Contact

  • Directors: Robert Zemeckis
  • Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey
  • Writers: Novel, Carl Sagan, Screen story, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, Screenplay, James V Hart, Michael Goldenberg
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, David Morse

Dr. Arroway is a scientist for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. She and her colleagues listen to radio transmissions in hopes of finding signals sent by extraterrestrial life. Government scientist David Drumlin eventually pulls the funding from SETI. After eighteen months of searching, Ellie is able to gain funding from reclusive billionaire industrialist S.R. Hadden, which allows her to continue her studies at the Very Large Array in New Mexico.

Four years later, with Drumlin applying pressure to close SETI, Arroway finds a strong signal repeating a sequence of prime numbers, apparently emitting from the Vega star. This announcement causes both Drumlin and the National Security Council, led by National Security Advisor Michael Kitz, to attempt to take control of the facility. As Arroway, Drumlin and Kitz argue, the team at the VLA discover a video source buried in the signal: Adolf Hitler’s welcoming address at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Arroway and her team postulate that this would have been the first significantly-strong television signal to leave Earth’s atmosphere, which was then transmitted back from Vega 26 light years away.

The project is brought under tight security and its progress is followed fervently worldwide. President Bill Clinton and Drumlin give a television address to downplay the impact of the Hitler image, while Arroway learns that a third set of data was found in the signal; over 60,000 “pages” of what appear to be technical drawings. Government specialists are unsuccessful in attempting to decode the drawings, which is eventually decoded by Hadden. He explains that the pages are meant to be interpreted in three dimensions, which reveals a complex machine that which allows for one human occupant inside a pod to be dropped into three rapidly spinning rings.

Ellie considers these answers and falls unconscious, finding herself on the floor of the pod where she is being repeatedly called by the machine’s control team. She learns that from all external vantage points, she and the pod merely dropped straight through the Machine. Ellie insists that she was gone for approximately 18 hours, but her recording devices only show static. Kitz resigns as National Security Advisor to lead a Congressional committee to determine if the Machine was a fraud by Hadden, who had the resources to set up an elaborate hoax, but has since died. Ellie is accused of collaborating with Hadden; she asks them to accept her testimony on faith. Kitz and White House Chief of Staff Rachel Constantine together reflect on the fact that Ellie’s recording devices contained 18 hours of static. Ellie is given continued grant money for the SETI program at the Very Large Array.

Hook

  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R Molen, James V Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo, Bruce Cohen
  • Writers: Screenplay, James V Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo, Screen Story, James V Hart, Nick Castle, Characters, J M Barrie
  • Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Charlie Korsmo, Amber Scott

Years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland and married Wendy Darling’s granddaughter Moira. As corporate lawyer Peter Banning, he has entirely forgotten his childhood as Peter Pan. He’s successful, but never has time for his wife Moira and children, Jack and Maggie. The family travels to London to visit Wendy, now very old and being honored for her work caring for orphans. Jack and Maggie are kidnapped by Captain Hook, who survived his run-in with the crocodile. Wendy tries to tell Peter of his past, but he does not believe her.

Tinker Bell visits Peter that night, taking him to Neverland. He wakes up among the pirates; then, observing Hook boasting of kidnapping Peter’s children to use as bait, Peter reveals himself. Hook is disgusted at his nemesis’ ineffectual condition. Hook’s henchman Smee concludes that being away from Neverland for so long has wiped his memory clean of the past. Hook is ready to have Peter and his children killed, but Tinker Bell convinces him into giving Peter three days to train for a duel. She takes Peter to the Lost Boys, led by Rufio, who initially do not believe he’s Peter Pan. Tinker Bell convinces them that he is Pan, and they re-train him. Peter is hampered by his inability to remember being a boy or how to fly. At the same time Hook decides to “teach” Peter’s children to love him as a means of demoralizing Peter when the day comes. Although Maggie does not fall for the ploy, the often-overlooked Jack listens, and with Hook cheering him on at a pirate baseball game (as his father had failed to do), he comes to accept Hook as a father figure.

With the help of Tinker Bell becoming human-sized and kissing him, Peter manages to find his flight-enabling “happy thought”: his love for Moira and becoming a father, the reasons he left Neverland. Peter leads the Lost Boys into battle with the pirates. Rufio takes on Hook while Peter rescues his son and daughter. Rufio dies, his last words telling Peter that he wishes he had a father like him. Jack is finally convinced that his father cares for him, and pleads to go home. Realizing that Hook will not stop and that he will return to threaten his family time and again, Peter resumes the duel. It ends when the giant crocodile falls down from his framework and swallows Hook. Peter passes on his sword and leadership to the biggest of the Lost Boys, Thud Butt, and flies back to London with his children. He awakens in his regular clothes at the famous statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and sees Tinker Bell one last time. He assures her that he still believes in fairies, and she leaves. He returns to his family, finally remembering who he is, and appreciating them all as he should.

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.