MOVIE REVIEW: Interstellar

In Interstellar, reading the dust, literally, Coop makes a startling discovery and eventually flies off into a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum.

interstellarNow THAT’S how I like to see a movie: knowing almost nothing. I’d heard Interstellar had gotten some decent reviews and that it ran almost three hours (actually 166 minutes).

In Albany, it was playing both at the Spectrum, only at noon, and at my neighborhood Madison Theatre, at 3, 6 and 9:35 p.m., on the last Tuesday of 2014. If you knew my spouse, you’d know the latter was totally off the table, even though she didn’t have to work the next day.

The Madison at 6 it is. They show no previews, so the patrons haven’t figured out that when the overlay comes on that says the title, it’s time to be quiet.

There’s Matthew Matthew McConaughey playing Coop, a farmer in a near-future United States which is about to experience some nasty combination of the Ireland potato famine of the 1840s, as crop after crop fails; and the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s, with precautions against the dust a way of life.

Coop is widowed with a couple kids, easy-going 15-year-old Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy), an intense, intelligent 10-year-old girl. The kids have limited prospects, limited dreams in the new economy, epitomized by one sentence from Coop: “We used to look up to the sky and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

In the early part of the film, the most chilling dialogue takes place between Coop and a pair of “educators” (David Oyelowo, Collette Wolfe) who have criticized Coop for letting Murph read unauthorized books rather than the revisionist history.

Reading the dust, literally, Coop makes a startling discovery, after which he leaves his two kids in the care of his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and eventually flies off into a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum with Brand (Anne Hathaway) – daughter of a noted scientist (Michael Caine) – and with others in a desperate effort to save the earth’s inhabitants.

It goes on like that, space travel, with much talk about time and gravity and how it affects all the other dimensions, and some occasional action, both in space and on the home front.

Interstellar also stars Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, and a whole lot of other folks, with essentially a cameo by Ellen Burstyn.

Then I realized I have no idea how to review this movie, at least without a lot of spoilers. So I am going to cheat and paste reviewers’ observations:

*As a singular movie-watching opportunity, it’s undoubtedly worthwhile. – Christy Lemire (negative review)

*Having set out to be a journey into what can hardly be depicted at all, Interstellar must find oblique ways of suggesting further imperceptible dimensions of the real. It is worth the journey to see what [director and co-writer Christopher] Nolan has constructed as a model of the unknowable. – Geoffrey O’Brien (positive review)

*A combination of spectacular special effects, marginal physics, and grindingly slow treacle. – Ron Wilkinson (positive review)

*Interstellar may be a preposterous epic, but it is an epic nonetheless. – Christopher Orr (positive review)

These are all accurate assessments of my feelings. I will say that Jessica Chastain as the grown-up Murph is very good. I thought the third hour was better paced, and more interesting, than the second, which could have used a 10-minute edit.

Bottom line: I’m glad I saw it, I wouldn’t watch it again, and I’m unsure whether to recommend it. The Wife liked it much less than I, but she was more confused by the science, or pseudo-science, while I didn’t worry greatly about the details.

I do think this will look worse on home video because the viewer will quite possibly get bored and give up on it.

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