Monday, November 21, 2016

Arrival (2016)

Seeing as we are new parents, it's kind of hard for us to get out to the theater to see new releases. Fortunately we have cinephile buddies like Njabulo Phungula who write well and allow us to repost their letterboxd reviews here so that we can stay current for you guys. Thanks Njabs!

Denis Villeneuve has always been great at creating the appropriate atmosphere for his films. Even if the film is lacking in other areas, it 'feels' right for what it is. In the previous three films, he dealt with some pretty bleak material. Call him the 'master of tension' if you want because he's great at that.

Unsurprisingly, Arrival struck me as a film that is felt rather than seen or heard...because it's perfect. Cinematographer Bradford Young's images carry with them a seamless blend of fear and hope, while Jóhann Jóhannsson's mesmerizing score recalls the mechanics of communication using processed vocals, and otherworldly textures - acoustic and otherwise. The ingenious use of Max Ritcher's "On the Nature of Daylight" to bookend the film cannot be overlooked or overpraised either.

As far as the performances go, they're all essentially strong but, of course, Amy Adams is the star here. Not just because she plays the lead, but she really knocks it out the park. As linguist Dr. Louise Banks, she plays a strong woman, who is well-written and is afforded the kind of depth that we need to see more of in films like this. Bravo. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer has done a terrific job of packaging a few lifetimes worth of ideas into a two hour film without it feeling convoluted and pretentiously confusing. Again, bravo!

Arrival is a very important film for the time we live in. It's a film that reminds us that the world is both frightening and beautiful. Yes, everyday we watch various communities suffer, and dictators make amateur decisions, but we also live in a world where some pretty amazing things happen and we get to walk alongside amazing people. Movies do not have to be bleak just because the world isn't perfect. The world isn't one thing. Considering his style, I would not have expected Villeneuve to be the one to make a film that reignited that bright light but he did.

As of now, Arrival is my favourite film of 2016. It is essential viewing. I'm so very grateful to be able to say that I've seen it.

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