Film Junk Podcast Episode #589: Arrival


0:00 – Intro / Reed’s Adumbrations
21:35 – Review: Arrival
45:20 – Spoiler Discussion: Arrival
1:54:50 – Headlines: Valerian Trailer, Ghost in the Shell Trailer
2:04:15 – Other Stuff We Watched: The Loner, Black Mirror, Contact, Weiner, The Arrival, Arrival 2, Predestination, Maelstrom
2:36:10 – Junk Mail: Doctor Strange Casting Controversy, How Trump’s Presidency Could Affect Documentaries, Up and Coming A-list Directors + Career Advice, Logging MST3K on Letterboxd, Most Suspenseful Movies
2:40:35 – This Week on DVD and Blu-ray / Reed’s Recommended Reading
2:49:55 – Outro

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  • Anthony

    Forest whitaker’s character acknowledged it was a group of rogue soldiers that planted a bomb.

  • Reed Farrington

    I still haven’t seen Timecrimes, yet. Just picked up Looper today.

    English is the hardest language in the universe to understand. That’s why aliens always have to rely on us to decipher their languages. :-)

  • Reed Farrington

    For some reason, I couldn’t understand half of what Roger Whittaker was saying.

  • Reed Farrington

    I have no idea what Renner narration and montage you’re referring to.

  • Frank Booth

    Thanks for reminding me about The Loner, Reed.

    Just picked up the entire series on DVD and I’m going to start watching it over the weekend.

    As a lifelong fan of Rod Serling and TV westerns (I have a pretty extensive collection ranging from Bat Masterson to Gunsmoke to Whiplash — Peter Graves traveling Australia with a whip!), I’m pretty damn excited.

  • Assuming you meant FOREST Whitaker, I couldn’t understand about half either.

  • Reed Farrington

    Cool, Frank. I’ve never heard of the Whiplash series. I still haven’t gone through Steve McQueen’s Wanted Dead or Alive, or Gene Roddenberry’s Have Gun, Will Travel that I have on DVD. One day, I want to get Clint Eastwood’s Rawhide.

    Let me know what you think of The Loner.

  • Reed Farrington

    Yes, I was making a bad joke invoking Roger Whittaker (two T’s as opposed to Forest’s one). Good to know that I’m not the only one with bad hearing.

  • no one important

    But by using their power, in the future they do know english so could think ahead and by knowing it in the future would already have an understanding of it in the present. I guess this is the Bill and Ted conundrum.

    If the general learnt the language wouldnt “when” he learnt it be irrelevant if time isn’t an issue. Help me clear this up. The language allows you to just “see” the future. Not the past, not participate in any way. The present is always the present. You can’t go back in time or forward in time, you can only see, as a vision, the future. Is that how it works?

  • No one important

    Well I’d rate Timecrimes way above Looper. But that’s my personal opinion.

    Nice to hear you mention Chariots of the Gods, seen the movie and have read the book. It’s like the go to movie for alien enthusiasts. It reminds me of another documentary made in 1982 called “The Jupiter Menace”. It’s narrated by George Kennedy and looks at historical, religious and scientific evidence that definitively points to the environmental destruction of the planet by earthquakes on May 5th in the year 2000. A very entertaining film.

  • No one important

    Also, I’d like to state that I knew Amy Adams job and understood what her and Jeremy were doing. What my perception though is that the aliens fully understood our language from the start and were teaching us their language. There was no significant response until communication was through visual text which i assume they were waiting for us to attempt as that is how their language works. It was our misinterpretation that came up with “Weapon”. I wonder if the first word they taught us was actually “Aliens”.

  • no one important

    Also, throw this little question out there… It’s rather convenient that her daughter dies of an incurable disease. What if she got hit by a car? How would having this language ability work in such a scenario?

  • Reed Farrington

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been thinking about what you’re wondering about, and I have no answers for you. The more I think about it, the more I can’t make any sense of what happens in the movie.

  • Sean

    Yeah I think you have some valid points. The more you think about some of this stuff, the more it falls apart a bit, which is why they are very selective about what they reveal in the movie.

    Part of what you’re talking about is something Reed touched on near the end of the spoiler discussion. Even though you can see across time once you understand their language, humans (and I assume the aliens) are still living and experiencing life in a linear way. But also, in the movie we are seeing the moments when the language is clicking for the first time for her, which is why I think they can get away with it. Even though after that moment, I guess it would be like she always knew.

    It’s hard to say how much the aliens knew ahead of time. Obviously they knew more about us than we knew about them initially. They had to at least have done enough research to deduce that we could help them with their problems they could help us overcome our problems. Hard to say whether they understood our language ahead of time.

    I guess it comes back to this question: if you learn something in the future, does that mean your past self automatically knows it as well? It’s one thing to pass little bits of information across time, but to pass an entire understanding of something, something that would take a significant amount of time to learn… that seems like it might be different?

  • Gerry

    I didn’t realise you were so into Westerns Reed.

    You should check out an old film called The Bravados, which deals with revenge and xenophobic suspicion of people from a different country. It seems especially relevant today.

    Talking of Rod Serling I should dust off my Twilight Zone blu rays and actally watch them. The few episodes I’ve seen have been good.

    PS, Jay and Frank, whatever happened the promised 4K manifesto episode.

    Some time devoted to ‘I have a disease / why the fcuk did I buy this’ discs would be especially fun.

  • Reed Farrington

    Apart from loving Shane as a kid, I really didn’t appreciate Westerns until later in my life. Many of my fav peeps have done Westerns, so I naturally have sought out this genre of their work.

    I’ve not heard of The Bravados. I need to check out who’s involved with the movie.

    I love Serling’s work because he moralizes, and appeals to the goodness of peeps.

  • Reed Farrington

    “No one important” has made me rethink things especially with regards to how these Heptapods interact with humans. Their reason for coming to Earth because they need our help doesn’t make sense for nonlinear time beings in my opinion. Beings in nonlinear time shouldn’t experience cause and effect; however, they may not even have an understanding of it as in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s pilot episode.
    I began reading up on 4th dimensional beings in both space and time, and got nowhere.
    I looked at Arrival’s science consultant’s blog to see what he said about Arrival and I don’t think he discussed the implications of time in the story.
    I watched a spoiler video podcast (only 4 views) with the screenwriter, and he only had superficial things to say that really didn’t explain anything at all in the script.
    So, I might have to lower my rating to 2.5/5. :-)

  • Reed Farrington

    So you’re saying getting hit by a car is more avoidable?
    Anyway, I have no answers. My omniscience is a paradox. :-)

  • No one important

    When they make the sequel, which should be called Departure, set 3000 years in the future and they explain everything I’m certain you’re going to raise that 2.5 to at least a 4.

    I was thinking about what Sean said and my new perception on the ability is it’s just reverse memory. How you remember something in the past, last week is very easy to recall, the further back you go it gets a little more sketchy unless it’s a significant experience. We have no idea what the lifespan of these creatures are but let’s assume for the moment that it’s similar to us. Let’s throw in 100 years. Now think of how history is passed down from generation to generation. Like a grandparent telling a grandchild about the life they had as a child, in reverse memory a grandchild could recall about their life as a grandparent to their grandparent who could then recall to their grandparent when they are a child. Kids will be saying.. “music today, is awesome, when I was an old fart it sucked”.

    One possible scenario for why they need us is that they might not have future history recollection beyond that 3000 years and humans recall for them about their future beyond. Maybe they lose the ability. Maybe in the film they weren’t teaching us the language, maybe they were deprogramming us. If we look at it in reverse the book Amy wrote was actually a catalyst for past humans to not understand the language. A bit like how that anomaly in the last episode of next generation worked. Ok I think I’m done with this now.

  • no one important

    Reed, you should try and convince the others to do a premium western podcast. You choose the films and host the episode.

  • schizopolis

    I love sci-fi for its themes & metaphors than for the hard science. Arrival, also had the chicken & the egg paradox, especially during the climax with the Chinese General. Arrival seems to be trying to convey that since the past & the future are broken memories/visions, the present is the only reality.

  • Niklas

    why is the audio so bad on this one?

  • Sean

    We’ve been experimenting with trying to improve the audio quality so the last few episodes have been a bit all over the place. I think this episode went too heavy on the low end, sorry about that.

  • Eric D

    It’s halfway through the movie; he’s basically summing up how far they’ve come with understanding the alien language. Maybe it was woven into the plot well to hide it for most people, but it was very obvious and stood out to me

  • Reed Farrington

    I wonder if someone has asked the screenwriter or director about the Renner narration. I need a rewatch.

  • Brett David Rarick

    Oh man I’m glad it wasn’t just me! I thought my car’s audio was going bad.

  • Lori Cerny

    “There is no idea of being able to change things because they have no concept of change.”

    Hmm, that is a really good point.

  • ddaise

    There’s a difference between knowing that you will learn something and actually learning it (similarly to how there’s a difference between knowing that you know something and being able to recall it in a particular moment, like having a word on the tip of your tongue). The experience of the heptapods is fundamentally different from our own to the point that the relational structure of their physics differs from our own.

    The short story goes into a bit of detail about the experiential difference and describes it as being almost like performing one’s role in a play. Just because an actor knows how it will end doesn’t mean they’ll actually get to the point unless they play their part convincingly.

  • Reed Farrington

    I need to read the short story to see if it makes any sense. I still think the movie doesn’t make any sense.

  • ddaise

    I highly recommend it. It alternates between overly technical and overly saccharine in a way that somehow leaves the whole better balanced than the parts. It also gives a better overall sense for the idea about the relationship between time and experience that animates both than the movie can purely in virtue of the medium.

  • Darius

    My God you guys–get your thoughts together in these reviews. I don’t have time to listen to you stumble through half sentences before you actually say anything of importance. Maybe sketch out your points ahead of time or something? I used to do a radio show at university and I was more on the ball and engaging that you guys, and I have no experience in radio or podcasting. I quit listening at 26:44 and that was after skipping ahead until you actually started talking about the film. Complete waste of time to hear half hearted comments spoken without any authority, conviction, or confidence. Ciao!

  • Darius

    So Arrial is better than a massive disappointment. Great.

  • kyri

    i loved arrival.