Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In this Spoiler Alert: Arrival episode, Carrie, Rob and Tim talk about the intimate details of Arrival. Along the way, the group measures up to movie watching goals for 2017, a pair of superhero movies (Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader and Logan) are discussed and Carrie’s distaste for saying or hearing the words “moist” and “areola” are shared.

9 Responses so far.

  1. Caleb says:

    Tim and Rob both got it right. Tim’s right in that there’s good reason to think from a metaphysical perspective that the present is non-privileged. That is, to a theoretical objective, outside observer there’s nothing distinct about any present moment from any other given time in the universe as a totality.

    Rob’s right in that this makes no sense in Arrival because Louise is not an objective, outside observer. Louise is a causal agent *in* time. Consequently her behavior in the film violates the laws of thermodynamics, specifically conservation: information (which is ultimately a form of matter and energy) is created ex nihilo. Louise sees her future self receive information in the form of a conversation with General Shang which she then uses in the past. Her use of that information the past creates the scenario in which Shang gives her the information. Where did it come from, then, in the first place? Nowhere. It’s self-causation. The movie tries to fix this by suggesting Louise consistently makes all the choices she does to prevent the future from changing in any other way, but this is smoke and mirrors. She’s already received some information from the future that causes itself to be received.

    This is nonsense – a paradox. But it’s the kind of nonsense that makes for a fun film.

    • Robert Jarosinski Robert Jarosinski says:

      I’m still letting the dopamine hit of being validated by you to wear off! THANK YOU for stating the case a lot more eloquently than I did and bringing some science to back it up with. I was shocked that I couldn’t find anyone else pointing it out as plot hole. I also agree, it almost doesn’t matter since it spurring these types of debates and questions, but it is the one nagging thing that kept me from putting it to the top of my movies of 2016 list.

      • Caleb says:

        I think people just assume at this point that time travel movies are plot hole factories and try not to think too much about it. I’m not sure it’s possible to write a “time loop” story that’s both logically coherent and interesting as a film, with the possible exception of Primer (I say “possible” only because its plot is so convoluted I could never take the time to figure out if it ultimately solves the problem either way).

        Or at least that’s my strategy, anyway. Back to the Future and Looper’s “fade-out” mechanic doesn’t make a lick of a sense either, but it can’t keep me from loving those films.

  2. Acca Dacca says:

    Haven’t seen Arrival as I wasn’t terribly interested (I have a pile of movies to watch sitting in the floor a few feet from me as it is), but you guys make it sound very intriguing. I know what happens, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying films before; a great movie is a great movie. I might see it eventually, but I just wanted to say that the analysis was very interesting.

    Looking forward to the eventual spoiler episode for Logan, and I’m sorry to hear that Robert doesn’t care for the X-franchise. Not an uncommon opinion, necessarily, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it :P. As I stated in the comments on Tim’s review, I find the X-Men films to be the most emotionally resonant comic book movie franchise out there. I won’t repeat my diatribe here, suffice to say that if Fox hadn’t scored the rights to this property in the ’90s and maintained (albeit poorly) the continuity until now, we wouldn’t have Days of Future Past or Logan, and both of those films hinge on the franchise’s history in different ways (I agree with Tim’s assertion that the former is the best comic book film of the 2010s). Sure, the latter is light on explicit references, but there’s no way in HELL Marvel Studios would green light an end of days film about Wolverine. They can’t even be bothered to follow through on a film called Civil War and have some significant lasting consequences for the characters. The X-films may be imperfect in their treatment of the source material, but I don’t go to see comic book movies to have the it vomited on the screen. I want to see an ADAPTATION, where different artists put their own spin on the material and give me something worth the investment in return. I don’t get that from motion comics like Watchmen, or from a cheeky story that’s afraid to cease quipping during fight scenes and actually do something with the characters that doesn’t just maintain some form of the status quo for future sequels. Not that any of the MCU films are “bad” (Civil War was pretty good for what it was, actually), they just got boring really quickly. That Disney is set to serenade us with at least two a year until the end of time doesn’t help matters. Fox has made a few mistakes, but I’ll take a few bad films like Origins and Apocalypse if we get things like this in return.

    As good as it is, Logan will likely be ignored by the Academy, as you guys said. If a phenomenon like The Dark Knight couldn’t swing anything but technical awards and a sympathy vote for Heath Ledger, there’s no way that the tenth film in a somewhat tired franchise is going to get any serious consideration, no matter the merits. Plus, try as it might, I don’t think it’s quite shaken the “comic book movie” stigma, which has the added liability of also suffering from the action movie stigma. If Mad Max: Fury Road had somehow snagged Best Picture or Best Director I’d think its chances would be a little more up in the air. As it stands, there’s just no precedent, cool as it would be.

    • Whoops. Used a screen name from another site. This is Johnzilla2179.

    • Robert Jarosinski Robert Jarosinski says:

      I think I came off too harsh on my review of the X-Men franchise. Like most fanboys, X-Men (2000), X-Men The Last Stand (2006), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) are all great flicks. Can you get on board with me that Fox has no idea what they’re doing with The Fantastic Four and should just had it back over to Marvel? You’re right that I can’t picture Marvel having the nerve to branch out from their “master plan” enough to do something like Logan (2017).

      Solid case for Logan (2017) to not get any Academy love, but one can dream 🙂

      Did you have a favorite comic growing up? For me it was The Incredible Hulk and Spawn. For the latter, Image Comics had just come on the scene, so it was all the rage.

  3. I attempted to post a reply earlier but it didn’t go through, as far as I can tell. If it happens to pop up later, I apologize for the redundancy.

    I saw the 2005 Fantastic Four film in theaters and wasn’t terribly impressed, so I avoided the sequel, even after hearing that Rise of the Silver Surfer was a bit of goofy fun. This disinterest on my part kept me from paying much attention to Fant4stic when it came out in 2015, and the poor reviews and behind-the-scenes drama didn’t help matters. Fox’s Daredevil was a bit underrated by my approximation, but not a great film by any means. To be honest, I’d forgotten Fox was ever involved with either. But we’re in agreement: I’d say the time is right for Marvel to reinherit their First Family, and I’ve watched a bit of Netflix’s Daredevil series, and it’s pretty good.

    As for X-Men, an uncommon opinion I’ve seen here and there is that mutants work best in their own world, as they inherently complicate the stage for other superheroes. For instance, according to the rules established in the books and films, if you’re born with superpowers, you’re automatically a mutant, right? But if you have an accident that mutates your DNA, aren’t you also a mutant? Etc., etc. I think the X-Men work best in their own franchise, and Fox has bankrolled more good films than bad on that end, so I’m inclined to think they know what they’re doing there. For my money, only one of the X-films is truly bad, and that would be Origins. I’ll never understand the poor souls that think it’s better than The Last Stand, a film that for all its flaws had the benefit of being competently made, if mediocre. That Origins somehow swung enough positive ratings to have the exact same 6.7 over at IMDb as The Wolverine is outright baffling to me. Apocalypse is more disappointing and overstuffed than “bad”, though I don’t really glean much enjoyment from it (rather a scene or two here and there is pretty good). X2, Days of Future Past and Logan are to be counted among the best of the superhero genre, while X-Men, First Class, The Wolverine and Deadpool are all solid entries. I share the dream that Logan may be honored by the Academy, I’m just not positive enough to buy into it, much as I might wish it to be true 🙂 .

    As far as comics are concerned, I tend to gravitate towards Spider-Man-related books, both when I was a kid and now (ironically, the X-comics have always struck me as too dense with their infinite characters and plot lines, which perhaps makes me more forgiving of the films’ flaws and trespasses against the source material, but I CAN say that I love them purely from a filmmaking standpoint). Spidey might be a generic choice, but I’ve always been drawn to the character’s sense of tragedy and general affability. Not to mention, he has one of the best rogue’s galleries in the biz, second only to Batman’s by my approximation (and even then only because Batman’s villains are so iconic as to be archetypal, just as he, Superman and Wonder Woman are). Venom has always been a favorite villain of mine, though he’s often let down by the stories he’s used in and a one-note motivation (at least as far as the initial Eddie Brock version of the character is concerned, and he is by far the best — though Agent Venom was good fun).

    Speaking of films that seek to follow in Logan‘s wake that Tim promises to be far worse, Sony just announced a solo Venom film the other day. Near as I can tell, this is the third time they’ve done so: once after Spider-Man 3 was released, again when the Amazing Spider-Man series was ramping up to be its own universe of shared films, and now. Venom has always been an extremely violent character, and his offspring Carnage even moreso — I’ve always interpreted the latter as Marvel’s answer to the Joker (lo and behold a few years ago I discovered a one-off cross-company team up between Spidey and Batman that also featured Carnage and Joker). I’m thinking this new film will be Sony’s answer to Fox’s R-rated success, and you bet your ass Carnage will be the villain if this new Venom film gets off the ground. The only problem is this: as I understand it, this new film is set to be a separate entity from the MCU, and not feature Spider-Man in any capacity to boot. Venom cannot exist as he is popularly known WITHOUT Spidey, either physically or personally. I’m thinking this separation has to do with Marvel’s hesitance to do anything particularly edgy, at least as far as their films are concerned (there’s certainly no shortage of grit in their Netflix aspirations), and I find it maddening that Sony would cheat us out of a proper redo of Spider-Man 3‘s poor interpretation of the character. I’m hoping this approach is either re-thought or proven to be false as we near the film’s slated 2018 release date, but I’m not holding out hope. If studios are willing to completely bungle an entire character’s history and reason for being just to make a buck off the R-rated superhero machine, we’re truly in for some dastardly entries in the canon.

  4. Had some trouble replying to this comment so it ended up as a new thread below. Just letting you know should you have not seen it.

  5. Not Fenimore says:

    So, having seen the movie, I can now listen to the podcast! Some thoughts:

    I’m with Tim on this: the way I think of it is not that “everything happens simultaneously” – since simultaneity is kinda a timey concept to begin with – but rather everything is already there, like a sculpture stuck in a big 4d block of lucite. Over here the soldier is talking to his wife on the phone and over here the wife is talking to her husband; and over here the soldier is with his wife in North Carolina or whatever and over here he’s trying to blow up the aliens. All of these points already exist and some of them are separated in spacey directions and some of them in timey directions, but they’re all already there. The soldier’s consciousness moves in one particular direction through them, but they all exist together in the big glass block. The downside to that is, of course like you guys mentioned, it makes it really really hard to imagine that the film’s universe has free will in any meaningful way.

    Also, Renner doesn’t abandon the kid. The same flashforward where she asks if her dad hates her Adams says that she’s seeing him this weekend. They have, presumably, some kind of joint custody thing, and he just can’t stand to be around Adams specifically.

    Re: the geopolitics: eh, China and Russia being twitchy and paranoid about a thing like this is not really a thing I take issue with. The thing that really struck me as an off note is, let’s be honest here, the fact that the United States doesn’t do it first and harder. The Danes, Japanese, Pakistanis, and Sierra Leoneans get to run their own science teams? That’s awfully magnanimous of you, massive US military bases near each of those sites. 😛

    Finally, it’s only really possible to talk about in a spoilered space, but after 90m of “flashbacks”, “Who is this child!?” is a hell of a wham line.

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