Posts Tagged ‘Amy Adams’

First contact gets a thoughtful, stimulating treatment in Denis Villeneuve’s fantastic 2016 film ‘Arrival’

December 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 23, 2017

Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 movie Arrival is a breathtakingly fresh tale of first contact with aliens. It’s also easily the most intelligent science fiction movie at least since Interstellar came out in 2014.

Arrival’s premise is simple enough. In the very near future, mysterious black objects position themselves over 12 apparently random locations scattered across the globe, inciting anxiety and panic. Every 18 hours, a panel on the bottom of the vessels — each resembles a skyscraper-sized contact lens — is opened, letting humans enter a chamber where they can have an audience with the aliens. Unfortunately, no one understands what they’re saying.

Linguistics professor Louise Banks is recruited to help the American military attempt to communicate with the extraterrestrials. She begins making sense of their language, which appears to be entirely visual, with some very minor assistance from a theoretical physicist named Ian Donnelly. However, her progress is increasingly hampered by visions from different parts of her life. Banks’s work becomes urgent when a Chinese general decides that the aliens are a threat and issues an ultimatum to them: Leave or face destruction.

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‘Love and Mercy’ unevenly charts the personal struggles of the Beach Boys’ musical genius

July 10, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 10, 2015

Love and Mercy is the uneven new biopic about Brian Wilson, the brilliant but troubled musician who helped propel the Beach Boys to the heights of stardom in the 1960s.

The story unfolds on two tracks, not unlike Woman in Gold, another recent movie based on real events. In the 1960s and 1970s, Wilson, played by Paul Dano, wrangles with his occasionally baffled brothers, cousin and other bandmates about the direction of the band, which has already hit it big. He also fights with his manipulative father, Murry Wilson (Bill Camp). Murry, who is separated from Brian’s mother, openly berates his sons for having fired him as the Beach Boys’ manager, and he denigrates Brian’s musical experimentation. Brian, torn by these stresses, begins dabbling with hallucinogenic drugs and starts losing control of his life.

These scenes are intercut with a separate storyline — it seems to be set in the late 1980s — in which we see Wilson after he’s bottomed out due to mental illness and substance abuse. The main story here involves Wilson’s tentative romance with car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks). Ledbetter is baffled by the extent to which Wilson has surrendered control of his life to a manipulative father figure — in this case, a malevolent psychiatrist named Gene Landy (Paul Giamatti).

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‘Man of Steel’ offers a fascinating but rather grim take on DC Comics’ flagship superhero

July 3, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 3, 2013

There’s only one big problem with Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder’s new reboot of the Superman franchise: It’s just not very fun.

While this isn’t exactly a fatal flaw, it is a serious misstep. Yes, the film features many expected components of a comic book movie. The hero in the requisite form-fitting outfit flies and fights villains and ultimately prevails. But while the exercise is visually impressive, there simply aren’t many smiles to be had. This movie, which cries out for light touches, is dark and brooding and intense.

Snyder, who helmed and/or wrote 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch, conspires with cinematographer Amir Mokri to drain most of the primary colors from the visual palette. Superman’s formerly bright-blue costume has been dulled to a steely hue; its bright-red highlights have darkened to crimson and been exiled to the hero’s cape. Read the rest of this entry »

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