Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” is Ambitious and Gorgeous Science Fiction Storytelling

In Annihilation, a band of women set off to investigate a bizarre natural phenomenon that has resulted from a fallen meteorite. Alex Garland directs the film and wrote the screenplay (based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, which is part of a trilogy). The mysterious event has been named “The Shimmer” in deference to the prismatic bubble that surrounds a lighthouse at the epicenter – a bubble that is growing. No previous expeditions have returned. Like Garland’s previous directorial work Ex Machina, Annihilation dazzles with its visuals, sports an intriguing and tight plot, and ultimately leaves the audience with few explicit answers about what exactly has been going on. There has always been power in subtext, especially in science fiction, and Annihilation is an impressive and intelligent new entry to the genre.

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“Anomalisa”: A Bittersweet Dramatization of Haunting Loneliness and Depression

The films of Charlie Kaufman often deal with isolation, loneliness, and depression – and his latest film Anomalisa is no exception. Directed by Kaufman and Duke Johnson and based on the stage play written by Kaufman, this stop-motion animated film brilliantly takes advantage of the medium with inspired stylistic choices and the peculiarities that we are accustomed to from Kaufman. The result is a heartbreaking story about a man desperately seeking an escape from the mundanity of his life, and not really succeeding. Along the way, Anomalisa contains moments of profound beauty, as these stop-motion puppets struggle with emotions and problems which are startlingly human.

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“The Hateful Eight” Toys with Truth and Race, but Ends Up Less than the Sum of Its Parts

The eighth film from Quentin Tarantino is not his best, but it might be his most political. The Hateful Eight was born from the TV Westerns of the 1960s where a group of outlaws would kidnap the main character in a sort of bottle episode. Well, Tarantino pondered, what if the audience didn’t know who was the “good guy” once we got to the bottle? As the back stories unfolds, various clues indicate that perhaps we shouldn’t be so trusting of what we are being told – by anyone. From there, Tarantino’s brand of pithy dialogue and penchant for violence takes over as percolating racial tensions begin to boil over.

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The Hateful 8 Trailer is Pure, True-to-Form Tarantino Beauty

The first official trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s eighth theatrical feature, The Hateful 8, was released yesterday. The film appears to be a mish-mash of Django Unchained and Reservoir Dogs, fusing the Old West bounty hunting of Django with the ensemble cast and bottle-episode feel of Dogs (possibly with some non-linear storytelling thrown in for good measure). We get to see a number of Tarantino regulars in the trailer, plus a few newbies, bumping elbows in a log cabin in the middle of the winter. Check it out:

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