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Category: Denis Villeneuve (Page 1 of 5)

Denis 2049: Link Roundup

If you missed any of our series on Denis Villeneuve, you can find links to all of our podcasts and writings in this post.

Without further ado:

Podcast Episodes

1) Director Deliberations (52:39)

2) August 32nd On Earth (38:55)

3) Maelstrom (27:13) 

4) Polytechnique (44:22)

5) Incendies (42:24)

6) Prisoners (54:06)

7) Enemy (52:50)

8) Sicario (49:55)

9) Arrival (1:02:35)

10) Bonus: Blade Runner (30:06)


11) Blade Runner 2049 (1:01:02)

Fireside Chats

1) August 32nd On Earth

Taylor: I’ve never seen a premise quite like this before. Does this happen often? Have any of your friends ever approached you asking to help them conceive a child in the desert? Would you do this for any of your friends?

Sam: The short answer is yes, of course I would take my friend to the desert to impregnate her. But only if we were married … (Keep reading here…)

2) Maelstrom

Taylor: Um, Sam? This movie was in French. I don’t speak French.

Sam: I speak French just fine, but remember, Taylor, this movie is French-Canadian. And in that field I can only speculate. (Keep reading here…)

3) Polytechnique

Taylor: I felt like I was witnessing something impossible, the act of witnessing it ensuring that I couldn’t deny what was happening right in front of me. A contradiction that I can’t justify but won’t back down from. It was surreal. I don’t think I’ve ever been so compelled and disturbed and haunted by a movie all at once.

Sam: “Polytechnique” is one of those movies – “Schindler’s List,” “Manchester by the Sea,” Villeneuve’s own “Prisoners” – that gladly asks you to pay money to get punched in the throat. It hurts to watch this movie. It’s gut-wrenching and brutal and the longest 80-minute movie I’ve ever seen.

I loved it. (Keep reading here…)

4) Incendies

Sam: It represents what he thinks about what he’s portraying. He believes, I think, that the world is dark and terrible, but not without hope, love and people fighting break cycles of anger and the systems that oppress them. Or, I don’t know, maybe he’s just into incest.

Taylor: I think this is a really good point. He often presents worlds that make no sense, that would make anyone question their existence and purpose and whether anything really matters. By the end, though, nearly without fail, he presents them with a way forward. A way to keep going. It may not be definitive or solve everything (or anything!), but it shows some optimism. And that gives me some hope, too. (Keep reading here…)

5) Prisoners

Taylor: This is such an obnoxiously bad opinion that I don’t even know where to start. Maybe he just wanted people to think, “Wow, what a bold take! He must know something I don’t!” If I was younger, I might have fallen for this, but facts are facts. If you think “Prisoners” is Denis’ seventh-best movie, you should not be allowed into the theater for “Blade Runner 2049.”

Sam: If Melissa Leo and her whack-ass husband kidnapped me, pumped me with some psychedelic Welch’s grape juice, put me in a basement, and said, “Here you go, finish this book of puzzles and you can go home,” and the last page said, “Explain how ‘Prisoners’ is Denis’ seventh-best movie,” I’d happily rot under that 1972 Chevy Vega.

And that’s really what “Prisoners” is about, isn’t it? (Keep reading here…)

6) Enemy

Sam: …let’s try on a couple:

  • Spider Number One: The spider on the plate. At the beginning of the movie, Actor Gyllenhaal goes to the strangest speakeasy in Toronto, in which women step on spiders served on stainless-steel, beautifully-crafted serving dishes. If this isn’t symbolic of the existential threat posed by women taking over the culinary industry, I don’t know what is.
  • Spider Number Two: The spider with long legs walking slowly over the city, careful not to step on any of the sharp buildings. This is clearly Denis’ ode to waking up in the middle of the night and gingerly walking to the bathroom when you can’t see what’s on the floor.

What spiders am I missing?

Taylor: You left out a hugely important spider.

Wife Spider. (Keep reading here…)

7) Sicario

You won’t believe who we got to write this one for us. Go read it.

8) Arrival 

Taylor: Tell me I’m wrong.

Sam: You’re wrong.

Taylor: Okay. Good talk.

Sam: No, listen. Renner is…(Keep reading here…)

9) Blade Runner 2049

Taylor: Your well-founded concerns about the LAPD looking the other way on serious child labor crimes while also sending officers to other states notwithstanding (though, trust me, I also find this deeply concerning), I think it’s time we get to the nitty-gritty: Tell me your thoughts on Jared Leto, and give me your guess for what planet his character is from in this movie.

*dives into bunker, covers ears*

Sam: I don’t want to guess irresponsibly about the behind-the-scenes decisions that led to casting Leto as the titular villain (maybe Denis was trying to impress his 14-year-old stepdaughter?), so I won’t get into the why on Earth was this decision made discussion but will try to only discuss his on-field performance.

I’ll start by trying to answer your question: I have no idea what planet Wallace is from, but I’m guessing it’s a world a lot like Earth except that it is inhabited by blind humanoids who are deeply philosophical, malicious, and don’t read scripts. Leto for sure showed up on set without having seen the original “Blade Runner” or having read anything but his own lines.

He definitely thinks…(Keep reading here…)

Fireside Chats: ‘Blade Runner 2049’

For each movie in the “Denis 2049” series, Taylor and Sam will sit down and bounce some thoughts off each other, off-mic. Their brilliant minds will unleash many words. Make of them what you will. This time: “Blade Runner 2049.”

Taylor: Wow.

After weeks and weeks of build-up and hours and hours of watching and talking about old Denis Villeneuve movies, we’ve finally – truly – arrived.

“Blade Runner 2049” is here, and it’s amazing. It’s everything I dreamed of and more. I’ve seen the Lord, and his face is brightly shining!

What should we even talk about with this one, Sam? I feel like I could write 77,000 words about this movie.

Sam: I want to start from the very beginning. Partly because I know the deeper into the movie we go, the more deeply I’ll be confused, and partly because it took me approximately zero seconds to be sucked all the way into this movie (and partly because Jared Leto isn’t in this part).

Look, I came for Dave Bautista farming worms, and that’s where I want to set up shop for a couple of sentences. I could watch that life every day. Dave wakes up. Dave puts a kettle of coffee on the stove. Dave shuffles around his house with a normal-sized cup of coffee that looks tiny in his hands and puts on normal-sized glasses that look tiny on his head. Dave looks out the window at the grey landscape and taps out a couple notes from a sad but familiar riff on his sad but familiar piano. Dave bites into a strudel, zips up his hazmat suit, gets his lunch pale, and Dave goes and FARMS WORMS. Dave goes around and inspects each worm. He feeds them. He tends to them. He probably has a folding chair that he keeps in the farming tent to sit and watch his worms do whatever the hell. Occasionally, a Blade Runner comes in to retire him, and Dave buries them under his worm farm. It’s a movie all to itself.

Holy cow, is this movie stunning. I need to see it again so my senses can corroborate what I’m pretty sure I experienced. It was what I imagine heroine is like – and even though I’ve never had the luxury of purchasing an ounce (a gram? a rock?) of the liquid lady, I can’t imagine it costs any more than an IMAX ticket – and let me tell you, was worth every cent of the 200 dollars I spent to see it. We can talk about the plot if you want, but all I really remember is the way this movie felt. Like someone took the original “Blade Runner,” “The Fifth Element,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the Tupac Hologram, a neon light, a rock, a wool coat, the skeleton of Harrison Ford and a trumpet blast to my eardrum, and put all of it in a burlap sack and hit me over the head with it. It was perfect.

What should we talk about? I have no idea. Here are some starting points you can choose from:

– Flying cars

– Landfill orphanages

– The end of the phrase “happy birthday”

– Mackenzie Davis

Taylor: As many words as I could write about the end of the phrase “happy birthday,” let’s save the Leto of it all for later.

For now, listen.

You hear that?

That’s the sound of someone coming to a stop and catching fire because they walked into a movie theater right as Mackenzie Davis came on the screen. As a Halt Head (who, admittedly, has not watched the final season yet), I’ve gotta take that choice and start there.

She pulls some Anthony Hopkins-level work here (in the sense that she shows up for like three scenes but makes a huge impression by virtue of being interesting, mysterious, gross, pretty, thoughtful, rude, and just an all-around great robot lady) in BR2049.

The thing about Mackenzie Davis, though, is that there’s only one thing people will really remember about her in this movie.

You know what I’m talking about.


This scene was the strangest, ballsiest thing I’ve seen in a “big blockbuster” movie in a long time, and sitting in a theater on opening night watching the people around me try to figure out what the f*** they bought a ticket for (and even watching some people straight up walk out at this point) was an experience that made me weirdly giddy.

What did you think of this scene, and more importantly, what did you think of Villeneuve deciding to take a movie that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and just play it out in the slowest, weirdest way possible?

Sam: I’ve never heard of Anthony Hopkins being described as “all-around great robot lady” and I have no intention of going far enough in “Westworld” to find out if he ever is one, so I’ll take your word for it.

I think Big Mac Davis – while being a robot – is arguably the most human part of BR. This movie spends 2 hours and 575 minutes exploring humanity’s most boring question: “What does it mean to be human?” But here, in Ryan Gosling’s cool-guy-futuristic-Disney-Channel-SmartHouse apartment, she dives into some of the more poignant questions about humanity and why we do what we do for a living, like, for instance, “uh…what the hell is going on and why is this taking so long?” I know that’s not literally what she said, but with her apprehensive head-grabbing and frustratingly imperfect physical synchronization with Joi that reminded me of shooting a free-throw in NBA 2K5, she’s basically screaming the words, “I should really try to go back to school.” Her I’ve-done-this-before-but-it-never-gets-less-weird approach to this scene really resonates with me and makes her more relatable than most of the real humans in Blade Runner. Surely more so than Robin Wright’s Lieutenant Joshi.

Which, let’s talk about Joshi now — more specifically, the LAPD. This is a long one, but I think I’m uncovering something about a corrupt system.

Based on the location of Joshi’s office at the precinct and the amount of resources and time allocated to the Retirement Division, it’s no wonder to me that there are literal landfills full of abused and neglected children. Why are the plights of three or four generally peaceful robots (i.e. Dave Bautista, worm farmer/book reader/glasses wearer) the primary focus of the Los Angeles Police Department? I know we only see the actions of one unit and maybe there’s a team of homicide detectives that are cracking down on actual crimes, but as far as I can see, the Blade Runners have infinite jurisdiction and the state of California really needs to intervene. K goes to Las Vegas! That’s unacceptably far outside the reach of power for a municipality’s police force.

Here’s what I think is going on.

The blackout of 2022 was like a futuristic terrorist attack. Terrible thing happens, a bunch of people die, and the government needs to “respond.” Now look at Deckard’s boss in the original Blade Runner, basically a tired beat cop who took the desk for extra cash and the ability to drink on the job. His office was dusty and crappy AND he was a Captain (according to Wikipedia, that’s at or above the rank of Lieutenant). After the attack, all of a sudden Joshi, a lieutenant, is partying it up in the penthouse of a very wealthy LAPD.

The LAPD is cashing in on the public’s fears! They know people can’t afford to move off-Earth, and the government is just promoting the idea that while you’re here on scary Earth, terrible stuff is going to happen – just like 2022 – unless we protect you. I don’t know, man. Smells like conspiracy. Who’s in charge here? Who’s the governor, the Terminator? Who’s the president, Biff Tannen? (wait.)

Back to Joshi. The bottom line is, I felt nothing when she got axed, and California taxpayers are better for it. What’s with the humans in this movie, and why are they at best unremarkable and worst, Jared Leto?

Taylor: I laughed when she had her head smashed into her futuristic version of the gin-soaked captain’s desk. Is that worth something?

To answer your question, let me say this (we’ve wasted more words on “Westworld” than that show ever deserved, but bear with me): I think “BR” accomplishes something “Westworld” either failed miserably to accomplish or accidentally accomplished, I’m not sure which. It highlights the humanity in the robots by showing the lack of it in the humans. Now, in “Westworld,” this rears itself as a series of characters that may or may not be human or robot but it really doesn’t matter because you don’t give a shit about either and also the reason you can’t tell the difference is because both the robots and the humans are uninteresting. But in “BR,” I felt like the humans have allowed themselves to be smashed into submission – as you pointed out – to the point where they don’t have any personality or depth to them. They’re just shuffling through the day so they can go home and eat their holographic dinner cooked up by their holographic wife.

The robots, on the other hand, find personality and drive in their very subjugation. The simple act of living is rebellious and adds layers of color and intrigue to each one. You talked about Bautista, for example. I wanted to spend another two hours with him at his worm farm! There was something palpable and real there that was lacking with other characters, in the same way the movie seemed to come alive when Joi walked into the rain or when Gosling felt his soul coursing through his veins. My point is, in this movie, it works for me.

Your well-founded concerns about the LAPD looking the other way on serious child labor crimes while also sending officers to other states notwithstanding (though, trust me, I also find this deeply concerning), I think it’s time we get to the nitty-gritty: Tell me your thoughts on Jared Leto, and give me your guess for what planet his character is from in this movie.

*dives into bunker, covers ears*

Sam: I like the idea that these robots are rebelling just by existing. It makes them seem like parasites in a system that actually needs them to survive. It’s amazingly subtle how backwards and robotic the people are compared to the actual robots.

Speaking of parasites … Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace.

I don’t want to guess irresponsibly about the behind-the-scenes decisions that led to casting Leto as the titular villain (maybe Denis was trying to impress his 14-year-old stepdaughter?), so I won’t get into the why on Earth was this decision made discussion but will try to only discuss his on-field performance.

I’ll start by trying to answer your question: I have no idea what planet Wallace is from, but I’m guessing it’s a world a lot like Earth except that it is inhabited by blind humanoids who are deeply philosophical, malicious, and don’t read scripts. Leto for sure showed up on set without having seen the original “Blade Runner” or having read anything but his own lines.

He definitely thinks he’s stealing the show with every word he says, and it’s almost entertaining how not true that is. If Gyllenhaal serves every movie he’s in by being the best actor but recognizing the star of any given scene and giving them the space to ball, then Leto is the anti-Gyllenhaal, the inverse Jake. He doesn’t care who the star is supposed to be in BR2049 because he really thinks that by the end, it’s going to be him. He steps all over a quiet and thoughtful Gosling and out-shouts old Harrison Ford. He knows a trailer line when he sees one (“happy birthday”), and he gives it the max oversell possible. Jared goes full Leto in this movie, and it doesn’t really help anyone.

That’s enough nitty-gritty.

I have no more grits to nit, but since we’re talking about bad actors, let me ask you this: Are we glad Harrison Ford came back for this? He was responsible for the coolest fight scene of the year.

Taylor: Leto is responsible for putting me in a place that I like to call “30 Seconds to Bars.” It’s the idea that any single Leto line reading or acting choice could drive everyone in the audience to a bar to start drinking in less than 30 seconds.

Harrison Ford, on the other hand, is more like “30 Seconds from Bars,” in the sense that he’s never more than 30 seconds away from a bottle containing alcohol at any point in this movie.

I presume you’re talking about his first fight scene with Ryan Gosling, and I concur: it’s dope.

The strobe lights, the intermittent Elvis interjections, the punch after punch after punch to Ryan Gosling’s pretty face (one of those was real!). The thing that I loved about it most, though, was what I mentioned on the podcast: Harrison Ford was trying! I was sure that he would be in “Star Wars” mode and be like “listen, I don’t remember filming this movie 25 years ago because I was doing a lot of drugs then and I’m cool so I have better stuff going on, so just give me my paycheck and cut me loose from this shit.”

But no! He was trying! (You can always see when Harrison Ford is trying.) And it was fun! Was he good? Not important! The fact that he committed is all that matters.

It’s like my theory about being the coolest cat on the dance floor: If you act like you know what you’re doing, people will think you know what you’re doing. And Harrison Ford loves doing that (and also not caring, what can I say, he’s a man of many contradictions).

I’d like to just spend a little time now reveling in the sheer beauty and wonder of all the early-movie Joi scenes.

*deep exhale, closes eyes, man starts yelling phrases at me (“CELLS INTERLINKED CELLS INTERLINKED CELLS INTERLINKED”)*

Sam: You know what makes you the coolest cat on the dance floor, Taylor? Not using the phrase “coolest cat.” My 8th-grade history teacher used to say “coolest cat,” and he once told us that his favorite band was a tossup between Maroon 5 and Barenaked Ladies.

Anyway, this is our last movie in the Dilliverse, so it’s only appropriate to compare how far we’ve come with the women of Denis’ work over the last nine movies (I’d add the men from his movies, too, but they are almost universally less interesting than the women*).

*with the obvious exception of Jake Gyllenhaal because I mean come on. It’s Gyllenhaal.

Here are the advanced metrics:

“August 32” – A car crash survivor named Simone. She bleeds, is able to leave her house without explicit help from Ryan Gosling, and can pee, so she gets a 10/10 on the biological human scale. But her inexplicable desire to get pregnant in Salt Lake City and her propensity to indirectly put her friends into comas lands her at a 0/10 on the humanity scale.

“Maelstrom” – Sucks and is unstudyable.

“Polytechnique” – Valérie goes through the most brutal and tragic and gut-wrenching experience of all of Denis’ characters. She just wants to be an engineer and not get harassed by her male professors or shot by a guy. In a movie where every scene is more jarring than the last, the most powerful part is when she wakes up in the middle of the night in terror only to stare herself in the mirror with dread knowing that she’s alive, years after the shooting took place. She earns a 1000/10 on the humanity scale and a 0/10 on the “how excited am I to rewatch this movie” scale.

“Incendies” – The mom survives prison at the hands of a war criminal who is also her son (and her children’s father) only to die and leave a will that basically says “violence isn’t the answer.” She earns herself a ?/10 on the “uh…what?” scale and a -5/0 on the ability to do simple math scale.

“Prisoners” – Maria Bello lays on a bed, and Melissa Leo kills a bunch of kids. Bello gets a 0/10 on the “likelihood you’ll remember she was in this movie” scale, Leo is up one-zip over Hugh Jackman, and I lose ten points for getting the names Maria Bello and Melissa Leo mixed up in my head always.

“Enemy” – Gyllenhaal’s wife gets a 4/10 on the “potential ‘Spiderman 2’ villain” scale.

“Sicario” – Emily Blunt gets a 10/10 on the “Wait, why is Jon Bernthal getting paid more than me?” scale.

“Arrival” – Amy Adams gets a 10/10 on the “not being Jeremy Renner” scale but loses 5 points for marrying him. She gets those points back when they divorce.

“BR2049” – Joi. The only character in Blade Runner with any believable emotion. She’s the least sophisticated robot by technological standards, but the most endearing by actual standards. She is a robot, so she gets 0/10 for being a human, but 10/10 for having humanity. That scene when Gos comes home and she just wants to hang out with him and cook him dinner while he smolders is the best. It’s a marriage of the creativity of Denis with the likeability of Joi. Even though she’s trapped inside a SmartHouse (TM Disney Channel) program, she’s the most … uh … joyful part about this movie to the point that it feels like a well-earned cinematic climax that she should be able to feel the rain.

R.I.P. Joi Flashdrive.

Taylor: Wow. Well said.

Now that we’ve talked at length about this movie, pop quiz!

Tell me one thing you remember about the plot.

Sam: Uhhh. Gosling is an orphan with very few toys? Harrison Ford impregnated a robot? Edward James Olmos was in this movie? Something about a landfill?

Taylor: Perfect.

Sam: Final Denis Power Rankings:

  1. “Arrival”
  2. “Prisoners”
  3. “Blade Runner 2049”
  4. “Enemy”
  5. “Sicario”
  6. “Polytechnique”
  7. “Incendies”
  8. “August 32nd”
  9. “Maelstrom”

The end. 

Denis 2049: ‘Blade Runner 2049’

Taylor Gaines is joined by Sam Hensel for the thrilling conclusion of the Denis 2049 series, where they break down Villeneuve’s latest film, “Blade Runner 2049.” They talk about the audacity of its ambition, the top box office hits of 2017, the movie Jared Leto was in versus the movie Denis Villeneuve was making, and where it falls in the Villenouvre.

Thanks for coming along for the ride! You can find the old Fauxworthy episodes still in our feed or on our new website, OnTheIslandPodcast.com. Please go review us on iTunes! It helps so much.

Find the written companion piece here. Thanks for following along!

BONUS Denis 2049: ‘Blade Runner’

Bonus episode! What good is “Blade Runner 2049” without its predecessor, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”? On this episode, Taylor Gaines and Sam Hensel set the table for Villeneuve’s newest movie by talking through the 1982 film and how it might play into “2049.” “Blade Runner 2049,” Denis Villeneuve’s newest film, is in theaters this weekend.

Next time: “Blade Runner 2049

You can find all of our previous podcasts on our website, OnTheIslandPodcast.com and on iTunes. Subscribe, rate, and review!

As always, thanks to Levi Bradford for the theme song. You can find his music at poblano.bandcamp.com.

(Now On The Island!)

Fireside Chats: ‘Arrival’

For each movie in the “Denis 2049” series, Taylor and Sam will sit down and bounce some thoughts off each other, off-mic. Their brilliant minds will unleash many words. Make of them what you will. This time: “Arrival.”

Taylor: Alright, good job, everybody. Let’s pack it up. We found it. This is the best Denis Villeneuve movie.

Sam. What if I told you there was a movie that’s literally about the fact that written and spoken language is inadequate and that that same movie uses its visual and emotional language to make you want to cry and also watch it over and over again and also hug your parents and also hug everyone you ever meet? And what if I told you this movie happened to be the most well-shot movie of the decade and also tells a fascinating story regardless and also somehow gets better and better every time you watch it?

Would you go see that movie?

Sam: Well, I have some things to tell you, Taylor. That movie does exist. It’s directed by our friend Dilly, and it’s the best movie he’s ever made. It’s called “Arrival,” and if you’ve been living under an egg-shaped rock for two years, it’s a movie about what happens when aliens come to earth and just want to talk. Imagine “Independence Day” (aliens) meets “Lost in Translation” (talking) meets “Bourne Legacy” (Renner). It’s incredible. It’s really, really good. It should have won Best Picture in 2016, and the fact that it didn’t will live in infamy.

So let’s get into it. From the ‘beginning,’ if that’s what you want to call it.

Let me throw a Hepta-thetical at you: Say you’re an adjunct (whatever that means) professor with a steady attendance of 8 semi-eager students. You are yet to have any cancer-stricken daughters or “funny” scientist husbands. You’re reading about some bull crap language no one’s ever cared about when the general of the United States Something Armed Forces walks into your office and tells you that despite the giant ‘No Soliciting’ sign that is our depleted o-zone, giant 7-legged extra-terrestrial oxygen-dependent-or-tolerant walking squids are here and they want to either destroy the earth or ask for its help in 3,000 years and we don’t know which. How quickly do you say, “Why is Forest Whitaker in this movie?”

Taylor: Let me answer your question with a question: Was Forest Whitaker in “Rogue One,” or did we all just collectively imagine that? Another question: What’s the opposite of the “Silence of the Lambs” thing where Anthony Hopkins is in the movie for like 15 seconds but it feels like he’s in it for two hours? In this case, it would be more of a situation where someone was either in the movie or we all collectively imagined it, but in our collective memory, he was only in the movie for 2.5 seconds.

Those questions are unrelated.

Anyway, I think what I’m really here to do is to try to stir things up. Here’s my take: This is the best career Renner performance outside of his cameo on “Flip That House,” and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. He’s perfectly in awe of everything that’s happening, smart, able to talk to aliens (put that on his Tinder profile), and adds a crucial bit of levity that no other Denis movie has ever had. Without light, there is no darkness. Everyone in this movie should have won Oscars. (Just give Forest one for being there.)

Tell me I’m wrong.

Sam: You’re wrong.

Taylor: Okay. Good talk.

Sam: No, listen. Renner is only good in two things: “The Town” and that “Louie” flashback episode where he plays a drug dealer. In those, he plays a dangerous antagonist with a shade of crazy that makes for a really volatile and highly entertaining character. He is neither of those things in most performances and sucks in most performances. But that’s not the hill I want to die on.

What really bothers me is the fact that Denis used him as a crutch. There were parts of this movie that were so beautiful and brilliant that standing on their own would have been captivating and amazing enough. Instead, Renner was shoehorned in with jokes and forced levity and talking. I am generally of the opinion that movies can be improved just by getting rid of a lot of their dialogue. Many movies don’t give the audience enough credit and feel the need to provide unnecessary clarity or exposition. In “Arrival, Renner provides unnecessary lightness as the audience proxy.

Look at when they go up into the ship for the first time. It’s the best scene of the movie and probably the year and maybe ever. At the beginning of the scene, they go right up to the egg-rock and are rubbing their hands over it in wonder. Renner laughs, and that part is actually good. It’s sincere, amazed laughter. It’s part of the wonderment of the scene because it’s a totally natural reaction. After about a minute of this first interaction with the ship, they slowly move up into it, interspersing cuts from directly above that show the paled-out ground below with views of the dark tunnel above, their orange suits in stark contrast with the desaturated world around them. It’s quiet other than the lift machine’s whine. (It’s obvious how influenced by “2001” Denis is and in all the best ways.) It’s pure and beautiful science fiction because it feels like – truly – anything can happen.

Then, someone cracks a glowstick and throws it up into the air without saying anything because – and this is important – they don’t have to say anything. It’s okay to not have dialogue in a scene like this! Let what’s happening tell you what’s happening. Trust the process. You’ll know what’s going on when you see it happen. The glowstick flies up into the air and starts bouncing upward along the wall as if that vertical wall perpendicular to the ground is actually the ground itself in a truly “oh shi-” type moment that is simple and wonderful and impossible to accomplish with words.

It’s perfect.

And then Jeremy ‘I can play Jason Bourne, too’ Renner says, “Yeah, that just happened.” This is clearly supposed to be funny. WHY?? Is it supposed to be comedic relief? From what exactly? Does Denis think we’re bored? Does he think we’re confused? It’s a freakin’ awesome moment, and it’s dampened by Renner unnecessarily trying to be funny. Renner goes on to infect the rest of the scene with his ‘oops, I’m goofy and out of place’ unprofessionalism and almost ruins it. His character serves no purpose other than to create the child that needs to die of cancer.

Renner sucks.

Taylor: Welp. I guess we’ll have to fight next time I see you (remind me).

I will admit readily that Renner is the central figure in the worst part of the movie, namely when he whispers in Amy Adams’ ear, “Do you wanna make a baby?” Boy, could I talk about how awkward and poorly written that bit was. Who asked for THAT is my real question. But I stand by my original overall argument (despite serving up evidence to the contrary).

Really, I just find myself overwhelmed by this movie. The score, the cinematography, the production design, the performances, it’s got it all. What else can we even say besides, “Hey dummy, go see this movie”?

Sam: There’s nothing more to say. Go see “Arrival,” dummy. Hurry up! Aliens are gonna need our help in 3,000 years and we may be busy!

Penultimate Denis Rankings:

  1. “Arrival”
  2. “Prisoners”
  3. “Enemy”
  4. “Sicario”
  5. “Polytechnique”
  6. “Incendies”
  7. “August 32nd”
  8. “Maelstrom”

Next up: “Blade Runner 2049

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