Hazarding a wildly speculative guess, I think Stanley Kubrick would have loved Gravity. He would have been knocked out by Alfonso Cuarón’s zero-G realism and long-take panache. Secretly, he would have envied the movie’s grosses (Kubrick knew about the power that money could buy). He would have called someone in the middle of the night to talk about it.
And finally, Kubrick would have leaned back with a sly smile (his only smile), knowing his classic’s reputation was safe. It’s not that 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t look dated—it does, a touch—but rather, it feels as intelligent and provocative as ever, bearing years of conceptual dreaming. Until today’s equivalent of novelist Arthur C. Clarke commits a hefty chunk of time to envisioning the beginning of human civilization, as well as the far ends of the future, there will be no new film that supplants it. Though it was showered with technical praise, 2001 lingers on the mind like a tall, black riddle: Where are the new bones, the new tools, that will take us higher? Do we even deserve them?
And if The Shining can grow as a black comedy, so can this one. Douglas Rain’s clammy voice work as HAL 9000, the murderous machine, remains one of Kubrick’s snazziest pieces of direction. Of course, he’d tell us, Gravity is great. But I prefer Her.
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