Tag: Arrival

ACF#19: Blade Runner 2049


This week, Pete and I complete our discussion of Blade Runner. We want especially to attract your attention to the shifts in the questions meant to define humanity. The original film featured replicants who thought they were human; now we see replicants who don’t think they’re human. Questions about soul, the interior, secretive part of the rational, mortal being that we are are replaced by questions of birth and funeral–getting at the family and religion, which define our humanity. We also talk about director Denis Villeneuve, whose previous movie, Arrival, was also very much pro-life.

Feminism Didn’t Arrive at the Oscars


I’ve been doing more than a little thinking about Oscar movies this year. It turns out I’ve seen quite a number of them and had something to say. Well, today the thing I want to talk about is Arrival, both shockingly and remarkably a feminist movie. It made nearly $100 million in America, so it’s made a splash, and then it was nominated in eight categories, only to leave with one measly technical award. Maybe it’s a complete bust and will soon be forgotten as most things are. I’m told it lacked the deep concern with human individuality of the big winners. But there is something to respect in its feminist outlook and so I’ll talk to you about that if you have the time.

These days, it seems like women are protagonists in science fiction stories. That’s a sign of the future, at least in the sense that men have been the protagonists up to now and there has to be some change for there to be a future. Arrival is the rare science-fiction story in which the woman protagonist is actually important because she is a woman. There are both obvious and subtle effects of this new-found womanhood: in the story on which the movie is based, the protagonist is male. Movies may be more progressive than books, I suppose.

The story is this: one day, aliens arrive unannounced in weird-looking ships suspended over various parts of the world, twelve in number, like the Apostles of Christ or the months of the year, depending on how you think about it. They are incommunicado. Men must make the effort to overcome their shock and reach out of their silent awareness that they are not, after all, alone. That’s what really scares us, I suppose, loneliness. The two protagonists are both quite lonely and, being man and woman, eventually learn to put two together. Don’t credit the aliens with teaching people how to make children too soon, however, because this story has a twist.

Oscar Reflections


Miss me, Ricochet? I’ve been busy trying to place my reflections on American-prestige-at-the-movies in various venues, trying to tell conservative America: Pay attention, at least a little attention, at least during awards season! The ugly truth is, it’s really hard to get people to care, but very easy to get them angry and contemptuous at Hollywood out-of-touch-elitism, so I’m busy trying to avoid all the dark passions. But while people still make lovely movies worth the praise, I will try to show you what they’re about and how to navigate through the sophisticated concerns that give poetry its great dignity.

So here’s my list of Awards movies conservatives should support, nay cherish. They’re all but one featured at the Oscars. I picked three all-American stories, two of which are true stories such that the movies actually understate the miracles they depict. They’ve all been remarkably successful at European art-movie festivals, even at the highest level. They’ve not been too successful in America, but they’re doing ok mostly, and getting another chance at prestige in awards season. This is the sort of stuff conservatives should support, both because it is poetry worth supporting and because it supports the conservative case for American goodness and greatness.

  1. Hacksaw Ridge. The best show of Christian America at war I can think of — so naturally, the conservative press ignores it altogether. A war picture, a remarkable technical achievement, independently financed and produced with great savvy — and then it gets lots of Oscar nominations, including the first for Mr. Mel Gibson in perhaps 20 years. Shock after shock. I think we should be bipartisan about this and do at least as much as Hollywood liberals have done, so I’m doing my part!
  2. Kubo and the Two Strings. This is the most beautiful surprise of 2016. A film almost entirely free of the sordid, which tells a broken-family story Americans should love, while at the same time doing the sophisticate poetic work of analyzing grief in terms of the grief song, threnody, and trying to show where poetry stands in-between the city and the moon.
  3. Hell or High Water. This was the anguished manliness movie of the year. I’ve written about it at length on my website, but those are notes for a very limited audience. I’ve also produced a popular essay, but I’ve not found someone willing to publish it yet…
  4. Loving. This is the most surprising sort of civil rights picture you’re going to see. It’s a respectful and very American portrayal of the moral virtues that make private life a joy, a shelter, and a benefit to the country as a whole at the same time. It’s one those true stories that makes so many of us wonder at the ways in which Americans are blessed and innocent.

Then there are movies really worth the attention of conservatives who care about the culture, but they are not really lovable and I cannot recommend them. I suppose I don’t need to, either, as they’ve been plenty successful: