The mind-blowing movie event of the year arrives just in time to hold back the flow of Hollywood junk that’s been infesting the multiplex for a while now. “Interstellar”, written and directed by the visionary Christopher Nolan, will be called many things, starting with “Inception” meets “2001: A Space Odyssey” meets “The Grapes of Wrath”. But “Interstellar” glows with an intensity of its own. For real movie lovers, it’s a revelation. It’s also a rare example of a modern movie that defies pigeonholing. Is it science-fiction? Yes, in the broadest sense, but it’s the fundamental human story that matters most. Is it a showcase for dazzling visual effects? Hell yes, but they exist to illustrate the main character’s journey, not to show off a lot of pretty images that signify nothing (Watch and learn, Michael Bay). Once again, Nolan creates a beautiful world and asks us, the audience, to fill it with our own secrets. I can’t think of a better goal for any filmmaker. Of course, trusting the intelligence of the audience can cost Nolan at the box office. We’re so used to being treated like idiots (see “Let’s Be Cops). How then should we cope with a grand-scale sci-fi epic that defies the laws of Hollywood and decides to mess with our heads instead? Dive in and let yourself go, that’s how. That’s what happens to Cooper (a terrific Matthew McConaughey), a NASA pilot who has turned to farming, when he is asked to find a new home for the human race following an environmental disaster that threatens to end our world. It is essential that we identify with his character and connect with his feelings as he finds himself leaving his son and daughter behind. And we do.
I hesitate to describe his adventure any further, as I think audiences should experience the journey for themselves. But I will say that “Interstellar” rewards the attention it demands. The visuals, shot by Hoyte Van Hoytema, are astounding. The score, by the great Hans Zimmer, is hauntingly beautiful. Just as impressive is the way Nolan stays true to the rules of his own mind-blowing game. But anyone who’s ever been lost in the layers of Nolan’s movies will have no trouble rising to his new, invigorating challenge. The result is a movie that is a genuine original in every possible way: involving and immersive, moving and memorable. Like Stanley Kubrick in 1968, Nolan leaps into space and dares us to leap with him. How amazing is that?