Landscape with Invisible Hand

Close Encounters of the Smart but Ugly Kind.

Last week, I reviewed “Jules,” which was a dramedy with Ben Kingsley finding an alien that crash lands on his flowers. Even though it has its cliches regarding the younger folks thinking the old man is crazy, I still enjoyed it for its good heart and humor, the kind that knows when to be awkward and honest.

This week, I’m reviewing “Landscape with Invisible Hand,” the latest movie from writer/director Cory Finley (“Thoroughbreds,” “Bad Education”), which has its own concept on the independent alien genre, but has to have characters arguing with each other. It gets really exhausting for me.

Its premiere regards an alien race that makes its visit to Earth and make a deal with successful businesspeople. They share their alien technology which makes them successful, but others basically unemployed.

The food is now placed in cubed form, some even in the size of Rice Krispies treats. And I like how the white rice is formed.

The UFO has a society on top, with land that looks like a golf course, and elevators the size of cargo ship containers. At least, I think they’re like elevators, but that basically how they can commute.

The aliens, which are known as Vuvv, look like they have testicles in the center of what I thought was their bellies (don’t ask for the sake of your stomach), and communicate through their own strange sign language. And they have a human voice to translate them. The nicest way to put it is they’re smart but butt ugly.

We meet the young artist Adam Campbell (Asante Blackk), who lives with his mom Beth (Tiffany Haddish) and would-be gardener sister Natalie (Brooklynn MacKinzie), while their lousy father (William Jackson Harper) lives in California. He also makes friends with his classmate Chloe Marsh (Kylie Rogers from “Beau is Afraid”). She lives with her dad (Josh Hamilton) and brother Hunter (Michael Gandolfini), who are also broke and practically homeless thanks to these aliens. Adam invites them to stay, much to the dismay of his mom.

The two youngsters begin to develop a romance, while he paints her and she wishes to pay his family rent money. Since the aliens reproduce asexually, they decide to make money by broadcasting their love story to them. It’s called “Adam and Chloe in Love.” They wear these headpieces, which tell them how many viewers and money they have.

Both families begin to get at each other’s throats. And the young lovers then get at each other’s throats.

And the aliens begin to sue them for their show, because they now aren’t convinced these two are in love. They threaten to take all their money, unless they can prove to the Vuvv their love is real. Or if Adam’s mom can marry one of them.

“Landscape with Invisible Hand” has some good laughs when we get to the wedding and dinner table scene with the alien. The artwork is also impressive with segments that feel like the food title cards of “Napoleon Dynamite” or Wes Anderson title sequences. And their alien technology has some good ideas, but they don’t really speak to us the way they should.

Most of the movie has to resort to arguments, arguments, and more arguments. You know what? I don’t care what anyone tells me. Arguments annoy me. Whether it’s between friends, lovers, or family. And this goes on and on.

“Jules” is obviously the better choice in this genre, because it keeps things simple. “Landscape with Invisible Hand” has ideas, but never really makes contact.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

Categories: comedy, Drama, Sci Fi

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