Tag Archives: Acting

Annihilation – The End of the Original Sci-Fi Movie Plot – SPOILERS WITHIN

*** SPOILER ALERT  ***

Last night I saw a movie for the first time in years.  That movie was Annihilation.  I had little prior knowledge of the film before seeing it.  I didn’t see a trailer.  I didn’t read a review.  I just went and saw it with my wife.  Here is the gist.

As a disclaimer I will admit I enjoyed this film.  I enjoyed going to a movie for the first time in a long time.  It was great, minus the idiot on his phone in the row in front of us.  It was a pleasure.  Thank you for reading my review of Annihilation.

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Best Shot: The best shot in this film, aside from all of the visually stunning flora and fauna, is at about the midpoint when the team of experts stumbles upon a mess hall.  They find a video of some sick death by a cadet before them.  The crew finds the scene of his death has turned an  abandoned swimming pool into an explosion of colors and what appears to be mold.  This grotesquely morbid end creates creates and aesthetic I have rarely seen in films.  Like zombie ants with fungus shooting from their heads.  Like mummies on display.  This was the best shot in my opinion.  Although everything seems to sparkle and shimmer in alien phosphorescence.

Worst Shot:  Spoiler alert the worsts shot is at the end when the alien in the lighthouse pirouettes the main character.  It’s far too long.  Far too played out.  I have seen in before.  It adds very little.  We know that the alien is trying to mirror the humans before this point in the film.  Also, the shots of the extra-marital affair involving the main character.  This affair does nothing to move the plot.

Plot:  Perhaps we have reached a point in the sci-fi cannon when all ideas have been exhausted to the point at which we just basically are trying to understand us, while realizing there is nothing out there beyond us.  Perhaps.  The pedestrian alien in Annihilation are basically the same alien in Signs, or any other cartoon alien–except for with a smaller head and limited facial features.  Aliens are still somewhat green and still somewhat humanoid and thinking.  However, these aliens may not understand the ideological concept of “want”, “wanting”, or “preference”.  The just do.  They just change.  For whatever reason, it’s never really explained.

Takeaway:  Annihilation is visually appealing, it’s visually appealing like Prometheus.  The film offers moments of tender human relations, marriage, and longing.  It also bring a bit of horror with a monster bear and the idea of going nuts in a world where, or in a bubble–ironically for our times, a bubble, where those around you are going clearly mad.  Changing from one thing to another irregardless of the individuals intentions.  These things happen.  Like biology, I guess.  Near the end of the movie the main point shows through: things change for the simple reason that they can.  Outside alien entities change us for their reasons and their reasons are unknown.  That’s basically it.  Annihilation poses more questions than it answers while still making me thing a little bit but not offering much novel idea.  It was an entertaining flick, but it has some explaining to do, and of course a work cited may be necessary in the credits.

 

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Children of Men; Is it Worth it?

Children of Men is an intense tale of the inability of humans to reproduce. It is set in a dystopian future. Children of Men is a harrowing cinematic wonder, which enacts long takes with few cuts, and an immensely beautiful, yet terrifying setting, contrasting modern battle grounds, and industry, with deep green landscapes. It seems the most poignant shots offer the least amount of cuts, and vast range. This movie offers opposite pars and poignant meaning in social critique of violence and birth.

Children of Men highlights the human condition: we strive to reproduce and pass along our heritage. Being unable to do this, we become depressed and despondent. The human race is setup against a fascist government and a terrorizing guerilla activist group, F.I.S.H. With the setting we are drawn into a world of binary design; one aspect of the world is city-centric, very much modern dystopian, the other is one closer to nature, deep, rich, and holistic. This dichotomy offers a reprieve from what seems an endless barrage of violent attacks which plague the city centers. With this the audience is offered two ideologies: 1) a world based off of free love, attempts at birth, and peace (Shanti Shanti Shanti), and 2) a world based off of violence, oppression, and control. What is offered in drastic contrast is played out tenfold in this move; we see comparisons between life and death, humans and animals, and peace and war. Doubling extremes keeps this film at a fast pace.

In each shot there is much movement and sharp narrative change. Some of the most intense scenes go from a whimsical playful stance to a tragic situation, or vice-versa, in mere moments; the car chase, the baby exiting the building in the middle of an artillery battle. What we see is two very different concepts placed next to one another. We have the love of humanity, wanting to reproduce, create, expand, share, love, and then juxtaposed that, we have death, violence and deception. The question one must ask during Children of Men is not whether we have the ability to reproduce, but whether we should reproduce.

The director of Children of Men is extremely clever. He pits light-hearted empathy with the most atrocious violence. One moment the audience is laughing, the next moment they are gasping in shock. Children of Men is not your run of the mill movie, but something exceptional, and riveting, with a greater meaning. By comparing life and death, peace and war, the director shows two sides of human nature. The film draws you in with humanity, and begs the question: with all of this destruction of life, is creating new life worth it?

Equal parts Equal; Gilda and everyone else

Gilda_trailer_hayworth1            Gilda is a striking and beautifully shot movie, Rita Hayworth’s talent highlights this quintessential noir.  Silhouetted characters, shadows, and hazy deception are used heavily throughout the film.  Straight on glam shots pose as useful with a starlet such as Rita Hayworth, especially when showing character interaction.  We see long profile shots with facial manipulation, a sexual allure; smoke drifting out of the frame, darting doe eyes, the introduction of the character of Gilda being a prime example.  The camera shows the men walking up a flight of stairs, a woman’s voice in the background, and then we see her.  They have essentially found their queen herself in her castle, falling all over her newly found luxury and fine garments.  Front and center, there is nothing else in the shot but Gilda.  From this point on the movie is changed.  These men, unsuspecting as they were, have their worlds turned upside down by what seems to be love, or possession of something labeled as “love”, or this amazing woman, Gilda.

Subtle hints in direction fill up every moment of the film.  Gilda starts out with the roll of dice- literally, face first into the camera, from the ground up.  I suppose this captures the entire concept of the plot; Johnny moves from the ground up, then someone dies on the floor.  We see the roll, the gamble, and the pan up.  The viewer is given insightful narrative of the sorted people around the protagonist, and the need to leave, and then Johnny is caught in a dark alleyway, gun to his back.  He has come to the end of the line.  This is when we meet Ballin Mundson, a casino owner.  Ironically, Johnny is saved by the very knife that will in the end kill his would be killer; the person who once saved him from his would be killer, Mr. Mundson.  Why is this well-dressed casino owner in this dark and mysterious alleyway saving an inconsequential bum’s life?  Is Johnny his patsy?  We won’t find out until later, but the opening scene has it all.

I feel Johnny’s life being spared is an ode to living by the sword dying by the sword for Ballin, considerably when we see how quick he is to make sharp and drastic decisions, such as, nixing the Number 2 Black Roulette man.  We see Ballin walking around with an innocuous looking cane, and then boom, the next moment it’s a blade ready to slice at whatever, or whoever is in the way.  Also this plays into Johnny and Gilda, when they are ready to do whatever, whenever to get whatever they want whenever.  They are sharp and ready to monopolize on any advantage.  They attempt to cut each other down with jealousy, words, possessive antics, and cold stares, at times without being detected.

Gilda gives these men power.  She becomes the third-wheel in what is a seemingly well-oiled machine for a business/relationship.  It is later revealed that both Johnny and Gilda come from the same knit.  They are very similar, if not spouses (which I assume they were).  Mr. Mundson essentially loses his mind because he cannot control the movements of his bride.  In a sense the director has created Gilda as a possession, an object, whoever has this possession is in charge, yet Gilda has plans of her own, clearly.  She does whatever she wants, she doesn’t ask for permission, and she is outspoken- rather risqué for the time (1946).  The men appear pensive and timid, especially in times of dealing with lover’s betrayal.  The culmination of this pent up aggression results in violence towards Gilda, and further deception by Ballin, the one we believe is being deceived (when he fakes his own death, excessively: plane crash/explosion into the ocean).  The director may be giving a nod to the idea of equality, equating Johnny and Gilda, and Ballin to Johnny and Gilda.  Everyone is pretty much equal in their betrayal and deception.

Johnny starts from the bottom and quickly rises to the top, as Gilda eventually does, as Ballin once did himself.  Johnny even expresses to Mr. Mundson, something to the effect of, “I taught her everything she knows.”  I feel as though both Johnny and Gilda have fallen in love with the same man, and again with each other, for similar reasons: security.  Johnny’s almost effeminate appearance and boyish charm seem lover-boyish, also his jealousy towards Gilda and Ballin’s relationship with Gilda shows the love he has for the man, and for Gilda.

Another interesting theme in the movie is the barbershop attendant, who looks like the Wizard of Oz, who always acknowledges Johnny as peasant, as if even if he has all of these lavish material possessions, power, he is still the same at heart, a lowly peasant.  One can compare this to the love/hate relationship he has with Gilda, even if he appears different now, he is still very much in love with Gilda all the same, and powerless to her charm.