I've moved house! Click here to go to my new blog, The Pop Culture Cynic.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Film Favourites: Only Yesterday

Hello, dear readers. For some time now I've reviewed films and games and talked incessantly about stuff for pages and pages of precious internet space. I've decided that in order to prepare myself for the all-too-real threat of the shapeless void that is exam stress and to save you, dear reader, some time in your own procrastination efforts, I shall start a new series of blog posts that are built around a shorter template.

But still just as entertaining and full of intrigue; like a dancing midget.
The first of these new condensed posts is a series I shall call Film Favourites, where I let you in on some of the movies that are not only great, but also hold a place much closer to my heart on a personal level; either as a result of nostalgia, relation to my own experiences or because they've managed to shape the very person that I am today.

Let that be a lesson to future parents everywhere.

The Film

The first film on the list is also one of my most beloved movies of all time: Isao Takahata's Only Yesterday, or Omohide Poro Poro if you're into knowing the phonetic translation of movie titles. 

The Plot

A 27 year old woman, Taeko, tries to get away from her life and work in 80's Tokyo by helping with a safflower harvest in the countryside while reminiscing on her childhood memories of school, family, friends and growing up. That's literally it.

Plus some scenes of sleeping and taking the train.

The Critique

If you're not a fan of animation or slow, character-driven movies, you're going to hate this. There's no fantasy here, no ghosts or epic wolf battles or forest spirits; the pace never raises much higher than a brisk walk and no-one is actually an epic river dragon. This is a movie about growing up, moving on and how the children we were make us the adults we've become, all set to the mesmerising backdrop of Japan, with all of it's charming Japanness.

Minus the whole brutal umbrella decapitation side of Japanness.
It's as beautifully drawn as you would expect from the masters of anime at Studio Ghibli and the focus away from action and convoluted plot gave the opportunity for the writing to really develop around Taeko and the people she has met and influenced throughout her life, making for deep, multi-faceted characters and some absolutely adorable moments.

Ah, young love...
The movie hops, sometimes a little convolutely, between past and present as Taeko continues to remember the most memorable parts of her childhood, both good and bad, because no-one's perfect. This leads to a kind of drip-feeding of characterisation, letting us slowly get to know this odd woman both by what she was like as a child and more subtly by the very things that have stuck in her memory through the years; her first crush, school drama and the rather rocky relationship with her parents. On a whole, this movie is just the sweetest little slice of life that I've ever had the joy of watching.

It's Special Because...

Two reasons. I love Japan, and Only Yesterday is the closest I've been to looking through a window at how another culture lives. It's the little things, like the father's final say on family business or the "no shoes in a house, ever" rule, that give you a glimpse into a way of life that you wouldn't usually see.

Rule No. 1: Don't mess with dad.
Secondly, I dare you to watch this movie and not grin-weep with joy at the end. This film has one of the most wonderfully grounded love stories in it ever (no singing and dancing, no holding boom boxes over your head) and it's made all the more lovely by how easy it is to relate with Taeko's childhood. Everyone has those memories of growing up that stick around like, well, an annoying child. I remember once stealing a Fudge from the kitchen cupboard at home and trying to run away with it on my go-kart.

The biggest heist since the Great Treehouse Robbery of '01.
It's those unique little snippets of someone's life that are so inherently personal to them yet still so easily relatable that make Only Yesterday what it is. It's a story of love and nostalgia, sure, but most of all it's a celebration of the rocky road to life that is childhood and the defining moments in our past that make us who we are. It's about growth and finding out what sort of person you want to be by looking at the child you once were; and if you sit down to watch Only Yesterday, I guarantee you'll see a part of yourself in this little girl who hated onions and was rubbish at maths.

Caution: Contains scenes of extreme cuteness.

Best Enjoyed With

A warm cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon and that towel your primary school class made with all of your self portraits on it to mop up your tears of joy at the end.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Attention All Readers! Again!

You may already recognise the post below, that's because I'm no longer based here, but here. I changed web address, no biggie. Seriously, just click and carry on as normal.

You! Yes you there! The one in the hat. No, not you, the other guy. Yes, you.

"Who? Me?"
I have important news to impart to you: my blog has moved house! *cheers of joy* I have been very vain and decided that my current blog URL, and title for that matter, are not exactly fit for purpose for what I've invariably ended up basing most of my allocated blogging space on.

Pictured: my allocated blogging space.
I mean, srsly, themindofamedic.blogspot.co.uk? For a blog predominantly about horror movies and baking? Sure there are those two medical school survival guides (part three in pre-production, folks), but the URL is just darned misleading; as is the horrific blog title "I should be paying attention to this lecture". Yes I should be, but again not exactly relevant to what I do here.

Pictured: what I do here.
If you happen to have just stumbled across this blog, or have reached this page some time in the distant future and think "ah well, must be dead, let's move on..."; please, don't go! Click the link here, or even here, or the really big one below, to transport yourself to my brand new world of fun and frivolity: The Pop Culture CynicThe official move will be in a few posts time to give a little overlap for those of you who find change difficult, so I'll re-post this just after Valentine's Day. See you on the other side.

Click here for awesomeness.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Attention All Readers!

You! Yes you there! The one in the hat. No, not you, the other guy. Yes, you.

"Who? Me?"
I have important news to impart to you: my blog has moved house! *cheers of joy* I have been very vain and decided that my current blog URL, and title for that matter, are not exactly fit for purpose for what I've invariably ended up basing most of my allocated blogging space on.

Pictured: my allocated blogging space.
I mean, srsly, themindofamedic.blogspot.co.uk? For a blog predominantly about horror movies and baking? Sure there are those two medical school survival guides (part three in pre-production, folks), but the URL is just darned misleading; as is the horrific blog title "I should be paying attention to this lecture". Yes I should be, but again not exactly relevant to what I do here.

Pictured: what I do here.
If you happen to have just stumbled across this blog, or have reached this page some time in the distant future and think "ah well, must be dead, let's move on..."; please, don't go! Click the link here, or even here, or the really big one below, to transport yourself to my brand new world of fun and frivolity: The Pop Culture Cynic. The official move will be in a few posts time to give a little overlap for those of you who find change difficult, so I'll re-post this just after Valentine's Day. See you on the other side.

Click here for awesomeness.

It's "About Time" I Reviewed This *wink*

Richard Curtis movies are an odd bunch. They're funny, full of character, oh-so-British and yet they all feel so similar. The timing of my post a few days from Valentine's Day (here's some cards if you need them) might suggest what the common, far too heavily trodden theme of his movies is. That's correct: love. Who doesn't love love, right?

"I love that escalated Milwaukee whale's vagina". One-liner movies confuse me. 
Love is done to death. Being mushy to each other is more tired than an anaemic Kenyan with diabetes chasing after someone who stole his aid parcel. Curtis isn't helping the matter either, with Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually all being movies about people falling in love whilst being charming and funny. Well, to be more exact, they're all about Hugh Grant falling in love whilst being charming and funny.

They gradually heighten his hair so we can tell the difference between each movie.
What I hate most about Richard Curtis movies, though, is that I don't hate them. Nay, I can't hate them. The bland, overly squishy premises are made up for tenfold by his uncontested mastery of writing believable characters, fantastical yet real situations and superb British wit. And so, it is with joyous displeasure that I introduce to you his latest movie about love (with a little bit of time travel, as the tagline says): About Time.

Lets get the biggest difference between About Time and the rest of Curtis' back catalogue out of the way: there's not a Hugh Grant to be seen for miles. Now I love his cheeky wee face as much as the next straight guy but sometimes an actor can end up the poster boy for a particular type of movie, and Hugh Grant would be on the front cover of every issue of Quirky British Comedy Quarterly.

I couldn't be bothered photo-shopping a magazine cover so here's a photo of him
being stalked by the two most under-appreciated letters of the alphabet.
The other thing that's different about this movie is it's interpretation of what love is. Those of you who've seen Love Actually will likely contest that Curtis has already covered pretty much any form of love you can think of, but that was an ensemble film; none of the concepts were really able to gain the traction they would have if they were given centre stage. In About Time we follow the story of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who, having just discovered that the men in his family have the ability to travel backwards through time, sets out on the typical quest for the big "L word". Sounds pretty much like your bog standard romance with some sci-fi, but what the film ends up becoming is something completely different entirely.

First, though, lets get the sci-fi out of the way. The time travel in About Time is perfect in its simplicity: you can only travel backwards in your own lifetime and whatever changes you make with butterfly effect their way along to present day. Easy peasy. No further explanation given beyond the apparent need for a dark space and clenched fists. Time travel is treated in a similar way to 2012's Looper, the less you try to Doc Brown your way into paradoxes and parallel dimensions the easier it is for everybody, and with a film like this where the concept is more a plot device than anything else it works nicely. Sci-fi nerds might moan, but they're the ones who went to this movie without a girlfriend so fuck them.

Except this guy; he gets way more poon than me.
The film could, if you were the kind of person to cut things in half (towels, children, etc.), be cut in half around about the mid-point in regards to the main focus of the story and the themes being portrayed. Part one has Tim getting used to his time travelling powers while attempting to work out how he can best use them to get a girlfriend. In a nutshell, the first half of the movie is a creepy as fuck take on the usual boy meets girl and they fall madly in love thing. Imagine what you would say and do if you knew you could just jump into a cupboard, turn the clock back to erase it and start over; now remove all of the terrifying revenge fantasies, tone down the filthy sex stuff to a 15 rating and keep all of the horrifying manipulation of the lives of those around you exactly as is. That's what the first half is like.

Standing in cupboards in the middle of the day is never not odd.
Although Tim is portrayed as a lovably useless young man when it comes to social situations, his inherent awkwardness somehow just manages to make what he does even cringier. Whether or not you believe you might have found the woman of your dreams doesn't give you the right to alter her life without her knowing and, although the movie does become suitably adorable when he and Mary (Rachel McAdams) finally get together (aw come one, it's not a spoiler when it's on the poster), it takes a while for that initial shudder of horror to subside.

There are two things wrong with waiting all day for someone to show up at a Kate Moss
exhibition, only one of them is to do with the art.
Part two is where it gets much more interesting, however. I have to say it's either testament to lazy marketing or brilliant marketing (depending on your cynical outlook on life) that all of the film's advertising focussed on Tim and Mary, because about an hour into the film it stops being about them. Mary doesn't quite slip into the background as much as she is more assimilated into the Borg cube of Cornish charm that is Tim's family. Corn cube? Sounds like a particularly difficult bowel movement.

"Resistance is futile. Your poop, as it has been, is over."
And I mocked Trekkies not three paragraphs ago...
The ads for About Time makes you think that this is a film about lovey love, with all the sex and babies and such, but it sneaks up on you in the second act with its real aim: family love. As already mentioned, the men of Tim's family have the unique gift of time travel, which results in a particularly strong bond between Tim and his dad (the glorious Bill Nighy), a relationship that really lets Curtis' knack for believably dynamic human interaction shine through. That said, the love train doesn't have just one stop (oh, god, that was terrible) and you grow to love and cherish each and every one of Tim's beautifully realised family members, which makes watching the hardships they suffer all the more poignant when they come hurtling around the corner.

Sometimes even a Bill Nighy hug can't help.
I feel like I should touch at least a little on the technical side of the movie for a moment. What with being such a plot and character driven affair it's difficult to take the time to appreciate the beautifully framed, natural cinematography and the added little flairs like the recurring sound motif every time Tim travels back in time, but it's all there if you want to find it. There's nothing ground-breaking, but this isn't a film about hiding obscure meaning in baking powder tins and odd camera angles, it's about people, and it's shot to reflect that. Grounded and simple yet beautiful.

Just like dad dancing.
On a whole, this is the sweetest, most sincere story of one man's "extraordinarily ordinary" and ever so slightly creepy life I've ever had the pleasure of watching through floods of tears. Seriously, this will have you bawling by the credits. For once we have ourselves a film about the relationships we have with our families, particularly our parents, and the special little spot we save in our hearts just for them. It's not as forced as Four Weddings and not as cheesy as Love Actually; it's just right. This is by far Richard Curtis' best movie yet.

And just to polish off on as appropriately sentimental a note as possible: I think I can safely say that for as long as I live this movie will be my go-to whenever I need reminded of those things that really matter: how lucky I am to be surrounded by those I love and that those I love are there for me. Mum, dad, I love you guys. Now excuse me while I crawl into a ball and sob for another two hours.

Overall Ben Equivalence Rating

Seeing Your Dad Again for the First Time in Months -
For fucks sake, give him a hug. You've missed him.

Valentine's Day "Love" Counter: 25 uses of the word "love"

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Valentine's Day Cards for the Average Geek

Portal references: A surefire way to attract geeks.
It's Valentine's Day in just over a week, ladies and gents. I hope you've all remembered to book that really fancy restaurant and get lots of flowers and cards and other high profit-margin items to give to your better half to prove your undying devotion to the capitalist giants that dictate our every waking thought and action.

The slogans on some of the bags for life are unnervingly appropriate.
If you've forgotten to do all of those things then I've got good news for you: there's always McDonald's. For the other small matter of finding the right way to tell them you care I've taken the time to compile some completely original (and not already over-used) geek-themed Valentine's Day card designs for you to print out and lovingly shove in your boy/girlfriend's face. They're watermark-free seeing as I've essentially just spliced licensed properties into cheesy jokes, however please be nice and don't straight up nick them to pretend that you're as funny and charming and well-endowed as me; all I ask is for recognition of my genius.

You'll find a download link and a classic Ben-quip [patent pending] to put inside the card underneath each image so go, spread your feelings (and my designs, yay) like so many love-juice based illnesses:

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

I Lost My Spam Virginity

Today is a very special day. For today I am no longer a boy; I am now a man, with all of a man's strengths and weaknesses. I, ladies and gentlemen, received spam.

They left no return address. 
What makes this spam so special is its rather cryptic message, which took some time to translate. Witness the most confusing paragraph in the history of the English language:

"I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. Nonetheless, you command get bought and shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following. Unwell, unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike. Here is my web-site hyabak"

"Someone take Sloth away from the computer."
What does it mean? Surely there must be a second meaning to the message that has been hidden behind a carefully constructed wall of functionless adverbs and confused tenses that our puny human brains cannot possibly comprehend.

Wait. Tenses. That's it! This is a message from a time-travelling prostitute informing me that I could use eyedrops to prevent my eyes from getting sore in the wind while taking the members of my future sex-cult hiking.

Not following me? Ok, let's do this one step at a time:

"I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here."

Look at the sudden changes in tense; she loved something that I am yet to receive in the very place that I am at the moment. The fact that it's something I'm receiving (suggesting I paid for it), it can be received while sitting on the sofa in my underwear (where I am right now) and that this person enjoyed it too leads me to the assumption that future me has paid for the company of another human being. It's either that or Chinese food; but I don't share Chinese food, so it's got to be a prostitute. I know what you're thinking, GMC, but you can't deem me unsuitable for medical practise for something I've not done yet.

"Damn you, space-time continuum."
Plus, it's very common knowledge that people who partake in regular time travel start to lose the ability to vocalise the concept of time and the passage of it, so the jumpyness of the past, present and future tenses suggest that this particular person is a well versed time traveller. Thus time-travelling prostitute. Simple. The next sentence really hits this theory home:

"The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish."

She's started using basic writing-based metaphors to conceal the real intent of the sentence here. The sketch she's talking about would have been drawn with a pencil; the pencil actually being something completely different but equally pencil shaped.

Like a candy stick sharpened into a makeshift weapon.
As for the "authored subject matter"; well that's obviously what I'm doing with the pencil, and she thinks its preeeeety stylish. Aw yis. You can't knock the facts, ladies. But wait, what's this next bit?

"Nonetheless, you command get bought and shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following."

Soon, word of my prowess has reached far and wide. I command a following of devoted cult members who worship my great and powerful sketch. I am unsure of myself at first and someone tries to buy me out, obviously hoping to obtain the movie rights to my story, but I refuse. Finally I decide that the only thing for us to do is go on a great pilgrimage to our Mecca, which is actually just a big hill near my house.

And when we reach the top, we shall all help each other improve our authored subject matter.
But tragedy strikes!

"Unwell, unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike."

I am stricken ill each time we attempt to reach the summit. Again and again, we attempt to scale its mild inclines but are thwarted each time, with no choice but to give up and return to the base disheartened. What is this mysterious illness, you ask? Why it is dry eyes from the wind of course.

I said dry eyes, not aye ayes. Jeez. Get that fucking thing away from me.
Luckily our mysterious prostitute from the future who only goes by the name Anonymous finally reveals the aim of her mission. The answer to all our troubles: Hyabak multi-dose 0.15% sodium hyaluronate eyedrops. They progressively release water and increase contact with the ocular surface of the eye, leading to healthier, moist eyes all day round. Oh, thank you Hyabak and Spectrum Thea Pharmaceuticals.

But most of all, thank you Anonymous. Thank you for risking the highly probable paradoxical destruction of the universe and your own life, for being reasonably priced (even taking into consideration future inflation rates), but most of all for helping future me have more comfortable eyes so that I can walk in a brisk wind without squinting and partake in weird hill-top cult orgies.

Now fuck off and don't spam me again.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

You're Next: The Next Big Slasher?

Movie recommendations are a tricky business; you're always destined for either cinematic greatness and a safe spot on your favourites list or crushing disappointment and a lingering resentment of the recommender for wasting an evening of your life and a nice five pound bottle of plonk.

The whole thing just compounds itself when Cocaine Friday is on the line.
 It was my driving instructor of all people who directed me to watch You're Next, the 2011 home invasion slasher that finally got a release late in 2013, and having heard good things from other sources as well I was quite hopeful for this one. The home invasion sub-genre has seen a resurgence in resent years, something I'm sure someone much smarter than I could use to glean a mystical insight into society, but as with any rise in popularity the quality of the large majority of export most assuredly goes down. The last good one I saw was the gruesome French nightmare fuel that is Inside over a year ago, and even that had its fair share of flaws.

If you're going to perform a caesarian, you might as well do it correctly.
The problem is that the genre has been cut a little too carefully from the cloth during its conception, making it exceptionally difficult to create a film that feels original and engaging without having to resort to a overly gruesome gimmick (see above) to keep the audience interested. And if there has ever been a better example of the sample that all of the others could be held up against to see if they matched the carpet (once you have an analogy, always run with it no matter what), then You're Next is it. Don't get excited folks, that's not as much of a compliment as it sounds.

You can wipe that smug grin off your face for a start.
Let's start with the plot. The film opens with two people having un-fulfilling sex so, yeah, they're going to die; and they do. You can tell the body count is going to be pretty high when the movie is cool with killing off two inconsequential characters just to set up the title sequence. We cut to a family gathering together at the rich parent's mansion for their 30th anniversary; none of them get on and all of the characters are either boring, stupid, a hapless cliché or an unmitigated bastard. The last of those is the proud domain of this smarmy chucklefuck:

Standing next to a man with a tumour on his shoulded shaped like a chubby, bearded head.
Joe Swanberg is terrible. He was bad enough in V/H/S but he can be proud in the knowledge that his acting ability has reached a new low with this film. Granted, half of the issue is with the script, which calls for his character to be an unnecessarily shitty anal prolapse of dickishness (oo, burn) for absolutely no reason even after the danger of the family's situation has become glaringly apparent and he gets shot in the back by a crossbow, but his facial expression doesn't change for the whole movie. He's just...so bad. His acting is endemic of the quality of the majority of the rest of the cast (save for the lead, whom we'll get to in a moment) who are equally as awful; most of the supporting cast are bland, formless cannon fodder and the mother in particular is flat, uninteresting and goes from absolutely chill to thinking the world is going to explode and back again faster than a schizophrenic chugging cough syrup while on uppers.

"Is that a fly? Oh my god, it's a dragon! I'm going to go to bed now."
Sure, it turns out she was right to be wary, but it's not a sign of good writing if a character in a horror film, the genre that defined the brainless fool walking into the warm arms of brutal decapitation (there's plenty of them in this film too), if one of the characters comes across as too anxious. I guess we can count ourselves lucky that the exposition only lasts an agonising 25 minutes before the action starts, at which point all plot is thrown out of the window and we get treated to an hour of people dying. There's a twist in there somewhere, but it's unoriginal, trite and doesn't actually serve to change the playing field in any way; it's still people trying to kill other people just now two of the killers are family members. Oops. Spoiler?

A completely unrelated image of a character in this film.
The shit goes down when, during dinner one night, the family are attacked by unknown assailants with crossbows and animal masks. Although I've just slated the movie for it's lack of coherent plot, the moment it strips away all of it's badly executed exposition is the moment it starts to get good, opting instead for gore, and lots of it. The visual effects are impressive and are evidently where the entirety of the film's budget was spent, the producer opting to pay the writers instead with gruel and squirrel paws.

Who needs plot and characterisation when blenders are powerful enough to scramble skulls?
You're Next's only positive feature is that it's pretty. The camera is generally framed nicely, the gore is satisfying enough to keep your interest and the main character, Erin, is suitably attractive. Obviously what most of the people who have praised this movie for is Erin; she breaks the genre stereotype of helplessly useless cabbages that bleed and manages to do a pretty neat job at holding off the intruders single handedly, but not in any way that wasn't already done better by The Hills Have Eyes. Although it's nice to see a resourceful character (and a woman at that; a shocking deconstruction of gende- *snore*) in a horror for once, all the makers have managed to do here is turn their movie into even more of a clichéd joke than it already is. Stood next to someone with the basic forethought to maybe lock the doors so evil axe murderers can't get in, the rest of the cast descend from annoying genre trope to slobbering morons. It even rubs off on the killers, who are the least original murderers since the exact same murderers in the trampolining dysentery sufferer that was The Strangers, who come across as less scary and more wildly incompetent, crossbow-happy opportunists once they manage to be held back by some bits of wood with nails in them.

Doesn't make it any less painful-looking, mind.
Shall we wrap this up, then? The acting is abysmal, the storyline and exposition are bare at best (consider that a blessing or a curse as you may), the twist is predictably dull and the villains have neither the originality nor the over-the-top craziness to be interesting at all. Although there's an attempt at comedy under all of the awful dialogue, it just isn't funny at all. The good points boil entirely down to the shiny things they dangle in front of your face: satisfying gore, a pretty, if bland, setting and an attractive, unoriginally-original lead. Essentially, You're Next is the perfect template for an absolutely mediocre slasher. We're done here.

Overall Ben Equivalence Rating

Sitting in On a Hollywood Production Meeting - 
"Hey, how about we do something original and unexpected?"
"Or we could make exactly the same thing as always and pretend it's new and original."
"That works too."
*A cocaine and money orgy ensues*

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Film Facts 2: Gravity Capsule

Gravity was pretty good, wasn't it? Yeah, it's pretty much unanimous that it was a great film, with some stellar (eh, eh?!) acting from Sandra "Hyperventilating" Bullock and George Clooney and very pretty CGI and sound editing; I'll be gobsmacked if it doesn't pick up this year's Academy Award for visual effects, which it's apparently already in the finalists for. Since we all already know Gravity is good, I thought I'd skip the whole reviewing thing and focus on some of the logistics of the movie. Heads up to those of you that still think Hollywood has the balls to hire someone like Sandra Bullock and kill her off, because I'm going to spoil the ending for you. Around about...now.

Space never looked so dirty.
She lives. Shock, horror. But, frankly, that's hardly the point of the film and if this truly ground-breaking revelation is going to detract from your enjoyment the I shall gleefully direct you to this Cracked article (which is, obviously, gospel) that says you apparently enjoy things more when you already know the end. So mneh.

I'm right, you're wrong. I'm big, you're small. I'm...I forget...
At the end of the movie, Bullock's capsule lands in some unnamed lake and she stumbles onto the shore to the sound of epically dramatic tribal music because this movie is so tentative with it's imagery of rebirth that it pretty much just goes full on Lion King on our asses for the finale. Hell, it would have been subtler to just steal that shot of the starchild from the end of 2001 and be done with it.

"Now how did that get there...?" - Alfonso Cuarón 
This whole not criticising a film thing is harder than it looks. Anyway, why don't we have a look at the statistical possibilities of landing in such a place, shall we? If you're at all like me, you might remember xkcd's What If column covering the relatively similar topic of the likelihood of finding signs of intelligent life anywhere on the planet, but his statistics (other than the typical "70% of the planet is water" one) are of very little use here. If we start with our target destination then: IMDb says that the location for the landing scene was at Lake Powell in Arizona. A quick Google map of the lake shows that it's actually just over the state line into Utah, but we're just getting niggly here. This totally legitimate source suggests that a more specific shooting locating was in a shallow bay just south of Lake Powell, which is entirely likely seeing as the geography of the final product has been changed completely in post production so we'll take that as our starting block.

Movie (above) and Google Maps (below), both facing in approximately the same direction.
A cursory glance (you can always trust me for the most painstakingly accurate measurements) at the scale bar on the map tells me that the bay is about 200x300m-ish exactly, so Sandra hit a 60'000 square metre, or 0.06 square kilometre, pool of water with her capsule, about the same size as three standard international 105x68m football pitches. If we take that at face value and look at the same area in comparison with the 510'072'000 square kilometre area of the Earth, that makes up just under 0.0000000118% of the total surface of the Earth, or the other way round you could fit the bay onto the face of the Earth 8 and a half billion times. How fascinating. However, none of these numbers are actually getting us anywhere, so let's get down to brass tacks.

"Have you even started yet?"
I'm sure we've all heard before that around about 70% of the Earth's surface is water (the most exact percentage I could find was a Wiki Answers with 71.13%), so the simplest statistic for us to start with is that, obviously, there was a 71% chance of Sandra landing on water; soggy planet for the win.

"I'm so wet..." - Earth
But wait! Although it's never indicated in Gravity when the events of the film take place and we're meant to assume it is in present day, the more accurate date of space explosion smashy smashy is around the year 2022. Why, you ask? Well, the Chinese space station that Sandra Bullock's character finds herself in after ISS is torn to shreds is based on a real-life station called Tiangong-1. At the moment, Tiangong looks nothing like it does in the film, only being made up of one shuttle, but the plan is to slowly build up to a science laboratory by 2020-2022, the finished product of which we get the joy to see getting torn to shreds in glorious high definition; thus 2022 being a better choice of setting for the movie. As we all know, the sea levels are slowly rising, so there'll be a little more water in ten years than there is now. At 3.2mm per year, the sea levels will have risen a staggering 25.6mm, or the height of three and a half iPad Airs. So essentially you could stack four iPads by the ocean and Apple will have installed iOS into your eyeballs before the top one gets wet. That's a fancy way of saying that this consideration is negligible and I've wasted a paragraph of everybody's time.

But you need never worry about leaving your iPad at the beach ever again.
Sandra didn't land in the ocean though, did she. The coastal zone is the name given to that shallow bit of the ocean that keeps rubbing up against the land like a really creepy uncle and is defined as bits of the ocean under a depth of 200m, which in total cover around about 26'000'000 square kilometres of the Earth's surface. Rivers and lakes (those that were big enough to be measured) make up about another 1.5 million square kilometres; that means the likelihood of landing on the coast or in a lake or river like what happens in the film is 5.39%, which is about the same as having a genetic disorder of some kind. The lesson here: don't try to pilot a space capsule into a lake if you have coeliac disease.

Any space landing is pretty hard to stomach. Doctor joke!
Of course, space stations and satellites follow very specific orbits, meaning there are parts of the Earth more or less likely to be landed on depending on where your orbit happens to be. As this handy teaching aid informs us, imaging satellites usually orbit north to south over the poles while space stations like the ISS and Tiangong orbit laterally (follow the hyperlinks to see live orbit trackers); as such we can pretty much ignore anything that's not underneath the flightpath of Tiangong, which we'll have to assume won't have changed much in the next 10 years. Sadly I can't seem to find anything that gives me a good indication of how far from under it's orbit a shuttle can stray during re-entry so I'm going to be super ignorant and say they don't; shuttles go straight down.

So says science. Well, me, but also science.
As such, looking at the orbit of Tiangong we can pretty much ignore Russia, Canada, Greenland, Antarctica and the North Pole along with a good chunk of the South Atlantic, Pacific most of the Southern Ocean (something I didn't actually know existed until about now) and all of the Arctic Ocean. Excuse me while I maths for a second and work out the area of a planet with it's top and bottom shaved off. Some. There is some Earth left. And by subtracting these land masses and oceans from the total area of the Earth and redoing the ratio, the chances of Tiangong hitting water is 3 in 4, or a 75% chance. That's better odds than that thing with the doors and the goats.

If you did get a goat, don't let it pilot the shuttle.
All in all, to wrap up this series of rather disappointing facts, the likelihood of Sandra's capsule landing on water and not smashing her into the ground like a tin can full of delicious space Spam is in her favour, but the chances of her landing in waist deep water on a river within walking distance of a city are silly levels of unlikely. I guess I could have saved us all a lot of time by just writing that one sentence. You're welcome. I'm keeping the goat.