Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Upside Down": Intriguing look at an unusual "dominion"; Sturgess looks like a hero

The indie sci-fi film “Upside Down” (I can’t spell the second word that way) by Juan Solanas is based on a premise that creates possibilities for storytelling but that doesn’t make much sense in physics.
Two earth sized planets are almost touching at one point.  The planets’ matter is “inverse” of one another, but that doesn’t mean it behaves like matter and anti-matter (or anti-particles).  The only consequence is that an inhabitant of one world “overheats” (like a car engine) if too long on the other world.  It’s possible to fly like superman between the two worlds, that are maybe about two miles apart at the closest point.

The setup causes political problems.  The “upper” world is rich, and because of the overheating danger, can maintain an absolute ban on travel among the two worlds, and keep the lower world impoverished.
Adam (Jim Sturgess plays the 30 year old adult) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) have dared the ban, crossing an “in ovo” boundary (to borrow from Clive Barker’s “Imajica”) as kids, leading to punishment for both.  Years later, Adam has developed his invention based on pink bee pollen, which can make people young and has anti-gravity properties.  He gets a “job” in the headquarters Trans World company, and the scenes of an immense office space with workers upside down (and even job interviews) is indeed engaging.

Suffice it to say, innovation turns out to be a panacea for the political problems, and Adam (with the help of a laid-off employee) deploys his invention.  One can say that the movie has a libertarian, Cato-like message .  Sturgess turns out to be an Ayn Rand-like hero, with a touch of Clark Kent.  Remember, he was good at math in “21”.

The official site (Millennium Films) is here. The film was shot in Quebec and France, with a lot of help from Warner Brothers.  

The concept of the “youth potion” was interesting to me.  In my own novel (“Angel’s Brother”), I have a hierarchy of beings, and explain how angels come to be.  If a young man is infected with a certain virus that encapsulates a microscopic black hole, he can get infused with energy that overcomes entropy and allows him immortality without necessarily needing to reproduce.  (This can sound like a world that doesn’t need women!)   But when older people are infected, they often develop bizarre (cutaneous) malignancies and die.  But some have their memories transferred to an angel, and can remain alive intemittenly forever in the consciousness of the angel (rather like experiencing a sequence of dreams).   The angel also learns everything that was in their “heart and soul” when they lived.  Some adults have an intermediate result and can share telepathic interchanges with the angels.

In this movie, the look (especially the Dubai-like skyscrapers) reminds one sometimes of similar effects in the dream sequences of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”. 

I saw this at the first show on a Thursday night at Landmark E Street, before a small crowd.   

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