Review: Arrival (2016)

“There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.”
– Dr Louise Banks

SYNOPSIS: When twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. – via IMDB

I saw a trailer for this a while ago and thought it looked interesting. I was infinitely more curious when I saw Denis Villeneuve’s name attached to the project as I rather like his work. Arrival did not disappoint at all, and was definitely one of the better alien movies I have seen in a while, and I am a sucker for them. It definitely got right what most alien movies don’t – the movie maintained an air of mystery, it was smart, while the aliens were super important, we didn’t get to see too much of them (I mean this visually, not that they were not present), but what we did see of them was icky man.

Despite having Amy Adams helm the film (which for me could potentially have held it back, she is one of those actresses that irrationally annoys the shit out of me), it worked out just fine. In fact, I think Adams did a good job with the material she was given. I also enjoyed Jeremy Renner in this, and liked the interactions between Ian and Louise. I was glad that Villeneuve did not force a love story into the middle of this, as a romance was totally secondary to all that was going on.

I really liked how the film took time to set itself up. It was never rushed, or too slow and dull. The story was also very engaging. It took its time to set up a solid movie, which was also directed perfectly and visually appealing, well acted, and had a brilliant score to accompany it. There was just so much to enjoy here. As I mentioned before, I was pleased that we didn’t see too much of the aliens, as it maintained mystery and kept them super creepy. I appreciate how smart Arrival is, too, because I love a movie that makes me think.

Arrival is an impressive alien/sci-fi film, and definitely impressed me. I can highly recommend it. Sharp, shot beautifully and carried by strong performances, this movie will make you think on things for quite some time, and I like that.

You can totally skip the trailer and just go straight on to the movie.

Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

out of the furnace poster

“I’ve got a problem with everybody.”
– Harlan DeGroat

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is a hardworking man. He is a blue-collar worker at the local mill and lucky to have a job seeing as he lives in the economically depressed Rust Belt. His younger brother Rodney Jr (Casey Affleck) is a military man with a gambling problem and in with some criminal types but not necessarily bad people for some money. Going to settle his brother’s debt with John Petty (Willem Dafoe) one night, his whole life is changed. Going home to his girlfriend Lena Warren (Zoë Saldana) he is in an accident that is not even remotely his fault but sentenced to prison. Leaving his younger brother and dying father behind, Russell begins his incarceration.

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“Working for a living? I gave my life for this country and what’s it done for me? Huh? What’s it done for me?” – Rodney Baze Jr

While in prison, his father passes away, and Russell is wracked with even more guilt over his passing and not having been there. Upon his release, Rodney takes Russell to his father’s grave and then to their home. Russell slowly but surely starts sinking back into the old ways of his sad life, though he is upset that Lena has moved on and is now seeing police offices Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker). Rodney is not working and is finished serving his country, fighting for Petty to settle his debt. Russell discovers this one day and confronts his brother, again offering that Rodney come work at the mills and that he should not be too proud to work for a living. In a rage, Rodney goes to Petty, forcing his hand to set up a fight for him with Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a disgraceful redneck with a drug and anger problem. Petty is not keen on the idea, but Rodney’s vehemence eventually gets the upper hand and he arranges.

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“Now, will you calm down. I’ll get you the money, Harlan. I’m fixin’ for a fight this week.” – John Petty

Rodney is told to throw the fight, but has a tendency to forget that policy in the heat of the moment. Petty continually warns Rodney that DeGroat is not worth screwing over, and in the ring it looks as though Rodney is set to win, and Petty has to make sure that Rodney loses, which he progresses to do. However, on the way home from the fight, DeGroat catches up to them and kills them both. Russell is informed by Barnes of the transgression, though he says Rodney may still be out there and that Russell should leave it to the police to work out. Russell and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard) set out together with a plan – justice will be exacted for Rodney. Either they will find Rodney in DeGroat’s county, or they will make him pay for what he has done.

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When your future relies on the decision you are faced with

Russell must make a decision about avenging his brother and throwing away his freedom and average, hardworking life, or he must let the police sort it out, though they have made it clear that they don’t really want to get involved with DeGroat. Will Russell be able to let DeGroat get away with the murder of his baby brother? Will Russell ever be able to live a normal life and stop suffering unreasonable hardships all the time?

A 7.5/10 for Out of the Furnace. I was hooked from the get-go. The film boasts a pretty solid cast and they all bring brilliant performances to the table and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Woody Harrelson but wow he was so reprehensible in this one. Christian Bale delivered a great performance of the hardworking and very caring brother. It was great to see Casey Affleck again, and he played the little military man gone wrong very well. I was not particularly sold on Forest Whitaker in here, either his skills or his character, it just didn’t work completely. I enjoyed the plot of this film as well as the progression. I loved the camera work and effects; it looked so great, like washed out. The soundtrack worked perfectly, and the pace was so good for what it was. The conclusion of the film had me at the edge of my seat, not because it was unexpected, but because it was pretty moving. The film’s pace is slow and deliberate and worked perfectly for this film. This is a film not everyone, definitely nothing new or revolutionary and goodness knows it has its flaws, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it, if not for the performances alone.