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The Big Sick
The Big Sick

This year’s 52nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will open with director Michael Showalter’s unconventional romantic comedy The Big Sick, and close with director Denis Villeneuve’s mysterious sci-fi Arrival, in which one of the main roles was played by Jeremy Renner, one of the festival’s guests this year and a recipient of the President’s Award.

The Big Sick
Like many other comedians, Kumail wants to escape the small stages of out-of-the-way clubs and perform before a large audience. Yet he fails to impress the man capable of arranging an appealing engagement for him, and, what’s more, his new show on his Pakistani origins slips into a boring monologue. Kumail also struggles with his parents, who would rather see their son as a lawyer married to one of the Pakistani girls they keep trying to fix him up with. Things get even more complicated when he meets Emily and falls for her quirkiness and sense of humour. The question of whether to tell his parents about his girlfriend, who meets none of their basic criteria, seriously complicates Kumail’s life. The film’s husband-and-wife co-writers, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, based their film on their own life story, thus reinforcing its authenticity. Add to this the sense of lightness and immediacy typifying the film’s direction, and we get a fun and candid comedy that avoids the usual rom-com clichés.

When several giant ships of unknown origin appear at over a dozen locations on Earth, top teams of scientists set out to study them. The American team is headed by physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who join forces in order to show that the extraterrestrial visitors are a threat to mankind only if we fail to communicate with them. One of the most original science fiction movies of recent years, Arrival cemented director Denis Villeneuve’s position as one the most closely watched directors working today.

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