The Fading Attraction of the Family Gathering

family dinner gathering, Gray Bros. CafeteriaOnce again it’s that time of year when Christmas pervades our thoughts and retailers, when we have hard decisions to make about which relatives and friends deserve free tokens of affection or obligation, when our diets are at their most compromised, and when every family or circle remotely connected to us tries to fill up our December calendar page with nonstop, wall-to-wall action and excitement.

Wait, no. They just want everyone who meets their invitation criteria to get together, eat a meal in the same room at the same time, and check off the item on the holiday to-do list that reads “mandatory visiting”. Action and excitement are optional. Too, too optional. Sometimes it’s best not to ask about presents, either.

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“Gravity”: Connect or Perish

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Zero-g leaves zero margin for error.

If movie theaters were allowed to set individual rules before watching certain films, the first rule of a Gravity showing would be no snacking during the first ten minutes. After the title and text intro (“Life in space is impossible”), the movie doesn’t begin so much as it emerges from the darkness and silence of space. As a distant pinpoint expands and metamorphoses into a Space Shuttle bearing Academy Award Winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the noiseless vacuum slowly parts for a trickle of radio chatter that steadily builds from volume 0 as its source nears our position.

While we eavesdropped on the cast’s interplay during their distant grand entrance, the ambiance of their stage-setting was slightly disrupted by the sounds of the peckish viewers seated around me, rustling plastic wrappers and scarfing whatever snacks they couldn’t be bothered to finish during the preceding 25-minute trailer marathon. This sort of aural dissonance isn’t an issue when you’re watching the average summer action blockbuster that kicks off with a twenty-minute 200-decibel set piece that eradicates all sound and vibration in its path.

More about this weekend’s #1 film, which presently sits at 98% on the Tomatometer…

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