Poll

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) in Arrival:

had no choice.
5 (62.5%)
is a selfish shit.
3 (37.5%)

Total Members Voted: 8

Author Topic: Arrival  (Read 2614 times)

Bondo

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Arrival
« on: November 11, 2016, 01:35:16 PM »
I reckon pretty much all discussion of this film will need to happen here instead of in the main review thread.

I'd count myself as extremely intellectually impressed by the film but not fully on board overall. While I'd say it deals with time issues far better than Interstellar, the way that is woven in feels a bit heavy handed, both at the moment, and in hindsight when you know why these "memories" were being interspersed.

But this is definitely a movie for the era, with its focus on linguistics and how the use and varying interpretations of language can have profound effects on how we think and act. One thing that struck me was how Louise discusses that if our language is introduced in the form of chess or mah jongg, some game or contest that has a winner and a loser and is thus zero-sum, that will change the use of language learned by the aliens, and thus how it is reflected back to us and might be interpreted differently. I think about how we talk about the election in almost purely horse-race terms, who won or lost. And granted, having all these individual districts where one person wins and one person loses spurs that. Imagine though if we had a nationwide proportional representation system electing a coalition government based on shares of the vote. Ultimately some views will end up advantaged and others not, but it isn't as immediate. Would this change how we approach politics, would this allow for less zero-sum thinking (which leads to obstructionism) and more non-zero-sum thinking (which the film directly cites), where we can try to find common links. Obviously, the countries that have these systems are far from free of problems, but they do seem to function better (see Patterns of Democracy by Arend Lijphart).

The time concepts feel a bit more abstract and is a bit where the film loses me. I see the benefit of the kind of long vision shaping our ability to relate, but it is taken to a purely supernatural kind of level (which is maybe a weird thing to critique in a film with aliens). Ultimately, this kind of acts as a very good linguistics lecture snuck through to the masses (well, to the degree that this film gets watched) by a slickly designed movie guise. And I couldn't be happier about that, I love interesting lectures.

Beavermoose

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2016, 07:51:39 PM »
It's follows a disproven theory that the way our language functions forms our perception of space-time so obviously once it reaches the point where we understand what the "flashbacks" are we've moved into heavy sci-fi territory. It's definitely a movie that will benefit from multiple viewings.

verbALs

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2016, 07:53:45 AM »
I only grasped one thin edge of the whole before the end. Adams was too young to have a fully grown child die on her. I am bowled over that what you see in the first five minutes is much more than the set of memories, because its natural to assume thats what they are. Gorgeous. Then Renner says I didn't know you were married. Wow.

This is so spoilery that I feel bad not putting it in spoiler tags even in here DONT READ IT!

Adams knows her daughter who is Renner's daughter is going to die as a teenager. She even tells her daughter that is the reason dad/Renner leaves them....in the future....because she knows her daughter has an incurable illness from birth and she only tells Renner long after the daughter is born. She knows then, she knows when Renner suggests they have a baby, she knows she will die....BLOODY HELL! No wonder people wanna go straight back in and watch it again! Now did she contract the disease that kills her daughter in the ship? Hoo boy.

Anyone who's read Slaughterhouse 5 is gonna feel a real sense of delight when they get to this point in the film, oh boy.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

St. Martin the Bald

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2016, 07:59:05 AM »
For me, the science fiction also doubled as a spiritual approach: would you live your life the same knowing in advance the possible karmic debt you will incur?
To me, it's a wonderful twist upon the age old question: would you change anything in your life knowing what you know now?
The Twist, as it were, while telegraphed, was lightly handled and not given its true emotional weight all at once. It was slowly built up.
I completely agree about multiple viewings. I already want to see it again.


Edit:

In total agreement w/ verbals here. The power of her agreeing to make  a baby in spite of knowing the pain it's going to cause her . You simply feel how much she loves her child, and all of those singular moments. Those memories she will cherish will be made so much more powerful through this process.  By being able to step outside of time she is able to live more deeply in the present. It's an incredibly powerful moment. It still brings up tears.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2016, 08:06:09 AM by St. Martin the Bald »
Hey, nice marmot!

verbALs

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2016, 08:09:35 AM »
He almost could have repeated the first five minutes of the film at the end. It would have destroyed me.

The bit about her dad suddenly looking at her differently. Blimey.

I should imagine being inside that film again as it discusses memory would feel...meta? Wierd? I'll have to try it. Talk about an experience movie!
« Last Edit: November 12, 2016, 08:13:13 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Bondo

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2016, 08:10:56 AM »
I guess what dampens the philosophical weight for me is I'm not sure time is presented as being malleable. It might in part be shown as she choose to have this child, knowing the pain to come, because she also knew the joys, but on the other hand, that she knows this is the future shows that it was never actually a choice. Or are her visions of the future like Alice's visions in Twilight, just projections based on current intentions, updated any time they have a change of heart.

St. Martin the Bald

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2016, 08:57:39 AM »
Even if the future "memories" show an unalterable destiny. It is her choice to be fully present with the pain and suffering in order to be fully present with the joy as well. You can strip the past and future away and live only in the now because you already know what is coming and what has been.
That was a very powerful moment for me.
Hey, nice marmot!

verbALs

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2016, 01:01:42 PM »
I just had to nip out and buy more straws for this thread.

Babel 17 by Samuel Delaney has a quite similar discussion of language and even talks about it being weaponised. Louise talks about having your brain reprogrammed if you start to think in another language. Beautiful idea. I'd have to watch it again to get the explanation correct. The physics of time is portrayed so wonderfully in the film; the ships disappearing without moving too much almost as if they shifted to another time when they were in another space. A time 3000 years in the future?

If time isn't linear and you exist at all points equally then the idea of changing your future might be seen as moot but there was a time when Louise didn't know her future before she had her head rearranged. Equally she can see her past in the same way and she doesn't think to change that. Erm this isn't that kinda sci-fi is it? We really don't fully understand time and it's connection to space so if works because Villeneuve says so. As an engine for connecting us to Louise's character it's a very efficient engine.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

don s.

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2016, 09:31:35 PM »
Did anyone else want to hear the rest of that lecture on Portuguese?
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Arrival
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2016, 05:19:46 AM »
Arrival
Denis Villeneuve (2016)

There is a fascinating, novel and potentially fantastic science-fiction movie lost in the meanders of Arrival. The movie is superficially about its sci-fi premise of establishing contact with the aliens that have arrived on Earth. The subplot about Amy Adams' daughter made me roll my eyes at first because it looked like a superfluous element jammed in for some emotional effect ; either that, or there was to be some obvious later payoff. There is, but to a larger extent than I imagine. The science fiction setting turns out to be a mere backdrop by the end of the movie, a necessarily convoluted setting for Villeneuve to introduce the ideas he wants to go into about time, relationships, choices and life.

The best scenes of the movie are those when Adams if figuring out how to communicate with the aliens and when they expose their fundamentally different way to "speak", construct sentences and perceive reality. The movie that could have been is brought low by ordinary sentiment and logical paradoxes created in its name. The idea that language can reformat our mindscape's pathways does not extend to the ability to see the future, and Amy Adams "remembering" a language her future self knows without ever having actually learned it in the timeline is a gaping plot hole.

Villeneuve also decides to make his main character revolting through the "choice" she eventually makes (I use the word liberally since the nature of free will is debatable in a universe where time is non-linear). Whatever good will may be garnered towards her around the enjoy your life message is shattered by the specific way in which she will enjoy said life.

Thankfully there are no other glaring problems with the movie. Its script is clever and the characters behave in the ways people probably would in similar circumstances, with the proper amounts of intelligence, human stupidity and bureaucratic frustration. The international situation is taken into account and is important but does not take over the movie, which is very much a personal story. The performances matter for that reason, and Adams does a tremendous job playing a character that has never been done before: mourning what is yet to come. In good Villeneuve fashion, the cinematography varies from apt to splendid, reinforcing the creativity of the film. 

7/10
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