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Drama

Proximity: Is An Admirable Low-budget Sci-fi

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Paging ET, please phone home.

 

Proximity” had potential. The film partially redeemed this but then blatantly fails on a completely different level. With a film about alien abduction, there’s one particular expectation wherewith the film stands or falls. And that’s the look of the spacecraft with which those green men fly around. In many SF movies with the same subject, this is either shown only briefly. Or the design and special effects are so pitifully bad that you wished those alien tourists instantly have an engine problem and crash down with their ugly flying saucer. But when Isaac (Ryan Mason) early in the movie sees the spinning vehicle fly above him, I noticed his approving look. Not because he liked the design, but because his conviction was confirmed in this way. Me on the other hand, probably had an approving look because the spaceship looked really good. Unfortunately, this fact alone could not save the film.

 

Proximity

 

Slick movie.

Believe me. Cinematographically, this film looks slick. The used special effects clearly show that director Eric Demeusy is no novice. The experience he gained with “Tron: Legacy” as a 3D animator and other projects clearly paid off. So no blurry images with bad special effects. And no situations where you get the feeling that the spacecraft were hung on a silk threads to move them that way. Even the aliens looked fine and credible. So in terms of imaging, it’s okay. And this even during the entire film.

 

Proximity

 

Scotty, beam me up.

I also found the story promising in the beginning. Nerdy looking Isaac (Ryan Masson) who’s convinced aliens exist and looks at computer screens every day to watch bleeps from satellites, almost faints when one day, during a bike ride, a silver flying saucer flies over him. Lucky he has a camera (Betamax model) with him to film the event. He can even capture a “close encounter” with a real Martian. Next, he’s beamed up (just like a genuine Enterprise crew member) and awakens somewhere in a field. Unharmed but with a gigantic 3-day hole in his memory. What follows is a chaotic period for Isaac. A period in which he tries to make clear to the world that he was kidnapped by aliens. And then we get a perfect demonstration of how things are in our society today. One day you’ll be hailed and adored. The next day you are booed, razed to the ground, and buried under reproaches and incriminating allegations.

 

Proximity

 

Uh, what happened to the story?

Till here, the story was still amusing and interesting. The hassle of uploading the video and the subsequent reactions and comments. The invitation by a television program and the disappointment by Isaac. The fuss that arises on the internet and then Isaac’s search for fellow victims and like-minded people. It felt “Goonies” -like and reminiscent of the bygone days when Spielberg scored high with his SF films about “close encounters”. There was even an “E.T.” joke used by the two nerds in the lab. And then halfway through, the film gets a completely absurd twist. “Men in Black” clones suddenly show up. And the film suddenly takes on Star Wars allures. Together with the beautiful Sara (Highdee Kuan), a fellow girl who has experienced something similar, Isaac flees from a mysterious government agency. Zed (Christian Prentice), the phenomenon in Costa Rica, was the most hilarious part of the movie. This whizzkid owns a treehouse in the middle of the jungle (Yeah really!) where he hacks NASA servers. How he can have a connection with the internet there, is a mystery to me. I sometimes have poor reception in my kitchen here. And I’m certain I’m living in that part of the world that’s civilized enough to make sure it’s top-notch. In any case, the story becomes increasingly nonsensical by the minute. Not to mention the denouement where the aliens reveal what they are looking for on earth. Completely laughable.

 

Proximity

 

Admirable low-budget SciFi.

All in all, it’s admirable what they’ve achieved in this low-budget SF. In terms of footage and imagery, the film is simply overwhelming. The special effects look fantastic. There’s also little to complain about the acting itself. Masson’s acting is almost perfect. Highdee Kuan is a perfect addition. And the character Zed is highly entertaining. But unfortunately, it’s especially the storyline that’s below par. I suggest Demeusy hires a professional scriptwriter the next time to support his professional-looking visuals.

 

 

My rating 4/10
Links: IMDB

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Crime

Apple TV + | Cherry | Official Trailer

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

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Genre:

Crime, Drama

Release Date:

February 26, 2021

Director:

Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Cast:

Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Gandolfini

Plot Summary:

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

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Drama

Netflix | Malcolm & Marie

When filmmaker Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya), return home from a movie premiere and await his film’s critical response, the evening takes a turn as revelations about their relationship surface, testing the couple’s love.

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Genre:

Drama, Romance

Release Date:

February 5, 2021

Director:

Sam Levinson

Cast:

Zendaya, John David Washington

Plot Summary:

A filmmaker returns home with his girlfriend following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love.

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Drama

REVIEW: Nomadland

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Nomadland is the third feature film from Chloé Zhao, who previously wrote, directed and produced Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017) and she’s back with another great film. After winning the top award at both Venice and Toronto Film Festivals the film looks set to take home a good number of awards over the coming months including at the Oscars. Nomadland is a fictionalised version of the 2017 book Nomadland: Surviving American in the Twenty-First Century written by Jessica Bruder and it follows Fern, played remarkably by Frances McDormand (Fargo, Three Billboards), a woman who embarks on a journey across the American West after losing everything in the Great Recession.

Nomadland is one of those films where in terms of plot and story, not a lot actually happens throughout its runtime. And in a film like this where you’re not necessarily being immediately captivated and gripped by the narrative, it can be very easy to get bored and to lose interest in the film. But that’s not the case with Nomadland at all. Zhao takes the viewer along the journey with Fern and for every minute of this film and for every step that Fern takes we feel like we are there with her and the film manages to take you on this journey so well. The film progresses and you don’t know where it’s going to take you next and yet it doesn’t matter in the slightest. It places the viewer in a position where you feel almost like a nomad yoursef, just slowly drifting across the country with Fern. The film glides along, moving from all the various characters that she meets and as we experience these characters, mere moments later they’re gone as we’ve moved onto something else and someone else.

Zhao has continued to prove her talent as both a writer and a director as with Nomadland she’s created a really powerful film that is completely driven by the central character Fern. McDormand gives an incredibly moving performance and really brings the character to life but she’s able to do so with such ease because not only is McDormand a great actress but the character is written so well by Zhao and given so much life to her. We don’t have much longer to wait for Zhao’s next film, Marvel’s Eternals,which is currently scheduled to be released in November 2021 and whilst moving from a slow, delicately made, character-driven film like Nomadland to a big superhero film might be a big jump, it seems clear that Zhao should be able to make that leap.

Through the incredible cinematography, directing and performances, certain scenes in Nomadland feel like they could have been taken directly from a documentary. It feels like what you’re watching and experiencing is so real that you almost forget that it isn’t. And because of this, the film just has so much heart and humanity and warmth and all of the film’s characters, even the ones that we only encounter for a few minutes, have such a tenderness to them and really complete the film. The film looks so amazing as well and it takes us from locations like a large, enclosed Amazon warehouse to the vast, open landscapes of the desert and it really feels like the viewer there with McDormand’s Fran.

Nomadland is a powerful film, driven by McDormand’s impressive, yet understated performance as well as the incredible direction and writing from Zhao that looks set to win big at the upcoming awards ceremonies.

★★★★☆

Nomadland is released on 19th February.

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