* Trust the good reviews, as they’re correct about Arrival.
* I like the movie’s implicit criticism of morons, which is too rare. Too often in movies the institution is the bad guy and the uncredentialed are, automatically and by virtue of being outsiders, the good guys. Contagion (the movie) also has this quality. It’s also rare to see academics depicted as admirable (or useful).
* It’s a stranger and somber movie, maybe not keeping with the times. It’s also weirdly applicable to current politics.
* Think of it too as a modern The Day the Earth Stood Still, especially because few of us will want to watch the original as a movie. As a cultural artifact and statement of its times it is still interesting.
* See also my 2013 comments on Gravity.
ARRIVAL (2016) === Some would say that this film should be “required viewing” for political leaders and military heads. Having said that, the overarching message is somewhat predictable, and could have used more rigorous complexity. Suffused with philosophy, mystery, and a bit of the spiritual, this film did work on various levels. The two leads (Adams and Renner) gave effective, organic performances, but it was disappointing that Whitaker was underused. The cinematographer used surprisingly-diminished lighting throughout. This quiet aesthetic worked for me, but it will be a bone of contention for certain viewers. Rather than a typical use of spectacular lighting effects and dazzling sets, Director Villeneuve’s subdued visuals are what I would call “Authentic-Fi”. Several moments of the story brought mesmerizing emotional resonance. Like most good films, this one had some shortcomings–it lacked momentum in certain scenes, and compressed several important plot points. It was good to see a female central character, with the males rotating on the axis of her brave motivations and intuitive heart.