War of the Planet of the Apes- Wow!

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War of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best films of 2017. It intends no less than to go for broke and reap the rewards. It is a movie determined to go out with a spectacular bang and boy is this movie strong in that aspect. This movie is so brilliant that it has a good chance of being the best blockbuster that I see in 2017.

Why is War of the Planet of the Apes so fantastic? It masters the basics requirements of what makes a great movie. It has great action, special effects, characters, and drama. Most blockbusters can barely get one of these things right let alone all four.

What glues all four of these cinematic aspects together is a great story about the ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) wanting revenge against a ravenous Colonial (Woody Harrelson) seeking to kill apes whom he believes caused a virus, leaving humans with the inability to speak. The tension rises when the Colonial hatred starts to reflect Caesar’s and aims to consume him. The moral complexity ensues from there which makes this film so great above all that made the movie great.

This film is both, equally, about understanding and misunderstanding. This is why I don’t consider Woody Harrelson’s as a fully-fledged villain. He kills apes as he believes it stops spreading a terrible disease. His actions come off as hateful but his intentions do not. It’s within his interpretation of a crisis situation that causes the pain and misery that festers throughout the film which is the inability to understand that the apes are not savages.

From this story, you can see how much influence Apocalypse Now had on this movie. There even graffiti that says “Ape-pocalypse now” sprawled across an underground wall. My favorite movie last year was also inspired by that same movie but War of the Planet of the Apes is a more hopeful film, a film that has the epic feel to it. This movie does not back away from the brutality and pain but it does remind you there are sparks of hope along the way.

This movie ultimately shows us the consequences of condemning things that we do not understand. We can fear the unknown but we have no right to judge it. This movie actually reminded me of how AIDs victims in the 80’s were societal outcasts because humans feared they could get the disease through touch. Then I looked online and people have compared it to many other historical events like the Holocaust and slavery. Ultimately, War of the Planet of the Apes is a great story combined with a brilliant spectacle. It shows the best of a blockbuster in an era where normally the blockbuster is mundane. ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4

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A Relentless Battle in Dunkirk

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Dunkirk is one of the rare war movies that spends the entirety of it’s running time in conflict zones. This may sound normal in a war movie but normally there is some sort of an aside like scenes on the homefront, flashbacks from the lead or even a life before a war. Dunkirk is deliberately made to show the war from beginning to end and leaves us with wondrous visuals, a uniquely executed story but a lack of character development.

There is little story in Dunkirk in terms of a large sequence of events. The battle of Dunkirk is the entire movie.

According to the man himself, Nolan intentionally made Dunkirk have a lack of character development and one could easily speculate why. I believe that he wanted Dunkirk to have a ring of authenticity in which characters are not explored as they are focused every minute on survival. Is this a mistake? Who knows? Dunkirk was an excellent movie either way. I believe it is more emotionally resonating in a war film if there were characters you get to know and therefore care more. I am reminded of Hacksaw Ridge in which Andrew Garfield fleshed our a memorable war hero called Desmond Doss who fought on and off the battlefield for his faith and everyone around him. Dunkirk has very few discernible characters let alone well-developed characters that I saw in Hacksaw Ridge.

Despite that one main complaint, I still recommend seeing Dunkirk because aside from little character development, Nolen does everything you could possibly do for a movie of this nature. He does achieve setting the realism being under attack. Instead on focusing on the casualties he focuses on survival. I would argue that Dunkirk is more sensory than anything else.  The visuals are something that you need to see on the big screen. Every location from land, air, and sea is something that is breathtaking. For most war movies you will see shades of green, in Dunkirk, you will see it in shades of blue. There are many wide shots of the planes hovering above the sea which was the best visual in my opinion. The sound of the planes swooping in the land are piercingly loud and music literally sounds like ticking time bomb. The visuals and sound mixes beauty and tension together to create a unique war movie.

I also like the cohesiveness of Dunkirk despite the multiple perspectives. Generally, when I see movies that decide to this I normally dread it. That is because the movie comes off like an unfocused mess. In Dunkirk, all of the transitions from the multiple story threads feel like they together to make one overarching story. I don’t have to think “what was that subplot about 40 minutes ago?” and I actually know when the transitions occur unlike in Manchester by the Sea. The smooth transitions in Dunkirk reminded me of the smooth transitions of the movie Nocturnal Animals in that it feels like one movie and they were all coherent.

This is one of the rare times I will say this but don’t watch Dunkirk with a critically open mind. Don’t expect to know people’s names let alone their personality. I am not saying that Dunkirk is a dumb movie but I believe it’s more of a movie best left experienced than watched. It is not a film with a message on war like Apocalypse Now, nor is a film that involves developed characters and emotional swings like Hacksaw Ridge. Dunkirk is a movie more set on realism than anything else. So get swept up by that realism and even though I thought it was great, you might like it more than me. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fifty Shades Darker: I Prefer it Lighter

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Written (unfortunatly) by Nelson Cumming

I avoided the Fifty Shades series because people have said the books were a joke and the movie was a joke. The only reason I have started now is because I write regularly as a hobby. This is a movie I regret seeing and I urge people to avoid it.

Fifty Shades Darker is not bad, it’s evil.

What makes a Good Movie from a Bad Movie

Before you call me a man who cannot take romantic movies I think you need to see my reviews of The Lobster, Moonlight and La La Land. I would also recommend seeing Southside With You even though I didn’t write a review on it. These movies have three dimensional characters and took risks in their work. I left those movies in awe on how much a I cared for the people and how those movies were pushing the art of cinema to a different level.

Some of the worst movies ever made pile on a movement that exploits the worst of humanity. Dirty Grandpa was overly hedonistic, London Has Fallen is exploited dumb, senseless revenge and Mothers Day was sugery vanity in disguise of meaningful family moments.

Fifty Shades Darker is a movie which aims to manipulate the audience into believing emotionally abusive relationships and love are the same thing. That is a conept that I don’t want to see exacerbated into the world we live in.

The sadism (or stupidity) of Fifty Shades

Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is psychotic and there is no way you can argue that. Early on, When Grey approaches Anastasia’s boss and introduces himself as “THE boyfriend” I knew he had an inferiority complex. What surprised me was how much that manifested into a deeply disturbing level.

No, there is no rape nor domestic violence but Fifty Shades Darker was not far off. There was so much verbal and emotional manipulation from Christian Grey to Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and he is so controlling, possessive, demeaning and insulting that it was disturbing when Anastasia opens her arms (and legs) to him. I think the movie was called Fifty Shades Darker because it brought gender equality back fifty years.

There is no proper setup to even give a reason why any scene have any sense. Nor did the movie explore why Anasthetia would take a man like Christan Grey back. Therefore a lot of these scenes feel like they were done for no reason which makes Dakota Johnson’s character look like an easy manipulative target. She felt like a deer in the headlights that didn’t even know it. Near the end, the explaniation as to why Grey is such a dick (and a 2-inch one at that) is so terrible that I hated the movie even more.

The Worst Four Scenes in Fifty Shades Darker

I am going to spoil the movie here because this movie is so terrible that I recommend you don’t see it.

Number 4: The Repression Revealed

I know there will be women who will defend the Christian Grey character is emotionally complex. The height of his complexity is that he is compelled to do high levels of domination because his mother died from a drug overdose when he was a kid and had the sexual desire of dominating women that look like his mother for all his life as a form of vengeance. Anastasia love him even more now for being so open and honest!

Number 3: The Damaged Dominatrix

There is also a subplot where a girl called Lelia (One of Christian Grey’s former submissives) is obsessed with Grey despite the fact Grey helped make her an emotional wreck. She carries and gun and points it to Anastasia and all Grey does is say “Lelia!” and points at her. Seeminglingly, in a trance, Lelia points the gun to Christian, hand the gun to him and kneels in front of his feet in complete submission to this Almighty Christian Grey. I smacked my palm upon my hand very loudly. The person next to me looked at me as if I was weird.

Number 2: The Sadistic Sociopath

Lelia was unstable but Grey clearly exacerbated the problem, broke her mentally and dumped her (After the gun scene he said he “put her to a psyche ward where she belongs” the most ironic line ever) He is so sadistic that he admits he is a sadist and says he will stop being an asshole but the movie shows no change in him. He starts and finishes as a one-dimensional asshole.

Number 1: The Petrifying Proposal

Christian proposes to Anasthesia saying “I want to be with you every day, every minute and every second of my life…” I blurted out “Literally” and a couple of people laughed. I just couldn’t help myself at that point. She says yes to the proposal and everyone is happy. End of movie.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I felt so unclean watching this. If you want to look at the movie as laughably bad, it was. But it was so morally repugnant that I never enjoyed it as an artistically inept film that I thought it was going to be. This movie reminded me of the domestic violence between Rihanna and Chris Brown. That is a bad sign.

This is the first time in a long time where I felt completely screwed over. At the end, I saw this girl who looked like the dumbest bogan ever and she applauded like a walrus and looked at the people behind her. They did not respond. At that point, I learned more than ever that there are fucked up people in this world and I am glad I am not one of them -**

Moonlight and the Art of Silence

Written by Nelson Cumming

Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight is a fantastic movie to say the least. The themes ring loud and true even when dialogue is sparse. Moonlight ultimately explores repression and the yearning for a relief from that repression.

Repression is the umbrella for the themes such as homosexuality, masculinity, and yearning for acceptance in an unjust world. Moonlight tells the story of a boy called Chiron in three stages. First as a boy (i.Little), then as a teenager (ii Chiron) and finally as a man (iii. Black). Chiron is black, gay and poor. He has no father and his mother is a drug addict. His father figure (Played by Mahershala Ali who just nails it) is a drug dealer who supplies his mother with drugs.

Even though Moonlight explores the struggles of a person expressing homosexuality, I see a broader message of the struggle of sacrificing a bit of yourself to blend into society. That is because any child who suffers because of that would act in exactly the same way as Moonlight shows in Chiron.

Acting in the Art of Silence

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You need to see these three actors. They make you feel how they feel and say very little. From left to right: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes

As you may be thinking, Moonlight is explict in terms how showing the toxic environment of Chiron’s life, but the most important parts are when they are at their most subtle. The best moments were the three scenes that concluded Chiron’s life segments. They each added a significant layer to the character. The final scene flawed me. It sneaks up on you and gets you when you least expect it. The reason for that is what I call the art of silence.

The art of silence for acting is conveying a lot of information by saying and doing so little. It is so difficult to do yet all three actors who play Chiron play it brilliantly. All three act like damaged people who are internalizing themselves because the society they live in shuns who they are.

This is what makes Moonlight unique from a lot of movies about homosexuality. I cannot think of a movie that explores how the suppression and condemnation of homosexuality impacted a person throughout their entire life in the way Moonlight portrayed it. The end result is something quite powerful, extraordinary and unexpected. It didn’t hit me until the very end ****3/4

Endnote

I am slow man. I didn’t realise that A24 Pictures was a production company. I do now. After looking at their filming catelogue I have come to the conclusion that they are the best movie studio currently in existence. To prove it to you, including Moonlight, I have review four movies from them and here were the star ratings I gave them.

Green Room:****1/2

Moonlight and The Lobster: ****3/4

Room:*****

The Lobster and Room both made my top ten list of 2016 (Number 5 and 2 respectively) and Moonlight also would have had I saw it last year.

Manchester by the Sea: A Little Underwhelming

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Manchester by the Sea was a film that was surprisingly underwhelming for me. Not bad, but not Oscar nominated levels of good. I dislike hype for movies in general. With the exception of La La Land and Moonlight the movies that have hype rarely reach the high bar that the hype sets. It leaves me underwhelmed at best and thoroughly disappointed at worst.

Nevertheless, Manchester by the Sea is a good movie. The movie title is the setting and Casey Affleck is a young man on the brink of self-destruction (he loves to start punch-ups at bars and works as a janitor in Boston). After his brother’s heart attack, he has to take care of his nephew in Manchester as that was in his brother’s will.

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To anyone wanting to see the movie, this is the scene that finally gives the film momentum.

The Bad Pacing

There is a reason that Affleck hates going back to Manchester. Unfortunately, the reason why is a big fat spoiler. Becuase the endpoint of the movie is whether or not Affleck’s character adheres to his brother’s will. It is not a twist, but it takes about 50 minutes to get to the reason. This is where we get to why I am not a huge fan of Manchester by the Sea.

The pacing is simply too slow. Manchester by the Sea is nearly 140 minutes long. In my opinion, it didn’t need to be. I heard from my favorite living film reviewer Mark Kermode that it needed to be 30 minutes longer due to the lack of the relationship between Affleck and the Michelle William’s character (his ex-wife). I vehemently disagreed.

The High Positives

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Affleck and Hedges have great chemistry. Their chemistry keeps the movie alive.

Despite the slow pacing, Manchester by the Sea does achieve it sets out to do. That is, to tell a story about a damaged man while not being overly morose. This is done with Affleck’s nephew (played by Lucas Hedges) serving as great comic relief while being a relatable teenager. Aside from Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges was the best thing in the movie.

Great Scriptwriting

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The script was also well-written. That is hard to come by in movies because well-written dialogue has to simultaneously poetic and natural. It’s a well-hidden art that you don’t immediately observe because the art is to make dialogue sound like normal people talking.

In terms of dialogue, most movies either have the rhythm or the music but never both. Those are what most 2-3 star movies have in common. Manchester by the Sea is an exception. I still believe that Hacksaw Ridge has the best use of dialogue out of all the movies I have reviewed, but Manchester by the Sea would be in the top ten for scriptwriting.

I saw a good film in Manchester by The Sea, but with the slow pacing and the long-running time, I couldn’t get myself into it. It was the kind of film that I was wishing I could immerse myself into because it had the right elements, but I never could. That is why I was underwhelmed by the whole movie ***1/4

Lion Review: An Anecdote for January

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Written by Nelson Cumming

January is the month of movie dread. There is never enough money at the box office to warrant a big blockbuster movie and it is also too far away from nomination season to warrent releasing great masterpieces. Fortunatly, in this context, Australians get movies about a fortnight later than Americans do. That is why when movies Lion come out in the middle of January, I cherish them.

Lion is one of those movies that tries to tug the heartstrings through an uplifting story. I liked this movie, but I am starting to get tired of typical plot conventions of the genre. Lion is undeniably a conventional story and for the first two-thirds of the movie were just that with the last thirty minutes being spectacular.

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Sunny Pawar’s feature debut. He does a good job for what his has to do. You expect what he will be doing in the movie but he was still effective nonetheless. 

 

Saroo is an Indian boy (Sunny Pawar) living in poverty with his brother. He loses his brother in the middle of a train station and has traveled more than 1,500 kilometers away from home. The rest of the story takes place over many years as Saroo is adopted by Australian parents (Nicole Kidman and Davie Wenham) and turns into an adult (Dev Patel). He still yearns to find his home.

The great thing about Lion is that is achieves everything it is set out to do. The main problem with Lion is needlessly hammering the themes it’s trying to convey. It, therefore, is not a tightly made film and it dragged for a little bit. Because of that, I could not stop thinking of Slumdog Millionare being it’s superior counterpart

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I normally dislike product placement in movies. Google Earth is an exception to the rule

That being said, the last 30 minutes are absolutely fantastic. Who would have thought that something like a software application could bring a lot of drama to a story? It goes to show that there are no limits when it comes to filmmaking, you just have to smart about implementing ideas to the big screen.

 

The other big thing that works in Lion is Dav Patel. It is one of the rare moments that someone knows how to speak in an Australian accent. It has been a minor thing that has bothered me for awhile in movies these days. From Tarantino in Django Unchained to one of the comedic skits in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and finally to Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad. Finally we get a guy who doesn’t play an Australian sterotype

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Guess who the odd one out is. The answer is Dev Patel becuase he plays an Australian convincingly. I am more blunt than a pothead.

Patel has made his character borderline obsessive compulsive about his desire to find the location of his family. Despite this, Patel never comes off as a creep, nor does he come off as trying too hard. He finds the line of being very conflicted and angry while being likable and hospitable. Seeing the way it plays out, Patel acts like a human being. That is a compliment because I believed it and that is the ultimate goal in a movie like this.

Because of the underwhelming editing and some of the eye-rolling cliches in the first half of the movie, I cannot say Lion is in the league of best pictures of the year. I am not even sure it will get an Oscar nomination if there are only 5 slots for best picture for which I am sure was a big goal (We will know soon enough). Nevertheless, Lion more than outweighs its weaknesses with great acting and cinematography.****

Room Review

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Written by Nelson Cumming

A single word can a sentence can change the meaning of a sentence completely. That was the first thought that entered my head as I started typing. Why is that? Well, that’s because if I added the word “The” before “Room” as a typo then people will mistake it for me reviewing one of the most ineptly made films of all time. If I simply say “Room” well people will now think I am writing about one of the best films of the year. Of course, that is what “Room” is all about.

As I threw the DVD disc (yeah they still exist) into my drive I was thinking it was an escape/thriller movie based on the trailer, however, it is much more than that. “Room” follows the story of five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who has lived in a confined shed his entire life. He lives with his mother Joy (Brie Larson). The reason they both live inside the shed is because of Jack’s abusive father who locks them inside the shed.

“Room” is not only the title of the movie but it’s also the name that Jack and his mother give the shed. Room Jack believes is the entire world and Jack interacts with inanimate objects in Room as a way to socialize. He even say “Goodnight plant” and “Goodnight Lamp”

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Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) world that is called “Room”. He has lived there his entire life.

There are a plethora of reasons as to why “Room” works so well. One of which is the premise which is both innovate and creative, a rarity in films of recent years. The other is chemistry between Larson and Tremblay. I believe their chemistry was perfect. Despite the fact that they live in social isolation, they don’t act like damaged people. Both act (especially Larson) like a normal mother-son relationship which subtly indicating that “Room” is affecting their relationship. I got immersed in this movie quickly because of the two together.

What made the film more engrossing to watch was the dialogue, scriptwriting and narrative twists that go against the grain of cliché. The dialogue is purely written dialogue that the writers knew extensively about how mothers and sons speak and how they speak to each other.

There is a moment in which Joy tries to teach his son things about the real world and Jack denies it to the point where Joy loses patience and Jack cries. Larson is them frustrated at herself for lashing out. It’s an example in “Room” of humanity. It is written with a great observation of human behavior while retaining its narrative form and function.

“Room” is a very rare movie where the cast members are good to perfect, the narrative quickly and thoroughly engrossing, the writing was humane and sublime in its simplicity, and has believable twists that you don’t see coming. All the makings of not only a great film but one of the years best *****

Son of Saul Review

Written by Nelson Cumming

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I know people will groan when they hear the words “holocaust film”. To be fair, I sigh when I see movies who use the holocaust card for characters purely for sympathetic gain. Not Son of Saul. Son of Saul is not melodramatic nor is it evil. It is a unique piece of filmmaking that is not easy to sit through but watching it to the end is worth the reward.

With holocaust movies like Shoah and Schindler’s List, I sometimes ask “Is there any other story that could possibly be told about the Holocaust?” Son of Saul fills that void by going in a vastly different direction. Son of Saul relies on what we imagine not what we see.

Saul Alexander is a different character from most Jewish characters in Holocaust films. He is a member of the Sonderkommando, a Jewish worker who is forced to aid the disposal of gas chamber victims. The Nazi’s don’t want him dead, but they don’t want him at all.

I want to go into further detail but recounting the premise is technically a spoiler but also because it’s best you don’t know. There is a scene late in the film that reveals the story and explains why Saul does what he does. Up until that point, you are left wondering what Saul’s motivations are, but the scene is pivotal to the story.

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The entire movie is filled with extreme closeups of the character Saul during the holocaust.

The whole movie is showing from a mid-closeup view of the main character Saul Alexander. Everything else in the background is deliberately faded and fuzzy. Son of Saul relies on us, the viewer to imagine what is going on based on background sounds and Saul’s reactions to moments in the concentration camp.

This is when Son of Saul encourages us to paint the picture for ourselves. The whole movie is shot on a narrow frame with extreme close-ups of Saul the main character. Yes, the film delves into the inner workings of the concentration camp but because all the footage in the background is fuzzy and some important moments are offscreen, you can’t help but paint a picture of what happens. In all sincerity, it is like making your own movie.

Saul is not a man of heroism, nor is he a man of cowardice, he is a man of stoicism. His character does not tell us to feel sorry for the suffering, nor does he rile you up in his courage, he tells us what it is and to move along all the noise, all the panic, and all the hardship. Son of Saul tells us to go beyond holding to despair and sorrow. It tells us to leave with acceptance and that acceptance is not a sign of nihilism or flippancy but an act of humility.

As I have said, Son of Saul is not an easy watch, it does not leave you with an uplifting feeling, nor is it awe inspiring, it leaves you feeling that makes you better that you have watched it. It is unique both cinematically and thematically while telling a great, harrowing and poignant story. ****3/4

Nocturnal Animals: A Great Revenge Tale

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Written by Nelson Cumming

If you can get by the first minute of Nocturnal Animals which contains four naked clinically obese women strip-dancing, you will be rewarded (and not in THAT way). This is the second of Tom Ford’s directorial efforts (The first being A Single Man). This time, Ford actually deals with a bit of blood and dirt in addition to his usual clean and tidy environment and costume design. It pays dividends.

In time, I hope people know director Tom Ford by name because he makes great movies that are high art but accessible to casual moviegoers and cinephiles. He gets an actress who fits that category as well. Amy Adams plays the “lead” in this role (she gets not a whole lot of screentime) and she plays a successful costume designer who is married to a successful ivey-league businessman (Armie Hammer).

She gets a copy of a novel called “Nocturnal Animals” a detective western novel written by her ex-husband. She quickly gets immersed in the graphic nature of it. However, the book gets both larger than life and too close to home, making Adams question why she left her ex in the first place.

The Unromantic Couple

 

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In 2016, Adams portrayed either a damsel (Batman vs Superman) or a heartbreaker. She has been good in her portrayals. But if I were associated with her characters in real life, I’d run away.

 

Nocturnal Animals is a great film. I got immersed into the novel as much as Adam’s character was. The main character in the novel is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He plays his character with both ferocious anger and fragile vulnerability. He plays a father who gets carjacked with his family by psychopaths and is shaken by the experience. He then has to learn how to deal with it. Compared to Adam’s, my first thoughts were “There’s no way he can top her”. He did. I want him to get award nominations for his role.

The person who was alongside Gyllenhaal was, of course, Amy Adams. In this movie, I am still yet to determine if her character was a victim of circumstance or she was just cold hearted. I am leaning toward the latter because she explicitly admitted it in the film. However, it is implied throughout the film that she is a victim of circumstance.

Like in Arrival, she knows how to crush the heart of her significant other. It makes me miss the naïve and innocent princess of purity she played in Enchanted. She was better in Arrival because she gets more screen time there. There wasn’t enough of her in the movie to win anything for this role but she plays the most important role in the story.

Nocturnal Animals does deliver the goods. I think it is better that Arrival. I may re-evaluate if I see Arrival again. Like The Revenant, there were long stretches where I was immersed in the film despite the abrupt scene and location changes. With it’s non-linearity and multiple story arcs, Tom Ford was performing a high wire act and he succeeded in doing so. ****1/2

Arrival- A Thematic Pool

Written by Nelson Cumming

Arrival had a lot of promise. So much so that I paid a lot extra to see it on a wider screen, thinking I would get overwhelmed by the grandiose mis en scene. That didn’t happen. Despite this, Arrival is a very interesting and highly original film.

Oddly, the movie it reminded me of was The Tree of Life by Terrance Malick although it is not anything like it. To use a book title from Douglas Adams, The Tree of Life concerns itself with “Life, The Universe and Everything” whereas Arrival explores the inner-workings of communication, language and pre-determinism. The latter of which I didn’t get until much later after I saw it.

Unpacking the Plot- A headache that was worth it

Adam’s using her linguistic powers to understand the alien language. Initially this was my favorite part of the film.

I’m gonna be honest. I didn’t get the subplot of the movie at all until I did a bit of research. After looking it up I thought “Damn, Arrival was going for the gold” The main plot and subplot are completely non-linear (like The Tree of Life) and I was wondering why the subplot even existed for a while. I’ll outline both the plot and subplot before explaining further.

So the main plot involves Amy Adams who plays a professional linguist sent by the US military to communicate with these aliens that have bordered earth. A lot of the film involves Adams and Jeremy Renner (who plays a theoretical physicist) decoding the language and understanding why the aliens have come to earth.

As Adam’s learns of the aliens language, Adams has visions of her daughter which serves as the subplot of the film. When the twist comes, I was wondering why she was having visions of her child in the first place. The movie raised more questions than it answered for me. It didn’t seem to add up.

That is a broadly specific as I can be without ruining it. You need to know the subplot to fully understand the meaning of the film.

The Tree of Life analogy

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The subplot felt a little spinny to me. It messes with time and space. Only after I saw it did I understand it.

I saw Arrival as more of an atmospheric film about how the intricacies of communication changes meaning and how you need to get both linguistics and the meaning behind language to reach understanding. The best moments for me were when Adams were decoding the alien language, trying to understand their purpose of existence.

Only until after I saw it I realize I was only scratching the surface. It’s like the Tree of Life in that both the plot and subplot are non-linear and one of the plots have to do with the world around us and the other side of the story revolves around a family and with Arrival, the two didn’t stories did not connect well enough for me to understand.

That was until I realised why Adam’s character has all these visions. Once I knew that all of Arrival’s ideas just seemed to connect and fall into place. It really is a thinking movie and I might like it more if I saw it again. It explores the philosophical concept of pre-determinism vs. fate. Unlike most films, Adams choose with her final word in the film when she is asked a very abrupt (almost comical) question.

However, I can only judge based on what I saw initially and I liked it for the cinematography, Amy Adams performance and how the lead characters slowly develop an understanding with the aliens. If I see it again, now knowing the movie fully, I would like it even more. That I am certain of. However, I must rate it based on what I was feeling at the time and while I liked it overall there were a lot of moments I was scratching my head on how she has the conceived of her visions in the first place ***1/2