Movies of the Week: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Arrival

Two potential Oscar contenders arrive in theaters this weekend. One film, I don’t really have any high stakes in considering I’m not exactly into the director’s body of work up to this point, the other I have high expectations for considering I’ve definitely enjoyed this director’s previous two films.

From the Oscar-winning director of Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi, an ambitious technical experience chronicling a war-hero’s return from the line of fire in Iraq while flashing back to the chaos of the battle, while he is celebrated at a halftime show during a Thanksgiving football game. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is meant to contrast the realities of battle against the conceptions of American imagination.

Director: Ang Lee

Screenwriter: Jean-Christophe Castelli

Cast: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin and Tim Blake Nelson.

My expectations: I classify Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk as this year’s biggest boom or bust film and considering my experiences with Ang Lee’s films, I’m going in with a big degree of skepticism. Either the technical experiments Lee has endeavored to make while making this film are successful and the film pays off or it doesn’t and it crashes and burns. We’ll see.

God only knows how many sci-fi movies have been made about alien invasions but Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival appears to be a new take on human reaction to the idea of extraterrestrial visitors. A linguist is recruited by the military shortly after UFOs make their way to Earth for the purpose of interpreting the visitors’ communications and intentions as to why they are on Earth and she must work quickly before either side, Earth or the visitors, make a crucial misjudgment and suffer dire consequences.

Director: Denis Villenueve

Screenwriter: Eric Heisserer

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien and Tzi Ma

My expectations: Prisoners was an amazing thriller, Sicario was one of the best films of last year and I’m hopeful that Arrival will make a great three-in-a-row for Villenueve’s body of work. I hear that Amy Adams is a tour-de-force in this movie and I believe that this will be one of the most suspenseful sci-fi excursions I’ve seen in a long time. I’m going into Arrival with high hopes that this lives up to its hype.


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