Exclusive: Midnight Special director Jeff Nichols on parental fears and scientists who believe in something greater

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From family feuds (Shotgun Stories) to unrequited love (Mud), the films of Jeff Nichols have often focused on deeply personal relationships and intense emotions. But they also sometimes dabble in genres with larger implications, from the is-it-or-isn’t-it apocalypticism of Take Shelter to, now, the explicit science-fiction/fantasy of his latest film, Midnight Special. Through it all, Nichols has kept his focus on the close and often familial connections between his main characters.

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How did Luke Skywalker “make his bones”?

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The Star Wars universe is a violent place.

Smugglers, bounty hunters and Jedi Knights are all experienced killers long before we meet them, and even a teenaged princess-senator thinks nothing of shooting a stormtrooper in cold blood right after he declares that he intends to take her alive.

But there is one character who stands out from all these hardened killers, one character who enters the story as a callow young farmboy and only gradually rises up to become an experienced warrior. I refer, of course, to Luke Skywalker.

And here’s a question that has been bugging me for some time: Who, exactly, was Luke’s first kill? In mafia parlance, how did Luke “make his bones”? And how did he feel about the fact that, y’know, he had just killed somebody?

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Bible movie of the week: The Last Days of Pompeii (dir. Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1935)

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Bible movies were big in the silent era, which came to an end in the late 1920s, and they were big again in the 1950s, when pious spectacle was all the rage — but very few were produced during the two decades between those eras.1 Hollywood, in particular, seemed to lose interest in the genre entirely during this period. Nevertheless, a few films did at least touch on the genre, even if they did not commit to it fully.

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The villain joins the action in a new Ben-Hur poster

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The first poster for the new Ben-Hur featured the titular hero leaning over the edge of his chariot. Now a British poster puts his nemesis Messala in the picture.

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Watch: The first trailer for the Lumo Project’s adaptation of The Gospel of Luke, now available on DVD in the UK

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The Lumo Project’s adaptation of The Gospel of Mark may have played in theatres last month, but it is their adaptation of The Gospel of Luke that came out on DVD.

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Bekmambetov on shooting the chariot race in Ben-Hur

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Time for another snippet from SlashFilm’s interview with Ben-Hur director Timur Bekmambetov. Last week he said the film will be “a realistic, deep drama” that uses a “very grounded” style of filmmaking. In today’s snippet, he talks about how that approach will apply to the story’s famous chariot-race sequence.

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