“Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” and being trapped off the grid

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Spoilers abound in this article, not surprisingly.

“I get it.” astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) says to astronaut Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) at one point during “Gravity.” “It’s nice up here.” Earlier in the film, before everything goes to hell, Kowalski asks Stone what she likes best about outer space, and she says, “The silence. I could get used to that.”

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“Gravity”: Still want to be an astronaut when you grow up, Susie?

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“Gravity” opens Friday at Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema and Sundance. PG-13, 1:31, four stars out of four.

Below, the Earth slowly turns, lovely and unreachable. Above, an inky void of nothingness beckons. For 90 minutes Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” suspends its characters between the two, building unbearable tension in a tale of survival at 366,000 feet.

There are quibbles to  be made about some of the more pedestrian aspects of “Gravity” — the characters are a little simply drawn, the dialogue sometimes too on the nose. But as an experience of pure cinema, an appreciation of its ability to show terrible and wonderful things, I can’t think of its equal in 2013.

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