Annihilation director Alex Garland criticised for alleged white-washing

24 February, 2018, 09:32 | Author: Eleanor Thompson
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Of course, much has been made of Garland's choice to cast Portman in the lead, forcing him to deflect charges of whitewashing (Lena is revealed to be of Asian descent in subsequent VanderMeer novels). Also some of the most depressing - Never Let Me Go, a distressingly realistic story about the technology of cloning being used for the benefit of an entitled and wealthy elite.

Garland's talents are on full display in an adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer's "Southern Reach" trilogy. That restraint pays off; Portman joins a hallowed roster of fine actresses who have commandingly anchored arty science fiction films.

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While Natalie Portman may be busy promoting her new film "Annihilation" and sharing the story of how she thought her water broke back when she was pregnant, the Oscar victor also dished out on how her son hasn't seen the "Star Wars" films yet. Literally, if you take that out, 90% of what's sent to me, I can't do. This is a film built on a foundation of terror about absolute erasure, an encounter with something that not only destroys us, but which wipes away our existence completely.

"We're all damaged goods here", Cass observes as she and Lena share a perfunctory quiet moment together. There's something of a magic trick to it in an adaptation of VanderMeer's work, since he writes in a way that is nearly intentionally oblique. In case you missed it, while Portman was presenting the Best Director category, she said, "And here are the all-male nominees". She also discussed all the controversy surrounding Woody Allen, whom she worked with in the past on the 1996 film Everyone Says I Love You. He communicates dread in a way that feels effortless on his part. At times, this is a straight up horror exercise, but in a form you probably have never seen before. "And I think we live in a post-Hamilton world where we don't even need to think about what's authentic to the character, like faithful to the character", Portman said. Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson ably play two friendly younger scientists who-because of the Shimmer, or due to their own secretly troubled minds-gradually reveal darker sides. You intellectually understand it, and then you emotionally catch up. But when he suddenly returns, her brief hope that normality will ensue is shattered when his odd behavior turns into something far more destructive.

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Annihilation is a ferocious, feral, female-centric update of fearsome monster classics like The Thing and Alien. Alex Garland gets it, though, and he's created something here - a bear that screams in the human voices of the people it has eaten - that I immediately added to my own personal nightmare catalog. I can only assume so much in a story before questioning it. I'll be seeing that shit in my dreams, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Opening up the film is Lena giving a biology lesson to college students on cell structure which becomes another roadmap to making sense of the overall narrative. "Whereas the book comes off as more of a portrait of an ecology in psychedelic decline, Garland's film is about a personality undergoing the same kind of breakdown", she suggested. (The final shot of the film is a kind of kissing cousin to Charlie Kaufmann's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) But rare is the studio picture allowed to be this abstruse, and engaged viewers will leave with plenty to consider while they decompress over a hypnotic closing credit sequence. There's really no easy way to make this into another type of film, and while Paramount may have wanted another Arrival, that's not what they got. It also has the juxtapositions of beauty and horror, where it's not just frightening things, but awe-inspiring things. But it's not an overtly evil entity, merely one that wants to survive, grow, and multiply like any species in existence such as the shape-shifting alien in John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing". It's writer-director Alex Garland's follow-up to his hugely acclaimed breakout Ex Machina and its $55m budget catapults him into a bigger, riskier league, the stakes immensely higher than before. While its fanbase is passionate, it's hard, some say "unfilmable" territory and the result has caused problems for Paramount who were reportedly spooked by test audiences finding it too "intellectual" and "complicated".

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