Solace, the latest neo-noir police thriller from Afonso Poyart, has been called a cross between The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. Anthony Hopkins stars as John Clancy, a doctor with psychic abilities who, in a sort of good guy role inversion of Hopkins’s Hannibal Lecter character, comes out of retirement to help solve a string of related murders. Gradually, Clancy learns that the serial killer, Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell), is a clairvoyant himself—and a better one than Clancy at that. The challenge then becomes to predict the other’s movements before the other can predict his. In other words, it’s like Hannibal Lecter is chasing himself.
There’s a famous line about Ginger Rogers and her struggle for recognition in a male-dominated Hollywood: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in heels.” It’s a great little phrase and you can (as Barack Obama did recently) easily sub out Rogers for any number of famous women. One such woman is Elaine May, an extraordinary screenwriter and director who, like Rogers, risked disappearing in the shadow of her male creative partner. To my mind, May was the Rogers to Mike Nichols’s Astaire.
Does the date November 20, 1984, ring any bells for you? Probably not, but perhaps someday we’ll recognize it as the beginning of all our tomorrows. On that day 30 years ago, several scientists founded the SETI Institute, a nonprofit organization that monitors artificially generated radio signals from deep space. SETI, which stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, remains an active player in astrobiological studies, public outreach and science education to this day. But until we finally make first contact, we’ll have to make do with some movies about it! Here are my picks for films about our search for life beyond the stars.
This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event remembered as a symbol of German reunification and a success story for youth-driven revolution everywhere. For nearly 30 years, the wall had been a divisive presence on both sides; the Communist authorities on the Eastern side justified its construction as an Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, or Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart, while West Berlin’s mayor Willy Brandt called it the “Wall of Shame.”
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Yet it’s hard to believe its otherworldly landscape of gaping trenches, snarls of barbed wire and seas of mud existed as recently as that. For me, the Great War divides the world before from the world after: It’s arguably the difference between horses and cars, bayonets and machine guns. World War I introduced the horrors of large-scale violence, the danger of hubris and misguided patriotism, as well as the absurdity of war, and in the past century several films have enshrined the lessons of this tragic historical memory, notably Paths of Glory, Grand Illusion and Lawrence of Arabia. But below is my short list of three standout WWI movies that encompass the historical and emotional aspects of the war.