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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thoughts on Arrival

I really liked Arrival a lot, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Incendies) and based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by Tony Chiang. It was a thoughtful movie about communication, humanity, and language. It had a slow build to it that made it intriguing to watch, and Amy Adams radiated compassion, intelligence, and curiosity in her performance as a linguistics professor trying to communicate with the language of aliens who have arrived on Earth. I really liked a bit when she tells the government people why she can't just straightaway ask the aliens what their purpose is on Earth, because she has to teach them what a question is, what the parts of speech mean, and what purpose means. It is a movie about aliens arriving on Earth, but not like an invasion movie a la Independence Day, more like Contact or Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The last third was a bit of a trip, as I could think of a couple of different interpretations of the ending, and I don't know which one is accurate. Throughout the film, Adams' character is mourning the death of her teen daughter, and flashbacks come back to her, causing her grief and PTSD. There was more significance beyond it, regarding her communication with the aliens, but I didn't fully understand it. It is a film I would definitely watch again.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thoughts on The Metrograph

I am late to "discovering" it, but I have been reading about The Metrograph arthouse movie theater, and it sounds really great, playing a lot of repertory screenings of quality independent, Hollywood, and foreign films, having big-name film artists like Martin Scorcese and Isabelle Huppert visit, and publishing essays by cinephiles (I really enjoyed one by a guy talking about the cherished tiny movie theater he visited in his 1980s New Jersey childhood). It seems like a new, yet special theater in NYC, a film lover's dream.

I don't go to arthouse theaters as often anymore due to high ticket prices and not liking the film snob environment, and Netflix having a seemingly endless amount of indie films. Of my years in NYC, my fave theater was the Two Boots Pioneer Theatre, a long-defunct theater in the East Village that played cult and underground films, as well as offbeat indie films (not the prestige, Sundance kind, more the oddball niche ones). I go to the Moving Image museum sometimes, I occasionally go to the BAM Rose Cinema, I used to go to the IFC Center a lot when I lived in Manhattan ten years ago, and I liked the vibe of Nitehawk Cinema (mainly the pre-movie video montages of things that influenced the feature film's style), but not the in-theater food service or the last 15 minutes interrupted by wait staff collecting tabs.

So I likely will check out the Metrograph soon

Thoughts on Hell or High Water

I really enjoyed Hell or High Water, I thought it was great. I found it compelling, I liked the slow mood of the Western, I was really into following both of the robber brothers and the cops, and I really enjoyed the side characters, like the waitresses, (especially one in a diner that only serves steak, the character was a craggy but hilarious old woman played by a brilliant actress), the old men diner patrons, the bank employees, etc. I had little hiccups of laughter every and then.

While I didn't think Chris Pine and Ben Foster looked like brothers (nor did I believe Pine as a guy who grew up dirt-poor, as he looked too pretty and well-off to me, whereas Foster definitely looked country poor and a little more rough around the edges), they had a great bond with each other, and complemented each other well, as one smart and quiet brother and the other an impulsive and fearless brother. And while I think Jeff Bridges can do this cowboy/sheriff role in his sleep, he was still pleasant and comforting to watch, and I liked his banter with his Comanche/Mexican partner, where the off-color jokes never really sounded too offensive, more light teasing and done out of love. His partner had a chill vibe to him that I liked, and a low-key sense of humor.

The film looked gorgeous, with huge panoramic shots of deserts and small Texan towns, and I liked that the film was a modern-day Western, with a classic stories of robbers and cops set amidst economically depressed towns and people struggling to get by. I was really into the story, and am glad I saw it.