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Interstellar is an extraordinary piece of movie-making, even if there are a few plot holes the size of black holes or wormholes or whatever.

The new Christopher Nolan movie in some ways is his most ambitious, which is saying something when you consider that he made Memento, Inception and the Dark Night trilogy. Interstellar shows influences that include Star Trek, Contact, The Right Stuff, and, mostly, 2001 - there is a certain wonderment and a belief in both science and the human spirit that infuses virtually every frame of the film.

Oddly, Interstellar reminded me the most of 2010, the sequel to 2001 that was directed by Peter Hyams and that was not particularly well-received when it came out, largely, I think, because it was not made by Stanley Kubrick. I've actually always thought that 2010 was a pretty good movie - it has a terrific cast (Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban and a young Helen Mirren) and tries to create some sort of scientific framework for the more spiritual elements of its predecessor. Which is the approach that Interstellar takes and largely makes work.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away, so suffice it to say that it posits an Earth on which technology has largely been abandoned or has failed, and on which natural resources have increasingly become rare - crops are dying and the prospects for the human race are dimming. Schools are even teaching that the Apollo missions were fiction, staged on Hollywood sound stages, like in Capricorn One. (I find this view of a future earth very persuasive, by the way. Scary, but entirely possible.)

However, NASA still exists, if in a shadowy form … and the man in charge, played with authority by the always-great Michael Caine, enlists a widowed astronaut-turned-farmer (Matthew McConaughey - excellent evoking a kind of Chuck Yeager-like grit) to lead a space mission to travel through a wormhole to find a planet to which the human race can be transplanted.

I'm not going to tell you any kore than that, except to stay that McConaughey's relationship with his daughter, Murphy, is the hinge upon which the plot and movie swing - and that's critical to understanding Nolan's worldview. For him, love is as mysterious and enticing a frontier as space, and it is the way he connects the two that is most intriguing. Even though there were things about the movie that I found frustrating, I must admit that I've read dozens of articles since seeing the movie about the scientific theories behind it … and the fact that I continue to think about Interstellar speaks to its strength as an entertainment.

Here's the exchange that tells you everything you need to know about Interstellar, and that explains both its heart and mind. At one point, Murphy, a wiz kid frustrated by a world in which scientific knowledge is grounds for suspicion, asks her dad why she was named after something bad. And McConaughey responds, "Murphy's law doesn't mean that something bad will happen. It means that whatever can happen, will happen."

Enough said.




My wine of the week: the 2009 Francis Ford Coppola "Tavoularis" Reserve Pinot Noir from Sonoma … a bottle that I bought years ago and pulled off the racks this week, and that is absolutely delicious - rich and flavorful and mouth-filling. I don;t think you can get the 2009 anymore, but there are more recent vintages available, and I have every confidence that they'll be equally as wonderful.

(Just FYI…Dean Tavoularis, who designed the distinctive label, was Coppola's production designer on movies that include The Godfather, The Godfather, Part Two, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now.)




One last thing.

There's only about a week left during which you can order copies of the brand new books written by Michael Sansolo and me - "Business Rules!" and "Retail Rules!" - and be sure to get them signed and delivered in time for the holidays. (This isn't just a signing-and-mailing issue. We are reliably informed that our books are moving like hotcakes.)

For details, click here.




That's it for this week … Have a great weekend.

See you Monday.

Slàinte!
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