Sunday, July 2, 2017

ARRIVAL(directed by Denis Villeneuve) is dead on arrival.

I'm all for intelligent science-fiction films, but this isn't one of them. Like THE MARTIAN, this is one of those faux-intelligent movies for 'adult-minded' people. Some may compare it to GRAVITY, but Cuaron's movie worked wonderfully because it was big on action, emotion, & effects and let 'ideas' drift into space. There was too much happening in Cuaron's movie to 'think' about anything.
In contrast, ARRIVAL is supposed to make us think and ponder. What about? Some giant stony half-eggs arrive from who-knows-where and invite humans to change notes. It turns out these alien being are giant squids(not unlike the squid monster in the Gamera movie DESTROY ALL PLANETS but kinder), and their message to humanity is a series of childish circles that they keep drawing over and over. But it's not just a squid story. It's a squid love story. There are two squids but one is sick, and squids can feel tragedy too, so they want to help humanity by promoting globalism. You see, China and Russia are belligerent and 'xenophobic' against the alien visitors, but goody-goody American 'liberal' scientists are so understanding and figure out some New Age flaky code as to why the squids are really doing what they doing. So, next time you think of the Jewish Octopus devouring the world, it is just spreading love. So, Germany should take in all those invaders 'refugees' and the entire world should tune into CNN and other Jewish-controlled globalist news.

Though sold as 'intelligent' sci-fi, the movie's more noteworthy for its emotional chords. In UFO stories, we tend to think in collective terms of 'humans' and the Other. Where ARRIVAL deviates from its predecessors(with the possible exception of CONTACT) is in suggesting at the 'personal' among the alien beings --- not 'personal' in what a space alien may mean to us humans(as in E.T.) but to one another in a ways that are both mysterious and familiar.
The woman comes to relate her own personal loss with the tragedy of the squid whose partner is ill. Until then, she only considered the squids as the collective 'them'. But upon closer contact, she realizes each squid creature has its own 'personal' issues(possibly unbeknownst to other squid creatures).
To her human peers, she is just a professional, a representative of America or the human race. And initially, she regarded the alien creatures like the humanity did: The Strange Other. But through special contact with one, she becomes, at least in one respect, closer to it than to her own kind because of the commonality of experience: tragic loss of dear one. Commonality of experience differs from commonality of race, ethnicity, or nationality. Only those who underwent the ordeal can really understand and belong. This is a lonely community as tragic experiences are always dispersed and unexpected, universally occurring but only to particular 'chosen' individuals.
And, it is this commonality of experience that prevents war-making by Chinese and Russians because a certain General Shang, it turns out, also lost a dear one and was especially touched by the message(a fusion of future and present) he received from the heroine. So, the film seems to be saying that, if we go beyond the collective identity and ponder the personal -- the Kodak moments of our lives, like in TREE OF LIFE -- , we will all a deeper connection with the universe marked by tragic beauty. On the other hand, what happened with Annakin Skywalker because he got so personally involved with Amidala? He went over to the Dark Side just to save his loved one.

We are doomed no matter what.

Rating: 2/5

JEEPERS CREEPERS 2(directed by child-molester Victor Salva) is horror trash but has style to burn

Victor Salva followed up JEEPERS CREEPERS with this sequel that is even more audacious, astonishing, and hair-raising in style and suspense. Salva's wicked creature is many times creepier than most horror villains(and funnier in a gross way, as Salva seems to be a student of George Romero and Sam Raimi of EVIL DEAD fame).
Unfortunately, the movie feels a need to preach us a sermon about race(like Romero at his worst, as if to morally justify and overcome the tawdriness of the b-movie material), so we get the predictable scenario of how white kids and black kids must cooperate to survive the swooping attacks by the Alien-Monster-and-Freddy-the-Kruger-with-Wings. For anyone who knows about race, this is too comical. Surely, it's hard to conjure up horror worse than the horribleness of ghastly Negroes. The white kids and the monster should have united to whup the Negroes.

Rating: 3/5

I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG(directed by Mervyn Leroy) is still powerful.

This 1932 movie packs quite a punch as drama and social message. Its classic status owes to the dynamism of the performances, pacing, and details that was usually encountered in gangster movies and crime thrillers. A man wronged by the world can be just as riveting as a man who wrongs the world.

Rating: 5/5

STELLA DAVIS(directed by King Vidor) shows how motherhood can redeem even a no-good worthless tramp.

Barbara Stanwyck delivers a sterling performance as a woman of spunk and ambition. And ridiculousness. Born poor and raise vulgar, her idea of success and respectability is marrying up, partying, and weraing too much jewelry, real or fake. Estranged from her well-heeled husband who can't satisfy her appetites, she ends up raising her daughter alone. The girl, taking after her father, is a kinder and gentler creature. And Stella, with her maternal instincts kicking in, must make sacrifices for her beloved daughter. It's melodrama but wonderfully done.

Rating 4/5

Silence(directed by Martin Scorsese) is a Masterpiece

This is a thoughtful film on many levels, a tale told without hammering home any single point of view. While Scorsese's heart is clearly with the Catholic priests and the persecuted faithful, he allows the story to unfurl at its own manner and pace, disclosing the tragic follies as well as the noble themes of the doomed mission. The final part probes into the paradox of Christianity, how one is nearest to God in failure than in success.

Rating: 5/5

STAYING VERTICAL(directed by Alain Guiraudie) Is Worse than Horizontal Collaboration

One of the ugliest films ever, surely one of the most demented since Pier Paolo Pasolini's TEOREMA in which some godlike visitor blesses the alienated characters by 'teo-reaming' them up the ass.
This degenerate film by Guiraudie has some hipster as a bisexual nomad, a post-modernist who stumbles into the role of accidental prophet and messiah. Though a creature of the city, he drives around the countryside where things are nearly as primitive as in the ancient world of Hebrews. But if the ancients came up with strict sexual morality to keep things in order, the new revelation, according to Guiraudie's vision, is that everyone should just drop their pants and stick their thingies into anything that moves and wants it up the pooter or the poop-chute. After all, unlike the old days, there's plenty of food and social safety nets that make traditional morality moot, at least to these decadents and degenerates. Not exactly boring but only because it has stuff like the 'hero' sticking his dong up a flabby old man breathing his last. How the world has gone from shotgun marriage to shotgun 'fuc* me in the ass'.

Rating: 2/5.