Happiness is Natalie Portman: Annihilation
I’m going to college. I don’t care if it ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star. ~ Natalie Portman
I’ve been a fan of Natalie Portman for a very long time. I thought she was outstanding in the professional at the young age of 13. She of course most famously starred in the early Star Wars films while in high school and in the middle of those films she enrolled at Harvard. She’s obviously talented, obviously beautiful and if you know anything about her, obviously brilliant. I’ve often joked that given how amazing she is we are obviously destined to be together, that joke of course ended on a day when I drove into Big Sur after spending three days at a silent retreat only to find a bit too much traffic. When I asked around I found out I had driven into town on the day of her wedding, a lovely little coincidence.
So it was with a bit of a grin when sitting through her most recent film Annihilation that I came to realize her character was married to a man named Kane in the film. But what I really want to talk about tonight is the film Annihilation. Ms. Portman was excellent in the film, but I really want to talk about this film as it is the best “pure” science fiction film I’ve seen since Arrival. Now what do I mean by a “pure” science fiction film? I mean a film that relies on the underlying science and the cerebral aspects of the film rather than aliens, monsters, space crafts or explosions. Not that I feel including any of these rules it out, and not that I don’t love films with those in them, but they are not the focus in a “pure” science fiction film. Annihilation has its monsters and explosions, but the focus of the story is a purely scientific question, what is life?
I don’t want to go much further in talking about the story, but it’s a great story. The thing is the story caught me a little bit by surprise. There’s a mystery to be solved and it’s during the investigation of this mystery where a really amazing concept, underlying the question of what is life, is revealed.
An audio and visual trip
One of the things I believe is that this film should absolutely be nominated next year for an Oscar for score, sound design and cinematography. Although visual effects may be the more appropriate category. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film where I was so captivated by the visual and audio landscape of the film. Even the visuals of the final credits are absolutely amazing and will lead me to going to see this film again.
Now if your type of science fiction is a Transformers movie, or anything with Michael Bay-like effects and explosions. If Arrival bored you to tears, stay away from Annihilation, there won’t be enough here to keep your attention other than the visual and audio landscape. However, if you like your science fiction to be thoughtful, deep and leave you wondering and thinking hours after you have left the theater, than check this film out.
A Big Screen Movies
I love going to the movies, I always have, I love the experience of sitting in the dark, big sound and a large screen. I love the ability to be able to be totally immersed in the film experience. But in recent years I rarely go anymore and when I do, I pick matinees and wait for a film to be out for some time so there will be smaller crowds. Suddenly listening to someone else’s cellphone or conversation or the constant, “what did he say?” absolutely drives me nuts and absolutely ruins the experience for me. People seem to be far too used to watching movies at home and have lost the polite boundary that should exist in a theater.
Because of this, I typically only go to what I call big screen movies. These are films that have heavily visual and audio landscapes, films that I feel will likely lose something when they transition to the small screen. I was lucky when I went to see this film, I happened upon a brand new theater, with reclining lounge chairs, and only 6 people in the theater. That definitely made the experience a bit more interesting.
I’d love to hear what you think about the film but of course you’re always free to just enjoy what I wrote. Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane