Bullhead (dir. Michael R. Roskam, 2011, Belgium)
Body Temperature (dir. Takaomi Ogata, 2011, Japan)
Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier, 2011, Denmark)
SPOILERS! (kinda, though I tried to keep it vague…)
The first half of Melancholia follows a lavish wedding reception b/w Justine and Michael (the towering Alexander Skarsgård) in a castle-like country estate adjacent to rolling fields of golf courses. Claire's husband John (a charming and caustic Kiefer Sutherland, whose astronomy connections have him very excited about Melancholia's impending "fly-by") hosts the thing, doling out extreme amounts of cash for a suitably end-of-days bash — except of course this isn't meant to be an end of days, the rogue telluric planet hidden behind the sun is approaching Earth only to pass by it, at least that's what experts are claiming. Lots of unexpected and warm humor here b/w Justine and Michael, beginning w/ trying to navigate their stretch limo through the bends and turns leading up to the castle. It becomes clear quickly that Justine's unhappy, once they're immersed in family and friends at the reception, as she grows sad, despondent, prickly and desperate amid her divorced parents' blatant arguments (her mother can't believe she got married) and even Michael's own attempts at affection. Claire meanwhile is always there, trying to comfort her sister. But when the party concludes, Michael leaves separately, unofficially nullifying the wedding. In part two, a now totally depressed Justine rejoins Claire and family at the estate, and the women ride horses and tend the garden in sublime moments of respite. We quickly understand that Claire has her own demons: she's deathly afraid of Melancholia, so much so that she distrusts John's prediction that it'll fly past them unscathed and has locked away a bottle of some unknown pills, assumedly so they can painlessly kill themselves. Justine is calm and cynical about the whole situation, growingly accepting of their eventual doom while accepting little Leo's affection in stride. And it's these final few minutes, with the thrum of the approaching Melancholia, the bass and then bass heat blasting from the speakers into our chests, the blue-white glare off the screen and sisters embrace: it's an image and experience I'll not forget anytime soon.