On the other hand, coherence took the (real) idea of parallel universes from quantum physics and used it as a fictional element. It explores the idea of the multiverse in a very interesting way as a story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a hard science.
The irony here is that Cohesion is a smarter movie. Interstellar is located in the Valley of Super Science. In the visual arts, the term “supernatural valley” refers to a character that is human enough to appear realistic, but “wrong” enough to be frightening and frightening. You can make the character look realistic or cartoonish, but if it’s almost realistic, it’s really uncomfortable to look at. Interstellar tries so hard to be a forensic science that its missteps are worthwhile and hard to watch. By contrast, Cohesion takes one leap from science-inspired fiction and then follows its own rules well and makes its characters think about their situation in a way smarter than the awful dialogue in Interstellar.
There’s a reason the characters in the cohesion game talk to each other in such a believable way: because they’re actually talking to each other. They don’t read lines of text to each other because there is no exact text. Each actor was told what their character would know at that point and were given a page of notes from the director such as “You really want to get out” or “You want to tell a story about something”. The actors did not know what events would happen around them during each scene. Instead, they honestly experience these events and honestly talk to each other about what they mean and what they should do about it.
This is an interesting experiment when it comes to acting and filmmaking, and it didn’t bring the result I expected. Having everything improvised like this might make it feel “more real” (and I think it is), but that would be at the cost of smart scripting and planning. If the author can precisely control each line of dialogue, he can work with more nuances, more double meanings, more premonitions, and get a tighter plot at the end. Or at least I thought that would be the case, but somehow cohesion has all of that too. It’s a movie that reveals more the second you watch it, and I think it reveals more the fifth time. It’s a tightly packed puzzle for a movie, but it’s also a free improvisation.
Interstellar has a real text, and in this text there are lines that no one involved in science will ever say. The dialogue from the world’s leading fantasy world (played by Michael Caine) is a bit of an insult to our intelligence, just like the book The Big Bang Theory. When asked how he made progress in his research, he said that once upon a time a certain gravitational phenomenon occurred on Earth, which made him realize that such a thing was possible. Then he was able to develop new equations, better understanding, etc. But he hasn’t “solved gravity” yet. Once he does that, he says, he’ll be able to do the imaginative things the characters need. When asked how close he is to a “gravity solution,” he says it’s pretty close, promising that he’ll solve the problem by the time one character returns from the trip.
This whole thing is sexy in the face. Imagine if a new chemical compound was discovered, and you wanted me to manufacture more of it. I tell you I’m working on a “chemistry solution” to do this. Then before I “Solve the Chemistry” I can give you a kind of progress bar like “The Chemistry is 85% solved!” He predicted that it would be resolved within one month. The problem is that I’m not able to tell how close I am to discovering something I haven’t discovered yet. I can’t tell you when I will find out. These are the wrong kinds of questions to ask. Furthermore, the solved/unresolved binary idea of gravity (or chemistry) is simplistic and childish.
Cape Thorne may have given credence to visual imaging of black holes and so on, but on a more basic level, he really should have been consulted about how smart people are trying to solve a problem, how they’re going to talk about solving a problem, and what it really means to solve a problem.
SPOILERS OF INTERSTELLAR
The remainder of this post contains spoilers for Interstellar, followed by another section of spoilers for consistency. If you haven’t seen either movie, I highly recommend reading spoilers for Interstellar, because seriously whatever, but not for the sake of bonding. You can watch the thread on Amazon Instant Video, here.
Yes, I know Michael Caine’s entire plan for “solve gravity” was a hoax on purpose. This does not excuse anything I said above though. He has gone to absurdly great efforts to make everything about his actions and research as believable as possible. In fact, very large lengths. Apparently, the entire building in which NASA is located is designed to be a giant centrifuge capable of being launched into space to function as a space station. Although he knew this was a hoax and the building would never be used in this way, it seemed to make him really capable of it, and he ended up working properly after his death. However, he talks to other scholars of the infantile primary school concept of what it means to conduct research.
Having said that, I think his whole trick is quite interesting, in terms of story. All of his life’s work is a lie, and he deliberately did so because he knew that humans needed to lie in order to get them to do the work required to save the human race from extinction. In the specific scenario in which his world lives, I think he’s probably right. It might have been morally right for him to do so, and at least it is defensible as such, and interesting to think about.
And while I say some good things, it’s nice for John Lithgow to tell Michael Caine that Murph makes teachers at school look like idiots, and if she joins NASA they’ll make Michael Caine look like an idiot. Right now, he said, Morph was just a kid, but she’s grown up to do just that. And for further warning, John Lithgow also told Matthew McConaughey (his stepdaughter) that Matthew was incredibly talented and then the world changed and he never really took advantage of that, which he’s really sorry he made that way. However, Matthew McConaughey used his driving skills and engineering knowledge, and he saved the whole world because of it.
Bad writing, bad editing
Let’s talk more about how poorly Interstellar is written and edited.
This whole thing about how Michael Caine made a lie was revealed to us when he was on his deathbed in the hospital. The music told us this was an important moment and we had to listen carefully. I listened carefully. I strained. Michael Caine muttered some incomprehensible words for this big reveal. I wasn’t sure if he said what I thought he did. Merv (by the way, that’s a stupid name) responded as if she had heard it, and it was a big deal. You put together what was going on, but they couldn’t shoot a second shot of this? Or give me some translations? I just don’t understand why such an important moment is thrown into cloudy speech.