Pressed for time, another couple of short reviews to be posted...
Melancholia begins with the end. We see the world coming to its conclusion as two planets, one presumably being Earth, collide to a piece of music from Tristan & Isolde. The prologue plays like a dream, with imagery showing the impossible becoming possible (humans emitting electricity, the ground sinking so deep as branches come out to grab you). Some of this imagery repeats, mostly in a thematic sense as the film flashes back to months ago. The first half of the movie is about Justine (Kirsten Dunst) marrying Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) at the estate of Justine's sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). The second half of the movie is about Claire, along with her husband and son (Kiefer Sutherland and Cameron Spurr), observing a new planet about to make a fly-by across the Earth's path.
In the beginning of the movie, Justine is depressed as Claire tries to make her realize how happy she should be. In the second half of the movie, Claire is worried that the dreamscape we witnessed in the prologue will come true as Justine is ready to accept death. The sisters are polar opposites and in powerful feat of filmmaking, writer-director Lars Von Trier delivers one of his most impressive films to be a part of his devastating and inquisitive ouvre. Von Trier's film is visually simplistic, but features some of the best cinematography of the year. Everything about this film feels like it comes from a purely energetic and creative standpoint of trying to come to terms with the essential question of "why are we here?" As if our personal concerns have any relevance in the grand scheme of things.
Aside from the impressive cast (also starring Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Jesper Christensen, Stellan Skarsgard, Brady Corbet, and Udo Kier), with particular notice to the intense performances of Dunst, Gainsbourg, and Sutherland, Von Trier's grasp on creating intrigue out of the most unique situations (from dinner toasts to advertising taglines) cements him as one of the great living cinematic minds that is active in the industry today.