In his charming film "I'll See You in My Dreams," co-writer/director Brett Haley repeatedly shows that the nominal decisions made daily in a person's life have monumental importance and significant drama. A widow for two decades, Carol Petersen's story unfolds slowly through interaction with supportive friends and daughter Leslie.
Director Cédric Jimenez's "The Connection" details the burgeoning international heroin trade channeled through Marseille, France, mid-1970s into the 80s. Those enmeshed in what we call the French Connection, since it stretched to the U.S., consisted of magistrates, prosecutors, judges, and multiple battling criminal factions. Fueled by greed, bribery and murder, corruption and fear ruled the day.
The very title "Good Kill" signals inherent tension, and this film concentrates that tension on Major Tom Egan. An F-16 fighter pilot with six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Egan now sits in an air-conditioned cubicle on an Air Force base outside Las Vegas where he pilots drones, often at the direction of a disembodied CIA voice from Langley.
Based on an astonishing true story, "In the Name of My Daughter" begins in 1976 with the fashionable Renée expertly managing the Palais de la Mediterranée casino in Nice. Trouble arrives as divorcee daughter Agnès, back from Africa, succumbs to a passionate obsession with Maurice, Renée's womanizing legal assistant. He's conspiring with the Mafia's devious scheme to control Renée's casino.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" immediately gears up with a stunningly staged chase scene featuring armored tractor trailers and elaborately outfitted dune buggies resembling would-be porcupines outfitted with ferocious flame throwers. After a roughly 25-minute chase and a brief pause, another incredible pursuit follows with wildly destructive, fierce motorcyclists added. One more relatively quiet scene quickly yields to another mind-boggling chase.
Director Thomas Vinterberg's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel "Far from the Madding Crowd" mines that story with unabashed, joyful indulgence. Because of that earnest emotional embrace, the solid acting of Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, and Charlotte Bruus Christensen's dazzling cinematography, the period piece successfully flaunts its 19th century elegance and melodramatic appeal.
If there were truth in titles, the film "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" would confess to partial accuracy. Indeed Allan Karlsson does celebrate his 100 birthday by fleeing his nursing home, escaping through a window. But Allan definitely does not disappear. In fact, providing periodic voiceover commentary, Allan is the catalyst for assorted mayhem.
In the first scene of "Clouds of Sils Maria," Maria Enders and her personal assistant Valentine are in transit, on a train to Zurich, Switzerland, jostling along tied to technology, irritated with intermittent cell phone service. This opening establishes the film's central relationship and, within minutes, the tragedy that will shape subsequent decisions.
As dazzling for the brain as for the eyes, the science fiction film "Ex Machina" challenges assumptions about human emotion and behavior. Wealthy entrepreneur Nathan (first names used only) has his firm's top programmer, Caleb, flown to his remote, ultramodern research facility. He's selected Caleb for a Turing test, that is, can Caleb differentiate between A.I. and human intelligence, responsiveness.
Inspired by true events, "The Water Diviner" thrusts the viewer into the December 1915 Battle of Gallipoli, pitting Turkish troops against the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) trying vainly to control supply routes. Both sides would suffer a quarter million casualties. ANZAC's dead would reach almost 50,000; the Turks' dead an estimated 65,000. This story focuses on three brothers.