Saturday, November 12, 2016

arrival [2016]

a thoughtful, melancholy sci fi movie about a linguist, played by amy adams, who is recruited by the u.s. government to help translate alien language.  a fascinating glimpse at first contact this flick, directed by denis villeneuve [who is currently filming blade runner 2049, the sequel to the great ridley scott movie blade runner [1982], which has me salivating in anticipation], i applaud villeneuve who steers us thru human conflict without becoming an action film.

rather, this is a think-piece movie on par with other think-piece movies like the aforementioned blade runner and 2001: a space odyssey [1968].  villeneuve keeps the tone muted, the light slatted, the music mournful to tell the story of adams as she learns the aliens' written language.  there is a great beauty in this story, based on a short story by ted chiang, in the theory that language can alter your brain's wiring.  the aliens', heptapods [named so because of their seven radiated appendages], do not live in linear time.  soon adams begins to live in the past, present and future as well.

there is a poignancy in adams' story for she is not an action figure but a woman who finds how to live by her interaction with the heptapods.  the madness of humans is portrayed fairly well as paranoia about why the heptapods arrived on earth.  military build up is inevitable.  interstellar war is threatened.

but like i said this is no action film.  it is the story of a linguist who finds herself as she discovers the purpose of the heptapods visit.  a beautiful movie about language that i can sink my eye teeth into.  still, i couldn't help thinking if the military had contacted a poet for contact.  a poet who is also a linguist and buddhist.  i was thinking of jaan kaplinski.  what would the heptapods make of him who already conceives that time is not linear.

well, instead we are given the grace of amy adams as she works toward connection to another intelligence that is so different than ours but similar to us, too.  she is a wonderful actor.  see how her hands tremble as she prepares to meet our visitors.  she is a delight to watch in this singular role.  and this movie is a balm to our troubled times.  we humans can and do connect, almost successfully.    


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