Reel Critics: 'Gravity' is out of this world

Elegant and spellbinding, "Gravity" instantly hurtles you out of this world straight into the breathtaking realm of deep space. Stunning visuals display the mysteries of zero gravity physics in awesome detail. The magnificent photography will hypnotize and astonish you at every turn.

But the story is as old as time. Two people are in mortal danger very far from home. They yearn to live through the staggering crisis and return safely. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are excellent as the two astronauts on a space shuttle mission gone terribly wrong. They are the only two people onscreen during the entire film.

Their talents are able to fully carry the story through all the nerve-wracking events and heartfelt scenes. But the real stars are director Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men") and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ("Burn After Reading"). Their five years of work transport the audience into outer space along with the stars on screen. An instant classic, it's one of the year's best films and sure to get Oscar attention.


'Don Jon' a sharp satire

Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes an impressive writing-directing debut in "Don Jon," a good-natured comedy about a good-looking Jersey guy who thinks he has it all under control.

Jon (Gordon-Levitt) takes pride in his body, his car, his home, his buddies, his family, his ability to hook up with a good-looking girl — and his porn. It's all about him until he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a Jessica Rabbit lookalike, and then it's all about her.

Jon's parents (Glenne Headly and Tony Danza) are literally giddy that he may have finally found the perfect girl. Barbara is beautiful and smart and knows what she wants and just how to get it.

The message here is how our media culture — romantic movies, porn, advertising — makes it so easy for people to get caught up in unrealistic expectations. Whether it's relationships, sex or even the perfect-looking burger, reality is way messier than what's up there on the screen.

Danza is terrific as the loud, undershirt-wearing dad, and Johansson is a standout as the Jersey babe looking for a man who fits the bill for her bed, bath and beyond.

Like his character in the winsome "(500) Days of Summer," Gordon-Levitt has a buoyant charm that can't help but make us smile. He infuses "Don Jon" with naughty humor and unexpected soulfulness with the appearance of Julianne Moore as a fellow night school student. It takes real talent to bring out the fun in dysfunctional.


JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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