Er shi si cheng ji – Change and a city in China. In Chengdu, factory 420 is being pulled down to make way for multi-story buildings with luxury flats. Scenes of factory operations, of the workforce, and of buildings stripped bare and then razed, are inter-cut with workers who were born in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s telling their stories – about the factory, which manufactured military aircraft, and about their work and their lives. A middle-aged man visits his mentor, now elderly; a woman talks of being a 19-year-old beauty there and ending up alone. The film concludes with two young people talking, each the child of workers, each relaying a story of one visit to a factory. Times change.
Linha de Passe – In the periphery of So Paulo, the pregnant single mother Cleuza works as maid in the apartment of a middle-class family. Each of her sons has a different unknown father: the oldest, Dnis, has a baby son that lives with his mother and he works as motorcycle courier; Dinho is a converted Christian and works as attendant in a gas station; Dario is an aspirant soccer player that is getting older without the expected chance in a team; and the youngest, Reginaldo, is obsessed about finding his father who works as a bus driver, and spends most of his spare time traveling by bus. Along the months, each brother experiences new deceptions and expectations while the family fights to survive.
Blindness – The film starts out with a plague of white blindness that is spreading throughout a city at a pretty rapid pace. Its different from regular blindness, in the fact that the blind person usually sees nothing but black; while these infected people see white, milky nothingness instead. Fearing that this strange plague is highly contagious; the government panics and begins sending infected people to a quarantine zone that happens to be inside of an old, abandoned mental hospital with three wards. It is, in fact, contagious; as we see the blindness spread from a single, random person to a guy that helps him and then steals his car, to an eye doctor (Ruffalo) and then to all of his patients. The only person who seems immune to this outbreak is the eye doctors wife (Moore), who accompanies him to the quarantine facility- lying about her condition. The old sanitarium turns out to be a cramped, squalid hellhole and the more people that are brought in, the more problems start to occur.
Changeling – On 09 March 1928 in Los Angeles, Christine Collins lives with her beloved son Walter in Lincoln Heights. When she is assigned to work in overtime on Saturday in The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph as supervisor, she promises Walter to return at 4:00 PM to watch the latest movie of Charles Chaplin on the movie theater with him. However, she arrives home late and does not find her son; after seeking the boy out in the neighborhood, she reports the missing child to the police, but the police officer tells that she should wait twenty-four hours to register the complain. Five months later, Captain J.J. Jones communicates Mrs. Collins that her son had been found in DeKalb, Illinois, and is heading back home by train to reunite with her. In the train station, Christine does not recognize the boy as being Walter, but Captain advises her that his appearance has changed in five months. Sooner she confirms that the boy is not her son, but the corrupt LAPD does not accept her arguments. When Mrs. Collins is approached by the St. Paul Presbyterian Church Pastor Gustav Briegleb, who daily broadcasts protests exposing the corruption of the police force, she decides to disclose the evidence she has about the changeling to the press. However, the abusive Captain Jones sends Christine to an asylum to intimidate her. Meanwhile the efficient Detective Lester Ybarra is assigned to arrest and deport an illegal Canadian boy that is hidden in a ranch in Wineville. He captures the boy, who discloses hideous crimes committed by his compatriot Gordon Northcott.
La mujer sin cabeza – The Headless Woman of the title may be Ver(nica), the protagonist, or may be some more nebulous term for an Argentinian social group-in- denial. I see it as a dark play on the fact that the bulk of the film is in mid-close shot, with only enough frame to accommodate parts of the figures swarming around Ver. ‘Headless’ here is in the same sense as ‘faceless’, anonymity in the midst of the crowd. Yet here the roles are reversed and we follow the traumatised Ver (the focused and rather beautiful Mara Onetto), adrift either in shock or preoccupied with guilt after hitting a dog in the road with her car. Yet this fact is open to question. With considerable resolve she tries to talk of the possibility that she might have hit a person. It’s at this point that the social currents around her begin to take on an imperceptible tidal motion, a nebulous – out of frame, always out of frame – blanket of obfuscation and diversion. Cover-up is too strong a term.
Synecdoche, New York – Theater director Caden Cotard is mounting a new play. Fresh off of a successful production of Death of a Salesman, he has traded in the suburban blue-hairs and regional theater of Schenectady for the cultured audiences and bright footlights of Broadway. Armed with a MacArthur grant and determined to create a piece of brutal realism and honesty, something into which he can put his whole self, he gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in Manhattan’s theater district. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a small mockup of the city outside. As the city inside the warehouse grows, Caden’s own life veers wildly off the tracks. The shadow of his ex-wife Adele, a celebrated painter who left him years ago for Germany’s art scene, sneers at him from every corner. Somewhere in Berlin, his daughter Olive is growing up under the questionable guidance of Adele’s friend, Maria. He’s helplessly driving his marriage to actress Claire into the ground. Sammy Barnathan, the actor Caden has hired to play himself within the play, is a bit too perfect for the part, and is making it difficult for Caden to revive his relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel. Meanwhile, his therapist, Madeline Gravis, is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. His is second daughter, Ariel, is disabled. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. As the years rapidly pass, Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece. Populating the cast and crew with doppelgangers, he steadily blurs the line between the world of the play and that of his own deteriorating reality. As he pushes the limits of his relationships, both personally and professionally, a change in creative direction arrives in Millicent Weems, a celebrated theater actress who may offer Caden the break he needs.