My Week with Marilyn (2011) Film. Director : Simon Curtis

Sir Laurence Olivier is making a movie in London. Young Colin Clark, an eager film student, wants to be involved and he navigates himself a job on the set. When film star Marilyn Monroe arrives for the start of shooting, all of London is excited to see the blonde bombshell, while Olivier is struggling to meet her many demands and acting ineptness, and Colin is intrigued by her. Colin’s intrigue is met when Marilyn invites him into her inner world where she struggles with her fame, her beauty and her desire to be a great actress. (Imdb)

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One of the most exciting actresses working today, Michelle Williams accomplishes the near-impossible—portraying Marilyn Monroe as an actual person, not just an easily caricatured icon—in this charming bio-pic centering around the production of Laurence Olivier’s film The Prince and the Showgirl. Based on two memoirs by Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who worked as an assistant on Olivier’s film, My Week With Marilyn depicts Monroe’s numerous clashes with her imperious, classically trained director (played with great relish by Kenneth Branagh), maddened by his star’s method acting and her ever-present drama coach, Paula Strasberg (Zoë Wanamaker). Williams captures not only Monroe’s notorious fragility, both on-screen and off-, but also her magical, unclassifiable charisma. –NYFF

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The Divide (2011) Film Director : Xavier Gens

When a mysterious cataclysmic bomb devastates New York, eight strangers take refuge in the basement of their apartment building. The residents soon succumb to cabin fever as fear of sickness, dwindling supplies, and ruthless outside invaders, plays on their mind. However Eva, the only young woman, has her own worries as the men begin to regress into dangerous packs. She quickly learns to be ruthless if she wants to survive, aware that her sanctuary is becoming her hell. Will her survival ultimately be at the expense of her humanity? –SXSW

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Nuclear explosions force the residents of a New York apartment block to run from the building. However, the explosions force them into a basement. Eight residents are holed up in the building’s bomb shelter. They must acclimatise to each other in difficult, cramped conditions.(Imdb)

Detachment (2011) Film. Director : Tony Kaye

Detachment is a chronicle of three weeks in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes. Henry roams from school to school, imparting modes of knowledge, but never staying long enough to form any semblance of sentient attachment. A perfect profession for one seeking to hide out in the open. One day Henry arrives at his next assignment. Upon his entry into this particular school, a secret world of emotion is awakened within him by three women. A girl named Meredith in his first period. A fellow teacher Ms. Madison, and a street hooker named Erica, whom Henry has personally granted brief shelter from the streets. Each one of these women, like Henry, are in a life and death struggle to find beauty in a seemingly vicious and loveless world.  (Imdb)

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Director Tony Kaye (American History X) creates a unique and stylized portrait of the American education system seen through the eyes of substitute teacher Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). Henry wanders in and out of students’ lives, imparting knowledge where he can in the short time he has with them. Then a new assignment places him at a failing public school run by Principal Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden) and alters his insular world. Henry’s stoic front is slowly chipped away by three women who impact his view on life: a student (newcomer Betty Kaye), a fellow teacher (Christina Hendricks), and a teenage runaway (Sami Gayle).

Kaye has molded a contemporary vision of people who become increasingly distant from others while still feeling the need to connect. He assembles an astounding ensemble cast that includes Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, James Caan, Tim Blake Nelson, William Petersen, and Bryan Cranston, but it is Brody who carries the film on his able shoulders. He magnificently captures Henry’s complex psychology, using great nuance and intimacy to express the feeling of living in a world of people who either choose to ignore or are just ignored themselves.-Tribeca Film Festival

Take Shelter (2011) Film. Director : Jeff Nichols

Curtis LaForche lives in a small town in Ohio with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Hannah, a six-year-old deaf girl. When Curtis begins to have terrifying dreams, he keeps the visions to himself, channeling his anxiety into obsessively building a storm shelter in his backyard. His seemingly inexplicable behavior concerns and confounds those closest to him, but the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within his community can’t compare with Curtis’s privately held fear of what his dreams may truly signify.

Take Shelter features fully realized characters crumbling under the weight of real-life problems. Using tone and atmosphere to chilling effect, Nichols crafts a powerful psychological thriller that is a disturbing tale for our times. —Sundance Film Festival.

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Curtis, a father and husband, is starting to experience bad dreams and hallucinations. Assuming mental illness, he seeks medical help and counseling. However, fearing the worst, he starts building an elaborate and expensive storm shelter in their backyard. This storm shelter threatens to tear apart his family, threatens his sanity and his standing in the community, but he builds it to save his family’s life.(Imdb)

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Jeff Nichols went around the film festivals with his latest work, Take Shelter. First screened at Sundance in January, it was then presented at Cannes, where it won the Critic’s Week Grand Prize, at the Toronto International Film Festival and many others. This only goes to show how promising of a director Nichols is.

In Take Shelter, we step into the life of Curtis (Shannon), a construction worker leading a quiet and happy family life with his wife Samantha (Chastain), and their six-year-old daughter Hannah (Stewart), who is deaf-mute.

Husband and wife live in perfect symbiosis and are learning sign language along with their dearest daughter until they can find a solution to her hearing problem. Everything is fine until Curtis starts having dreams of an impending apocalyptic storm, which quickly turn into nightmares and begin gnawing at his everyday life, mental and physical, in such a distressing manner that he becomes paranoid about the people surrounding him and the safety of his household.

Torn between his fear of mental illness and his catastrophic premonitions, Curtis decides to build an underground shelter in his yard, against his entourage’s better judgment. In a few days span, this shelter becomes the obsession that estranges him from his friends, work and family.

Nightmare or premonition? Is Curtis mentally ill or are the people around him simply blind? Those are the questions that haunt the spectator until the end. With Take Shelter, Nichols demonstrates a great ability to juxtapose opposite climates. Without foreboding the viewer is thrown back into Curtis’ dark, unsettled mind, and forth into his quiet and stable surroundings. The director’s use of special sound and visual effects is equally perfect in the sense that they help create an atmosphere of horror and tension, without overtaking the entire film.

Labrador (Out of Bounds) (2011) Film. Director : Frederikke Aspöck

A desolate, windswept island. Stella and Oskar, a young couple, visit her father Nathan, who lives a lone life in the company of his labrador dog. Stella is pregnant and looking forward to the birth of her baby, but Oskar appears to be in doubt. When Oskar falls prey to Nathan’s provocations and feels bewildered by the relationship between father and daughter, a clash between the two men is inevitable and Stella is caught in between. –DFI

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A 2004 Cannes Cinefondation short film award winner, Danish director Frederikke Aspock makes a confident move into features with Out of Bounds. Dramatically low-key and somewhat leisurely even at a lean 72 minutes, the film nonetheless benefits from its evocative sense of place and striking ability to channel elemental and environmental forces into tricky human relationships.
Aspock calls the film a cinematic chamber play, and with just three characters, a single setting, and an intense focus on psychological conflict over physical action, the austere drama certainly fits that description. Yet while the bleak location and blistering weather plant expectations of unyielding Scandinavian severity, Aspock (an MFA filmmaking graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts) brings a delicate touch, even to some of the more emotionally freighted moments in Daniel Dencik’s screenplay.
The story covers the brief abortive visit from Denmark of Stella (Stephanie Leon) and her journalist boyfriend, Oskar (Carsten Bjornlund), to see her father for the first time in some years. A well-regarded but reclusive abstract painter, Nathan (Jakob Eklund) lives in a no-frills cottage on the shore of Gotland, a remote, rocky Swedish island in the Baltic Sea, with only his dog for company. (The film’s more enigmatic domestic title is Labrador.)
Oskar has vague ideas of coaxing an interview out of Nathan, but the artist’s unnerving mix of blunt candor and prickly evasiveness quickly nixes that hope. Nathan has chosen to withdraw from the world to this punishing outpost, and Aspock draws considerable texture out of the awkwardness of citified Oskar’s first encounter with his unwelcoming host. The communication shorthand of father and daughter also contributes to make Oskar feel like an outsider, competing for Stella’s affection.
Into this atmosphere of unease, Stella drops the news that she’s pregnant. Oskar has mixed feelings about becoming a father, and Nathan seizes on the younger man’s uncertainty to create friction between the couple. But while Nathan’s wilderness years have given him the suspiciousness and cunning of a lone wolf, Oskar is served by his journalistic instincts. He starts asking uncomfortable questions about Nathan’s late wife and his annual absences abroad, shaking the family tree.
While these revelations might have been pumped into thundering melodrama in other hands, Aspock and Dencik handle them with economy and restraint. The actors skillfully navigate the shifting dynamics among their characters and the director deftly exploits the tension and threat of violence that hang in the air, quite literally so when ravens start circling overhead. The film deserves credit for declining to tie up the experience into a neat takeaway lesson, instead acknowledging that messy, complicated relationships have a way of infecting everyone around them.
This is a modest feature that takes perhaps a little too long to establish a binding tone, but it’s absorbing and dramatically satisfying on its own terms. Aspock has an invaluable storytelling collaborator in cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jonck. In a somber shooting style marked by stark compositions, he captures the brooding, lonely landscape, battered by gelid waves, icy winds and snow, as a place where true feelings are harder to hide.

Ovsyanki (Silent Souls) (2010) Film.Director : Aleksei Fedorchenko

Present days. A man and his companion go on a journey to cremate the dead body of the former beloved wife, on a riverbank in the area where they spent their honeymoon.(Imdb)

When Miron’s beloved wife Tanya passes away, he asks his best friend Aist to help him say goodbye to her according to the rituals of the Merja culture, an ancient Finno-Ugric tribe from Lake Nero, a picturesque region in West-Central Russia. Although the Merja people assimilated into Russians in the 17th century, their myths and traditions live on in their descendants’ modern life. The two men set out on a roadtrip thousands of miles across the boundless lands. With them, two small birds in a cage. Along the way, as is custom for the Merjas, Miron shares intimate memories of his conjugal life. But as they reach the banks of the sacred lake where they will forever part with the body, he realizes he wasn’t the only one in love with Tanya…

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The rites and rituals of the Merja people—an ethnic minority of Finno-Urgric extraction originally from the Volga region of Russia—form the backbone of this lyrical, sensual and dreamlike film about love and loss. After his beloved wife Tanja dies, pulp factory CEO Miron calls on his best friend Aist to help him with his final goodbye. With water as a key element, director Aleksei Fedorchenko beautifully weaves the myths and traditions of this vanishing culture into his poetic film. The result is a melancholy and mystical journey following the complex and twisting currents of the human heart. –SFFS

Code Blue (2011) Film. Director : Urszula Antoniak

Marian, a middle aged nurse, devotes herself to her patients like a saint. Sometimes she even takes on the role of a redeemer, by helping the gravely ill to the soothing order of ultimate silence. When she gets linked to a neighbor in an act of common voyeurism, she becomes fascinated by him. Faced with the fragility of these newfound emotions, Marian surrenders to her human needs..

In the shadowy margin between life and death lies the hospital where Marian, an ascetic nurse in her 40s, dedicates herself like a saint to the gravely ill and the dying by giving them what is often their last contact with the warmth of a living body. Sometimes she even takes on the role of a redeemer, and helps her patients out of their misery by sending them to the soothing order of death. These moments are precious to Marian – for her, death is a moment of ultimate intimacy. Outside the hospital, Marian lives a solitary life, driven by perfection and control. Occasionally, though, her suppressed feelings rise and make her drift away from her daily routine: one day, she meets a stranger in the bus, instinctively follows him to the video store and fantasizes about him. When Marian sees the man again she gets involuntary linked to him in an act of shared voyeurism. The sudden act of intimacy between them first repels then fascinates, transfixes and frightens her. Faced with the fragility of her newfound emotions, Marian realizes that she must give in to her human needs, even if this intimacy comes with a price… (Imdb)

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Marian, a middle aged nurse, devotes herself to her patients like a saint. Sometimes she even takes on the role of a redeemer, by helping the gravely ill to the soothing order of ultimate silence. When she gets linked to a neighbor in an act of common voyeurism, she becomes fascinated by him. Faced with the fragility of these newfound emotions, Marian surrenders to her human needs..(Mubi)