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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Dad Star Man: A Review Of AD ASTRA

Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

What if there was intelligent life at the farthest reaches of the studio system?

Fully a fable, a chamber piece within outer space, “Ad Astra” is flint and lyric: the search for self, the search for God, the transformation of thought into light playing off an iconic face in close-up against the bold but airless light of a greater universe. James Gray’s marvel of a paranoid thriller, antagonistically serene, otherworldly yet wholly concrete is an uncommon attainment of visual and sonic beauty, ready and ripe to be madly misunderstood. In this near future, the moon is colonized and is a waystation to travel to Mars and, clandestinely, beyond. Brad Pitt is mid-career astronaut Roy McBride, forever in the penumbra of his father, H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), who, the space agency attests, vanished nearly three decades earlier as part of the Lima Project, a top-secret experiment that nestled in the rings of Neptune. (Their goal had been to sense intelligent life beyond the edge of human attainment.) Roy is self-contained: taciturn, calm, hardly winded by the worst of physical and psychological challenges. He’s summoned after a global “Surge”: power strikes, cosmic rays blast from the heavens and kill tens of thousands. Could his decades-absent father be alive, a terrorist hurling the fire of antimatter, reveling in unsound methods? [Read more.]

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima