Passengers (2016)

Two wine glasses making a toast
In Passengers, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has an impossible problem. He’s on a 120-year trip to colonize the planet Homestead II. He’s supposed to be in suspended animation for the trip but wakes up 90 years too early. Not good. He can’t be suspended again. Even less good.

He searches for help but finds none. He spends over a year solo on the Avalon. He tries to keep himself occupied, but eventually reaches his limit. He falls in love with a suspended woman and wakes her up, condemning her to never start the life she had planned.

After traveling for 30 years, the Avalon is moving at half the speed of light. It has a shield in front of it, but it isn’t impenetrable. Unbeknownst to Preston, the ship was critically damaged before he wakes up. It’s up to Preston and his victim, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), to fix it.

The Avalon is really beautiful. Graceful, delicate and vast. It is a good backdrop to this lonely love story.

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Alarm clock
In the year 2092, we meet Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto). He is the last mortal left after humans have been engineered to be immortal. He is dying and the doctors have put him in a reality show to learn his story. Although they are demanding a source of entertainment, he playfully compromises their understanding of history.

As a child, Nemo (Thomas Byrne) smiles at three girls sitting on a bench waiting for school. He is averse to making decisions and these girls fill three different stories as Nemo and the three of them mature. He develops parallel biographies as he gets married to each of them. Visually, they leave the church through different doors. Nemo’s lives go awry and we get lost within his tangled path through time.

In one life, he is passionately in love with a woman he cannot find. In another, he has a devoted wife that he doesn’t care about. In the third life, he has a wife who is desperately depressed and never available to receive his love. These lives start to fracture and crack when Nemo (Toby Regbo) is a teenager.

Nemo’s world is beautiful as he narrates the different lives. Mr. Nobody is happy to show the viewer a kaleidoscope of love and tragedy. The future interviewer of Nemo tries hypnosis to bring back Nemo’s real story, but each time the hypnotist says “remember,” the kaleidoscope shifts and the story changes. The cinematography uses colors to anchor the story to different paths through time.

For the proponents of linear time, Mr. Nobody is infuriating. Time loops and swerves as if it were a leaf in the breeze. The story unfolds as a labyrinth with stories inside of stories.

Perhaps there is no truth and the 118 year old man is playing the audience. Perhaps he revealed nothing important. He is the topic of a reality show that morbidly votes that he should be allowed to die. Mr. Nobody’s story leaves the observer puzzled and he ends up laughing at us all.

Abominable (2019)

A traffic light showing go
Last week I went with my parents to watch Abominable. It’s an animated film about a Yeti that is trying to get home to Mount Everest from a city in China. It’s a nice story and fun to watch.

I had one scene that sticks with me. After escaping the villains in an extraordinary way, Yi (Chloe Bennet) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) wander into a bamboo forest. They have a deep conversation about grief and superficiality. It helps strengthen their relationships by sharing an intimate moment.

The imagery of that scene stood out to me. The calming shadows of the bamboo and the clean landscape around Yi and Jin was hopeful. It produced a classic image that centers the film in a reality beyond the animated excitement that occurs before and after.

I really enjoyed the film. It was a simple story but not simplistic. The characters were fun as they went on a cool adventure. Yi has postcards from her father who had died shortly before the story began. The postcards have a special meaning through the story. We don’t learn much about the father, but Yi loves him and was inspired by her father’s violin lullabies.

The traffic light is green for Go!