Will Smith plays the last man on earth in this third movie based on Richard Matheson’s novella. Scientist Robert Neville was immune to the virus that wiped out everyone. He spends his days hunting for food in the deserted streets of Manhattan, now overgrown with brush and inhabited by deer, and working in the lab to find a cure for the virus. And he spends his nights barricaded to protect himself from the infected creatures who are hunting him. Once human, they are now mindlessly enraged vampire/zombie killers who can do nothing but devour.
Okay, they can do one other thing. They can learn. In their feral, furious way they can cooperate and plan. Neville can trap them for his experiments or throw them off his trail, but they keep getting smarter. He is not just their prey — he is their teacher, and he is teaching them how to get him.
Ira Sachs is the writer/director of “Married Life,” a story set in 1949 about a married man (Chris Cooper) who falls in love with a young widow (Rachel McAdams). He believes that it would be kinder to kill his wife (Patricia Clarkson) than to leave her. Pierce Brosnan plays his best friend, who finds himself learning secrets from all three of the other characters.
This is your first film set in another time. What does that bring to the story?
Every time you make a fim you create a world. You make decisons about sets and costumes and you create a universe connected to reality but not reality itself. The year 1949 was a choice that we made and we were authentic to that choice. But as William Faulkner said, “The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.” Our parents, our grandparents, are like ourselves; they were full-bloofed full-bodied people who had sex and fights and relationships and and were not different from us. So even though it is set in another time, it is about us.
Elements of this film are very stylized and yet it straddles more than one genre.
Suspense films are often based on communication problems, and that affects all of the plot points. It almost gives it kind of a fable feeling. The animated title sequence gives the audience the understanding that they should not take what follows too literally. It is an entertainment that speaks about things that are very true. Mildred Pierce is not the [documentarian] Maysles brothers [of Grey Gardens]. Movies are romantic fantasies. As i’ve gotten less righteous, less pedagogic, I have become more loving of the artificiality, the art form, the imitation of life in film. That is the way I hope people approach this film, directly. Enjoy its roller coaster ride of twists and turns, not to have to think about it while you watch but it will give you food for thought. I am trying to take advantage of entertainment as not being a negative word. One of the things that is different is that it does not stick to any one genre, like a good cocktail, a mix. It is something original, something new. It uses all those genres beause they are all part of our collective understanding of how to tell a story.
There was a feeling on the set that we all had a chance to do something adventurous emotionally, a genre film on some levels, but with something bubbling up underneath.
This quiet little independent film is the story of the friendship between two New York City schoolteachers, an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim, who transcend the assumptions of those around them. They quickly realize that they have more in common with each other than they do with the very secular teachers at the school, who see them as relics from a past best forgotten.
The two young women recognize the historic and modern-day conflicts between their groups. One of the sweetest moments in the film is when they use their students’ assumption that they must hate each other for a learning opportunity about tolerance. The two women are respectful of each other’s traditions and supportive of each other’s devotion to faith and family. But they share their fears and frustrations with one element of tradition that makes both of them uncomfortable — the highly parent-directed courtship system that most contemporary young women would consider hopelessly anachronistic.
What makes this movie especially endearing is its own respect for the choices made by the women to honor but find their own way within the traditions and observances of their religious faiths. Lovely performances by Zoe Lister Jones and Francis Benhamou and the quiet intimacy of low-budget film-making bring us inside the story so deeply that the beautiful final image fills our hearts with a resonance that lasts for days.
Tribute: Wes Craven We mourn the loss of director Wes Craven, who knew what scared us and knew how much we loved being scared. His series films included "Scream," "Nightmare on Elm Street," and "The Hills Have Eyes." My friend Simon Abrams interviewed Craven for ...
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