The year of J. C. Chandor's excellent and intense film is 1981. The city, New York. Numbers show that year to be one of the most violent, but the year could be nearly any in America. Chandor was making his movie as a gunman killed children in Newtown, Mass.
The themes are universal and familiar cinematic fare: family and children, hope and love, loyalty and betrayal. Their presentation is anything but routine in director Christopher Nolan's intense "Interstellar," written by Christopher and brother Jonathan. Given half a chance, their two hour 49 minute audiovisual extravaganza delivers an exhilarating and exhausting science-fiction trip through space and time.
Grief over a child's death cuts deeper than words can communicate. This unbearable tragedy is the engine that drives "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby." Conor and Eleanor's baby boy died, throwing their relationship and every aspect of their lives into crisis. Eleanor moves back with her parents, Conor with his father, as both struggle with some semblance of constructive coping.
The controversial, impeccably made “Zero Dark Thirty” chronicling the hunt for Osama Bin Laden begins with a dark screen. As we hear alarmed voices crying out we realize it’s 9-11. Cut to scenes of a terrorist suspect subjected to various tortures—waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in a small box—all in disturbing close-ups. CIA agent Maya observes, reacts, and comments.
Beginning with the prospect of an eerie, menacing storm, Take Shelter finds Curtis LaForche in a quizzical state of apprehension facing the ominous clouds. His puzzled, uneasy wariness will increase as nightmares intrude into his sleep and hallucinations populate his waking hours. Is he exhibiting the early signs of paranoid schizophrenia, as his mother did in her mid-30s?
More a spectacularly beautiful visual poem than a straight-ahead narrative, writer/director Terence Malick's much anticipated The Tree of Life gently urges kindness and love while deploring greed and ego. Interrogating the nature of existence and death, love and grief, Malick detours to contemplate the origins of the Earth and the evolution of nature with a dinosaur era scene.