Subject to Change

Subject to Change

Based on the novel by Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation is director Alex Garland’s film about a strange location in the Florida panhandle known as Area X. Three years ago, an event of some sort began altering the natural properties of the area. Scientists at a government research facility called the Southern Reach began investigating Area X, but discovered little. Surrounding Area X is what’s known as the Shimmer. It looks like an enormous soap bubble, and it forms a dome over the entirety of Area X, blocking all radio waves and video signals. The only way to explore Area X is to physically enter it.

Relating to home

Relating to home

This is where the question of the film’s relatability becomes most pertinent, I think. Who hasn’t wanted to get out of the place where they’re from only to find that they miss it? Who doesn’t want to change the name they were given only to discover they don’t want to forget who they are?

Finding some humanity in 2049 . . . and 2018
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Finding some humanity in 2049 . . . and 2018

It’s here that the film takes on a contemporary significance that I didn’t expect. Take a look at the world today and you’ll see income inequality, the rich becoming gods, and the poor becoming sick. The jobs that are available seem to require a measure of dehumanization just so one can accomplish them, with every cashier at a fast food joint effectively a replicant. Simply being human is starting to seem untenable.

A new way of looking at war

A new way of looking at war

The Sympathizer is one of the most accomplished war novels in recent years, right up there with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The story of a North Vietnamese secret agent working with the Southern Vietnamese forces, it finds new ground in subject matter that has been examined by writers too numerous to count. To understand its significance, however, will require a little history.

A history,  told in the shadow tongue

A history, told in the shadow tongue

Now if your experience is anything like mine, you may have noticed that times of change are when Christians turn on one another, flinging accusations of heresy and false witness. Churches split like this all the time. Let this go on long enough, and you have assorted armies of one, each convinced they are the true bearers of the old ways and vowing vengeance on any and all who say otherwise.