Munich

  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Barry Mendel, Colin Wilson
  • Writers: Book, George Jonas, Screenplay, Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
  • Genres: Drama, History, Thriller
  • Actors: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Geoffrey Rush, Ayelet Zurer, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Gila Almagor, Moritz Bleibtreu

The film begins with a depiction of the events of the Munich Massacre in 1972. After the killings, the Israeli government devises “an eye for an eye” retaliation. A target list of eleven names is drawn up in retaliation for the eleven Israeli men murdered.

Avner, an Israeli-born Mossad agent of German descent, is chosen to lead the assassination squad because he is not well-known in the field and he knows his way around Europe. To give the Israeli government plausible deniability, Avner officially resigns from Mossad, and the squad operates with no official ties to Mossad or the Government of Israel. Avner is given a team of four men: Steve, a South African driver; Hans, a document forger from Frankfurt; Robert, a Belgian toy-maker trained in defusing explosives; and Carl, a former Israeli soldier who “cleans up” after the assassinations. Since the Mossad is “not connected” to the mission, Avner and his team set about tracking down the eleven targets with the help of an informant, Louis, who is introduced to Avner by an old friend.

The group go to Rome to track down and shoot their first target, Abdel Wael Zwaiter, who is broke and living as a poet in Italy where he has translated One Thousand and One Nights into Italian. The group follows him, from a speech he gave to a small audience, to his apartment building. After confirming the poet is indeed Abdel Wael Zwaiter (by asking him), two members of the nervous squad (Avner & Robert) make their first kill.

A postscript states that nine of the men originally targeted by Mossad were assassinated. It adds that Salameh was eventually killed in 1979.

The Horse Whisperer

  • Directors: Robert Redford
  • Producers: Patrick Markey, Robert Redford
  • Writers: Nicholas Evans, Eric Roth, Richard LaGravenese
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Dianne Wiest, Scarlett Johansson

Teenager Grace MacLean (Johansson) and her best friend Judith (Kate Bosworth) go out early one winter’s morning to ride their horses. As they are riding up an icy slope, one of the horses falls, dragging both horses and girls onto a road where a truck appears, resulting in a horrific collision. Judith and her horse (Gulliver) are killed, while Grace and her horse (Pilgrim) are both severely injured.

Grace eventually recovers physically, though she is left with a partial leg amputation and remains listless and psychologically scarred and prone to anger. However, her horse is traumatized and uncontrollable to the extent that it is suggested he be put down. Grace’s mother, Annie (Kristin Scott Thomas), a brilliant editor, refuses to make the decision and the animal is left to suffer for some time.

Meanwhile, Annie and her husband, Robert (Sam Neill) have serious marital problems of their own. Robert is rather self-centered, emotionally unsupportive of Annie in general, and he disparages Annie’s desire to help Pilgrim survive and recover. Annie has grown apart from Robert in the past few years and neither are sure they love each other anymore.

Knowing that it is up to her to heal both her daughter and her daughter’s horse, Annie contacts Tom Booker (Redford), a “Horse Whisperer”, who agrees to help, on the condition that the despondent Grace takes part in the process. Since Tom is reluctant to fly from Montana to New York, Annie must pack a struggling Pilgrim and a moody, combative Grace into her own car and trailer and drive thousands of miles westward to the Booker ranch.

Annie understands this also and in tears, hugs Tom goodbye. Although part of her wishes she could stay on the ranch permanently, deep down inside, she knows she cannot, that Grace needs her, she must bring Pilgrim home again, and that her true home is in New York City. She understands that she would not be happy living a ranch life for long. The film ends with Annie driving away from the ranch through the western foothills. It is assumed but not confirmed that Annie chooses to return to New York, her husband Robert and daughter Grace.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Directors: David Fincher
  • Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Cean Chaffin
  • Writers: Screenplay, Eric Roth, Screen story, Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, Short story, F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
  • Actors: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton

The elderly Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is on her deathbed with her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches in August 2005. Daisy tells the story of a blind clockmaker named Gateau (Elias Koteas), who was commissioned to create a clock to hang in the New Orleans train station. After receiving news of his son’s death in World War I, he continued work on his clock, but intentionally designed it to run backward, in the hope that it would bring back those who died in the war. After her cryptic story, Daisy asks Caroline to read aloud from a diary containing photographs and postcards written by Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). Caroline begins to read as the story transitions to Benjamin’s narration.

On November 11, 1918, just as the people of New Orleans are celebrating the end of World War I, a baby boy is born with the appearance and physical maladies of an elderly man. The mother of the baby dies shortly after giving birth, and the father, Thomas Button (Jason Flemyng), takes the baby and abandons him on the porch of a nursing home. Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) and Tizzy (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a couple who work at the nursing home, find the baby. Queenie, who is unable to conceive, decides to take the baby in as her own, against Tizzy’s wishes. She names the baby Benjamin.

In the 2005 hospital room, the hurricane raging outside downs the electrical system. As Caroline briefly leaves the room, Daisy passes away, her wish of seeing Benjamin again seemingly answered by a hummingbird hovering outside the storm-drenched windows. Against the sounds of the city’s emergency sirens and reports of breached levees, the backwards clock is shown in a basement, still working, as floodwaters envelope the storage room where it is kept.

Forrest Gump

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch, Charles Newirth
  • Writers: Winston Groom, Eric Roth
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field

The film begins in medias res with a white feather falling to the feet of Forrest Gump, who is sitting at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia. Forrest picks up the feather and puts it in the book Curious George, then tells the story of his life to a woman seated next to him. The listeners at the bus stop change regularly throughout his narration, each showing a different reaction to his narration ranging from disbelief and indifference to rapt veneration.

His mother runs a boarding house in Alabama. One guest, a musician (later revealed to be Elvis Presley) picks up his own style of dancing from watching Forrest’s shaky movements caused by his leg braces. To get Forrest into a normal school, Forrest’s mother bribes the school’s Principal with sexual favors. On his first day of school, he meets a girl named Jenny Curran, a girl who is sexually abused by her father and who becomes his life’s love. One day after school, Forrest is being threatened by a group of bullies. Jenny tells him to run, and so he does, losing his leg braces in the process. His fast running ability becomes his favored method of travel, and during his senior year in high school, threatened by the same group of bullies, he runs through a football field and gets himself into college on a football scholarship playing for Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama. He excels at football so much that he becomes an All-American, and meets President John F. Kennedy.

Forrest’s core character and personality are also changed from the novel, among other things he is an autistic savant – while playing football at the university, he fails craft and gym, but receives a perfect score in an advanced physics class he was enrolled in by his coach to satisfy his college requirements.