Movies You’ve Seen in 2019

Here’s a film I saw over the weekend:

Annihilation (2018)
Dir. Alex Garland
Starring: Natalie Portman, etc.

In the past, this is the type of movie I’d spend more time analyzing and deciphering, but I’m not very motivated in doing that these days; or maybe this movie just doesn’t seem worth it. The film involves a strange phenomenon that a scientist goes out to investigate. If you want to know about the genre, I would call it a sci-fi/horror/suspense. In the next section, I’ll give a few thoughts on what I think the film is about.


Off the top of my head, I have two related theories about the meaning of the film–namely, the film is either about death or change. With regard to change, the film might even hint at changes that technology fusing with the human organism. In the film, an alien life form or force comes to Earth, and encapsulates a certain area with a kind of bubble, which is expanding. The life form or force begins reflecting (or is it refracting) everything within the bubble, including the DNA of every living thing. It’s as if every life form is merging with this life force.

Why do I think this is about death or change? One reason is the way the film implies (not subtly) that the characters represent different responses to death or change. One character wants to face it; another wants to find a way to defeat it; another decides to give up and submits to it.

There are other symbols in the film that I would explore, if I wanted to exert effort–e.g., the lighthouse.

4 thoughts on “Movies You’ve Seen in 2019

  1. I saw two other movies I’m not that motivated to talk about–the most recent Mission Impossible movie, and a documentary on an obscure Polish sculptor. The second film was actually engaging and interesting, but I’m not motivated to talk about it, for some reason.

  2. Amazon prime has a series (?) called, “Classic Albums,” which are basically one hour documentaries on pop/rock albums. I saw the ones on Peter Gabriel’s So, and Steely Dan’s Aja. I liked the latter more than the former. I feel like both Walter Becker and Donald Fagen breakdown the music a bit more–or in more interesting ways–than Peter Gabriel.

  3. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
    KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Brian Tyree Henry, Regina King. Written and directed by Barry Jenkins.

    If Beale Street Could Talk is adapted from a novel by James Baldwin.  It’s a discouraging film, but it’s a beautiful discouragement.

    Tish and Fonny are a young black couple, friends since
    childhood, ready to begin life together in 1970s Harlem. She works at a perfume
    counter in a department store. He’s a talented sculptor. At a moment where
    things seem finally to be turning their way, Fonny is locked up for a crime he
    didn’t commit. Tish’s family rallies to clear Fonny’s name.

    Some themes are familiar, and this is not a movie for
    everyone. Yet I recommend it for excellent acting, the beauty of Baldwin’s
    prose (delivered intermittently in well-chosen voiceovers), and gorgeous
    filmmaking. When people say this about a film they almost always mean visuals,
    and while the visuals are excellent, the audio is stunning. Ambient sounds from
    distant record players playing jazz, mumbles of conversations through thin
    walls, traffic on distant streets below, and rain create a background against
    which you might expect intimate triumph or enormous heartbreak. I can’t
    remember when the background noise of a movie moved me this way.

    One scene by itself will justify the cost of your ticket and make up for a couple of bad decisions by director Barry Jenkins. Brian Tyree Henry (Paper Boi in Atlanta on FX) was in six movies this year, and if you’re not familiar with him yet you’re about to be, because he delivers a monologue about the effects of prison on a man, and it will stop your heart.


  4. Get Me Roger Stone (2017)
    Dir. Morgan Pehme, Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro

    Roger Stone is a political consultant, who got his start during the Nixon era. He’s known for his political dirty tricks, and more recently he’s been indicted in the Mueller investigation for lying about Congress, during testimony about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election. I believe Stone is also charged with intimidating another witness to not testify.

    The documentary ends when Trump wins the election. I didn’t learn a lot a lot of things I didn’t already know, but it’s interesting to see people like Paul Manafort and Donald Trump speak about him, especially relating to the 2016 campaign.

    The film did make me wonder about my level of naivete when it comes to American politics. Is Stone’s cynicism and win-at-all-costs approach the outlier, or closer to the norm? I really hope it’s the former, although many of the Republicans I respected, at least in terms of their patriotism and integrity, have really disappointed me. Again, I wonder if I was too naive.

    At this point, I’m not willing to concede this. Specifically, I still think that large numbers of politicians balance the desire for power with certain principles and even ideals.

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