Sunday, November 20, 2016

Arrival: a very short review

Together with my almost-13-year-old granddaughter, I saw Arrival this weekend. It was a nice way to spend a rainy day.

I admit that I was a bit of an easy target for Arrival.

I dabbled in linguistics as an undergraduate, and have always thought it was one of the most important fields of study, so any movie which is built around the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was going to be right in my sweet spot.

Moreover, my daughter was a linguistics major at UCSC, and so any movie in which the heroine is a linguist was an easy sell.

And, one of the lead characters shares my granddaughter's name, so she liked it too!

More objectively, the movie is nicely paced, beautifully shot, and the director and writers have a good awareness of how to set up and deliver the principal breakthroughs for maximum effect.

And that gorgeous logogram smoke-language? Gorgeous! Vivid! Inspired! Delightful! The subtly-delivered metaphor of comprehension emerging out of smoke and fog? Superb!

As modern science fiction movies seem to go, this is probably as good as you get, nowadays.

But I can't help feeling that much of the current "buzz" around Arrival is due to its impeccable timing (probably mostly due to good luck), "arriving" as it does at a time when many of us are desperately wondering why it seems to be so hard to talk to, and to listen to, those we share this planet with, whether they be halfway across the world or just down the street.

Regardless, Arrival is nicely handled and I enjoyed it.

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