The First Wives Club

  • Directors: Hugh Wilson
  • Producers: Scott Rudin
  • Writers: Olivia Goldsmith, Robert Harling, Paul Rudnick
  • Genres: Comedy
  • Actors: Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, Elizabeth Berkley, Stockard Channing, Stephen Collins, Victor Garber, Marcia Gay Harden, Eileen Heckart, Dan Hedaya, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bronson Pinchot, Maggie Smith

At Middlebury College in 1969, four friends, Elise Elliot (Goldie Hawn), Brenda Morelli (Bette Midler), Annie MacDuggan (Diane Keaton), and Cynthia Griffin (Stockard Channing), are graduating. As graduation gifts, Cynthia (the valedictorian of the class) presents the girls with matching pearl necklaces. As the graduates take a commemorative picture of the four of them (presumably for the last time), Cynthia makes Annie, Brenda and Elise promise that they will always be there for each other throughout the remainder of their lives.

In the present time, the four friends eventually lose touch with one another, as evident when Cynthia is tearfully gazing at the picture of the four of them on that graduation day. She gives her maid a pearl necklace (identical to the one she gave to her friends on graduation day), and she has her mail letters to her college chums. She later walks outside of the balcony of her luxurious penthouse in a floor length fur coat, a cigarette and a drink, and then commits suicide by jumping off the balcony after learning through tabloids that her husband is divorcing her for a much younger woman. Her former friends aren’t doing much better: Brenda is divorced, left for a younger woman, depressed, and struggling financially. Elise, also divorced for a younger woman, is now an aging alcoholic movie star who has become a plastic-surgery addict to keep her career afloat. Annie, meanwhile, is separated and going through therapy with her husband. Shortly after Cynthia’s funeral, at which the three remaining friends are reunited for the first time since college, Annie’s husband Aaron (Stephen Collins) leaves her for her younger therapist (Marcia Gay Harden) and asks her for a divorce; Brenda has a rather unpleasant encounter at a clothing store with her ex, Morty (Dan Hedaya) and his younger and rather hateful mistress Shelly (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Elise finds out that her husband wants a divorce and is requesting alimony and half of their marital assets. Also, during a meeting with a director for a possible leading lady movie role, she discovers that she is only wanted for the mother of the leading lady. Shortly thereafter, the three friends receive the letter that Cynthia mailed to them before her suicide. After all three read their letter from Cynthia and feeling that they have been taken for granted by their husbands, the women decide to create the First Wives Club, aiming to get revenge on their exes. Annie’s lesbian daughter Chris (Jennifer Dundas) also gets in on the plan by asking for a job at her father’s advertising agency so she can supply her mother with inside information.

Deciding that revenge would make them no better than their husbands, they instead use these situations to push their men into funding the establishment of a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding abused women, in memory of their college friend Cynthia. The movie ends with a celebration at the new women’s center. Annie narrates that Elise started a relationship with a cast member in her new play, that Brenda and Morty reconciled their differences and got back together, and that when Aaron tried to get back together with her, Annie, she told him to “drop dead.”

The Dead Girl

  • Directors: Karen Moncrieff
  • Producers: Eric Karten, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Kevin Turen, Henry Winterstern
  • Writers: Karen Moncrieff
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy, Rose Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Kerry Washington

The Dead Girl is a quintet of stories about seemingly unrelated people whose lives converge around the murder of a young woman (portrayed by Brittany Murphy). The characters in the film are linked not only by their connection to her murder, but also by the difficult hand that life has dealt them. The film scrutinizes their inner struggles to overcome or surrender to their misfortunes.

The first story, titled The Stranger, focuses on Arden (Toni Collette), a quiet and diffident woman who lives with and cares for her verbally abusive, invalid mother (Piper Laurie). Arden is the character who finds the titular body and alerts the authorities, much to her mother’s dismay. She later encounters Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi), a grocery clerk obsessed with serial killers, and agrees to meet him for a date. While Arden prepares for the date in secrecy, her mother calls for her assistance. Upon her arrival to her mother’s room, Arden is berated with questions as to her appearance. Arden reacts angrily and attacks her mother before packing her suitcase and leaving home. She then meets Rudy and has masochistic sex with him.

The second story, The Sister, revolves around Leah (Rose Byrne), a depressed forensics student who prepares the titular body for an autopsy. She is obsessed with the idea that the body belongs to her sister who went missing a number of years ago. She resents the fact that her parents (Mary Steenburgen and Bruce Davison) are still searching for her lost sister and won’t accept that she is not coming back. When Leah convinces herself that the dead girl was her sister, she feels great relief and begins a relationship with her colleague, Derek (James Franco). Their blossoming romance is cut short, however, when she finds out that the dead girl is in fact not her sister. Leah is overwhelmed with sorrow and regret, but finds some solace in Derek, whom she asks for help.

The fifth and final story is called The Dead Girl and takes place a few days before Krista, the titular character, is murdered. Although she has had a hard life, Krista has a positive outlook and a sweet nature. She buys a big stuffed toy and asks her john, Tarlow (Josh Brolin), to drive her to Norwalk where her daughter lives, as her daughter’s birthday is the next day. Tarlow refuses at the last minute, however, so she has to borrow her landlord’s motorbike. Before she sets off, however, she attacks Tom (Dennis Keiffer), a man who had recently just beaten her girlfriend, Rosetta. She rings Rosetta and tells her that she’ll pick up her daughter and all three of them will move away and start a better life together. She asks Rosetta to tell her she loves her, but Rosetta simply tells her she has to go back to bed. Krista continues her journey to Norwalk but the motorbike breaks down and she has to hitchhike the rest of the way. She hitches a lift with Carl, who promises to take her to Norwalk. She is elated that she will make it there in time for her daughter’s birthday. The story ends with Krista smiling in the passenger seat of Carl’s car, wearing a pink vest previously seen in the storage space found by Ruth (Carl’s wife). She notes the time, 12:13 a.m., which was seen written on her arm while Leah (the Sister) was examining her body in the morgue.

The Maiden Heist

  • Directors: Peter Hewitt
  • Producers: Bob Yari, Lori McCreary, Rob Paris, Morgan Freeman, Michael LeSieur, Peter Hewitt, Brad Jenkel, Dennis Brown, David C Glasser, William J Immerman
  • Writers: Michael LeSieur
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime
  • Actors: Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman, William H Macy, Marcia Gay Harden

A comedy centered on three museum security guards (Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken and William H. Macy) who devise a plan to steal back the artworks to which they have become attached after the new curator has planned to have the artworks transferred to another museum.[2]

Mystic River

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Judie G Hoyt
  • Writers: Novel, Dennis Lehane, Screenplay, Brian Helgeland
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney

The film opens with three boys, Sean Devine, Jimmy Markum, and Dave Boyle, playing hockey in the street. While playing, the boys find a section of sidewalk concrete that is still drying. Jimmy impulsively writes his name in the cement and Sean follows. Dave begins to write his name in the cement, but a car pulls up and a man who pretends to be a plainclothes police officer gets out, scolds the three boys, and tells Dave to get in the car. After a second man in the front passenger seat (who appears to be a priest) turns and smiles at the boy, Dave looks out the back window to see Jimmy and Sean staring back at him as the car moves away. Hearing that Dave was taken away by a police officer, the parents of Jimmy and Sean agree that something is wrong and begin to look for him.

The film then cuts to Dave in the basement of the two child molesters who took him and then to Dave running away from the house through a forest.

Twenty-five years later, the boys are now grown and still living in Boston. Jimmy (Sean Penn) is an ex-con running a neighborhood store, while Dave (Tim Robbins) is a blue-collar worker, still haunted by his abduction. The two men are still neighbors and related by marriage. Jimmy’s 19 year old daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) is secretly dating Brendan Harris (Thomas Guiry), a boy Jimmy despises. She and Brendan are planning on eloping to marry in Las Vegas.

The film ends with the camera zooming towards Mystic River and fades to black.

Whip It

  • Directors: Drew Barrymore
  • Producers: Barry Mendel, Drew Barrymore
  • Writers: Shauna Cross
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a misfit in her small town, Bodeen, in Texas and has no idea where her life is going. She allows her mother to push her into winning beauty pageant after beauty pageant, despite having no interest in it herself. She and her friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) dream of escaping their small town, with Pash planning to go to an Ivy League School in a big city and Bliss hoping to find something that will help her figure out where she belongs. During a shopping trip to Austin she finds it — roller derby. She and Pash secretly go to the Roller Derby event in Austin under the pretense of going to a football game. Bliss only wishes to tell the Hurl Scouts that they are “her new heroes” and is suddenly thrown into the idea of being in Roller Derby herself when Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) replies “Well, put some skates on and be your own hero”. She practices roller skating until she’s ready for trials. She’s able to go to the trials in Austin under the premise of taking SAT preparation classes and ends up impressing Razor, the coach, landing herself a place in the team. After realising she needs to be ruthless in Roller Derby she realises she also needs to take charge in other aspects of her life and her parents and old friends are eventually able to accept that Roller Derby is where she belongs, even if only for “the moment”. [2]

The Mist

  • Directors: Frank Darabont
  • Producers: Frank Darabont, Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer
  • Writers: Screenplay, Frank Darabont, Novella, Stephen King
  • Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden, Nathan Gamble, Toby Jones, Marcia Gay Harden, Frances Sternhagen, Andre Braugher

The morning after a violent thunderstorm, commercial artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) witness an unusual mist moving towards their lakeside home. More immediately concerned with cleaning up in the aftermath of the storm, David and neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), along with David’s five-year-old son Billy (Nathan Gamble), go to the local grocery store, which, like the rest of the community, was left without power. While at the store, an increasing amount of police activity in the streets draws the attention of the patrons, culminating with Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) running to the store with a bloody nose warning of something dangerous in the oncoming mist. Seeing the mist roll over the parking lot and hearing the scream of a man who ventures outside, the store patrons heed Miller’s advice and seal themselves within the store, which is soon shaken by violent tremors. With visibility reduced to near-zero outside and uncertainty surrounding the fate of the man heard screaming before, a siege mentality takes hold. Unable to convince anyone to escort her back home to her children whom she left alone, a mother of two (Melissa McBride) departs into the mist by herself.

Driving through the mist, David returns home to find his wife has fallen victim to the spider-like creatures. Heartbroken, he drives the group south, witnessing the destruction left in the wake of the mist and encountering a tentacled beast towering hundreds of feet high. Eventually, they run out of gas without finding any other survivors. While Billy is sleeping, the four adults accept their fate, deciding that there is no point in going any further. With four bullets left in the gun and five people in the car, David shoots Amanda, Dan, Irene, and his son, Billy, to spare them a more violent death by the creatures. Sobbing, he attempts to shoot himself with the now-empty gun before exiting the vehicle to let the creatures in the mist take him. He hears what sounds like a creature moving toward him, but it is soon revealed as a Howitzer self-propelled gun, followed by a large contingent of soldiers equipped with NBC suits and flamethrowers. As the mist parts, several trucks filled with survivors pass David; among them the mother whom nobody from the store would escort and her two children. Realizing that the killings were needless and that he had been driving away from help the entire time, David falls to his knees screaming while two soldiers watch him in confusion.

Into the Wild

  • Directors: Sean Penn
  • Producers: Sean Penn, Art Linson
  • Writers: Jon Krakauer, Sean Penn
  • Genres: Adventure, Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Hal Holbrook, Kristen Stewart

Into the Wild recounts the life of Christopher McCandless, a real-life National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS)|student-athlete at Emory University, as told by his sympathetic sister. In response to his parents, whom McCandless perceives as materialistic, manipulative, and domineering, McCandless destroys all of his credit cards and identification documents, donates $24,000 (nearly his entire savings) to Oxfam, and sets out on a off-road|cross-country drive in his well-used but reliable Datsun towards his ultimate goal: to travel alone to Alaska and experience its nature firsthand. Along the way, he abandons his automobile in the course of a flash flood, to hitchhike after burning the remainder of his dwindling cash supply. He acquires a Perception Sundance 12 open-water kayak and goes down the Colorado River, into Mexico, and later returns to America via freight train to Los Angeles. Taking a circuitous route, he encounters many unconventional individuals along the way, such as a group of hippies, a farm owner (Vince Vaughn), and a lonely leather worker (Hal Holbrook) who offers to adopt and be a grandfather to McCandless. McCandless purposefully trudges onward to his final destination, arriving in the wilds of Alaska nearly two years after his initial departure. He starts living in a “Magic Bus”, used as a shelter for moose hunters. McCandless finds joy in living off the land and begins to write a book of his adventures. As the spring thaw arrives and he seeks to return from the wild, McCandless is cut off from civilization by the torrents of a swelled river one of his few admitted fears is of water. As his food supply of small game dwindles, he resorts to eating indigenous plants. Although he consults a book that he brought along in order to identify edible plants in the wild, he confuses an edible and a poisonous variety, which shuts down his digestive system and causes him to starve to death. In his final hours, he continues to document his demise in a painful and dramatic denouement.