are we at war with? I could just ignore this if that scene wasn't so long and didn't seem like it was supposed to be important.

the narration was brutal on this, and the final scenes when he reaches dad underwhelming. was there even any revelation there?

akm, Thursday, 26 December 2019 21:27 (four weeks ago) link

wouldn't blowing up the ship powered by anti-matter result in an even bigger electrical surge?

akm, Thursday, 26 December 2019 21:28 (four weeks ago) link

movie needed more natasha lyonne

akm, Thursday, 26 December 2019 21:28 (four weeks ago) link

just smdh

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 26 December 2019 21:36 (four weeks ago) link

who was attacking them? who are we at war with?

this was set up & explained pretty clearly iirc?

warn me about a lurking rake (One Eye Open), Thursday, 26 December 2019 22:30 (four weeks ago) link

I don't think the details were spelled out. But there's resources, so there's raiders. That's kinda all there is to it.

Frederik B, Thursday, 26 December 2019 22:34 (four weeks ago) link

I'd like to see Grey's edit before the tentpole stupid was added. I'm 100% certain that only that edit will save the film in future estimation.

The dead swans lay in the stagnant pool (Sanpaku), Thursday, 26 December 2019 22:36 (four weeks ago) link

#ReleasetheGrayCut

Frederik B, Thursday, 26 December 2019 22:41 (four weeks ago) link

supposedly the stupid action scenes were all in the original; the later cut added the narration and removed footage from non-brad pitt characters.

wasdnuos (abanana), Thursday, 26 December 2019 23:40 (four weeks ago) link

lol, this was stunningly dumb and i almost quit but then SPACE MONKEYS and that was the one hat tip too many to suggest that everyone's fully aware they're on their bullshit. the "plot" hit really really close to home with my own daddy issues but come the fuck on with these metaphors. As a weird take on 40's/50's sci-fi, okay but why?

Obvs the visuals and effects (including Pitt in full on Keanu uncarved block mode and TL Jones as old man skeletor who never loved you) were outrageously good, mostly enough to keep me engaged when I wasn't shaking my head at the nonsense in general.

my opinion lies somewhere between latebloomers "impeccably crafted bourgie horseshit" and Fred's "i love that it just dives headfirst into banality." I'd likely need to watch it again to clarify but you've got to be kidding me, there is no way i'm watching this madness twice in a world so filled with other things to do.

I genuinely started laughing at the mars recording studio... with red rock baffles!
http://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/10418278a.jpg

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Saturday, 28 December 2019 16:04 (three weeks ago) link

i do wish i'd seen it in theaters if i was gonna see it.... that made gravity a fun watch and it likely woulda helped this. I woulda likely nodded off at the end regardless.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Saturday, 28 December 2019 16:07 (three weeks ago) link

killer soundtrack tho! will listen again.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Saturday, 28 December 2019 16:07 (three weeks ago) link

the space baboons were lab animals from Earth, no one else is saying anything different, right

"a world so filled with other things to do" is a strange concept in an era when ppl are watching last summer's Tarantella movie 5+ times

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 28 December 2019 16:09 (three weeks ago) link

Those were space monkeys; I am willing to stake my reputation on it.

It’s very rare that I do an immediate rewatch of any film; I could see trying this again if it were in theaters in maybe, oh, five years.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Saturday, 28 December 2019 16:35 (three weeks ago) link

last year's Tarantino movie is 10x better than this was, jesus.

akm, Sunday, 29 December 2019 01:30 (three weeks ago) link

akm otm

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Sunday, 29 December 2019 02:36 (three weeks ago) link

i'll assume youre wrong

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 29 December 2019 06:50 (three weeks ago) link

I'll take a self-indulgent/butchered by the studios mess by a good director over anything fucking Tootsie Tarantino does 4eva!

calzino, Sunday, 29 December 2019 07:18 (three weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

Kinda got overlooked I like this movie quite a bit for what it was, Hollywood outer space pop psych... Sound design was fantastic.

flappy bird, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 05:33 (one week ago) link

Finally got around to this - a bit ponderous but ultimately solid. Of the nu-ratpack space movies was definitely the best or, at least, the one with the most ideas and best visual + sound design.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 16:45 (one week ago) link

yeah i liked this a lot more than i expected to

que pasa picasso (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 January 2020 16:46 (one week ago) link

seemed to draw from various New Wave sf deconstructions of the space program - Moorcock's Black Corridor, various Malzberg books (Beyond Apollo, etc.), but I think Morbz is also correct about the debt to Westerns

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 14 January 2020 17:11 (one week ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.