November 12, 2016

Arrival

Arrival is one of my favorite flavors of alien movies: an intense, cerebral mind-bender about the purpose of mankind in the galactic landscape. Why are we here? What's our destiny as a species? Why is our humanity important? Can we persevere and transcend our differences as a civilization? Director Denis Villeneuve tackles all the above Big Questions in an oblique, Kubrick/Malick-ian style. Amy Adams is terrific as Dr Louise Banks, a linguistics professor who must solve a urgent puzzle. How to talk to an alien race before hostilities break out? The movie nicely illustrates how we use all our life experiences when problem-solving. We don't stay "in the moment" when cracking a puzzle, our minds may wander all over for answers. Part of Louise's challenge is the fundamental nature of language; our language shapes how we think, so will she begin to think like an alien as she learns their language?
There are a lot of parallels with Contact and Gravity, especially how the lead character is a woman whose traumatic history directly effects the current events.
If you're looking for a movie with Randy Quaid kamikaze-ing a mothership and Will Smith punching out a slimy alien, look elsewhere.
Highly recommended for a thought-provoking evening, if occasionally plodding and oblique. My Stub Hubby Grade: A-minus.
Somerville Theater, Screen 1, with Adam.