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Posts Tagged ‘“A Ballerina’s Tale”’

Brad Pitt

“AD ASTRA” My rating: B

124 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Equal parts “2001” and “Apocalypse Now,” James Gray’s “Ad Astra” is meditative journey to both outer and inner space punctuated with moments of high melodrama.

The film is drop-dead beautiful and features a contemplative performance from Brad Pitt which is among his finest; best of all, one leaves it feeling we’ve truly been on an intergalactic journey.

In the near future Major Roy McBride (Pitt) is a model astronaut, though in voiceover narration he reveals the price of the clear, dispassionate thinking that makes him the equal of any situation.

McBride is a master at suppressing his emotions, a skill that has wrecked his marriage (his ex, who is seen only briefly, is played by Liv Tyler) but made him the poster boy of space program efficiency. Only the occasional twitch of an eyelid suggests Roy’s inner turmoil.

Moreover, Roy comes by his heroism genetically — his father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), was an astronaut who decades ago went off on a mission to Neptune to look for extraterrestrial life and hasn’t been heard from for 30 years.

As “Ad Astra” begins Roy is doing maintenance work on a radio tower so tall its upper reaches scrape the stratosphere.  A mysterious electrical pulse blows the tower’s power grid, sending our man in freefall back to Earth.

Roy survives, thanks to his parachute, but he subsequently learns in a top secret briefing that the authorities believe the damaging electromagnetic pulses are coming from Neptune, the last-known location of the elder McBride’s exploratory ship. If Roy’s father is behind these pulses — which threaten human life — perhaps a message from his son will bring a happy resolution.

The plan is for Roy to radio his Pops from an outpost on Mars.  First, though, he has to take a commercial shuttle to the moon (a pillow and blanket kit costs $150), then make his way to a launch complex on the dark side of that satellite (apparently the moon is an international combat zone with marauding pirates on speeding lunar rovers attempting to highjack official vehicles).

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Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

“A BALLERINA’S TALE” My rating: B (Opening Oct. 30 at the Tivoli)

85 minutes | No MPAA rating

“A Ballerina’s Tale” is several things.

First, of course, it is about the career of Misty Copeland, principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, who has defied dance convention both racially (she’s African American) and physiognomically (she’s curvy, not celery-stalk emaciated) to rise to the top of her art.

But while Nelson George’s documentary touches upon the highlights of Copeland’s career trajectory, it is in no way a conventional biography. In fact, the film deals with Copeland’s personality and her private life in only the most rudimentary fashion. (There’s not a hint of negativity anywhere in this portrait.)

What we get here is lots of footage of Copeland rehearsing and dancing and walking around NYC, balanced with lots of talking heads discussing her impact on the ballet world.

In addition, the film takes a look back at the handful of black ballerinas — among them Raven Wilkinson, who has become something of a mentor and role model for Copeland — who paved the way over the last century.

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