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Arrival's Bradford Young Experience


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#1 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 02:49 AM

Just came back from watching 'Arrival" Denis Villeneuve's new movie and boy am I excited.

'Arrival' is the story of two scientists trying to communicate with a new alien species. It's based on a short story, written by a prolific SciFi writer Ted Chiang. He spent 5 years researching different dialects and figuring out how perhaps an alien species could communicate. Yet, it's far more intricate then simple communication.

The production was based in Canada and it mostly takes place on sets and a single exterior location, which made it easier for production and most likely a lot cheaper. Almost all of the sets are practical, which is nice to see. Villeneuve is not scared to use every tool at his disposal, which allows him a lot of creative freedom. He's been shooting exclusively digital and his last film 'Sicario' was quite amazing and shot by Deakins on the Alexa.

For 'Arrival' Bradford Young has continued where Deakins left off, working with the Arri Alexa and more of a natural lighting feel. Bradford did a fantastic job using single practical light sources and allowing for under exposure, pushing up the mid's to compensate when necessary. The film is very flat looking contrast wise, with a more blue/green color pallet and not much warmth during the "alien" portion. This of course was all intentional and very well executed. The film's style of an always moving camera, really played well. Some shots were crane/dolly, some shots were steadicam and others were simply hand held. The masterfulness of matching all of that with a cohesive as the story unfolded, reminded me of Chivo and 'The Revenant'. In fact, much of 'Visit' reminded me of Chivo's work. Perhaps it's just the way people color films today and of course, what the Alexa looks like underexposed slightly.

Films like this really come down to story and art design. What do the aliens look like, what does the space ship look like, why are they here in the first place? These are things that are WELL ANSWERED in this movie and even though they don't show you every detail, what you need to see is on screen. Maybe it's Villeneuve himself who wants to be as minimalist as possible, but I truly feel a lot of it was in the script and art direction. Some decisions they made -especially in post- were extraordinary and unexpected. There is a side story that's critical to filling in the puzzle pieces and that secondary story is shown in bits and pieces, lots of out of focus stuff and quick moments. Things like subtle sound design and clever art direction, really help to make those moments work concisely, moving the story along without dwelling. Some of the tricks the editor used early on to get into the story were really spot on. Not very many people would pickup on them, but I felt the decisions they made were very creative solutions to very clearly, cut down something that was too long. For instance, when an actor took too much time to deliver their dialog, they'd put those lines in the middle of a cut and have the actor whose saying those lines on camera, but not moving their mouth. Normally, this would be taboo, but Villeneuve get away with it because your so engrossed it doesn't matter. I bet if he put a jump cut or two in there, nobody would even care. Clever tricks of a master filmmaker and great story teller. He and his editor get some mad prop's for some of the decisions they made, most directors would never have taken that many risks.

Over-all, I absolutely loved this film. Not only was it masterfully directed, but the cinematography was outstanding, the actors were convincing and conveyed emotion convincingly. All of the technical aspects from the art design to the visual effects, were top notch and very clever. It's VERY RARE I go to the movies and flat-out love something, but this movie I just love. It checks every single box for me and as the audience, once you get the twist, you can't help but feel some emotion which is what movies are all about in the first place, right?

I give it a 9/10, which is basically the highest score I'd ever give. Yes, it's THAT good.
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#2 Kenny Suleimanagich

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 03:01 AM

I loved the gentle falloff of soft, big-seeming sources. I also felt the camera operating was superb.
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#3 Miguel Angel

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Posted 17 November 2016 - 05:07 PM

I was very curious about how they were going to continue with the short-story "Story Of Your Life" as it is one of the most incredibly well written short sci-fi stories from the last decades (as it is the whole book) and they created something extraordinary. 

 

Everything was really well designed, very simple, great narrative and just worked flawlessly. 

 

I can't wait to see it again this weekend. 

 

Don't miss it in cinemas. 

 

Have a good day. 


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#4 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 05:28 PM

Great use of the camera and a shallow depth of field, loved the look of the modified "re-coated" Ultra Primes.


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#5 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 04:52 AM

Now Tyler got me intrigued about this film. I've been thinking whether too see it after watching the trailer in the cinema, but ultimately decided not to do it, and I'm now sorry. It reminded me of so many movies from the past, many of which were terrible, both in hindsight or in the very moment I saw them first.

 

Oh, well. The Blu-Ray Disc and the 4K UHD BRD will be out on 14 February. :)

 

I do have a question, though. I played the trailer again, and there's a shot of a helicopter flying over water with some clouds partly covering the sky behind. It seems to have been shot during naval twilight. Is that shot that good purely by chance or did they somehow manage to know in advance how to get what they wanted? It's easy to calculate when the naval twilight starts, but those clouds to appear in that way might take some time.


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#6 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 05:17 AM

O.K., it’s obviously nautical, not naval, but you got the picture. :D


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#7 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 03:43 PM

Blu-Ray.com review has arrived, and lo and behold the description of the visuals:
 

Arrival isn't a showcase movie in terms of visual prowess. Paramount's 1080p Blu-ray appears to replicate the filmmaker-intended visual style well, though it's certainly not much of a looker. The movie is rather drab, predominantly cold, dreary, with contrast dialed down and colors largely reserved. In fact, beyond the orange hazard suits and some natural greenery, there's not a wealth of bold, colorful primaries, anyway. 


http://www.blu-ray.c...Blu-ray/164834/


Edited by Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos, 10 February 2017 - 03:43 PM.

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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 06:31 PM

Yep, bleak and boring. But as a cinematographer, we see past those things. :)
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