‘Another Earth’ 2011

Seventeen year-old Rhoda Williams receives an acceptance letter from MIT and she celebrates with her friends. On the same night, a planet similar and close to Earth is discovered and called Earth 2. Rhoda drives her car looking at Earth 2 and crashes with composer John Burroughs, killing his pregnant wife and his baby son. Rhoda goes to prison and four years later she is released and moves to her parents’ house. She finds a job as high-school janitor, but tries to commit suicide. She survives, however, and submits an essay to a contest where the prize is a ticket to travel to Earth 2. Meanwhile the scientists discover that Earth 2 is a mirror of Earth and the synchronicity between the dwellers was interrupted when the planets were seen by each other. One day, Rhoda decides to visit John Burroughs, whose life was destroyed after the death of his family, to admit to him that she had killed his family. However she does not have the nerve to tell him the truth. So she lies and tells him he has won a free cleaning service of his home. Rhoda wins the writing contest, but meanwhile John and she have fallen in love with each other. Rhoda has to take a decision whether she goes or stays, but she wants to tell John the truth first.

‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ 2011

Eva Khatchadourian is trying to piece together her life following the “incident”. Once a successful travel writer, she is forced to take whatever job comes her way, which of late is as a clerk in a travel agency. She lives a solitary life as people who know about her situation openly shun her, even to the point of violent actions toward her. She, in turn, fosters that solitary life because of the incident, the aftermath of which has turned her into a meek and scared woman. That incident involved her son Kevin Khatchadourian, who is now approaching his eighteenth birthday. Eva and Kevin have always had a troubled relationship, even when he was an infant. Whatever troubles he saw, Franklin, Eva’s complacent husband, just attributed it to Kevin being a typical boy. The incident may be seen by both Kevin and Eva as his ultimate act in defiance against his mother.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2011 British-American psychological thriller drama film directed by Lynne Ramsay, and adapted from Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name. A long process of development and financing began in 2005, with filming commencing in April 2010.

Tilda Swinton stars as the mother of Kevin, struggling to come to terms with her son and the horrors he has committed. The film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was released in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2011.

Swinton was nominated for the Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild, and the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role. It was given positive reviews by both critics and audiences alike.

‘The Impossible’ 2012

A regular family – Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids – travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them?

The Impossible is a 2012 English-language Spanish disaster drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and written by Sergio G. Sánchez. It is based on the experience of María Belón and her family in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The cast includes Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland.

The film received positive reviews from critics for its direction and its acting, especially for Watts who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Response from victims

Simon Jenkins, a British survivor from Portsmouth, wrote to The Guardian, stating the film is “beautifully accurate”. This was in response to critics commenting that the film is “overdramatic” and “whitewashed”. He says of the comments, “As I must, I’ve never been the sort of person to revisit and analyse events of the past, but some of these articles frustrated me. Had this film been purely about the tale of a western middle class family’s ‘ruined’ holiday then I would have agreed. For me, it was the exact opposite. Rather than concentrating on the ‘privileged white visitors’, the film portrayed the profound sense of community and unity that I experienced in Thailand, with this family at the centre of it. Both for my (then) 16-year-old self and the Belón family, it was the Thai people who waded through the settled water after the first wave had struck to help individuals and families… The Thai people had just lost everything – homes, businesses, families – yet their instinct was to help the tourists.”

Support UK, a support group for survivors of the tsunami, lobbied to have the trailer screened with a warning notice beforehand. A spokesman for Odeon Cinemas stated that it had no control over the content of the BBFC-approved trailer, saying, “We can only apologise for any offence caused on this occasion.”

‘All That Jazz’ 1979

Choreographing and picking dancers for his current show whilst editing his feature film about a stand-up comedian is getting to Joe Gideon. Without the chemical substances, he would not have the energy to keep up with his girlfriend, his ex-wife, and his special dancing daughter. They attempt to bring him back from the brink, but it’s too late for his exhausted body and stress-ravaged heart. He chain-smokes, uses drugs, sleeps with his dancers and overworks himself into open-heart surgery. Scenes from his past life start to encroach on the present and he becomes increasingly aware of his mortality.

Critical Reception

In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called the film “an uproarious display of brilliance, nerve, dance, maudlin confessions, inside jokes and, especially, ego” and “an essentially funny movie that seeks to operate on too many levels at the same time… some of it makes you wince, but a lot of it is great fun… A key to the success of the production is the performance of Roy Scheider as Joe Gideon… With an actor of less weight and intensity, All That Jazz might have evaporated as we watched it. Mr. Scheider’s is a presence to reckon with.”

Variety described it as “a self-important, egomaniacal, wonderfully choreographed, often compelling film” and added, “Roy Scheider gives a superb performance as Gideon, creating a character filled with nervous energy… The film’s major flaw lies in its lack of real explanation of what, beyond ego, really motivates [him].”

TV Guide said, “The dancing is frenzied, the dialogue piercing, the photography superb, and the acting first-rate, with non-showman Scheider an illustrious example of casting against type . . . All That Jazz is great-looking but not easy to watch. Fosse’s indulgent vision at times approaches sour self-loathing.”

Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film two-and-a-half stars (out of four) in his 2009 movie guide; he said that the film was “self-indulgent and largely negative,” and that “great show biz moments and wonderful dancing are eventually buried in pretensions”; he also called the ending “an interminable finale which leaves a bad taste for the whole film.”

Upon release in 1979, master director Stanley Kubrick (who is referenced in the movie) reportedly believed it to be the “best film I think I have ever seen”. In 2001, All That Jazz was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. The Academy Film Archive preserved All That Jazz in 2001. In 2006, the film ranked #14 on the American Film Institute’s Greatest Movie Musicals list.

The film would be the last musical nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture until Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) and the last live-action musical nominated until Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001).

‘Great Expectations’ 1998

Based on Charles Dickens’ timeless tale, this is a story of the love of a man for an unreachable woman. Updated to modern day New York City, the story concerns a man of modest background who falls in love with a rich girl. But when a mysterious benefactor greenlights the man to make his dreams come true, everything done has the ultimate goal of making Estella fall in love with him…

‘Nocturnal Animals’ 2016

A “story inside a story,” in which the first part follows a woman named Susan who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband, a man whom she left 20 years earlier, asking for her opinion. The second element follows the actual manuscript, called “Nocturnal Animals,” which revolves around a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. It also continues to follow the story of Susan, who finds herself recalling her first marriage and confronting some dark truths about herself.

Critical Response

Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised the film, stating “Tom Ford’s first film since A Single Man is another winner”, and complimenting the performances of Gyllenhaal, Adams, Shannon and Taylor-Johnson. Steve Pulaski of Influx Magazine gave the film a perfect A+, saying, “Nocturnal Animals is one of the best films of the year. A layered, masterful work of interwoven storylines mixed with crime-drama craft, infused with the same kind of pulsating, West Texas-vibes we saw so beautifully in Hell or High Water, and multilayered storytelling at its finest, the film features gifted actors throwing themselves into performances that require massive versatility between scenes.”

‘American Psycho’ 2000

Patrick Bateman is handsome, well educated and intelligent. He is twenty-seven and living his own American dream. He works by day on Wall Street, earning a fortune to complement the one he was born with. At night he descends into madness, as he experiments with fear and violence.

Reception

American Psycho debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where it polarized audiences and critics; some showered the film with praise, others with scorn. Upon its theatrical release, however, the film received positive reviews in crucial publications, including The New York Times which called it a “mean and lean horror comedy classic”. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and praised Christian Bale’s performance as being “heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor”. In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, “The difficult truth is that the more viewers can model themselves after protagonist Bateman, the more they can distance themselves from the human reality of the slick violence that fills the screen and take it all as some kind of a cool joke, the more they are likely to enjoy this stillborn, pointless piece of work”. Newsweek magazine’s David Ansen wrote, “But after an hour of dissecting the ’80s culture of materialism, narcissism and greed, the movie begins to repeat itself. It becomes more grisly and surreal, but not more interesting”. In his review for the Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote, “If anything, Bale is too knowing. He eagerly works within the constraints of the quotation marks Harron puts around his performance”.