Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

Warning: This piece contains mild spoilers for Netflix’s The discovery.

As much as we’re all obsessed about Weird stuff, remember that Netflix started with movies. And when the company failed to make headlines with its first original TV shows, 2012 lily hammeralso failed to make headlines with his first original film – a documentary released that same year called Art of Conflict: Northern Ireland’s Murals.

The main difference in these two programming tracks, of course, is that Netflix has hit a few series of home runs since then. Orange is the new black, stranger things, Make a killerand House of cards were hits with viewers, as well as the Golden Globes and Emmys. And while some Netflix documentaries have succeeded within their niche, it’s harder to point to an original narrative film that achieves the same level of buzz (the Idris Elba-led film Beasts of no nation has probably been the biggest hit; those Adam Sandler originals that kids supposedly love and that Netflix keeps making don’t count).

But in 2017, Netflix seems determined to turn this script around. The company made a bold statement in March that it would produce 30 original films in 2017. These will not be small mumblecore affairs. A trailer for the Will Smith-led Bright ran during the Super Bowl, Brad Pitt stars in the inspired war-in-Afghanistan war machineand filmmakers of Bong Joon-hoo (snow piercer) to Martin Scorsese (… a lot of stuff) have signed up to make their next movies for Netflix. All but the Scorsese movie is expected in this 2017 pick.

This weekend, Netflix unveiled Exhibit A in the company’s new attempt to grab big-screen attention for its small-screen theater debut. The discovery, a science fiction story starring the likes of Rooney Mara, Jason Segel, Jesse Plemons, and Robert (freakin’) Redford, can be streamed as soon as you open another browser tab. And thankfully—unlike previous Netflix original movies starring Paul Rudd and Ellen Page—this one deserves to be watched.

Segel for science.
enlarge / Segel for science.

Netflix

You call that a starting point? This one is a starting point

The discovery hits the ground in the very first scene. dr. Thomas Harbor (Redford) invites a TV reporter to his home for the first public interview since he discovered definitive evidence of an afterlife – “a new plane of existence,” as the scientist prefers to call it. Through his work, Harbor has repeatedly observed brain wavelengths at the subatomic level that leave the body after death… but he has not yet discovered where they go. If the journalist challenges him about this, stating that this makes the finding uncertain or perhaps dangerous for public consumption, answers without hesitation: “When you see a train leaving the station, do you need to know where it will know it is leaving?”

Of course, the discovery of Harbor has was dangerous for the general public. Six months after his announcement, the suicide rate has skyrocketed to one million and that still counts, including famous celebrities, athletes and even a colleague of Dr. harbor.

“Do you feel responsible for all those people who commit suicide?” asks the journalist.

“No.”

Perhaps Harbor reacts this way because he firmly believes in sharing the truth with the world. But we soon learn that he’s also started running a commune of sorts – a large former summer camp facility where people who have tried (and failed) to progress to this afterlife can come together in a supportive community that values ​​life. Harbor’s sons eventually help him run the business (perhaps some more than others, since he’s a neurologist). They simultaneously aid Harbor’s ongoing investigation as they quietly investigate what exactly they see happening in their father’s lab. After all, Harbor is pushing for more work. He wants to know exactly where this train is going, even if it means he might have to ride it.

Redford and Mara in <em>The discovery</em>.” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/discovery-redford-mara-questioning-640×324.jpg” width=”640″ height=”324″ srcset=” https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/discovery-redford-mara-questioning.jpg 2x”/><figcaption class=
enlarge / Redford and Mara in The discovery.

Netflix

Talent on the big screen, movie on the small screen

Director Charlie McDowell and writing partner Justin Lader have a growing reputation for intricate, puzzle-like scripts (the duo’s first public splash came from The one I love with Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss). Here they manage to build another mind-bender with more traditional story elements at its core, including a budding relationship and complicated family dynamics. Your mileage may vary, but watching a group of people navigate this premise alone puts you The discovery to the top of Netflix features so far.

I hesitate to say more about it The discoveries plot, not just because it spins and spins, but because this movie (if enjoyed) is the kind that’s ideal for Netflix. On the first look you will see that everything reveals itself, just as the characters try to understand everything. Then on that second viewing (because Netflix… it no longer requires a second ticket and big popcorn purchase), subtle actions and statements suddenly fill with meaningful cues. In an interview with The Ringer on Friday, McDowell compared The discovery to revisit his experiences Arrival after learning the central conceit. The discovery didn’t surprise me on the same level, but the last third definitely caught me off guard.

General, The discovery skilfully avoids going too far to both sides of scientific and religious beliefs about death. Instead, it focuses on a scientific character without dwelling on the details beyond that first scene. Harbor’s tools to investigate his discovery resemble huge CAT scanning machines, and most of the drama after that comes from what happens between the living.

But even a movie with a great premise and some delightful surprises would fall flat with boring characters, so Redford as Harbor feels crucial. He carries the same authoritative, seductive and slightly terrifying vibes that made Phillip Seymour Hoffman famous as an explicit cult leader in The teacher. Redford’s presence lends The discovery the near-immediate stature Netflix probably craves for its current movie push. (Has The New York Times reviewed many previous Netflix originals?)

“[Redford]is such an untouchable figure. I didn’t immediately think of him because I don’t think he’ll be in my movie,” McDowell told The Ringer. But when the director got a list of people available from an agent, Redford was on the list. The icon turned out to be a fan of The one I love, so McDowell and his writing partner flew across the country to meet him ASAP. And now McDowell tells Ringer editor-in-chief Sean Fennessey that the film works because Redford has this Einstein or Steve Jobs-esque presence — “this character is someone who has to be believable for everything to work.”

Given Redford’s involvement, it’s no coincidence The discovery debuted on Sundance before going live on Netflix this weekend. And because of the way the Hollywood awards season works, if critical buzz leads Netflix to think Redford or McDowell have a shot at nominations, it could make for a feature film. Perhaps that’s unlikely –The discovery has its moments, but you can reference some of its formula in other movies, and of course, bigger Netflix originals are on the way.

However, the company took a similar hybrid on-demand/limited release approach to Beasts of No Nation in 2015, when Idris Elba had some Oscar momentum, though nothing came of the experiment. McDowell admitted to The Ringer that he initially wanted… The discovery have a theatrical performance. But after Netflix pitched him on his movie intentions, the director became less tied to the idea. In fact, he’s encouraging fans to start enjoying that replay.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 in the US or the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 in the UK.

List image by Netflix

By akfire1

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