‘Ad Astra’: Director James Gray Talks Space Movies, Doing Fellini For Trump & Much More [Interview]

The Playlist | 9/22/2019 | Rodrigo Perez
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This week, 20th Century Fox, and by extension, Disney, put up a significant gamble, especially one from this new Fox/Disney era, James Gray’s “Ad Astra.” Yes, “Ad Astra” a grand space movie in the tradition of Stanley Kubrick with one of the biggest stars on the planet, Brad Pitt, in the lead role. But as epic and interstellar the movie can be, it’s also, intimate, reflective, melancholy; a father’s and son art movie set in outer space, that also borrows much of its Joseph Campbell-ian structure from “Hearts Of Darkness” and “Apocalypse Now.” And one that reportedly cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $80-$100 million.

“Ad Astra” stars Brad Pitt as kind of superhuman, elite astronaut. He’s calm and cool under pressure—this is gross an understatement—which makes him the perfect subject to undergo impossible feats of peril, but it also makes him detached, distant, estranged from his wife and his humanity.

Aspects - Life - Pitt - Space - Voyager

The two aspects of his life, the practical and the emotional, are unexpectedly tethered together when Pitt’s space voyager is tasked to go on a secret mission to Neptune to discover the mystery of space flares that are threatening life on Earth. The catch, the mysterious danger appears to be connected to a space project led by his father that went missing and hasn’t been heard from in twenty years. But something, on the edge of our solar system, someone, might be behind responsible for it all.

“Ad Astra” is thrilling and full of scale, but it also makes the audience contend with their place in the university, who we are and the notion that—no matter what’s really out there—we are all we have. I ran the first part of my lengthy interview with filmmaker James Gray—where we tackled subjects such as working with Brad Pitt, the emotional qualities of the movie,...
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