Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dazzle them with the basics.

I don't want to know. Ever. I've got enough to worry about as it is.

Overwhelmingly joyous, or heart-crushingly awful, please, whatever you do, don't ruin the ending. Whether we're talking a DVR'd sporting event or a new theatrical release, the less I know the better. And if this happens to be Big Fish and you're the old lady with the eye, do us both a favor, and don't flip up that patch. There's not a single cell in my brain curious to know when my heart will beat its last beat.

But when we do get to the end, when the big show's over and the house lights come on? At that point? Yeah...

...feel free to explain everything to me.  And don't leave anything out.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of many of the events in director Denis Velleneuve's latest film, Arrival, but I'm quite positive I loved what they coalesced into. Bordering on hypnotic, this mysterious piece of science fiction has stayed with me long after the credits rolled. And try as I might, I can't seem to shake much of what I saw...even if I can't make sense of it.

Amy Adams is Dr. Louise Banks ('plays' felt like the wrong word), a linguistics professor quietly trudging through life at a small university. Shortly after twelve massive spacecraft appear all over the globe, the United States military recruits Dr. Banks in an attempt to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Banks is reluctant, but knows she is the best person for this impossible mission. Moments after taking the job, Banks is whisked away to Montana, where the 1,500 foot ship awaits her.

Like falling down a rabbit hole in glorious slo-motion, Arrival has this dreamlike trajectory that is simultaneously serene and utterly intense. At first glance, a film about the relationship between words (and time?) may not seem like something to propel one to the edge of their stadium seat, but exhausted as I was, that's where I found myself. Every action, every conversation, Hell, just about every moment carries a weight that's rare in a mainstream science fiction film. From start to finish, everything matters. 

Why do I feel like a hook or a blade should slide out of her sleeve right now?
(Oh, right. Because I'm stupid.)
Outside of the poster and a few trailers, I really didn't know what to expect from Arrival, and if you haven't seen it, go ahead and close down now (though, trust me, I couldn't spoil the ending if I tried). And even if you aren't planning on seeing the film, I'm sure leaving this site is sound advice regardless. Even if life is a limitless plain of time and space....

That said, here are the Yays and Boos. Or is that the Boos and Yays? At this point, I don't think I understand the order of just about anything, anymore. Though Arrival may have little to do with that, actually...

Unlike me, Louise isn't easily rattled. 
  • The performances are uniformly fantastic. With a welcome level of intimacy in this film, each performer is allowed to create real people dealing with something very unreal.
  • For what seems like forever, at least initially, we don't get to see them. And it's fantastic. But when we do? It doesn't disappoint.
  • Forest Whitaker. No one brings urgency to a given situation like he does. Good thing Amy Adams is there to calm him (and us) the Hell down.
  • Man, that overhead shot leading to the landing site was fantastic. The scope of what we're seeing left me awestruck. 
  • As did the score. As moderately terrifying as it is, it's also kind of beautiful. Were those whale noises? Or was just the sound of Earth dying? Either way I want more of it.
  • As a teacher, I adored the explanation of teaching someone a question. Especially teaching someone from another planet (remember, I'm a middle school teacher).
  • I will endlessly applaud that the lack of guns in this film made me more nervous.
  • The ascent into the chamber still has me shook (same with the glow stick toss).
  • I'm not sure if China, ultimately, is the good guy or the villain, but I do know they're ready to bomb their monolith straight to Hell. I was hoping they'd send in their three-armed jaeger, Crimson Typhoon, but no such luck. Still, I appreciate that someone wanted to spice things up (seemed more realistic than all this take our time and let smart people figure it out nonsense).
  • There are so many clues as to what is actually going on here, that I'm dying to see this movie again. My favorite? Mommy and Daddy talk to animals.
  • And finally, few times have I just wanted to the lights to come on in the theater and we all just talk about what we've just seen, but this was certainly one of them. Luckily, I had my sister with me to get the ball rolling, and she was super helpful and thoughtful, but I wanted more. An older woman seemed poised to join us, but her husband shushed her along before she took a seat. Ah, maybe next time!
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Of all the Avengers, we went Hawkeye?
Personally, I think Thor would have been more useful.
Or Banner...
  • In the Saddest Opening Montage event, Up is now accepting the silver.
  • So, I'm so on edge early on, that a minor fender bender almost made me do a friggin' backflip. Goodness.
  • Apparently, Dr. Banks is that college professor that holds class regardless. (though I adored that she made it there without knowing)
  • Okay, so can we all agree there's nothing creepier than unrelenting sirens combined with hazmat suits, right? Like, possessed women crawling down the stairs like backwards spiders is spooky, sure, but this? The controlled end of the world? *shudder*
  • No lie, someone went to the bathroom during the initial ascent into the spaceship. Like, when they were slowly creeping up into the belly of the beast. I thought we were supposed to be shitting our pants metaphorically.
  • The meaning of kangaroos was great trivia. Until it wasn't.
  • It's odd, she takes her mask off and I'm the one who can't breathe.
  • I don't even know where to begin specifically, but...I have sooo many questions. Probably more than I should (more on that in a minute)...
  • Look, I'm trying to bury this here, but Forest Whitaker is all kinds of ridiculous. If that was supposed to be Boston, well, it wasn't all that wicked pissah.
  • And finally, I made the fateful decision to go see this movie on a Friday night, at ten o'clock, after teaching a full day. Friends, there used to be a time I could function on weekday evening. That day has come and gone. What I'm trying to say is...I blinked. A lot. And sometimes, I did this blinking thing very, very slowly (but I didn't fall asleep! [says everyone, ever])

It seems now more than ever, being able to communicate with unlike creatures is paramount to the survival of our planet. We can try to listen to each other, try to understand the finer points of messages...or we can simply blow everything to Hell. And honestly, there's part of me that doesn't care either way, as the problem seems entirely out of my hands at this point.

Just let me know that my kids are going to be okay...okay?

Wait. I don't like knowing the endings ahead of time. Which is good. Because I don't plan on being around for their's anyway.


  1. Oh I forgot all about that kangaroo trivia! I looked at my husband with a face of 'I need to tell everyone this now' and was so disappointed when it was made up :(
    Mummy and Daddy talk to animals might be my favourite moment of this movie, it's that 'oh shit' moment when the first penny drops in your mind...love it!!
    - Allie

    1. Hahahaha...me too. My sister and I whispered "that's awesome" just to have our dreams immediately smashed. Dammit. It would have been a great tidbit to drop on unsuspecting party-goers. So...yeah.

      That was the first one that I remember really turning the light bulb on above my head, but I'm sure there's a million more that I missed. Ah, next time, right? (this film demands to be seen again, doesn't it?)

  2. Loved it. Tried to write down my thoughts... and made it all so much more complicated for myself. Oh well, it will make sense after I've watched it over 10 times. *waits for the DVD release*

    1. Totally with you. I tend to only make half-points in the midst of my psychotic ramblings, so I'm not all that far ahead of you. Maybe I'll edit the Hell out of this post when I see it again.
      And again.
      And again.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Only skimmed this one, homie. Trying it to see it this weekend. I'll be back if I do.

    1. Thanks, man. It's probably an awesome entry into your blogathon...which I get to get on asap!

  4. I'm so glad you liked this one. Understanding all that this had to say is going to take a lot of discussion because I feel like this one said so much and it all really depends on how you process it.

    But, yes...your opening line PERFECTLY sums up my feelings; I don't want to know...ever!

    Awesome review, buddy...and yes, that opening montage is heartbreaking, especially when paired with the closing ones.

    1. Holy shit, right? That end was supposed to be happy, but it's actually even more devastating...at least I think it is. Er, was. Uh...will be?

      Dude the post-movie discussion would be stellar with this one, as there is a lot open for interpretation. Maybe one day we can rent it and Twitter DM that sumbitch!

    2. I posted my review a few days ago...if you want to jump start a discussion, check it out and then we can compare notes ;-)

  5. I like how you mentioned the kangaroo trivia bit because I was kind of nodding to myself like "huh, that's interesting" then Lousie nope'd out of it. I was a bit disappointed.

    I also have no idea where Whitaker's character was supposed to be from. I noticed an accent in his first scene, then it kind of went away. I LOVED this movie though. Glad you did too!

    1. Yeah, that was a momentarily rad bit of trivia...but alas, too rad apparently. Dammit Louise!

      I love Whitaker, but I'm pretty sure that was supposed to be Boston (which I think he's attempted before in that bomb movie from waaay back).

      Anyway, I really, really loved this one, and I need to see it again. Glad we're all kind of stoked on it!

  6. Haha we're thinking on the same wavelength...WHEN ARE THEY ACTUALLY COMING!?!?!?

    1. YES! I was getting impatient, honestly. But they were awesome when we finally got to see them and their giraffe/squid/floating underwater tree-looking selves.

  7. Great stuff, man! First off, I have to say that UP! still takes the gold, despite the best efforts of the storytellers here. Second, I feel you on that teaching middle school thing. I spend a great deal of time breaking questions apart one word at a time with my 8th graders. Are they aliens? We may have solved the dilemma.

    Finally, this: "Like falling down a rabbit hole in glorious slo-motion, Arrival has this dreamlike trajectory that is simultaneously serene and utterly intense." Good God, that's good writing. I couldn't agree more. Teach me. My review of this is up as well. Would love you to check out my thoughts. Peace.

  8. "Amy Adams is Dr. Louise Banks" yeah because she doesn't actually do anything. I saw it on Sunday night and almost fell asleep several times and almost shut it off so many times. I thought that was truly uninteresting, awfully paced and Adams is now on my shitlist because between Nocturnal Animals and Arrival she cannot lead a movie at all.

    This snoozefest made me think fondly of Interstellar. Yeah, I hated it this much.

    1. Whatever happens to you when you lose a kid, especially the way she did, I thought she captured that absolutely unrelenting despair so well. I know people say you gotta to move and shit, but I imagine I would sort of be gliding through the rest of my life not actually doing anything.

      I was tired as f--k when I saw this, and I still thought it was all lean-forward viewing. That said, it's still a bit of a grind...

      I still haven't seen Interstellar, but if I remember correctly, you loathed that movie. So...uh, yikes...