Dorian Gray

  • Directors: Oliver Parker
  • Producers: Barnaby Thompson
  • Writers: Toby Finlay
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox, Rachel Hurd Wood

When a naïve young Dorian (Ben Barnes) arrives in Victorian London, he is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth), who introduces Dorian to the hedonistic pleasures of the city. Henry’s friend, society artist Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin), paints a portrait of Dorian to capture the full power of his youthful beauty. When the portrait is unveiled, Dorian makes a flippant pledge: he would give anything to stay as he is in the picture — even his soul.

Dorian meets and falls in love with young budding actress Sibyl Vane (Rachel Hurd-Wood). After a few weeks, he proposes marriage to her, but after Henry tells Dorian that having children is “the beginning of the end”, Dorian and Sibyl argue and he leaves her; the next day he learns from her brother “Jim” (James) that she killed herself and that she was going to have Dorian’s child before she did. His initial grief disappears as Henry persuades him that all events are mere experiences and without consequence, and his hedonistic lifestyle worsens, distancing him from a concerned Basil. Dorian goes home to find the portrait of himself warped and twisted and realises that his pledge has come true; while the portrait ages he remains ever-youthful, while his sins show as physical defects on the canvas. The chaos of the picture of Dorian Gray starts, leading to him actually killing Basil and dumping the body in the Thames after Basil sees the portrait.

A few months later, Henry is shown attempting to convince his ex-wife to allow him to talk to Emily, one side of his face badly burned by the fire, and the now-youthful portrait of Dorian Gray kept in his attic.

The Prestige

  • Directors: Christopher Nolan
  • Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
  • Writers: Novel, Christopher Priest, Screenplay, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Piper Perabo, Andy Serkis, Rebecca Hall

Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are plants for Milton the Magician (Ricky Jay), with Cutter (Michael Caine) as his illusion engineer. Angier’s wife, Julia (Piper Perabo) drowns while performing a predicament escape from a Chinese water torture cell, and Angier suspects that Borden bound her wrists with a new knot that he had suggested to Cutter before—one harder for her to undo than his customary one. At the funeral, Borden enrages Angier by saying he does not know which knot he tied.

The two men begin separate careers as magicians; Borden becomes “The Professor” and hires an engineer named Fallon, while Angier performs as “The Great Danton” with Cutter and Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) as his assistants. During a parlor magic job, Borden meets Sarah (Rebecca Hall); they marry and have a daughter, Jess. Sarah feels uneasy about Borden and his apparent fickleness; she claims to know when he loves her and when he does not. During Borden’s performance of the bullet catch, a disguised Angier again demands to know which knot Borden used. Borden and Fallon quickly realize Angier is going to shoot at Borden with a loaded gun. At the last second, Fallon intervenes, and the bullet severs two of Borden’s fingers instead of killing him. A disguised Borden later sabotages Angier’s performance of the vanishing bird cage illusion, damaging Angier’s reputation.

Cutter accompanies Angier to the abandoned building where the water tanks are stored, and helps him store the teleportation machine. Cutter leaves in disgust, silently acknowledging the arrival of Borden, who shoots Angier. Borden reveals that he and “Fallon” were identical twins who lived as a single individual, alternating lives as needed: one twin loving Sarah and the other loving Olivia. For the original illusion, a twin acted as the double. They were so committed to the illusion that they amputated the other twin’s fingers to match his brother’s injury; they also suffered the loss of Sarah as a result of their dedication to the illusion. Similarly, flashbacks recount Angier’s method: that each time he disappeared during his illusion, the machine would create a duplicate, with one Angier falling through a trap door into a locked tank and drowning, and another Angier teleporting to the balcony. Each tank stores a drowned duplicate of Angier for each time that he has performed the trick. Before leaving, Borden looks back at the aisles of tanks containing the dead duplicates and then leaves the dead Angier as a fire begins to consume the building. Borden reunites with Jess.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Jaume Roures, Stephen Tenenbaum, Gareth Wiley
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visit Barcelona for the summer, staying with Vicky’s distant relative Judy (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband, Mark Nash (Kevin Dunn). A narrator (voice of Christopher Evan Welch), present throughout the film, describes the two friends: Vicky is practical and traditional in her approach to love and commitment, and is engaged to the reliable but unromantic Doug (Chris Messina). She is in Barcelona getting her masters in “Catalan identity”. Cristina, on the other hand, is a nonconformist, spontaneous but unsure of what she wants from life or love.

At an art exhibition, they notice the artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Cristina is impressed with him at first sight, and grows intrigued when Judy and Mark tell the girls that the artist has suffered a publicly violent relationship with his ex-wife. Later that night, the girls notice him across the room in a restaurant. He approaches their table and quickly invites them to join him for the weekend in the city of Oviedo, in the small plane he flies himself, for sight-seeing, drinking wine, and (Juan Antonio hopes) making love. Cristina accepts the brazen offer almost at once, but Vicky refuses, strongly resenting his assumption that the two of them would agree to go to bed with him after less than five minutes’ acquaintance. She eventually decides to accompany her friend anyway, mainly as she says “to protect Cristina from making a big mistake”.

When Cristina returns from France, Vicky confesses the entire story to her. Cristina says she never knew that Vicky felt that way about Juan Antonio, and she (Cristina) wishes she could have helped her. Doug never learns the true version of events. As the three Americans return to the USA, Vicky goes back to her married life and Cristina remains where she started, not knowing what she wants, but knowing what she doesn’t. Since Vicky chooses to live her rigidly planned (a “perfect”) life, and Cristina chooses to live without making predetermined plans, they end where they began.

Frost Nixon

  • Directors: Ron Howard
  • Producers: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
  • Writers: Peter Morgan
  • Genres: Drama, History
  • Actors: Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Matthew Macfadyen, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Andy Milder

A series of news reports documents the role of Richard Nixon (Langella) in the bugging of members of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex up until news that the House of Representatives is likely to vote to impeach Nixon. The film then cuts to a behind the scenes view of Nixon making his resignation speech. Nixon is shown leaving the White House in a helicopter and flying away.

Meanwhile David Frost (Sheen) is finishing an episode of his talk show Frost Over Australia, until he comes off set to see Nixon entering the helicopter on a television. He asks a producer to ascertain the worldwide viewing figures for the event.

A few weeks later in the London Weekend Television (LWT) central office, Frost discusses with his producer and friend, John Birt (Matthew Macfadyen), the possibility of an interview. When Frost mentions Nixon as the subject, Birt doubts the likelihood that Nixon would be willing to talk to Frost. Frost then tells Birt that 400 million people watched President Nixon’s resignation on live TV.

Nixon is shown recovering from illness in La Casa Pacifica, in San Clemente, California, discussing his memoirs with literary agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar (Toby Jones), who tells the former president of a request by Frost to conduct an interview. Lazar mentions that CBS was offering $350,000 to Frost’s $500,000. In a series of cutaway interviews, Lazar explains how he managed to talk Frost up to $600,000.

Shortly before Frost returns to the UK, he and Caroline visit Nixon in his villa and Frost thanks him for the interviews. Nixon questions Frost if they really had a discussion on the phone, and asks what they discussed. Frost replies “cheeseburgers,” and bids goodbye to Nixon and leaves. The closing titles describe Frost’s future successes and Nixon’s continued controversy and absence from political activity until his death in 1994.