Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Do You See?

*Warning this article does come with some mild plot spoilers*

One of my favorite films nobody went to watch would be the 2007 Danny Boyle film Sunshine. As a film the writing leaves a bit to be desired from Alex Garland (28 Days Later...). Yet as a visual feast it's a mind blowing adventure, one of the best visual films of the year, no argument. At the same time the trailer for it is just awesomely exciting. Wonderfully using the Requiem for a Dream theme song, the trailer does some things great: it's visually stimulating and it highlights the film. What the trailer does wrong, is since most of the films action scenes are geared towards its finale, it uses them, giving away perhaps one too many plot points. Yet, at the same time, it shows you some things that may look like potential plot spoilers, but wind up not being, so perhaps they cancel out?

On top of that you can add an amazing soundtrack, that's just purely mind blowing from John Murphy, adding to one of the great scenes in film, the death of Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada). With Searle (Cliff Curtis), whose ever growing fascination of the Sun and isolated personality causing subtle signs of caution taking over the mic, to simple ask Kaneda what do you see as he is about to die. A powerful scene, with great raw emotion from star Cillian Murphey. Though the music in this scene, and the dominant music throughout the film, which was only recently released on itunes, was Surface of the Sun. An amazingly powerful song, recently adopted for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer (which I must say was almost infinitely better than the film).

Listen here:

Recently I've read some critics knock it for its "just because" sort of attitude. That is, why do certain things happen a certain way, "just because" the writer/director wanted it that way. Though I'd argue aren't all science fiction films that way? They ask for a suspension of some belief in character decisions, and at times plausibility in physics, in favor of visually encompassing moments far more memorable than they could ever be otherwise. Sunshine is one of those sort of films, a combination of 2001 space odyssey meets solaris meets event horizon, and as emotionally gripping as they can be. The ending is the most knocked about because of the violent nature, turning into a bit of a slasher film, but really is it so incredibly far fetched that one man, eating food for 8 meant for 2 years, on a ship could live alone after 7 years with nothing to do but look at the sun, exercise, and become incredibly strong and insanely crazy? Really... it might not be what you'd want, and I can see that, but it's not so far fetched.

The Pinbacker character, is in many ways, while not anyone's favorite, the ultimate point of the films first 3/4ths (or 2/3rds or whatever you want to say). He's the ultimate cost of someone getting lost in the sun. Someone who loses themselves, and yet his appearance catapults forward some of the films greatest scenes (the Capa escape for example). I'll grant you it's very far fetched, and that it's probably not the best possible ending, but it's the one that Garland and Boyle chose. So, in that, there lies a reason, the reason pointed out above, and throughout the film, that you can't lose yourself in something without suffering consequence, especially not something as massive as the Sun. I've always felt this film was an allegory for our fascination with the beyond, things beyond our control, and understanding, our fascination with explaining them, and trying to put them into these nicely fit boxes.

This it why it hurts me when I hear people not giving it a chance because of they read a review that hated something about it. They hear it's got an action packed violent finale and those who love slow moving dramas pass, and those who love action hear it's got a character driven first 3/4ths and pass... but it has more than enough for both! It's got it all, and the one man behind it who knows what to do with it. Dumped off by Fox, one should not pass up the opportunity to view this film based on pre-concieved notions, or any film for that matter. Even the movies I watch the commercials and say my god that will suck, and I'll never watch it, I eventually do (case in point: I sat through Sex and the City). As writers we post our opinion, they're not facts, and our taste in film, and life experiences, heavily influence what we seek out in film. Readers should take them as a guide, a way of analyzing your decisions in prioritizing your movie viewing, but not as a definitive source on what is and is not worth viewing. Heck some of the films I've had the most fun watching never managed to get over 25-30% on RottenTomatoes. That doesn't make me hate them any more or less.

If you were told today by someone I am giving you $1,000,000 and you have 1 day to spend it all on one thing. Only someone truly lost would yell back their answer right away. Most of us would sit down, weigh our options, long term and short, come to the best possible decision... or I would hope most of us would at least. But I'm getting off my point a little bit.

For me, films like Sunshine are really a dime a dozen. It transcends its flaws through memorability, gripping cinematography, and not letting go even years later. So that, when you hear that theme song, those lines, the entire film rushes back to your head... and in your mind you retrace every step of the film. Sure it may not be a top 100 films of all time. Heck it may not have even been a top 10 of 2007 (a rather loaded year in film), but it's one of those that sticks with you, or has for me at least. And as such I'll always love it for that. Ten viewings later, and every time Capa falls in the end my nails are biting, my palms are sweaty and in my head I'm screaming "get up get up!" For that alone I'm willing to ignore the naysayers, and suspend myself into its own reality, if only for two hours.

And so ends my rather long article/rant/rave. I hope it's been both entertaining, and if nothing a little bit of insight to me.

Do you agree/disagree with my thoughts/opinions?

2 better thoughts:

LuckyCricket said...

Thank you for this article. I have been debating whether or not to pick up this film as a result of what you call those misconceptions (bad reviews) from critics, and your input has made up my mind. I will see this film, it definitely looks intriguing.

Wes22 said...

Good choice Cricket. This movie has a lot to offer. He's right, there are so many scenes that stay with you. And the music is amazing.

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