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Arrival, the new film from director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners and Sicario) is out in theaters today, and it is a science fiction movie with a deep, soulful, beating heart that I heartily recommend.

The basic premise is one that has played out on movie screens countless times: aliens come to Earth, and humans have to figure out how to respond. Most such movies tend to have a thematic premise that serves as a through-line. In ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it is childlike wonder, in the first in the actual person of a child and in the second a man-child played by Richard Dreyfuss. In Independence Day, it is about going to war to prevent the apocalypse. In Arrival, unexpectedly, the primary emotion is sadness, which plays out effectively on a number of levels.

Amy Adams is the heroine of the piece, a grief stricken linguistics teacher who has lost her husband for unknown reasons and lost her child to a fatal illness. Despite the fact that she is in the communications business, she's been cut off from all the communications that really mattered to her, and she's just an emotional shell .... until she is asked by the government to help them communicate with the aliens.

The art and science of communication are very much at the heart of Arrival - not just between humans and aliens, but also between humans and humans. Arrival is about the power of speaking and listening with open arms and an open mind, rather than a closed fist and a knee jerk mindset ... a lesson that I think we all ought to learn these days.

I'm not going to tell you much more than this, simply because I don't want to give anything away; Villeneuve has a kind of riddle at the core of his film and he doles out clues sparingly ... I'd rather not get in the way of your discovery. I also, to be honest, am still puzzling some of it out. I was captivated by the performances and imagery, and they have stayed with me, and I find myself considering and reconsidering them. This is a good thing in any kind of art, and Arrival is the best kind of popular art - heartfelt, thoughtful, and consistently intriguing.

See it.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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