“The Cloverfield Paradox”: space station movie, 3rd in a series, has a spaghetti plot for Super Bowl Monday morning viewing on Netflix

The Cloverfield Paradox” (2018, by Julius Onah, with story from Oren Unziel) is the third in Paramount’s (and Bad Robot’s) “Cloverfield” franchise, following “Cloverfield” (2008), where New Yorkers film a monster attack on camcorders, and “10  Clovefield Lane” (2016), where a woman hangs out in a bunker in Louisiana during a monster attack.

Netflix is releasing the film now (announcing it during the Super Bowl) which is a sign that this would not have been well received in theaters.

The film opens with a dire energy crisis (not necessarily connected to climate change) with gasoline rationing and long lines on the streets, with roving blackouts.  And Russia is threatening to attack western Europe (not just the former Baltic republics).  At the same time, there is a Cloverfield Space Station, housing scientists, including the heroine Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), is supposed to implement the Shepard Particle Accelerator, which will use quantum physics to generate free energy for all of Earth and end the crisis.

Once they start the accelerator, weird stuff happens, most of it not good. The Earth seems to disappear from sight.  Soon a woman, Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki) Is found in the walls, like a mouse, bloodied. A Russian representative, Volkov (Aksel Hennie) complains about the politics and then suddenly vomits, his body filled with worms. A technician Mundy (Chris O’Dowd) loses his hairless arm in the wall, and then the arm takes on its own panpsychic identity, writing notes. The plot gets very complicated and impossible to follow (read the Wikipedia summary), but it seems they are in an alternate universe and somehow people can get through from Earth through a wormhole.

The space station is rather interesting geographically, with several rotating rings each with its own artificial gravity, and some connecting tunnels, more or less like the Mobius subway in my own screenplay “Epiphany”, based on my three “Do Ask, Do Tell” books.  I don’t see this as a “Cloverfield 4”, but maybe I could get Paramount and Netflix interested in making it.  (This film cost $45 million, so I guess that’s about what I need for my movie.)

Soon there are explosions, and then self-reassembly (violating the entropy laws in thermodynamics), and Jensen raises a question about morality, whether Ava would sacrifice the Earth and her own family down there for her own ego in this new universe.  But return the spaceship must.  The attractive engineer Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) sacrifices part of his chest to a Holter Monitor that Ava installs on him for the journey.

But at the end, this turns out to be a monster movie after all.  My own screenplay does not.

Name:  “The Cloverfield Paradox”
Director, writer:  Julius Onah, Oran Unziel, J.J. Abrams (prod)
Released:  2018
Format: 2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Netflix instant, 2018/2/5
Length:  102
Rating:  TV MA-14 (PG-13)
Companies:  Paramount, Bad Robot, Netflix
Link:  adweek
Stars:  3 / 5   (***–)

(Posted: Tuesday, February 6, 2018. 11 AM EST)

“Downsizing”: Go get small

Downsizing”, directed and written by Alexander Payne (with Jim Taylor) seems like a modern telling of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”, at least the Lilliputian part, with the same purpose, to poke fun at the way our political systems neglect global problems.

Some time soon a scientist in Norway discovers a way to “downsize” almost any organism by a mass of about 2500:1 with a single injection and heat chamber treatment. Soon companies are offering it to people with enough money, and setting aside “model train” communities around the world, somewhat hidden or perhaps “Under the Dome”, or perhaps like The Truman Show. It’s a way to save the planet from overpopulation (although the film doesn’t mention the whole problem of “the right babies” going along with population demographics).

Matt Damon plays an occupational therapist Paul Safranek working in Omaha.  He has lost out on the chance to go to medical school because he had to care for his mother. One day he and his wife see a former boss (Jason Sudeikis) like a doll on a table, and Paul asked why did you “go get small.” Pretty soon Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) visit Leisureland in New Mexico (having seen the small people in a box on the flight down) and take the sales pitch. They can live like millionaires.

Paul takes the bait.  The scenes tracing the medical “downsizings” are scary enough.  Paul’s body hair is removed as well as the usual Army buzz cut, and his teeth are pulled.  The actual downsizing chamber part takes only a few minutes.  Paul wakes up, bald everywhere like a chemo patient and checks his private parts.  Then he gets dental implants with microteeth (because they don’t shrink and could cause his head to explode).  I’ve had implants myself, and companies like Clear Choice must be laughing at this.  Then Paul finds out that Audrey bailed out of the procedure and wants to divorce him.

The hair grows back, fortunately. A year later, after downsizing to an apartment on Leisureland and starting to date single moms, and after hearing about the political consequences of downsizing in the media, specifically the surreptitious trafficking of downsized immigrants (despite travel bans!) Paul finds out, from a housekeeper (Ngoc Lan Tran) that immigrants like her live in “barrios” for downsized undocumented immigrants.

As with his mom, Paul is very susceptible to moral pressure to give direct service to those in need, and finds himself as a “doctor” working in the barrio. Then the movie takes a turn to Norway, as a neighbor (Christoph Waltz) takes Paul on a trip to Norway to see the original colony.

And here comes the other political consequence: the Earth has reached its tipping point with the chain release of methane gas, so the little people in Norway have set up a “Noah’s arc” underground. Indeed, will the “normal people” become “the Leftovers”?

I did go through my own downsizing in a real estate sense, from inherited house to condo, recently. And I had full dental implants in 2013.  I have yet to undergo a forced shaving.

Also, ponder the fact that certain big cats underwent downsizing thousands of years ago and became the domestic cats, one of the planets most successful mammals. Sometimes it pays to “go small”.

There was a short film with another Marriott “Storybooked” artist, this time sculptor Felix Semper, who visits San Sebastian, Spain (I visited it in 2001), in the Basque area, and then Barcelona, which is dealing with a new Catalan separatist vote today.

La Concha Bay in San Sebastian (wiki).

Name:  “Downsizing”
Director, writer:  Alexander Payne
Released:  2017/12/21
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic, 2017/12/22
Length:  135
Rating:  R
Companies:  Paramount (independent)
Link:  official

(Posted: Friday, December 22, 2017 at 11:15 PM EST)

 

“Mother!”: Darren’s chamber piece on radical hospitality turning into chaos and communism

Mother!” is another dream-like supernatural set piece from Darren Aronofsky (and cinematographer Matthew Libatique). And this time there is a bit of a political warning.

The entire film is set in an octagonal symmetrical house somewhere in Quebec. Javier Bardem plays a poet and writer who has displayed “writer’s block” since he and his wife, Jennifer Lawrence, “lost everything” in a fire.  Well, everything except a remelted glass obelisk that represents all his creative output.  The house has apparently been restored, but it is still creaky and mysterious with supernatural trinkets (and blobs derived from living things) inside.  The couple still has no children, and it’s unclear if they want to.

One night, a stranger (Ed Harris) appears.  He says he is a doctor, despite cigarette smoking. He acts like the house were listed on Airbnb (or maybe Emergency BNB), although there are no computers in the film that I recall.  I think there was cell.  Immediately, he goes into coughing and vomiting spells, and the couple “hosts” him – an example of radical hospitality (and maybe scruffy hospitality, too)  The next morning, “Mother” (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up, with all the presence of a Hitchcock villain.

In time the rest of the family appears, including two younger adult sons, who fight over arcane provisions in a trust.  It seems as if maybe the poet doesn’t own the house at all.  The film starts turning violent, and one of the sons is severely injured.  Then others show up, as if from a Bolshevist revolution.

The guests recede, and the poet and his wife have the house to themselves once again, and this time the woman gets quickly and obviously pregnant.  Then the hordes return, this time with a lot of ideology that sounds like it comes from Marx and Lenin.  A full bacchanale ensues;  one room becomes a disco, some of the floors leak and collapse, and eventually everything gets set on fire and it seems like the baby is to be sacrificed.

All of this, in the end, seems to be a circular, reoccurring plot.  Maybe this is a corner of the afterlife.

The house seems to be able to fix itself, as in the 1976 film “Burnt Offerings”, based on Robert Marasco’s novel.

The soundtrack, in Dolby 7.1, makes a lot of imagined voices and haunting sounds, making the wife especially seem a bit schizophrenic.

Name:  “Mother!”
Director, writer:  Darren Aronofsky
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic, Fairfax VA, 2017/9/18, day, small audience
Length:  118
Rating:  R
Companies:  Protozoa Films, Paramount
Link:  official

(Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT)

“Tulip Fever”: a 2008 financial collapse in 17th Century Holland

Tulip Fever”, directed by Justin Chadwick, based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, presents a period piece with a parallel story of a financial bubble – the “tulip mania” in the Netherlands in the 1630s.

Sophia (Alicia Vikander) has been forcibly married to a rich merchant Cornelius (Christoph Waltz), who commissions a young painter Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to do her portrait. At first she resists, the way someone might resist having their photo tagged on the Internet today. But soon they fall in love. Jan can’t make a living just as an artist, so they plot to make a killing by “flipping” tulip bulbs.

But, as with all bubbles, the mania bursts, probably because of the intrusion of a pandemic, the bubonic plague. Tragedy ensues, although Jan survives with a prosperous second life in the Dutch East Indies, eventually to become modern Indonesia.

The film is quite erotic in a few spots, and DeHaan’s boyish body is often on display. A few scenes convey the energy of the physical passion that was expected in those days.

Wiki picture of the tulips.

Name: “Tulip Fever”
Director, writer:  Justin Chadwick
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic 2017/9/9
Length:  105
Rating:  R
Companies:  Weinstein TWC, Paramount
Link:  FB, distribution controversy

(Posted: Saturday, September 9, 2017, at 11 PM EDT)

“Case 39” is indeed a “Bad Seed”

Case 39”, directed by Christian Alvart and written by Ray Wright (apparently submitted by) turns out to be rather exploitive horror built on mental illness.

In Portland OR, social worker Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) visits the home of misbehaving Lilith (Jodelle ferland) for Child Protective Services, and believes she is abused. In the follow-up, the parents try to lock her into an oven (there is feint scene like that in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit” (2015).  Lilith is taken into protective custody and the parents are sent to mental institutions.  They used to sau “nothing to be ashamed of” in my own NIH days in 1962.

Emily takes care for Lilith and offers to raise her in her own home.  That soon turns catastrophic. It seems that everyone with anything to do with Lilith develops schizophrenia and winds up fighting phantoms.  There is a scene were therapist Doug (Bradley Cooper) believes he is chased by hornets and commits suicide, but not until we see Bradley’s manly chest.

I’m reminded of some other films, like the classic “Lilith” (1964) where a young Warren Beatty is gradually disrobed by an underage mental patient, as well as “The Bad Seed” (1956).  I also recall Michaelangelo Antonioni’s “Zabriske Point”, where Daria Halprin gradually disrobes Mark Frechette.  I saw that film twice, one of the few that I have.

The DVD has extras on the makeup for the horror film, which involved putting gel on the arms of an actress and setting her on fire. (“Turn up the Heat on the Chill Factor”).  Other extras include “Inside the Hornet’s Nest” and “File Under Evil, Inside the 39”.

The film was distributed by Paramount Vantage.  Paramount (like Warner Brothers) abandoned separately branding most of its independent films a few years ago.

Portland OR skyline (Wiki).  Indoor scenes were shot in British Columbia.

Name:  “Case 39
Director, writer:  Christian Alvart (DGC)
Released:  2009
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Netflix DVD, 2017/7/30
Length:  109
Rating:  R
Companies:  Paramount Vantage
Link:  Official

(Posted: Monday, July 31, 2017 at 12:30 AM EDT

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”: Al Gore’s sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth” about climate change premiers at AFI-Docs

Last night, AFI-Docs premiered Al Gore’s new film, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” at the Newseum in Washington DC, with director (Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk) QA.  The film amounts to being “An Inconvenient Truth II”, following Gore’s first film on climate change in 2005.

Gore starts his film in Greenland, with spectacular shots of melting ice, before moving around the world and showing evidence of rapid escalation of climate change.  He stops in Miami, where there is sunny day street flooding at high tides. Warmer and more humid atmosphere promulgates more extreme storms and, ironically, droughts.  He shows Hurricane Sandy in 2012 in New York City (confirming a prediction from his 2005 film that the World Trade Center site from 9/11 could flood), and a typhoon in the southern Philippines in November 2013, which might have interfered with the production of my third book (the POD publisher had a plant nearby). He mentions how high temperatures shorten mosquito breeding cycles and might have contributed to the spread of Zika.

He also brings back his charts from the 2005 film, and adds illustrations showing that the number of very warm days constantly increases (even though we have cold days).  It is inevitable that if carbon dioxide levels rise, the planet will warm, unless something else happens (like a volcanic eruption blotting out the Sun with cloud cover).

Gore provides plenty of evidence that green industries are economically sustainable.  He notes anecdotes like that of Greensburg, KS, wiped out by a 2007 tornado, that rebuilt itself green (story), as in the 2009 Planet Green film, “Greensburg: a Story of Community Rebuilding” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

He also summarizes his personal history, his concession in Bush v. Gore in 2000, and then notes Bush’s actions which reduced satellite information gathering on climate issues by NASA, as well as catering to fossil fuel interests, anticipating Trump today.

His most startling ideas are that the drought in Syria starting around 2010 helped set up the urban refugees that set up the brutality of Assad and ISIS.  Then the film moves to Paris, just before the meetings at the end of 2015, as Gore is present for the Nov. 13 terror attacks, the aftermath of which is shown.

The film covers Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Leadership Corps”, which he calls “Truth in Ten”.  People can join this as a movement, be trained, and participate in a formal process.  My problem is that I like to retain my ability to speak independently, as I said in the QA. There is a hashtag “#Pledgetobeinconvenient”.

Another audience member pointed out the problem of tribalism:  many people won’t listen to rational arguments of they are made by someone from the wrong side – as we saw with the 2016 elections and the vitriolic personal divisions and odd forms of hyper partisanship.

QA

1

2  (my question on joining a group vs. working alone on an issue like this)

3  (question about tribalism — “truth to power”)

Fact sheet:

Name: “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”
Director, writer:  Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk, Al Gore
Released:  2017
Format:  1.85:1 (as shown;  imdb says 2.35:1)
When and how viewed:  AFI Docs, Newseum, 2017/6/16, Washington DC, almost sold out;  general release 2017/7/28
Length:  100
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Paramount Independent;  Kino Lorber; Participant Media
Link:  Al Gore, Film

Picture: Far Rockaway, NY, March 2013, my trip after Hurricane Sandy

(Posted: Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 10 AM EDT)

“Hurry Sundown”, Otto Preminger’s 1967 melodrama, examined race relations and even draft dodging

Having been reminded of this film by yesterday’s movie with an accidentally similar title, I did rent Otto Preminger’s 1967 melodrama “Hurry Sundown” on Amazon today.

There is something about these older big expansive films in historical settings (the biggest of all is “Giant” in 1954 by George Stevens, which I saw in Dallas in the 1980s at the Inwood) that I miss today.

The film was released in February 1967 when I as starting my third semester of graduate school at the University of Kansas.  I sometimes made it to the Varsity or Granada in downtown Lawrence (Mike Nichols’s and Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” in black and white) but I don’t remember seeing this one.

The specific issue that got my attention is that a lead character, Henry Warren (Michael Caine, looking out of his usual character) is described as a draft dodger, as he tries to swing a land deal in post World War II Georgia (the film is said to have been shot near Baton Rouge, LA). His rival is a cousin Rad McDowell (John Phillip Law) who has returned unharmed from WWII combat in Europe.  The script (the movie runs 2-1/2 hours) doesn’t tell us exactly how he got out of the draft (like CO, or a fake medical excuse).  There is an early conversation in a car where Rad says that how one experiences European capital cities (like Paris) depends on one’s point of view.  Later Rad tells his own kids that cousin Henry has no conscience.

Henry has a story marriage with Julie (Jane Fonda), who is more protective of her autistic son. Henry blames the mother’s side of the family for his “defective” kid.  But it was common in earlier generations to look at autism or mental disabilities through a moral lens.

Rad has his sons (who figure in the climax) and wife played by Faye Dunaway. Burgess Meredith plays the bigoted judge, and George Kennedy the corrupt sheriff.

People in this generation indeed had different moral postulates, especially about race.  Rad wants to partner with a black sharecropper family  (Reve and Rose Scott, played by Robert Hooks and Beah Richards) to develop his land and refuses to sell.  Rad would have learned better racial attitudes being in the Army. True, Truman would integrate the military in 1948 (as in the HBO film), but there had been proposals when the war began, in 1941.  All of this is prelude to the debate over “don’t ask don’t tell” to erupt a half century later.  Times do change, and so do moral postulates.

The film foreshadows its tragic conclusion by showing blasting on the land to clear irrigation ditches.

Name: “Hurry Sundown”
Director, writer:  Otto Preminger
Released:  1967/2
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Amazon Instant 3.99
Length:  144
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Paramount
Link:  Ebert

(Posted: Friday, May 19, 2017 at 8:45 PM EDT)

“Fences”: August Wilson’s play on the screen, with Denzel Washington as an “imperfect” family man of his segregated times

Fences”, directed by Denzel Washington, is a major African-American morality play, actually based on the Broadway play by August Wilson, and translated rather directly to a 139 minute film that looks rather like a stage play, set mostly in a rowhouse and small backyard in working class Pittsburgh in 1957 (with a final act in 1962).  The film has three visual interludes that seem like act markers.

Denzel plays the “imperfect” family “patriarch” Troy Maxson, now 53, who has a particularly authoritarian relationship with his 17-year old son Cory  (Jovan Adepo), who fears Cory’s ambitions to play football (in college and maybe pros) are unrealistic given racial discrimination, and that Cory needs to learn his place making a proletarian living. It’s noteworthy that he is illiterate (can’t read).

In fact, Troy had been a baseball star in the Negro leagues, and had come along “too early” for baseball, before Jackie Robinson changed things (the film “46”).  But by 1957 baseball already had many black stars, including Minnie Minoso, Luke Easter and Larry Doby (the last two from the powerhouse 199954 Cleveland Indians).  Pro football as also changing quickly, so Troy wasn’t with it.  Cory thinks his dad is afraid of his son’s being “better” than he is, but isn’t that a point of having a traditional family?

Viola Davis plays his loyal wife Rose, but she engages in the fast talk of many scenes.  Troy has an older son Lyons (Russell Hornsby), who struggles as a musician, borrowing money and getting in trouble with the law.  In fact, we learn that Troy had done hard time himself for manslaughter after a fight in Alabama, where he had grown up.  There is also a disabled brother (Mykelti Williamson) and the sidekick foil friend Bono (Stephen Henderson).

As the play progresses, Troy will continue his transgressions and test the loyalty of those around him, until he dies, as there is another “illegitimate” child Raynell (Saniyya Sydney).

I’ve encountered, in the workplace, African American men who believe they have to raise their kids to expect discrimination but still not expect any handouts in a capitalist society.  One of them thought that, as an unmarried man, I must be living with my mother.  But a decade later, I had to.

The film has some interesting scenes of improvised street baseball, like the backyard baseball  (or softball or whiffleball)) we used to play in the 1950s.

Name: Fences
Director, writer:  Denzel Washington, August Wilson
Released:  2006/12/25
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed: 2016/12/26, daytime show, nearly sold out, at Angelica Mosaic in Fairfax (mixed audience)
Length:  139
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Paramount (as if independent or Vantage)
Link:  official

Wikipedia:  Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh in 1905, link.

(Posted: Monday, December 26, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

“Office Christmas Party”: a comedy rondo (and pretty down-to-earth)

img32401

Name: Office Christmas Party
Director, writer: Josh Gordon, et al
Released: 2016
Format: 2.35:1
When and how viewed: Cobb, Leesburg VA, 2016/12/10
Length :
Rating 105
Companies: Paramount, Dreamworks
Link: official site

Office Christmas Party”, directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, is a debaucherous rondo-romp (or maybe “rump”) of a film, and it took three writers (Jon Lucas, Scott Moore and Timothy Dowling) to even come up with the “story” that they must have been paid to concoct in advance. I don’t have to work that way, although certain parties try to get me to.

Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Anniston) has inherited her dad’s tech company (servers and data storage) and henpecks her baby brother Van (T.J. Miller), who would rather spend his time on fantasy football (which Ashton Kutcher likes). Josh (Jason Bateman) has apparently always organized the company Christmas party, but this year Carol orders it canceled because the company isn’t profitable enough.

img32436

So we have a satire about the pitfalls of extreme capitalism (and the “Always Be Closing” sales culture), at best. Carol bullies everybody about not selling enough (and not outselling Dell, in particular). Soon, Josh gets the idea to hold the party anyway to win a key account.

img32437

What follows is a riot on the Chicago loop, complete with pot and coke, and eventual car chases and a car jumping the Chicago River. It need not be said that the housekeepers in the office will have their hand full.

One of the posters for the movie ad shows a hairy man with his chest smeared with what looks like shaving cream, as if there were some kind of Milo-like ritual at the party. But on closer inspection the cream turns out to be a white bad Santa beard.

(Posted: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 at 12:30 PM EST)

“Arrival”: one way the first public alien contact could happen (but does physics allow the time jumping?)

img31950

Name: Arrival
Director, writer:  Denis Villeneuve, story Ted Chiang
Released:  2016/11/10
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic 2016/11/11, morning, very full auditorium, audience clapped at end
Length 116
Rating PG-13
Companies: Paramount-FilmNation  (Canadian production)
Link: official

I’ve always been fascinated by tracing how the world would react to a public alien “Arrival”; in my novel draft, and in of my screenplays, most of the narrative leads up to the arrival, which will solve a mystery (and provide a sense of initiation).  In my cases, some of the suspense is indeed interpersonal.  I think I have a more complicated concept than this film by Denis Villeneuve, based on Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”.

img31951

The film opens with a shot of a gray ceiling with nice designs, before we see linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) looking out of a lake (maybe Flathead, near Kalispell, Montana, which I have driven around) near her home, remembering the passing of her little girl Hannah to an aggressive brain cancer, which we will later learn was cause by a bizarre virus that enables the “sufferer” to experience space-time in a tesseract (like in “Interstellar”).  In my novel, I introduce the idea of a novel retrovirus (incorporating micro black holes) that can convey some people unusual powers, but I won’t get into that here.   Hannah’s name is a palindrome, and that becomes important (the last movement of Hindemith’s Horn Concerto is also a palindrome).

img31952

Soon Banks is lecturing about what makes Portuguese interesting as a language, when her students start seeing news on their phones and laptops, and interrupt her, to turn on the TV.  The spaceships have suddenly arrived within the last hour, and the world is in a panic.  There are twelve of them.

img31956

Soon the Army is recruiting her to come out to the spaceship site in rural Montana.  You have to go through decontamination to get in and out of the spaceship (not quite as bad as the “body analysis” of “The Andromeda Strain” – thankfully no photoflash chamber).  The ship is a large ovoid, maybe 1000 feet high and you wait under it for a door to open.

800px-cloudsandlakeinmontana

Once inside, you are elevated through a tunnel with wall designs like those of Louise’s ceiling. Eventually, you get to meet the aliens.  Usually, you see the bottoms of their bodies – looking like cephalopods, with seven arms, each of which ends in a tentacle that can expand into seven more hooks for writing messages that look like circular Rorschachs.  Most of the time, the real bodies (like stalks) are enshrouded in fog.

img31985

It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that the non-linear nature of the alien language provides a key to how they experience time and can accomplish space travel.  It also excuses the out-of-sequence flashbacks and flash forwards (like in the ABC series “Flash Forward”).

Suffice it to say, also, that the look of the film becomes fixated on the aliens and the images of their writings.  It doesn’t who a lot of scenery, except a few shots of the shops in other places like Shanghai. A lot of the time, the movie seems to be almost in black and white.

The other aspect of this film is, of course, world politics – especially when China, Russia, and then other third world countries want to go their own way, which in this situation could threaten the planet. “China is not your friend” Trump has said.  Like neither was the tiger Richard Parker (“Pi”) until he was.

The dour original music is by Johann Johansson;  the Dvorak Serenade in E is quoted. There is a string quartet theme that resembles the slow movement of Beethoven’s A Minor quartet.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Flathead Lake by Paul Frederickson, CCSA 2.5.

(Posted: Friday, November 11, 2016 at 3:45 PM)