ALLIED

Deception Is An Art. Truth Is A Test. Is Love A Lie?

Director
Robert Zemeckis

Starring
Brad Pitt
Marion Cotillard
Jared Harris



During the height of the Second World War, Canadian Wing Commander Max Vatan [Pitt] is airdropped in to French Morocco. From there he is escorted to Casablanca and meets up with his French counterpart, Marianne Beausejour [Cotillard] who will be posing as his wife. Their mission is to assassinate a key German ambassador and escape. Before the act, the pair learn about one another but Vatan keeps Beausejour at arm’s length. Following the mission, a bond forms between the two spies and Vatan proposes Beausejour joins him in London as his real wife. A year or so passes and the end of the war is near but Vatan learns from his commanding officer Heslop [Harris] and a V Section officer [Simon McBurney] that the real Marianne Beausejour died in Paris and was replaced by a German spy. Racked with feelings of paranoia, guilt and potential betrayal, Vatan starts to investigate his wife, against his superior’s direct orders.

A few years ago we were treated to the cold war drama Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It wasn’t the first time the source material had been adapted and the 1960s onward were rife with quality dramas about spies and government agencies trying to outfox each other. Yet with an excellent cast assembled, a host of talented crew members and a thrilling storyline, the film was a nice revisiting of a long-absent genre. Everything about the trailer for Allied implied a similar revival, a hark back to the post-war films covering duplicitous relationships and the paranoia that those in the spy game carried with them throughout and long after the war. Regrettably, I’ve seen it all before, done better and setting a huge portion of the film in Casablanca certainly didn’t help dismiss these nagging thoughts. And while I’m jumping ahead a bit, the ending was bloody awful. For all the places the plot could have twisted and contorted itself to, it arrived at a fairly obvious one free from responsibility, consequence or originality.

With the benefit of visual effects and a lavish budget, Allied manages to thoroughly please the eyes. The costumes are wonderfully crafted and the location shift from desert terrain to overcast London affords the cast the opportunity to cycle through a range of interesting attire. On top of that we have a mix of real world locations, sets and visual effects to bring the backdrops satisfactorially to life. In truth, the production design can’t be faulted outside of the fact that the cinematography was a touch boring. Shot like a comedy, everything is spacious and clearly lit, failing to transpose the dark, shadowy corners and intrigue of the plot to the style in which it’s presented. Admittedly, the set pieces that take place in all these wondrous locations are pretty reasonable and engaging but largely void of real tension; for an epic romantic war-time thriller, a lot is left wanting.

There’s chemistry between the leads in the sense that you are shown two attractive individuals, so obviously they will be attracted to one another but as far as actual on-screen dynamic is concerned, I didn’t really understand the pairing. We whisk through their budding relationship via jump cut so any genuine lasting desire outside of adrenaline-lust or battlefield bonding is never truly earned. Pitt and Cotillard commit to the roles, emphatically professing their love for each other despite the mistrust circling them, but even that couldn’t convince me that everything these two were enduring was in the name of love; especially as the endearing moments were so cliché and hamfistedly handled, from picnics in the park to quaint drives on the dunes of North Africa, it all smacks of fabrication (which would be quite clever considering the plot but I have a feeling that wasn’t intentional). With eyes firmly fixed on the two leads, the remaining parts are horribly under-thought. We’ve got the oh-so-British commanding officer, which Harris caricatures well enough, Vatan’s art loving lesbian sister played by Lizzy Caplan but far more brazenly than one would expect in 1940’s England, the typically bespectacled weasel-like official ordering Vatan to potentially kill his wife, which would have been either Toby Jones, Mark Gatiss or Simon McBurney and they chose the latter and an array of forgettable additions with stiff-upper-lip officer attitudes, roguish Tommy banter and devious Nazis scepticism.

But it wasn’t all terrible. Alan Silvestri’s score was a welcome presence throughout and as the film drew to a close, you finally become invested. More than that, this is where Zemeckis stops playing it safe and delivers something gripping, inventive and captivating. To my mind, it was very similar to The Walk, which was largely tiresome from the get-go right up until the titular walk itself which was masterfully handled. It’s almost as if Zemeckis focused all of his attention to how to close the film and let a first time assistant director handle the majority of the film acceptably but without any memorable impact. All up until the final resolve. Which was lazy.

It’s far from a bad film but Allied really fails to rise to the heights of the classics it draws on and frankly steals from. What’s more if any of the core components from the director to the actors were removed, I would say it was a fairly decent achievement but in light of previous efforts, this really isn’t up to scratch.


Release Date:
25th November 2016

The Scene To Look Out For:
As a bit of a double-edged sword, my highlighted scene is both brilliant and awful. Having heard that his wife had worked with an operative in France, Vatan flies over to rendezvous with said spy, only to learn that he is banged up in the local jail for intoxication. Realising he hasn’t flown to enemy-occupied territory and risked his life for nothing, Vatan demands to see the resistance fighter. So, on the one hand, this is a commendable scene behind enemy lines. Creeping through the sleepy streets of France, avoiding Nazi detection is gripping stuff but equally the developments and resolves are so remarkably stupid that any points earned are immediately rescinded.

Notable Characters:
Despite being a walking cliché, Jared Harris’ Frank Heslop was performed with appropriate gusto. He may wear the ‘tasche of absurdity and bark orders with a few interspersed whitterings of “you’re a bloody fool” but it was credible and acceptable. And that’s literally all I would be able to say about anyone of note in this movie, unfortunately.

Highlighted Quote:
“I keep the emotions real, that’s why it works”

In A Few Words:
“A solid affair that pales when memories of the classic Hollywood films it desperately emulates, come to mind”

Total Score:

2/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #179

[20 November 2016]


Winning Team:
Argus Filch And The Biggest Mess Ever
Genre – Caretakercore

Runners Up:
The Team Who Must Not Be Named
Genre – Mystery
Horny Potters And The Porongrapher’s Stone
Genre – Erotic Thriller
Fantastic Beats And Where To Drop Them
Genre – The top DJs of the wizarding world come together to defeat the evil Dr Dre-co Malfoy
Dobby Does Dallas.. With Sexy Results
Genre – He’s a lady in the street but an elf in the sack
Fantastic Breasts And Where To Grind Them
Genre – Grindhouse
Planet Of The Snapes: Dark Farts
Genre – Fantasy
99 Problems But A Snitch Ain’t One
Genre – Crime
Can I Slytherin Your Chamber Of Secrets
Genre – What the bishop said to the actress
We Don’t Know
Genre – Horror


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Which character in the Harry Potter franchise is nicknamed “the boy who lived”?
HARRY POTTER
2. How many Harry Potter films have been released?
EIGHT
3. Richard Harris played the role of Dumbledore in how many films?
TWO
4. What are the names of the four Hogwarts houses? (one point per correct answer)
GRYFFINDOR / SLYTHERIN / RAVENCLAW / HUFFLEPUFF
5. Which actor played the role of Hermione Granger?
EMMA WATSON
6. Draco, Lucius and Narcissa are all members of which wizarding family?
MALFOY
7. What colour is Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig?
WHITE
8. Which character said the following quote in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, “That’s not just a broomstick, Harry. It’s a Nimbus 2000″? [bonus point for naming the character that gave Harry the Nimbus 2000]
RON WEASLEY [Professor McGonagall]
9. How is Lord Voldemort referred to most of the time by the wizarding community? (one point per correct answer)
HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED / YOU KNOW WHO
10. Which platform at Kings Cross is used to access the Hogwarts Express?
9 3/4


ROUND II: Filming
1. What does the spell accio mean/do? Summoning spell? Illumination spell? Firebolt spell?
SUMMONING SPELL
2. Which actor played the role of Peter Pettigrew? Richard Griffiths? Timothy Spall? David Thewlis?
TIMOTHY SPALL
3. In HP1, Voldemort is parasitically living in the back of which professor’s head? Alastor Mad Eye Moody? Quirinus Quirrell? Sybill Trelawney?
QUIRINUS QUIRRELL
4. Which of the following actors has not featured in a Harry Potter film? Bill Nighy? Rhys Ifans? Liam Cunningham?
LIAM CUNNINGHAM
5. What is Hermione’s patronus charm? Otter? Dove? Hare?
OTTER
6. What does Filius Flitwick teach at Hogwarts? Charms? Transfiguration? Quidditch?
CHARMS
7. The Tri-Wizard tournament is comprised of how many stages/tasks? 3? 4? 5?
THREE
8. Harry Potter’s wand is 11 inches with a phoenix feather core but what wood is it made from? Holly? Oak? Ivy?
HOLLY
9. Mark Williams first appeared as Arthur Weasley in which film? HP1? HP2? HP3?
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
10. Harry Potter’s eyes are famously green while Radcliffe’s are blue. Contacts were tested but after a severe reaction, it was decided that the eye colour wasn’t that important. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. During the eight films there are four head masters at Hogwarts. Name them. (one point per correct answer)
ALBUS DUMBLEDORE / MINERVA MCGONAGALL / DOLORES UMBRIDGE / SEVERUS SNAPE
2. How many horcruxes did Voldemort make, excluding the human ones?
SIX (Diary, Ring, Locket, Cup, Diadem, Nagini – disregarding Harry and Quirrell)
3. The following quote is from which film, “Cornelius, I implore you to see reason. The evidence the Dark Lord has returned is incontrovertible.”?
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
4. Which instalment of the Harry Potter franchise was released in 2002?
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
5. What is Dumbledore’s full name?
ALBUS WULFRIC PERCIVAL BRIAN DUMBLEDORE
6. How many films mention Diagon Alley but don’t show it?
THREE (HP3, HP4, HP5)
7. What colour is the Knight Bus?
PURPLE
8. Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore have a falling out over whom?
SISTER (Ariana)
9. What is the name of the spider that lives in the forbidden forest?
ARAGOG
10. The ‘dark mark’ is made up of what two things? (one point per correct answer)
SKULL / SNAKE


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. The following poster tagline is from which film, “Dark secrets revealed”? HP2? HP4? HP6?
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE
2. How many instalments did John Williams compose and conduct? 1? 2? 3?
THREE
3. Which was the first in the franchise to be rated PG-13/12a? HP3? HP4? HP5?
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
4. How many visual effects shots were used in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix? 300? 1,400? 8,700
1,400 VFX
5. Stuart Craig worked on every film. What was his job? Head of make-up and prosthetics? Costumer Designer? Set Designer?
SET DESIGNER
6. Which was the highest grossing film in the Harry Potter franchise? HP4? HP6? HP8?
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART II
7. Which actor was set to play Harry Potter when Steven Spielberg was set to direct? Eddie Redmayne? Jonathan Lipnicki? Haley Joel Osment?
HALEY JOEL OSMENT
8. Which of the following locations was not a double for Hogwarts? Alnwick Castle? Gloucester Cathedral? Lincoln Guild Hall?
LINCOLN GUILD HALL
9. David Yates directed the most instalments of the franchise, how many? 5? 4? 3?
FOUR
10. When taking over from Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron tasked the three leads to write an essay about their characters. Rupert Grint failed to hand anything in saying, “I’m Ron, Ron wouldn’t do it.” to Cuaron’s delight. True or False?
TRUE


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: HP1 / HP3 / HP5
Poster:
Actor: Imelda Staunton


FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

JK Rowling Invites You To A New Era Of The Wizarding World

Director
David Yates

Starring
Eddie Redmayne
Katherine Waterston
Dan Fogler
Colin Farrell



Set some seventy plus years before the events depicted in the Harry Potter movies, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them follows the exploits of British magi-zoologist Newt Scamander [Redmayne] who arrives in New York to consult with a specific breeder for a creature he intends to reintroduce to the wild. Upon arrival in America, he is immediately at odds with the culture clash. Through a mix-up of near identical suitcases, Scamander is apprehended by Tina Goldstein [Waterston] of the Magical Congress of The United States of America and loses his mobile menagerie, which falls into the hands of the non-magical human Jacob Kowalski [Fogler]. Subsequently, various creatures are set loose in a strange new environment and Newt must work to retrieve them all before any real harm can be done or the magical world is exposed.

The Wizarding World is a rich and strong universe of concepts that appeals to a great many fans. As with many science fiction or fantasy properties, the background lore is vast and ever-spanning, allowing audiences/readers to invest as much or as little into this world as desired. Moving the established setting from late 90s/early 2000s Britain to a prohibition era New York meant that there were going to be distinct changes to the look and feel of the setting. Not just in the sense of the change in accents and attire but the overall visual impression. Castles and thatched cottages are traded in for skyscrapers and speakeasies and canon terminology is reworked for the colloquialisms of the period and location.

Being set in not only the height of Art Deco’s popularity but a bustling metropolis, the production design differs greatly from what we’ve seen before but is no less exquisite. From sets to props to costumes to hair and makeup design, everything is lavish and rich with detail, establishing everything we need to know about a character before they even open their mouths. Furthermore, the removal of the school setting seen in the Harry Potter films opens up a world of more adult themes, addressing intolerance and abuse. That’s not to say these weren’t present in the previous films but focusing on beatings and capital punishment take a strong step away from the classroom drama of something like Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. A large part of this is down to the fact that the content of the books changed with the readership, so as they grew older, so too did the maturity of the threads and threats in the following volumes. With an already established fanbase of all ages and an older set of core characters, Fantastic Beasts has the opportunity to explore some darker motifs right from the get go.

And this is where we hit our first snag. Unlike the aforementioned Philosopher’s Stone, significantly less introductory statements need to be made to establish the Wizarding World, more a clarification of how characters within this time period operate. One would presume this would allow us to explore a robust foundation story for which the announced sequels can build upon. The trouble is, there are two stories at work, one which is a simple scavenger hunt and the other being a deep running plot that sets up multiple elements to be explored later. Unfortunately, neither are as satisfying as they could be as the rounding up of the lost beasts is arguably fun but when looking at the big picture, somewhat irrelevant. As for the political subterfuge and machinations of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald every time it builds speed it is sidetracked by a rival subplot. Lamentably there is no real advice one can give as to how to fix this as more-and-more big budget cinema is trying to emulate television. I love the idea that later developments are thought out in advance rather than shoe-horned in at the last minute but leaving obvious and obstructive clues or detracting from the importance of the story at hand is damaging to the film as a standalone release. With TV entering new heights of acclaim, big cinematic releases feel the need to emulate them but cinema is not designed for this kind of open-ended story telling and in doing so, cripples the quality and rewatchability of these features.

The technical side of this release (as huge as it is) is a complete mixed bag. The Harry Potter franchise has been blighted by some frankly horrific CGI and for every subtle, nuanced and beautiful effect, there are just as many rushed, fake, unsightly looking monstrosities. I really like Phillipe Rousselot’s work (you only have to look at things like Dangerous Liaisons, Interview With The Vampire and A River Runs Through It to see how capable he is) but with so much obvious green-screen we lose a lot of potential to show off that talent. As such, the film is bisected between the plasticy visual effects laden set pieces and the living environment that we crave as viewers. A step toward rectifying or at least smoothing over the rough edges is some very strong and pleasing audio work, in terms of sound design and editing. On top of that, we have James Newton Howard’s score which works fittingly but never reaches the heights of the opening forty seconds. That may sound ridiculous but after transitioning from the all-too-familiar tones of John Williams’ iconic Hedwig’s Theme, Newton Howard morphs the resonating note into a thunderous and powerful soaring of chimes and choral-laced strings, which is regrettably never heard again, replaced by pleasing but forgettable filler music. Having said that, some of the sombre, soft tones like Jacob’s Farewell have such a beautiful resonance wonderfully undercut by the joviality of a jazzy piano rhythm that it both crushes and lifts you from one moment to the next. That is the score I want for these movies going forward, something emotional, powerful and memorable… is that so much to ask for?

The Wizarding World is a big, sprawling franchise that has the pick of the litter when it comes to acting talent. As was demonstrated in the Harry Potter films, there were few individuals who turned down roles in this series because of the quality of the work on all levels (and something to do with money no doubt). With Fantastic Beasts a great deal of American talent has been sourced but in earnest, little has been done with them. As far as personalities go, even the most eccentric and heightened of individuals is a touch flavourless. I wouldn’t be surprised if each and every one is developed more as the sequels are released but frankly that’s not good enough. Taking just this instalment for now, there are two key categories, those who work and those who are perfectly acceptable but never step outside of their simple trappings. From the advertising campaign, I was convinced Eddie Redmayne would be little more than a bumbling whispering fop. Thankfully, he projects more of a conservationist and animal rights supporter than muddled European tourist in America, giving him a sense of true conviction but enough oddball quirks to both entertain and endear us. Equally, Dan Fogler is a wonder as the audience surrogate but I will expand on that later. The two female leads offer a great deal as far as acting is concerned but their characters annoyingly fall flat. Everything else falls into background supports that are interesting but not really crucial to our enjoyment. Which leads us to the villains.

**Be warned, spoilers within**
A more naive or innocent cinemagoer would possibly express surprise at the narrative developments when concerning the villainous elements of this film. On the one hand we have humans and their disgust of all things unfamiliar, in the form of Samantha Morton’s Mary Lou Barebone and her rabid dissemination of propaganda calling for a cull of witches and on the other we have a dark force, if not controlled, certainly sought out by high ranking Auror Percival Graves [Farrell]. And yet nothing shocked me. All the while we are led to believe there is a human individual within Barebone’s care who is conjuring this malicious force and from the very start I kinda guessed who it was. On top of that, with the continuous whispers of Grindelwald and his seditious doctrine, it became quickly apparent as to Graves’ real identity; if only because Rowling has done this before. Much like the script for The Cursed Child, Rowling seems to be simply rehashing ideas at this point, having the main villain posing as an official trying to subvert the course and decision making of those in charge is a large part of The Goblet Of Fire, much in the same way that presuming one character is responsible for devastating acts when this is inaccurate crops up multiple times. I’m not saying she shouldn’t be striving for these kind of reveals but at this point, they are very clumsily executed and therefore, not nearly as pleasing as they could be.

Ultimately, this prequel franchise has no clear future direction. Are we to expect Fantastic Beasts 2-5 to mimic the X-Men films by leaping ahead multiple years with globetrotting events or will it stay in New York? One can assume Scamander will remain the lead but how much room is there to expand his character outside of a passion for animals and inter-magical-being relations (between wizards and no-majs, not wizards and beasts, just to clear that up)? I had a similar rise of hope with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which brought us back to a familiar setting and teased us with the promise of wonders to come. I can only hope that, unlike that trilogy, these films do not take a convoluted and dark turn which serves only to sully the achievements of what has already passed.


Release Date:
18th November 2016

The Scene To Look Out For:
Rather than highlight a scene I particularly liked, I’ll focus instead on one I absolutely did not. When Jacob is first brought down into the suitcase, Newt guides his new friend around the various habitats housing the fantastical creatures within. I fucking hated this scene. It was a set-piece from start to finish and everything other than the two human elements felt and looked fake. On top of that the camera movements didn’t aid the visual effects, leaving the two actors scattering around dense CGI artwork with nasty blurred outlines. We all know visual effects age terribly (most of the time) but that shouldn’t be the case on the day of release. The animals themselves were creatively crafted but ultimately mimicked their real-world counterparts and the lack of practical elements left the whole thing feeling absurd. One only has to look at some of the props used on the early Harry Potter films to see such a strong contrast.

Notable Characters:
Jacob Kowalski is an absolute bundle of charm. He’s warm, compassionate, brave, curious but completely inept. As a non-magical individual his job is to be the damsel in distress as well as the prompter for exposition; in lesser hands, this would conjure a very annoying and pointless individual but his earnestness makes him a welcome companion. Muggles/No-Majs aren’t exactly favoured or focused on much in these films, outside of complacency and xenophobia but I believe Jacob would be a character most would praise the return of.

Highlighted Quote:
“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice”

In A Few Words:
“A great deal of positive and captivating elements are sorely marred by over-ambitious effects, a meandering plot and shallow characters robbed of development thanks to a “we’ll come back to that in the sequel” mindset”

Total Score:

3/5

ARRIVAL

Why Are They Here?

Director
Denis Villeneuve

Starring
Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Forest Whitaker
Michael Stuhlbarg



The opening scenes of Arrival introduce us to Louise Banks [Adams], detailing the start and end of her young daughter’s life as she succumbs to a rare disease. We then re-open on Louise’s day job as a linguist being interrupted by the arrival of twelve shell-like vessels dotted around the globe. The general waves of mass panic and joy are detailed through news reports as Louise stays separate from it all. Before long, she is approached by Colonel Weber [Whitaker] who enlists her help communicating with the creatures within said vessels. Banks explains that she can’t simply translate a completely unknown language based on a recording alone. She is then enlisted along with affable scientist Ian Donnelly [Renner] and escorted to the military base camp set up in close proximity to the shell. Their objective is clear, ascertain what the aliens want and if their intentions are hostile. But in order to do that, Louise must figure out a way to communicate with these beings.

Amidst the sheer wealth of terrible science fiction releases, every now-and-then, audiences are treated to a genuinely interesting and well executed film that impresses the eyes and stimulates the imagination. In the 1950s, the public stepped away from stories about cowboys roaming the frontier, favouring the frontiers of space. One film that really stood out for me was The Day The Earth Stood Still, which gave the audience the “space monster” they were braying for but also set out a clear message to work together or face ruination. Arrival feels very reminiscent of this kind of film; one that checks a lot of blockbuster tick-boxes but subverts expectations by delivering something simple, subtle and thought provoking. This is usually the modus operandi in Christopher Nolan films: a level of intelligence that is, in actuality, a very simple premise convoluted pleasingly and masqueraded as extremely clever. I’ll expand more on that in my highlighted scene below.

One of the standout elements is the acting. The characters themselves are your typical players present in a first contact science fiction film; the cautious but excitable scientists, the wary trigger-happy military, the duplicitous government officials and those pesky foreign powers and their differences of opinions. And yet, all of them are free from caricature while still adhering to the standard tropes, deliveries and motivations. It’s a very odd thing. This means that either the writing is strong enough that we accept these people as real, the visuals dazzle you enough that you don’t worry about it or they’re performed so well that you connect and want to spend time with these people. While all three are arguably accurate, the acting really stands out. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Adams or Renner. But I will openly admit that when they find a role that really suits them, they both excel masterfully: think Adams in Doubt or The Master and Renner in The Town. We also have Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg giving understated but solid supports and then a large handful of unknowns punching at the same weight as the leads. All of which works together wonderfully to create a great experience void of any jarring anomalies.

As with any film featuring aliens, one of the key points is how they look, followed quickly by how they sound. The novice cinemagoer immediately chalks this up solely to makeup or CGI (which, admittedly, play a colossal factor) but things like cinematography, sound design and music are crucial. Because in order to believe the extraordinary, we have to be convinced of the ordinary first and there needs to be cohesion between the two. In other words, without Bradford Young’s dark, washed out, morose and cold cinematography, we can transition between the alien environment/narrative elements with ease. On top of that, after the release of Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson has proven he is more than capable of producing intensely foreboding, otherworldly harmonic scores. A steady mix of rhythmical breathing, guttural chants and hums; much in the same way that one of my favourite scores of all time is Shoji Yamashiro’s music for Akira. And only then, with this incredibly atmospheric and creepy setting, are we treated to the visual effects – which work almost all of the time, bar a few shots that flail a little, specifically the floating heads in the suits while the gravity shifts and the “underwater” hair.

**spoiler heavy paragraph**
Before closing this review, I’d like to discuss the concept. Any good science fiction isn’t just about the setting and the spectacle, it’s the concept that brings you back. But in order to do that, I need to detail some of the film’s key plot points and, ultimately, flaws. As such, there will be a host of spoilers within, consider yourself warned. The core concepts of this film are that a) memory, language and time are connected and b) the journey is worth it no matter the outcome. These concepts are presented most clearly during what most people would dub the twist. In truth, it’s less a twist and more an accusation for thinking in a certain way. As if the film itself serves you up a pie and when you are surprised by the filling, the film retorts “I said it was a pie, I didn’t specify meat or fruit. You made that assumption yourself.” Furthermore, the film openly says in the opening montage that stories don’t really have a start or an end and memory isn’t what you think. And yet, despite this clever Prestige style misdirection, like all good science fiction, Arrival has some really stupid stuff that survives because the necessity for emotional resonance trumps sense. This means we are left with some really pressing questions. Once the aliens reveal that their language can alter your brain chemistry and allow you to look into the future, they explain they are only here to trade with us in order to speed up our evolutionary process (in a manner of speaking) and return 3000 years in the future to help them. But what exactly do we need to do in 3000 years? It’s never expressly made clear. Are the aliens simply setting in motion an eventuality? Are they altering the course of the future? Can seeing the future mean we can alter it, so are we merely viewing it in the same way we “view” memories? If they can experience all time, why do they have to learn our language rather than just know it? I get the idea of not preventing the explosion (as this adds to the aforementioned “worth of the journey” itself, rather than just the outcome) but why the time limit to communicate with us? Why do they depart and not return for supposedly 3000 years? Furthermore, why go to the extent of creating a human-friendly airlock when we can miraculously survive their environment?

Most audiences won’t care about these plot holes and open ended issues but they are vital to understanding what the film is trying to say.. right up until the point you realise the alien element is incidental so that the primary focus of the story can be on the central messages of appreciating the time we have with the ones we love and working together as a species. Thus the film is a bit of a rarity, culminating with a hopeful optimistic tone, despite indulging in man’s worst traits of fear, mistrust, stupidity, division and selfishness. Or you won’t get that and you’ll say it’s boring, in which case, there is no help for you.


Release Date:
11th November 2016

The Scene To Look Out For:
I mentioned earlier the script’s Nolan-level of intelligence; meaning to appear smarter and more confusing than it actually is. That’s not an insult to this film or any of Nolan’s oeuvre but they are still trying to entertain as many people as possible, so still take several opportunities to translate to the audience. Where this didn’t really work in something like Interstellar (scientists who all understand the same concepts using basic analogies to detail their thoughts), it does here because you have three individuals at the top of their respective fields who need to convey complex thoughts to each other quickly and efficiently. Thus we end up with the kangaroo scene, in which Weber demands a reason for proceeding the way she is and Louise justifies it by saying that when explorers first got to Australia, they asked what the hopping creature was and the aborigines responded “kangaroo”. But kangaroo in their language means “I don’t understand.” This convinces the colonel who departs with a warning about what happened to the aborigines. Donnelly commends Louise for her quick thinking and she confesses the story is false but proves the point anyway. I really like this as it takes the standard science fiction trope, delivers it exactly as we’ve always experienced it but twists the end meaning while still saying the same thing. Overall, the whole exchange mirrors the plot itself and reinforces the importance of clear and concise communication – even with our own species, even with those who speak our own language.

Notable Characters:
Any time an actor you can’t stand makes you invest in a character, you know something special is happening. Either the director has brought something positive out of them or the character is best suited for their personality and acting style. Whatever it is, it highlights that no matter how much you dislike an individual, they can surprise you. I don’t know precisely what I distinctly dislike about Adams, possibly that I always feel like she’s acting and because I can tell that, it feels forced and takes me out of the film. I wouldn’t say she refrains from this at all here but it just works in the way it needs to.

Highlighted Quote:
“I’m curious.. are you dreaming in their language?”

In A Few Words:
“A strong, stylistic science fiction with a simple message immersed in a core component that could lose a lot of the audience. Either way, it’s a really solid release that deserves a lot of praise”

Total Score:

5/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #178

[06 November 2016]


Winning Team:
Wreck It Ralph Macchio
Genre – The karate kid uses his wax-on, wax-off, painting and sanding skills to do up old cars

Runners Up:
Titris
Genre – Surprisingly rude sequel to the classic Russian puzzle game
Being Tron Malkovich
Genre – You could say it’s a dream cast..
Snake.. On A Plane… With Sexy Results
Genre – Samuel L Jackson passes time on a transatlantic flight by playing on his Nokia 3210
Who Framed Rampant Rabbit?
Genre – Animated sex film
Starshit Bloopers
Genre – Comedy
Feck It Ralph!
Genre – Graphic comedy


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Tron: Legacy was the sequel to which film?
TRON
2. The following quote is from which film, “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk”?
DIRTY HARRY
3. How many uncles does Casper have in the film of the same name?
THREE
4. What is the full title of the first Conan film?
CONAN THE BARBARIAN
5. What colour are the roses before they are painted red in Alice In Wonderland?
WHITE
6. What is the name of Julie Andrews’ character in The Sound Of Music?
MARIA
7. Who played the title roles in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin? (one point per correct answer)
GEORGE CLOONEY / CHRIS O’DONNELL
8. The Disney princess Giselle appears in which live-action film?
ENCHANTED
9. What was the title of the science fiction comedy directed by Ivan Reitman, starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Julianne Moore?
EVOLUTION
10. I whistle a happy tune, Getting to know you and Song of the king are songs from which 1956 film?
THE KING AND I


ROUND II: Filming [Fictional Video Game Special]
1. Wrestle Jam ’88 featured in which film? Return Of The Jedi? Brothers Bloom? The Wrestler?
THE WRESTLER
2. Which Toy Story film opens with the video game Buzz Lightyear: Attack On Zurg? Toy Story? Toy Story 2? Toy Story 3?
TOY STORY 2
3. Tron was released in which year? 1980? 1982? 1985?
1982
4. What colour is the foul-mouthed alien in Her? Red? Green? Blue?
BLUE
5. What is the name of the lead character in The Last Starfighter? Lance Guest? Randy James? Peter Collins?
LANCE GUEST
6. Who directed Never Say Never Again? Terence Young? Irvin Kershner? Howard Blake?
IRVIN KERSHNER
7. In Ender’s Game, Ender plays the “mind game” as what animal? Mouse? Dog? Monkey?
MOUSE
8. How many racers take part in Sugar Rush in Wreck It Ralph? 14? 15? 16
FIFTEEN
9. After the iconic “Shall we play a game” line from War Games, how does David respond? You’re damn right? You bet? Love to? [bonus point for naming what the computer recommends instead of Global Thermonuclear War]
LOVE TO [Chess]
10. All the voiceovers in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, including Ninja Ninja Revolution, are performed by Bill Hader. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Which five actors play the medical students in Flatliners? (one point per correct answer)
KIEFER SUTHERLAND / JULIA ROBERTS / KEVIN BACON / OLIVER PLATT / WILLIAM BALDWIN
2. That Thing You Do! was the directorial debut for which actor?
TOM HANKS
3. Crysta, Zak, Batty Koda and Hexxus are characters in which animated film?
FERNGULLY: THE LAST RAINFOREST
4. Alexandria’s parents pick which type of fruit, in The Fall?
ORANGES
5. Almost all of Patton was shot in which European country?
SPAIN
6. The planet Dagobah is introduced in which Star Wars film?
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
7. How many types of bugs are seen in Starship Troopers?
SIX (Arachnids, Brain Bug, Spy Bug, Plasma Bug, Hopper Bug, Chariot Bug)
8. At the start of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Jones learns that his father was searching for the Holy Grail in which city?
VENICE
9. The following quote is from which film, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it”?
MEN IN BLACK
10. What is the title of Christopher Nolan’s feature debut?
FOLLOWING


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the name of the ‘new look’ that Derek reveals at the end of Zoolander? Magnum? Latigra? Blue Steel?
MAGNUM
2. What is the name given to the angel of death, played by Jessica Lange, in 1979’s All That Jazz? Angelique? Angela? Angelina?
ANGELIQUE
3. Who was the first recipient of the Disney Legends award (Disney’s annual hall of fame award)? Fred MacMurray? Julie Andrews? Roy E. Disney?
FRED MACMURRAY
4. Which musical instrument is Charles Bronson known as in Once Upon A Time In The West? Banjo? Whistle? Harmonica?
HARMONICA
5. Who does Peter leave in charge when he leaves Neverland at the end of Hook? No Naps? Pockets? Thud Butt?
THUD BUTT
6. Who played the lead role in Village Of The Damned? Christopher Reeve? Donald Pleasance? Sam Neill?
CHRISTOPHER REEVE
7. What was the title of the Tony Scott film starring David Bowie and Susan Sarandon? Loving Memory? The Hunger? One Of The Missing?
THE HUNGER
8. Which of the following products did not feature as product placements in Blade Runner? Atari? Budweiser? Levi’s?
LEVI’S
9. Predator is set in which Central American country? Nicaragua? Guatemala? Panama?
GUATEMALA
10. Frances McDormand was actually pregnant during the filming of Fargo. True or False?
FALSE


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Guardians Of The Galaxy / Sicario / Snatch
Poster: Licence To Kill
Actor: Benicio Del Toro