I don’t get why some were dissing Gravity for its “scientific inaccuracies”: There’s a reason why it’s called science fiction. Apparently it was so realistic that the audience mistook it for a documentary, and applied documentary standards. That’s quite a compliment for a scifi movie! :-P
Even Neil Degrasse Tyson chimed in from the point of view of a scientist: If you have a real scientist analyse your scifi movie, and the worst he can come up with is that the astronaut’s hair “did not float freely” enough, then the movie did a great job, in my book.
Tyson did not see his comments as criticism: He didn’t say “this movie sucks because the orbits are wrong”. He watched a scifi movie, and added some real world info (such as, by the way, these space stations exist, but they are not within sight of each other). Why does a scientist feel the need to comment on fiction at all? Again, because this movie was shot so realistically that it could be mistaken for a documentary. These visuals will stick in our heads longer than anything theoretical that we have heard in physics class.
It’s not like one astronaut is hanging “down” over the edge of a cliff and is too “heavy” to be pulled “up” — as Tyson points out, in zero g, pulling the tether would make the two masses move towards each other. However, in the scene in question we (the viewers) can’t really see what other 3D momentums the two masses have. Would the trajectory bring them back in touch with the station or would they both miss it? Applying forces in 3D space in order to move in a specific direction is not trivial. The scenes with the fire extinguisher are great because the propulsive effect is surprising and unexpected, yet understandable. That’s why most space computer games never let you do real zero-g navigation in 3D — because it’s dang hard!