Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Movie Review - "Contact"

This is a movie that I have saved and that I watch over and over again.  I like it because one of the messages that I get from this movie is that you should stay "true" to yourself regardless of what everyone else is doing.  I have also found out that the movie is based on a real life woman who has been called "a pain in the neck".  And that is exactly what Jodie Foster is in this movie and I say "more power to her!"

Jodie Foster plays a woman who was always interested in "little green men" ever since she was a child and she had a telescope to look at the stars and a scanner to communicate with others.  (By the way that doesn't sound like a bad idea to me to have both a telescope and a scanner.  My father used to have one of those big clunky scanners and I have come to miss it!)  Her father dies when she is quite young and she goes on to be a scientist.  We see her as she goes to study the "stars" at a facility that has to do with the SETI (Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Program.  (By the way this program is for real and is still in existence!)  Now bear in mind that she is a scientist and the program that she is a part of is being funded.  The funding is cancelled but she doesn't care and says she will "go it alone if she has to" because she has done it before.  What she does is get funding from an organization that provides funding for projects.  The funding she gets lasts for a few years but there is a problem because the area that she uses to listen for signals is leased by the government.  So even though she has the funding to continue to study and monitor signals the area belons to the government and it seems the government was getting pressure from others because they wanted to use the area as well.  Bowing to the pressure the government is "pulling the plug" on her access.  While her program is in the process of being discontinued she hears a signal that is coming from outer space.  Now all heck breaks loose!  You hear a signal coming from outer space so who do you tell?  Jodie Foster's character says "Everybody".  Now the government is involved and with the government comes (of course) politics!  The signal is translated and it turns out to be schematics for a transport system.  Of course now everybody wants to be the one that goes but only one can go.  I won't give away everything in the movie but to continue on......this movie does not have a "black and white" ending.

This movie has a very good cast and I give a special mention to James Woods - he can be quite good at being a pain in the neck!  Of course this movie also relates to grants and I didn't even notice it at first.    I'm not quite clear as to the specifics but I will assume for the purpose of this review that Jodie Foster's character - being a scientist - was working on a pure research project and this is something that she didn't finance herself but received funding for.  When this funding was pulled she sought funding elsewhere and got it from a very large organization that has funding programs.  This is something that is true in real life - as I have said many, many times.  There are funding programs out there for "pure" research - including grant programs from the government.  In fact these are some of the most vied for kinds of grants!

On a personal note I liked the movie because it was one of those "independent" women kind of movies BUT not so independent enough to not to want to have a relationship.  I have read in a review of this movie that the Matthew McConaghy character was really unneccessary but I was glad that his character was included simply because what's wrong with being independent but having a boyfriend - especially one that will stick by you!

I also liked the "politics" aspect of this movie.  Not so much that I, myself would want to have to go through it but the fact that the details of it were just great!  Who gets to ride in the transport?  (And why?), The cost of making the transport, the fact that the signal had to be to be decoded using the signal's broadcast that was heard in not just the United States but outside the United States - which made it a "worldwide" issue - apparently you need permission if you get the signal's broadcast from another county.....and on and on and then this just doesn't become a simple matter.  Religion was brought up, "eggheads" versus military aspects and most interesting of all is that even though Jodie Foster's character "discovered" the whole thing she was slowly being edged out of the whole thing (as the government was getting involved).  It is also very interesting to note that the word "grant" was mentioned near the end of the movie.

Maybe I'm just too "geeky" for my own good.  This isn't a simple plotted movie but I enjoyed it because of all the details and politics that were involved.  (I also liked all the equipement that was being shown). 

So this movie is in my library.  In fact it's one of my inspirational movies.

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