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Five Comments on Gravity

It's hard to imagine two films that are more different than Upstream Color and Gravity, but in one sense at least they ping me the same way--they both seem like films about which it would be a waste of time to try to write a conventional review.  Or at least, the way I write reviews, focusing on plot, character, and theme.  Like Upstream Color, Gravity is a film whose power lies elsewhere, in its visuals and design, and in the way it reaches directly for emotions like fear and anxiety.  That's not to say that there haven't been interesting reviews of the film (I'm fond of this one, by Wai Chee Dimock at The Los Angeles Review of Books), but as I did with Upstream Color, it seems to make more sense to gather my stray observations about the film rather than write a proper review.
Watching the film, I was reminded of an essay I read in 2009, by a reviewer who was trying to explain away negative reactions to James Cameron's Avatar by, essentially, claiming that people w…