Arrival (2016)

Back at home briefly and catching up on life. Laundry (so much of it), pre-Thanksgiving errands, chores.

Part of my week’s to do list: seeing Arrival.

I’m not here to write a review per say. Part of my desire for this blog is to share the experience of screening films. So with that in mind….

Watching this film was one of the most enjoyable and thrilling experiences I’ve had in a theater in a while. The last time I felt this way was after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) or the TIFF premiere of Gravity (2013). Arrival was a film I became totally enveloped in.

The first frames instantly reminded me of something Malick-esque. Throughout the film I felt the same chills I had when watching Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or Inception (2010) for the first time. While there are influences from other films on Arrival, this screening experience felt fresh and alive (perhaps, one part, because it is not another remake). This script is smart and thoughtful. A film about language: the depth of communicating and the true meaning of our words. With the wonderful cinematography and score, this film creates a world all its own. One you can sink into. (And oh, how I wish I could live in Dr. Banks’ house!)

And now here is your spoilers warning. If you have not seen Arrival yet, you may want to come back later.

The way this film plays with time is masterful and fun. The big moment when the story “clicks” and proves why scenes are placed where they are is a thrill. I’m ready for a second viewing to catch some of the links I missed the first time (and those I’m still thinking about today: the knocking on the window, the double meaning of the title with the telling of a birth story).

There are many things that make this film one of my favorites of the year, but one of the strongest reasons is this: it is a story from a woman’s perspective and ultimately the “weapon” could only be given to a woman. The aliens’ language is emotional. That is why it is given to Dr. Louise Banks and not Ian Donnelly (or another man). She will understand it and she will feel it. She will ensure peace. Yes, it is a generalization or stereotype on gender, but tell me how that is not a powerful statement? She’s not just “emotional”. She’s bold and clearly an intelligent leader given her career and status (for the government to come a’knockin’ in the first place). Arrival reminds us to trust and empower our female leaders. What better time to have that reminder than now.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this film and I’m eager to see it again. At the moment the only thing I can think to pair this with is a glass of red wine. Not only does Amy Adams’ character drink wine in the film, but I felt like having a glass myself after seeing Arrival. As the credits rolled, I wanted for the film to linger – like how the taste of a good wine stays on your tongue. The conversation this film created between E and I afterwards seemed to warrant a glass of something to sip, talk, and listen. If you do see it in a theater soon, I encourage you to plan a little time to think or discuss afterwards with whatever beverage you enjoy best.

Have you seen Arrival yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

And if you loved Arrival, check out my previous post on Denis Villeneuve’s short film Next Floor (2008).

arrival
Arrival (2016), Paramount Pictures

Films that feel like October, Part I

October has always been one of my favorite months. As a kid, I loved getting into the Halloween spirit and thinking of creative costumes. In my 20s, October seemed like the month when a routine for the season finally set in. I love that changes in temperature and maybe discovering a golden leaf. In the South, the break in the heat was a much-needed relief. In Los Angeles, the land of no-seasons, the change isn’t as clear. There are moments when the breeze comes through the window and we wake up to our apartment being chilly. Suddenly, autumn has arrived.

There are some films I revisit every October. They give me a sense of the autumn spirit and remind me of the passage of time no matter what the weather is outside. This is part one of two posts this week about films that set the autumn mood for me.

Good Will Hunting not only has the “back to school” vibe, but I feel the cool Boston air as the camera moves through the Harvard and MIT campuses. Robin William’s cozy sweater wardrobe can’t be ignored either. They are on point.

The story of When Harry Met Sally covers all the seasons, but the shots of Harry and Sally walking amongst those bright red and orange trees in New York City are saved like a screen shot in my brain. Watching that comedy is like preparing yourself for the oncoming holiday madness, no matter your dating or marriage status. As Sally mentions, you just have to get through Thanksgiving to New Years.

Days of Heaven‘s stunning cinematography reminds me of how the days are getting shorter. Set in the early 1900s on the panhandle of Texas, this Terrance Malick film was shot mostly during “magic hour”. The sky glows beautifully during the harvesting scenes and its easy to get lost in this love triangle story. (I may have to curl up in a blanket and write a longer post about this one.)

As soon as the weather turns slightly cooler here, I start baking. Because we don’t have central air/heat, we are particular about when we use the oven. The moment I realize I can turn it on and it wouldn’t make the house too hot, my mind and stomach immediately goes to baking. I’ve been on a low FODMAP diet for the last several months for health reasons and including gluten is still a little tricky at times. While deep in the recipe-rabbit-hole, I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Granola Bars. I’ve made it each week for the past month (despite a short heat wave last week). So yes, we’re now a little obsessed with them. It’s perfect as a snack or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. And it “feels” healthy because OATS, so that’s good, right?

What are some of your autumn favorites? Any non-horror films put you in the October mood for tricks-or-treats? Do you find yourself craving pumpkin (or do you hate the non-stop marketing and vow to eat all things non-pumpkin)?

Stay tuned for more autumn picks on Thursday!

Pumpkin Granola Bars
from The Well Balanced FODMAPer
*I have experimented a little with the amounts for this, using a little more pumpkin or adding ginger spice at times. It’s always turned out amazing, so go for it.

Should make about 10 smaller size granola bars. Serving size: 1 bar

2 cups oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon all spice

Preheat oven to 325°.
Blend all ingredients together. Press very firmly into lightly greased 8 x 8 square pan.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
Refrigerating will keep the bars firmer.

Watch the films mentioned in this post:
– Good Will Hunting – watch on Amazon, iTunes, add to Netflix queue
– When Harry Met Sally – watch on Amazon, iTunes, add to Netflix queue
– Days of Heaven – watch on Amazon, iTunes, add to Netflix queue (make sure you get the Blu-ray!)
– Or support your local rental store!