Colossal Trailer Reaction

The first trailer for Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal has surfaced on the internet. I am hyped for this film because the premise (Anne Hathaway’s character controls a giant monster) seems like a brilliant idea for a movie.

Trailer!

I am so happy that this film is getting a theatrical release. I have heard nothing but good things from people who watched Colossal at film festivals.

Hopefully the release of this film is a sign that more Kaiju movies will be made in the future. The big star of this film is Anne Hathaway, which adds to my anticipation to see this movie. Its amazing that Vigalondo was able to sign on Hathaway for this film, which speaks to the quality of the film’s script.

Look for this film in theaters on April 7 of this year.

Arrival (2016) Analysis: Denis Villeneuve is Today’s best Filmmaker.

Denis Villeneuve creates films that stay with you long after the credits roll. Now that his fourth major film has hit theaters, I am convinced that Villeneuve is the most significant filmmaker we have today. His film Arrival is a stunning masterpiece of science fiction, one of those rare films that is thought-provoking and a downright pleasure to behold.

Arrival stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks, a linguistics professor tasked with translating the language of aliens who have recently arrived on Earth. Arrival begins with a sequence depicting the life and death of Banks’s daughter who dies at a young age. Banks is invited by an army colonel, played by Forest Whitaker, to Montana where she enters the shell-shaped vessel of the aliens and encounters their language for the first time. The rest of the film follows Banks’s journey to understand the aliens language amidst rising military tensions due to the possibility that the aliens are dangerous. This is about as far as you can go describing the film’s plot without spoiling anything. If you have read this far, be aware that I am going to spoil many parts of the film in the rest of my piece.

I should give props to Ted Chiang because Arrival is based on a short story he wrote. Many elements of Arrival such as the design of the Aliens’ language come from Chiang’s short story. This means that Villeneuve does not deserve all of the credit for Arrival’s awesomeness. Much of the material is shamelessly taken from Chiang’s story but this most likely occurred with Chiang’s permission. Villeneuve does deserve credit for Arrival’s incredible visuals, the casting of Amy Adams and the choice to adapt Chiang’s story in the first place. Arrival is an example of what happens when multiple creative geniuses combine forces on one project.

A major source of mystery in Arrival is the aliens’ reason for being on Earth. This is the main question Banks wants to answer in her meetings with the aliens. When the question is answered, it almost happened too quickly to comprehend. The aliens purpose is to give the gift of their language to humanity because learning the language enables the user to see the past and future. The aliens claim that they will need humanity’s help in the future so that is why they are giving humanity their language. This plot point is unfortunately not fleshed out enough in Arrival. There is no discussion of what this means for anyone other than Louise Banks. I wish that the movie had at least made an attempt to explore the larger implications of a language that enables the user to see the future.

Arrival is a much more personal movie than it appears. While the stakes are large, the movie ignores those stakes in favor of the smaller stakes related to Dr. Banks. Ultimately its unclear why the movie chose to focus so heavily on her story when greater possibilities were available. Despite this problem Arrival is so far my favorite movie of 2016. The film achieved what few other could. It kept me transfixed for the entire time I was in the theater. At this point it is safe to say that this is Villeneuve’s specialty. His ability as a filmmaker is unparalleled in today’s cinema landscape.

They Live Analysis: The most Relevant Film of the 1980s

They Live is a science fiction action horror film written and directed by John Carpenter in 1988. It stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. Roddy Piper plays a drifter, called John Nada in the credits, who discovers a secret ruling class of aliens by wearing sunglasses. They Live is famous for having a great fight scene and great cheesy lines. Carpenter has called They Live a documentary because the world it depicts is so similar to the world of today.

I watched They Live because it was featured on an episode of The Canon podcast. This podcast is a great resource for film nerds. I could tell from Devin Faraci and Amy Nicholson’s thoughts on the film that it needed to be seen sooner rather than later. I don’t usually see every film that they talk about so this one was different. When this film came out, I had yet to be born so how would I have any knowledge of its existence?

One of my favorite things about this film is hard to describe. There’s a certain vibe or feel to some 80s movies that adds to the experience. I wasn’t alive in the 80s but I can feel what it was like to live there from movies. John Carpenter’s films feel particularly grounded in their historical time and place. I find myself wishing that I had lived during the 80s to experience the decade’s great films firsthand.

The premise and ideas of They Live are more relevant today than they were in 1988. The world of They Live is the world of today, except for the aliens. The United States is ruled by money and those with money do everything they can to maintain their power at the expense of those beneath them. The lower classes are kept in check by their need to obey and consume. The truth is painful in They Live. Wearing the sunglasses gives John Nada a headache because reality is physically painful to experience. It is so much easier to succumb to the wishes of those in power. But there is so much to gain from attacking the system. The part of They Live where John Nada and Frank Armitage infiltrate the aliens’ base, shooting them left and right, is such satisfying cinema. It’s the ultimate power fantasy for anyone who has ever suffered from being abused or exploited.

TV is the enemy in They Live. It is the most useful alien tool in keeping the lower classes at bay. Somehow destroying a broadcasting signal reveals all the aliens in their true form. The final scene of this film depicts a woman looking down as the man she is having sex with has been revealed as a ghoul.

I recommend seeing They Live as soon as possible.

If you have any recommendations for great films from the 80s, let me know.

 

The Lobster Review: Dark yet Hilarious

The Lobster is the latest film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek filmmaker known for the film DogtoothThe Lobster represents a huge step in the career of Lanthimos. It his first film to receive widespread exposure and stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, and John C. Reilly.

The Lobster is set in a dystopian society where all single people must live in a hotel where they have 45 days to find a partner. Those who fail to find a partner are turned into an animal of their choice. Colin Farrel’s character David is sent to this hotel after his wife leaves him for another man. David picks the titular lobster as his animal of choice. David is an interesting character. He’s an architect who rarely says more than he needs to. David eventually tries to seduce the most heartless woman in the hotel. David and the heartless woman become a couple but the heartless woman soon learn that David has more emotion than he lets on. So the heartless woman kills David’s dog/brother leading David to cry in the bathroom. Under dire circumstances, David incapacitates the heartless woman and escapes from the hotel. Going much further into the plot of this film would perhaps reveal too much. Here’s what you need to know: The premise of this film is both inventive and terrifying

The first thing I should tell you is that I found The Lobster hilarious. If you appreciate dark humor, then you will absolutely enjoy this film. The first half of this film is especially entertaining when it utilizes its bizarre premise for humor. The various procedures and rules of the hotel are designed to foster pairing between the guests no matter the cost. For example, masturbation is a punishable offense, yet sexual stimulation by the hotel maid is mandatory. Having now seen two of Lanthimos’s films, I can see the beginning of a pattern. Both Dogtooth and The Lobster place characters in tragic yet hilariously absurd situations. That this technique works is a testament to Lanthimos’s cinematic skill.

The Lobster is separated into two parts. The first half taking place in the hotel while the second follows David’s escape into the forest where he meets the loners and a woman who becomes his natural partner. The world of the loners in the forest is as intricate as the world of the hotel. The loners abide by oppressive rules similar to the inhabitants of the hotel. No matter where David goes, he will be suffer from oppression, specifically focused on the rules of attraction. If David possesses any one motivation, it is to circumvent these rules undiscovered. David is an independent thinker in a sea of single-minded dogma. At its core, The Lobster is a film about the desire to rebel against the rules of society.

I really enjoyed this film. Apart from the interesting story, I also found the cinematography and score to be both effective elements of the film. Lanthimos is definitely a filmmaker to watch and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) Quick Review

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of those classic science fiction films that you always hear about but never sit down to watch in its entirety. The premise is brilliant in its simplicity. What if alien seed pods were to grow exact copies of humans? The copies incorporate all of a person’s memories and physical traits but none of their emotions. It reminds me a lot of an episode of the twilight zone.

In a sentence, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a very entertaining film. I am always impressed when movies that were made several decades ago can be this entertaining. It did take longer than usual for me to accept the world because it feels so different from the present-day, but It would be wrong to hold this against the movie. The characters are well-rounded enough and I imagine the world felt realistic to people watching the film in 1956. The best thing about this movie is how quickly life goes down the drain for the main characters. In just a few days, the protagonist goes from a normal doctor to a blabbering mad man. This character’s downward cycle is really fun to watch.