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

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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 (one month 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 (one month ago) link

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

Dan S, Monday, 9 September 2019 23:07 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) link

Wow how does that work

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 01:10 (one month ago) link

lol

WmC, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 01:46 (one month ago) link

relativity.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 02:09 (one month ago) link

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

ryan, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 02:58 (one month ago) link

otm

johnny crunch, Tuesday, 10 September 2019 03:14 (one month 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 (one month 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 (three weeks ago) link

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

Frederik B, Friday, 20 September 2019 16:56 (three weeks 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 (three weeks 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 (three weeks ago) link

yikes

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

This was impeccably crafted but I get very annoyed when science fiction that is touted as “adult” or “thoughtful” ends up just being more warmed-over Oedipal dreariness.

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Sunday, 22 September 2019 02:38 (three weeks ago) link

Space travel: it’s just an elaborate form of therapy where you learn how to process your feelings about dad

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Sunday, 22 September 2019 02:43 (three weeks ago) link

“Just open up a little, dude. Enjoy some coffee, talk to your wife.” Ok, great. Why did we have to go to fucking space to learn this?

What a bunch of bourgeois horse manure. Urgh.

Very pretty movie though

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Sunday, 22 September 2019 03:08 (three weeks ago) link

I think this would have been more interesting if was from the perspective of TLJ’s character. If we’re gonna dive into the emptiness of the cosmos and the need for humans to appreciate our precious, fleeting existence and learn to live with one another (or whatever this movie thinks it’s saying), then make the story about a character who would actually care about this one way or another. Brad Pitt’s character doesn’t care about anything except doing his mission and reconnecting with daddy. (Yeah, he learns to lighten up a bit at the end, but so what).

We should be able to feel the horror of someone finding out that this search has been pointless. That’s the real story here, but the movie is too chickenshit to deal with it directly.

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Sunday, 22 September 2019 04:20 (three weeks ago) link

I just feel like every James Gray film until now has been from Tommy Lee Jones' characters point of view, so I appreciated he tried something new this time.

Frederik B, Sunday, 22 September 2019 04:40 (three weeks ago) link

We should be able to feel the horror of someone finding out that this search has been pointless. That’s the real story here, but the movie is too chickenshit to deal with it directly.

that actually is the story of Pitt's character! His entire encounter with his father is disappointing and pointless for him.

ryan, Sunday, 22 September 2019 05:10 (three weeks ago) link

think this would have been more interesting if was from the perspective of TLJ’s character. If we’re gonna dive into the emptiness of the cosmos and the need for humans to appreciate our precious, fleeting existence and learn to live with one another (or whatever this movie thinks it’s saying), then make the story about a character who would actually care about this one way or another.

You missed the point of the movie

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 22 September 2019 11:36 (three weeks ago) link

No, I understood what the movie itself was doing. It’s not exactly rocket science*

It’s just that I found Pitt’s character’s journey less interesting than the implied backstory of his father. In other words I freely admit I just wish it was a different kind of movie entirely.

I’ll give Ad Asta this though: it made me care enough to be mad at it. These days that’s gotta count for something.

*i make no apologies for this :D

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Sunday, 22 September 2019 19:58 (three weeks ago) link

but I disagree with your point about Pitt learning to live with stranded Liv Tyler. If anything, Gray's editing and framing decisions are more devastating: he returns to her because "eh fuck it."

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 22 September 2019 20:02 (three weeks ago) link

I'm not crazy about the film because Sad Space movies are so not my genre.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 22 September 2019 20:02 (three weeks ago) link

I also want to praise the effects work in this. Other than the baboon (which looked fine but was obviously CGI) the visuals were nearly seamless.

Conceptualize Wyverns (latebloomer), Sunday, 22 September 2019 20:02 (three weeks ago) link

From what I've read, I'd watch the James Grey version.

hedonic treadmill class action (Sanpaku), Sunday, 22 September 2019 20:39 (three weeks ago) link

I loved this and found it very exciting. The fall from the space antenna opening is soooo good. It was weird though that Ruth Negga is all dressed up like some Pheobe Philo era Céline model on Mars.

What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers (jed_), Sunday, 22 September 2019 21:31 (three weeks ago) link

The Lost Space Station Z

untuned mass damper (mh), Monday, 23 September 2019 02:15 (three weeks ago) link

As someone who love love loved Gravity and The Martian, I found this underwhelming.

Pacing-wise it felt disjointed, like they'd wanted to go the noble route of creating a scientifically-sound, brooding take on the modern space opera genre but later got told to liven it up with some pointless action sequences which got punched-in at 20-30 minute intervals.

Everything to do with Sutherland and the space pirates felt very pointless. The space baboons sequence was from some other movie. Both those sequences were far-fetched and thrillery.

The film spent a long time taking me down detours and dead-ends, all the while alluding to some great reveal that never really happened. The entire denouement and final sequence was anticlimactic, predictable and ultimately no different to what we've seen on other recent 'lost in space' flicks.

A big part of the problem for me was not being able to connect with Pitt's character, nor bringing myself to care all that much about his relationship with his father, which seemed to be the emotional crux the film was trying to ply on me.

Meanwhile the rather major plotpoint of the power surges was reduced to a MacGuffin, brought up in only the most offhand way by TLJ's character at the end. How the hell was a relatively small spacecraft generating enough power to cause such catastrophic damage on Earth? And why was this happening? And (forgive me, maybe I had a lapse) was this something TLJ was doing on purpose? He seemed to be trying to stop it, but who knows, the film seemed more interested in getting me to care about Liv Tyler's 10 seconds of screentime than the actual science or motive of the mission.

frame casual (dog latin), Monday, 23 September 2019 09:23 (three weeks ago) link

On the other hand, everyone should stop discussing this film and go see Aniara, another space epic with lots of 'A's in the title, and which really did give me that true sense of space vertigo-madness this was hinting at.

frame casual (dog latin), Monday, 23 September 2019 09:27 (three weeks ago) link

I admired the Transformers/G.I. Joe-level science insisting that an explosion would "power" the journey back to Earth.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 23 September 2019 11:06 (three weeks ago) link

There's a plotline in Cixin Liu's (very 'hard' sci-fi) Death's End that proposes you could power a very small craft big enough to hold a housecat (or in the book, a human brain) by daisy chaining a series of nuclear bombs along its path and setting them off behind it at regular intervals. So this is a gross simplification of the same method, although clearly it would never work.

I realise this is Hollywood, but when the makers said they set-out to do a proper science-based space film and you end up with this kind of transparently Deus Ex ending, it stops being sci-fi and starts operating purely on a metaphorical level, the whole 'lost-in-space' device becoming a clothes horse to drape a lightweight sheet of human-interest onto it. But when the main character is a stoic mumbler, the lost father and the work-widowed wife barely present in the story, it's very hard to make the emotional investment the film so dearly beggars.

frame casual (dog latin), Monday, 23 September 2019 11:23 (three weeks ago) link

I didn't mind the stoic mumbling because middle aged Brad Pitt is a pretty stoic mumbler.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 23 September 2019 11:35 (three weeks ago) link

Natasha Lyonne was weird... Like, 'hey let's have a full minute where Russian Doll lady does some dull admin work and asks people to sign stuff while dressed in a red boiler suit'

frame casual (dog latin), Monday, 23 September 2019 11:42 (three weeks ago) link

The unintended downside of having a recognizable actor play a bit role is the projection of prior work on to the present character.

untuned mass damper (mh), Monday, 23 September 2019 14:05 (three weeks ago) link

also that she was doing nothing especially entertaining or plot-driven save for getting people to sign-in

frame casual (dog latin), Monday, 23 September 2019 14:28 (three weeks ago) link

I liked the beginning, where if Brad Pitt's mission succeeds then it means he'll need to reevaluate his past. then it all turns stupid around when the space pirates show up.

odd that gray watched so many experimental films and then didn't use any of it. he should have watched pandorum and lockout instead.

wasdnuos (abanana), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 17:22 (two weeks ago) link

otm, embrace the schlock

devvvine, Tuesday, 1 October 2019 17:24 (two weeks ago) link

i'll wait to rent this. it looked great but I've heard entirely too many people say it blows.

akm, Tuesday, 1 October 2019 17:47 (two weeks ago) link

always a reason to go

ppl are eejits

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 17:50 (two weeks ago) link

This was ... no Two Lovers.

Pauline Male (Eric H.), Wednesday, 2 October 2019 04:31 (one week ago) link

But, hey, probably the best movie with VFX in it I saw all year so far.

Pauline Male (Eric H.), Wednesday, 2 October 2019 04:32 (one week ago) link

Quite liked this... similar to the Oedipal westerns of the '50s in an attempt to engage mythology with a middle-aged sensibility, through genre. Not shocked that innumerable Jedi/replicants didn't get it.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 6 October 2019 20:20 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

Brad Pitt did the VO beautifully.

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

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

devvvine, Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:11 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

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

flappy bird, Sunday, 6 October 2019 23:14 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is better than BR2049

Otm

Οὖτις, Monday, 7 October 2019 01:46 (one week ago) link

I bet it was those stupid space wolves xp

flappy bird, Monday, 7 October 2019 03:54 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

gray said the space baboons were in his orig script iirc

johnny crunch, Monday, 7 October 2019 14:07 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

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

mh, Tuesday, 8 October 2019 01:30 (one week 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 (one week ago) link


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