Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Post Reply
Message
Author
ianungstad
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:20 pm

Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

#1 Post by ianungstad » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:24 pm

French trailer for the surrealist science fiction film Upside Down starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess. Visually, the film looks gorgeous. As far as the plot goes, the trailer is really pushing the love story and it seems a tad hokey. Considering the elaborate set-up, I was hoping for something a little more than a doomed romance. The director has mentioned in interviews that the whole film is suppose to serve as commentary on how the industrial world oppresses the developing one. It would have been nice to see a bit more of the politics in the trailer. I'm a little concerned that this opens in foreign markets soon but has yet to secure US distribution. Upside Down is one of several ambitious sounding projects that I've been curious about that are set for release next year (On the Road, Grandmasters being a couple others). The trailer makes me really want to see the film for the visuals but I was expecting more.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:57 pm

Holy shit, Upside Down looks insane-- can't wait!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

#3 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:17 pm

If Upside Down had been around when I was ten, I'd have loved it. As an adult, I won't deny its charms, but it gets somewhat more qualified praise. Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess are world-crossed lovers who go through quite a series of complications to be together in this fantasy creation of sandwiched worlds (if you liked that scene in Inception where the city curls up on itself, imagine a full-length treatment) unfortunately weighted down by needless institutional complications and heavy-handed class commentary-- this is a movie that could have used half as much plot and more of the breathing room evident in the early sequences with the teenage lovers. But the film is at heart a doofy fairy tale romance, and it's the kind of film where you either go with the compounding illogical aspects to the premise or be driven mad within five minutes. I embraced the film, probably because it is executed with rare earnestness. This film wouldn't work with ironic winks, but the melodramatic nature of the plot and the characters' predicament lends it an air it wears well.

Even working with a healthy budget, the film mostly keeps its theatrics indoors, but the film's wildest moments utilize the entire field of possibility. As I've said before, CGI is not inherently flawed, it's just so rarely used to capture something incapable of being suggested otherwise. This film I think gets it right in creating an unnecessarily complex pair of mirrored worlds which, despite being highly impractical at all times (It's futile to ask questions at a film as impervious to logic as this, but if each side hates the other, why wouldn't they just build a ceiling between the sides inside buildings?). Moments like one character swimming out to the ocean and removing his restraints, which allows him to fall up through the sky into the water on the opposite side, or the finale's protracted chase sequence where gravities keep switching between the characters make this worth a rental at least.

User avatar
Luke M
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:21 pm

Re: Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

#4 Post by Luke M » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:49 pm

So, it's not this year's Another Earth?

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

#5 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:51 pm

No, but it's not this year's After Earth either!

User avatar
Luke M
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:21 pm

Re: Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

#6 Post by Luke M » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:22 pm

Nice.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Upside Down (Juan Solanas, 2013)

#7 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:55 pm

I agree entirely with domino's take on the film. There are spectacular moments here, especially anything to do with the two almost touching mountains and the atmosphere swirling around them (and climaxed in particular by the love scene that takes place floating in mid-air suspended between the character's opposing gravities, which was a predictable image to fulfil the couple's relationship but no less powerful for that, and beautifully put across) and the ocean-to-ocean scene domino describes above.

On the other hand I really could have done without all of the apartheid, police state, class division, corporate callousness stuff which felt like a distraction from the love story at hand, and at the same time was treated in a much too light and whimsical fairy tale manner that it did not really build up much power as an allegory on any deeper level than "can't we all just get along".

In that sense Upside Down is the 21st century update of Metropolis in terms of its message, although it really shows how powerful and complex Fritz Lang's film still is in comparison, as for all of its flaws and simplistic political message it did more daring things with its characters and made those political and class ideas a central theme of its film. Here unfortunately the divisions between the two worlds are much more simply characterised as a force that only exists as something that the two lovers need to overcome rather than something that is proceeding independently from our lead character's quests to be united. The corporate bad guys are no more ambivalent than that, and the 'apartheid' divisions between the two worlds only seems to be there to provide some danger and urgency to each of the couple's meetings

(Strangely reminiscent of the 2144 sections of Cloud Atlas: a number of pointless chase sequences occurred there too but it was easier to overlook because that section by itself was not the point, it was how it was interrelating to the other eras. Here the chases are meant to be carrying the metaphorical weight of the entire film, and are just too flimsy to do that by themselves. It is interesting that both films feature Jim Sturgess though!)

I'm afraid that I found the fairly obvious split in the look of the upper world and the lower world was a bit too precious too, with the modern apartment, sci-fi cityscape for the higher ups and the 1920s Depression-era tenement blocks, street urchins, workers with their lunch pails and bicycles trudging to work shots feeling far too obvious. Once we throw in our main male lead seeming to inhabit a Moulin Rouge!-style apartment, the production design also seems to be trying to add too much unnecessary symbolism to what should be a complicated-enough love story (Although the design of Adam's apartment was something which, after he comes in from his dip in the sea shivering then tries to warm himself up by the stove before stumbling into bed, made me think he was going to get a fit of La bohème-inspired consumption to befit his surroundings! Although while it was amusing this does bring up the interesting idea of whether diseases could be passed from upper to lower worlds, something which never gets touched upon in the film itself).

I also have to admit to being annoyed by the male lead's curious tendency to just drop and abandon his weight suit at the drop of the hat, as if it is not something precious and important to him to enable him to achieve his goal of seeing his girl. This may be strange coming from someone who thinks It's All About Love is an underrated film, but I got a little annoyed at the way the film abandoned the logic of its premise whenever it suited it. (Especially those ending "but you know why this is the case" moments to get around explaining a couple of deus ex machina moments - moments that could easily have been given a satisfactory explanation but appear to be being kept opaque to fit in with a kind of mode of whimsical fantasy. Which might be appropriate but was also a little annoying! But then I'm a grump without any sense of wonder and magic in his heart!) Mostly I was annoyed by the smaller details such as the casual constant weight suit dumping and the way that for a society where people of different worlds are not really meant to interact there certainly seem to be smoking rooms and giant ballroom clubs to allow that!

There is also the problem that this stuff grates against the love story section of the film with Kirsten Dunst, as apart from the bookending chase scenes Dunst's character (named "Eden" in another example of heavy handed allegory, as "Adam" is regularly being cast out from her!) is tellingly segregated from any of the subplot class/corporate tension stuff. The Dunst scenes are also the funniest: for example a nice split screen shot of the two characters talking on the telephone reminiscent of Pillow Talk, except one character is upside down on their side of the screen! Or the way that Adam tries to reacquaint himself with Eden by using some of his 'uplifting' beauty cream on Eden's 'Leaning Tower of Pisa' wonky model tower, which causes it to fully erect itself in perhaps the most blatant use of phallic symbolism I have ever seen in a film! (I can only imagine that Ayn Rand would be incredibly jealous of this scene!)

Her scenes with Sturgess are the best in the film, as there we are really getting to the core of the idea of how a love story between two people from different worlds could happen, physically let alone culturally! A quieter and more thoughtful film would perhaps have had the courage to drop all of the action, stratified society and corporate stuff and concentrate on how sheer physical logistics of carrying out such an almost impossible relationship would have its own inherent problems, without our couple having to be pursued by trigger-happy policemen everywhere they go.

So I have real problems with the film, and don't think that I can recommend it fully (sadly, and most damningly, in the end I also don't think the film has that much to say about love or how to begin or re-build a relationship, since most of the development in the love story happens off screen or in edits within sequences, when a character has an epiphany that suddenly lets them fall in love again), but it certainly deserves to be remembered for some stunning individual shots. I again agree with domino that you have to buy into the painfully earnest uncynically presented whimsy, which can be a problem when critically assessing it! (Ironically enough it is so light at points it could fly away!). I also agree that it would be the perfect film to see at a young age where it would perhaps make the greatest impression.

Post Reply