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Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Writer's Life 7/8 - Passengers

Serious sci-fi seems to have made a huge comeback on the big screen lately. In the past seven years there have been Inception (2010), Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014) and Passengers (2016), which I caught up to last night courtesy of Netflix. It is the story of a huge private craft hurtling through space on a 90-year voyage to a distant planet. There are 5000 passengers in suspended animation aboard. One awakens - 89 years too soon. He does not have the security clearance to approach the area where hundreds of crewmen are asleep. After a year of isolation, he is at the point of suicide when he happens to stumble upon the pod of a lovely young woman, a writer. Filled with anguish, tormented by loneliness, and after much inner debate, he awakens her. She assumes a malfunction is the cause. They fall in love. Things are nearly ideal until she discovers the guy had awakened her. There is a lot more to the narrative I won't reveal. The first hour is slow-moving, then the pace picks up. The spaceship is a metaphor for a world - humans are passengers during their life span. Circumstances, sometimes dire, evolve and must be addressed. The leads, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, have great chemistry. Then again, I have no objectivity when it comes to the former, who is not only a wonderful actress but blessed with star power to the max. Welshman Michael Sheen is endearing as a robot bartender. Laurence Fishburne lends his usual expertise as a crewman who awakens prematurely. Anyone who stays with the story will be rewarded in the end. As expected in the age of CGI, the sets and effects are beautiful, authentic. I detected the influence of 2001, A Space Odyssey (1968), Titanic (1997) and the aforementioned Gravity. Given its seriousness and deliberate pace, Passengers did surprisingly well worldwide at the box office. Made on a budget of $100 million, it returned $303 million-plus. The screenplay was written by a New Yorker, John Spaihts, who so far has focused his talents on the genre and its offshoots. Norwegian Morten Tyldum directed. Although he has an extensive list of credits, this was my first encounter with his work. I always respect those who dare to establish a slow pace these days. 210,000+ users at IMDb have rated the film, forging to a consensus of seven on a scale of ten. I wouldn't argue with that. I wish the creators had included a brief clip from the Flock of Seagulls' Space Age Love Song, which came to mind while I was watching.

Yesterday's figures for June job growth - and the upward revision for the first two quarter of 2017 - are very encouraging. Is it the result of President Trump's executive orders and/or a more positive business climate he has fostered, or is it a temporary blip? All we can do is wait and see.

The floating book shop made a profit of 42 cents today. Three dollars fed the meter. My thanks to the young woman who covered that by buying Stephen King's It and two thrillers by Dean Koontz. The rest came from an intoxicated poor soul who lives in a group home and is under psychiatric care. It was all he had. He purchased a booklet on Bible interpretation. I hope it helps.
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