“Arrival” is a science fiction opus that walks a razor’s edge. It could be hokey in the extreme or profoundly moving. Luckily, it mostly keeps its balance thanks to skillful direction from Denis Villeneuve and a touching performance from Amy Adams. When a number of alien spacecraft abruptly appear in various parts of the world, the US Military recruits an expert linguist, played by Adams, to see if she can communicate with them. Will she be able to discover their motives and intent before humanity reacts with violence? This very smart movie asks more questions than it answers, so this is not a movie for those who hate ambiguity. For many, however, it marks the arrival of a very impressive and thought provoking film.
“Christine” tells the true story of Florida television news reporter Christine Chubbuck who gained instant fame in a shocking way. Actress Rebecca Hall portrays the brilliant but troubled newswoman whose personal and professional problems led to a tragedy that was broadcast on live TV in 1974. Hall’s disturbingly believable performance is the driving force behind this gripping but off putting drama directed with impeccable attention to period detail by Carlos Campos. “Christine” is a sympathetic look at mental illness.
Also opening this week, “Miss Hokusai” is a Japanese anime offering based on a popular manga story about a brilliant female artist. “American Pastoral” is a drama based on Philip Roth’s acclaimed novel. Ewan McGregor stars and handles the directorial chores. “Shut In” is a haunted house tale starring Naomi Watts. “Almost Christmas” is a holiday comedy starring Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union and Omar Epps. “Moonlight” is an acclaimed drama about the troubled life of a gay African-American man. Kansas City, Kansas native Janelle Monae is one of the cast members.