Final Fantasy VII Advent Children

  • Directors: Tetsuya Nomura, Takeshi Nozue
  • Producers: Yoshinori Kitase, Shinji Hashimoto
  • Writers: Kazushige Nojima
  • Genres: Animation, Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Seiyu, Takahiro Sakurai, Showtaro Morikubo, Maaya Sakamoto, Ayumi Ito, English voice actors, Steve Burton, Steve Staley, Mena Suvari, Rachael Leigh Cook, George Newbern, Wally Wingert, Christy Carlson Romano

Two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII, the survivors of Midgar have begun to build a new city, Edge, on the outskirts of the old metropolis. A strange disease known as “Geostigma” has arisen. After Cloud’s showdown with Sephiroth, he has been living with Tifa in Edge. Marlene and an orphaned boy named Denzel have been entrusted to their care. After receiving a message from Tifa, Cloud is attacked by three men, Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, who believe that he has hidden their “mother”. The leader, Kadaj, ends the battle as he discovers that Cloud does not have their “mother”. Cloud responds to a message from Tifa, who tells him that the Turks have a job for him. At the meeting place, Cloud discovers that Rufus Shinra is still alive. Rufus attempts to enlist Cloud’s help to stop the trio, but fails. Kadaj arrives and demands that Rufus tell him where to find his “mother”. It is revealed that his “mother” is Jenova’s remains, and is somehow connected to the cause of the Geostigma. The trio are planning a new “reunion” that will culminate in an assault on the Planet.

Loz arrives at Aerith’s church in an attempt to find Jenova’s remains, and is confronted by Tifa. After battling Tifa, he receives instructions on his cell phone to capture Marlene. Kadaj and the gang begin collecting children infected with Geostigma, including Denzel and the uninfected Marlene, and take them to the Forgotten City. Cloud attempts to rescue them but fails, and is quickly defeated, and is then rescued by Vincent Valentine, who reveals to Cloud what the trio is seeking and that it could result in the return of Sephiroth. Cloud agrees to return to Edge and face Kadaj in battle. In Edge, the trio call forth several monsters to attack the populace, including the summon “Bahamut SIN”. While Cloud’s companions deal with Bahamut SIN, Reno and Rude try to take care of Yazoo and Loz until Cloud arrives. Cloud and his friends are able to dispatch the monsters and Bahamut SIN.

Afterward, Cloud appears surrounded by a white light, and Aerith and Zack are heard. Zack tells Cloud that his place is not with them yet, and sends him back. Cloud awakens in a pool of Lifestream-infused water in Aerith’s church, surrounded by his friends and the citizens of Edge. After curing the Geostigma-infected children, he turns and sees Aerith crouching by some children. As she stands and walks to the doorway, she turns back to assure Cloud that she is all right, and steps into a white light with Zack.

American Beauty

  • Directors: Sam Mendes
  • Producers: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
  • Writers: Alan Ball
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper

Lester Burnham (Spacey) is a 42-year-old father and advertising executive who serves as the film’s narrator. Lester’s family life is messy—his wife Carolyn (Bening) is an ambitious real-estate broker who feels that she is unsuccessful at fulfilling her potential, and his 16-year-old daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is unhappy and struggling with self-esteem issues. Lester himself is a self-described loser in a dead end job with despicable bosses he does not respect. Lester is reinvigorated, however, when he meets Jane’s friend and classmate Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) at a high school basketball game. Lester immediately develops an obvious infatuation with Angela, much to his daughter’s distress. Throughout the film, Lester has fantasies involving a sexually aggressive Angela in red rose petals. The Burnhams’ new neighbors are Col. Frank Fitts, USMC (Cooper), his dissociative wife Barbara (Janney) and his teenage son Ricky (Bentley). When introduced to the gay couple living two doors down, Col. Fitts reacts with homophobic disgust.

Over the course of a few days, each of the Burnhams individually makes a life-changing choice. Carolyn meets real estate rival Buddy Kane for a business lunch and ends up beginning an affair with him and later takes up shooting lessons. Seconds away from being downsized, Lester defiantly blackmails his boss, quits his job and takes up low-pressure employment as a burger-flipper at a fast food chain. He continues to liberate himself by trading in his Toyota Camry for his dream car, a 1970 Pontiac Firebird, starts running and working out to “look good naked” in order to have a body that will impress Angela, and starts smoking marijuana. Jane grows increasingly disillusioned with and distant from Angela, allowing herself to develop a romantic relationship with Ricky. Ricky and Jane bond over what he considers to be the most beautiful camcorder footage he has ever filmed, that of a plastic bag dancing in the wind; meanwhile, Ricky also quickly befriends Lester and secretly acts as his marijuana supplier.

Ricky and Jane enter the kitchen to find Lester dead, hunched over in a pool of his own blood. Ricky studies Lester’s face, intrigued by the fact that Lester almost has a hint of a grin on his face. In his final narration, Lester looks back on his life, intertwined with images of everyone’s reactions to the sound of the subsequent gunshot and Lester’s death, including one blood-soaked and shaken Col. Fitts returning to his home with a gun missing from his collection. Despite his death, Lester, from his vantage point as narrator, is happy, explaining that it’s hard to be mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.