By: Chris Chiu
“Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.”
Some things get better with age, like old wine, or aged cheese. None, however, surpass the development of Christopher Nolan. As the renowned mastermind behind The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, Nolan once again graces the silver screen with his genius in Interstellar, a fascinating tale about space and time travel.
What Inception did for dreams, Interstellar does for space. Most of us have a working general knowledge on how these two things work, but Nolan dives deep under the surface, pulling out fantastic, thoroughly thought-out ideas that push the limits of our imagination.
With so many events and twists within the 169-minute affair, the trailers do a great job at concealing the plot of a movie. Because of this, I will try and honour that by not revealing anything except for two phrases “alternate planets” and “dystopia,” and a quote from one of the trailers: “your daughter’s generation will be the last to survive on Earth."
Interstellar’s story is compelling, and although the ideas are grandiose, they never seem out of reach – which is what makes Interstellar so captivating and beautiful. Unlike Zathura or Star Trek, there is still enough realism here to make the events of the movie seem plausible. Additionally, Nolan’s ability to capture relationships and the human condition further entrenches the viewer in the storyline. The dialogue between char-acters is realistic, yet poetic, thus packing the film with many bittersweet moments. There were a few instances that I thought I was going to start ugly-crying right there in the theatre.
In true Nolan fashion, there are multiple moments in the film that make your heart simply freeze. His unmatched knack for creating plot twists truly makes him one of the best to touch the psychological thriller/drama genre in recent times. With physics on his side, Nolan is able to manipulate the concepts of special relativity and time dilation in order to craft a world similar to that of Inception – one that is expertly layered so that multiple settings and timelines blend together seamlessly. One defining moment in the film led to a collective gasp from the audience, sending shivers down my spine.
Interstellar is aesthetically pleasing, but we expected that from Nolan already. Every detail, from the tiniest grain of dust to the endless fields of corn shown in the opening sequence is gorgeous. What really caught my attention however were the space travel sequences, as the depictions of the universe and other planets reach a stunning Life of Pi level of scenic beauty.
Although visually stunning, Interstellar is a complete sensory experience. Hans Zimmer, who has collaborated with Nolan multiple times already, once again take the reins for the score. The music is fitting and the melodies suggest the ideas of exploration and curiosity, while remaining Zimmer's signature dark undertones. The music pairs well with the movie and is able to evoke a plethora of emotions from the viewers as the film progresses.
The casting choices were sound as well, as no character felt out of place. Matthew McConaughey’s performance was captivating and moving, while still remaining seemingly effortless. Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, and Jessica Chastain highlight an unbelievably stacked supporting cast, all delivering convincing and heartfelt performances. Michael Caine, iconic for his role as Alfred in Nolan’s Dark Knight series, also adds his talents to the film, resulting in a well-balanced film across the board.
The only criticism that I have for Interstellar is that some scenes felt a bit drawn-out. In one particular scene where McConaughey’s character is trying to dock his spacecraft onto a space station, we are literally watching McConaughey move a joystick for a full minute. This same sequence is repeated by Matt Damon later on in the movie, making an exceptionally well-paced film seem momentarily monotonous.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this movie. Although many of the underlying principles of Interstellar are rooted in physics, don't be discouraged - the screenwriting makes the film easy to follow even for those without a background in the subject. If you only have time to watch one movie before now and the end of the year, make sure it is this one. Seriously, for a three-hour film you will leave the theatre asking yourself “Wait, that’s it? That felt so short!” There is a consolation of some sort though, just like Inception, so expect to be thinking long and hard about the sequence of events even after the film is over. Whether it’s dreams or space, I can’t help but wonder what’s next to get the Nolan treatment. But it doesn’t matter-you can count me in.
Okay, hear me out on this one. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises isn’t as good as the film that came before it. But what other movie this year made you feel such intense hopelessness, tension and eventual triumph?
Part of what made The Dark Knight so good was that it could exist outside of its comic book mythology. The characters and their motivations were grounded and relatable. The Joker was messed up in a way we could understand. The Dark Knight Rises instead relies more on background story from the comic, which makes motivations less clear and the emotional impact less intense and universal. The tradeoff is that the film keeps your inner nerd happier than The Dark Knight ever could.
Among The Dark Knight Rises’ greatest accomplishments is how one individual is believably able to hold an entire city hostage. I can’t think of another movie where the villain is able to realistically keep the stakes so high. The Joker may be more intellectually interesting but Bane is satisfyingly scary through sheer brute force.
Brute force is actually how the film succeeds in a lot of ways. The Dark Knight Rises tries everything and achieves most of it. The dense plot packs so many twists that you might grow sick of them by the end, but at least the film is always interesting. Echoing the spirit of the Occupy movement, The Dark Knight Rises directly questions our apathy towards how unequal the world really is, blurring the line between good and evil. Bane’s methods are certainly evil but his goal might not be.
Even amidst all the grand action there are still great moments of subtlety. Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps up his winning streak as the snappy and likeable John Blake. Anne Hathaway slowly comes into her role as a witty and conflicted Catwoman. And though the moments between characters Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) are clunky, they still manage to be oddly touching.
The ending of The Dark Knight Rises pulls a classic Hollywood punch by sacrificing a darker and more interesting conclusion for a crow-pleaser, but this is a film that just wants to give you everything. And any movie that involves the destruction of a massive sports arena is automatically awesome to me.
By: Nolan Matthews
Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary about independent video game developers, which admittedly sounds fantastically boring. But it’s not. The fact that this movie is even about video games pretty quickly becomes irrelevant. It’s instead about the pure act of creating something and the highs and lows of the flawed, crazy and isolated people who make their art their life.
In all forms of art a distinction can be drawn between the independent and the mainstream. Commercial videogames are made by huge groups of people for the purpose of appealing to as many buyers as possible, while indie games are instead made by one person or a small group. The film follows the stories of three games and the people who made them.
Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen develop and eventually complete a game called Super Meat Boy, and these two try to find a way to live with the drama that goes along with the enourmous expectations placed on them. Jonathan Blow is sort of like the wise war veteran who has lived through making the hugely important and popular game Braid, but he has to deal with the disillusionment that his success has brought. Phil Fish, who develops Fez throughout the movie, represents the slowing fading promise that his game will ever be finished. The range of emotions this film covers is amazing, especially considering what it’s about.
Indie Game tells a good story. Interesting and surprising stuff happens. There’s joy and there’s sorrow and because the developers essentially come to live through their games, the successes and failures are important and they are affecting. Through the personal relationship that Tommy, Edmund, Johnathan and Phil have with the videogames they make, they become something relatable. Videogames become something that matters. Even if we can’t exactly feel the extreme sacrifice and joy of the people who made these indie games, watching Indie Game comes pretty damn close.
Sleepwalk with Me was produced by the people behind This American Life, a wildly popular American public radio program that has featured some of the most interesting, powerful and humorous stories to ever be broadcast. So you’d think that if This American Life chose a story to be made into a movie it would be truly mind-blowing. Sleepwalk with Me isn’t mind blowing. It’s a modest film. Not much happens. But it’s the kind of film that might tell you a lot about your life if you give it the chance.
Sleepwalk with Me is based on true stories from the life of Mike Birbiglia, who plays Matt Pandamiglio in the film. Matt is trying to figure out what to do with his life – a situation with which everyone in school right now can probably relate. He decides to try stand-up comedy, but Matt isn’t the typical offensive and loud stand-up comedian. Instead he’s self-deprecating, witty and subtle. Some really funny stand-up scenes are part of the already funny plot of the movie, giving Sleepwalk with Me twice the comedy potential of your average film.
Then there’s the sleepwalking, which leads to some ridiculous scenes that are good for laughs. But it’s also used to give the film heart, describing the mental state of Matt who can be reserved and hard to read.
Just like the best stand-up, this film is filled with clever observations about life that give perspective on the things we all do and experience. Matt has been in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend Abby for eight years, and when the idea of marriage comes up they both have to deal with their fear of commitment. Sleepwalk with Me considers the difference between (and difficulty of) learning something about yourself that you want to change and actually changing.
The end of Sleepwalk with Me reveals a truth about why people stay in relationships, even if they’re not happy. I won’t give it away because the insight is so simple, pure and true that it alone makes the movie worth watching.
By: Nolan Matthews
Toy Story is a terrible film for children, no matter what the “G” rating would suggest.
When I tell people that watching Toy Story was a traumatic experience for the four-year-old me, they always think it’s ridiculous. If they are feeling particularly sympathetic, they may entertain the idea that Sid and his sadistic manipulation of toys could be a little scary if his victims weren’t still just toys.
But it wasn’t Sid that I had a problem with. I was most disturbed by the idea that toys could come alive at all. I’m not sure why it came as a surprise to me that Toy Story involved living toys. Maybe I had to watch the film to truly grasp the profound implications.
Toy Story made me cry so much that my parents had to take me out of the theatre. With the immediate terror having been dealt with, an insidious paranoia soon replaced it.
When we arrived home, I announced through sobs that every toy that might ever think about eating meat had to be imprisoned in the basement. This dietary discrimination included almost all of my dinosaurs, which I had, up until then, loved dearly.
But I had become wise. I would not be the late-night snack of a miniature raptor. This kind of thinking is both absurd and annoyingly logical in a way that only children can be, but apparently I didn’t stay in the theatre long enough to see that the dinosaur in Toy Story is so sensitive that he actually needs lessons on how to be scary.
The one exception I made was for my grey teddy bear named Tippy. I’d had Tippy since I was born, and we had been through too much together for him to turn on me. We were brothers. I thought I could trust him. But that trust was put through the toughest challenge it would ever face.
I awoke the next morning (assuming I had slept at all, which is questionable) without even a single bite mark. I felt bad for ever doubting him. Slowly I learned to give my trust back to the rest of the meat-eaters.
Scary stories affect us in ways that normal stories just can’t. As we grow older, we know that the images of a horror movie aren’t real, and yet they still have an incredible power to terrify us. Or make us laugh, when an attempt to be taken seriously falls flat. Maybe the appeal of scary stories is that they allow us to feel like children again, where there are big, bad and scary things in this world that we don’t understand but that we allow ourselves to believe in for an hour and a half. Or maybe it’s the exact opposite, and we like to feel that we are mature enough to handle anything.
In honour of all things scary, we present you with ANDY’s annual Halloween issue. We’ve got more stories of people’s first experiences seeing scary movies, what makes a good scary video game and a couple of reviews of new horror films. ANDY is all treat and no trick.