Film

Along with recent sensations like The Babadook and It Follows, Robert Eggers' debut feature The Witch immediately joins the pantheon of great horror movies, with the caveat that it's just barely a horror movie at all. The three films, all rich in metaphor, are effective for their common association with primal fears: of motherhood (The Babadook), of sex (It Follows), and of a vengeful or possibly nonpresent God (The Witch). But of the trio, The Witch is the least inclined to play by the genre rules.

Growing up in the 1980s, brothers Jay and Mark Duplass weren't into typical family movies. Their friends were enthralled by Star Wars, but Jay tells Fresh Air's Ann Marie Baldonado that he and his brother were more interested in "whatever showed up on HBO," including Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie's Choice and Hannah and Her Sisters.

Hail, Caesar!, the 17th feature from indefatigable screenwriting, directing and (pseudo-nonamously) editing brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, is rated PG-13 for "suggestive content and smoking." But save for one word — sodomy — and a few less clinical terms that have long been allowed on network TV, this genial farce set in 1950s Hollywood could've almost passed muster under the Hays Code. It follows a frantic couple of days in the life of Eddie Mannix, head of Physical Production for Capitol Pictures.

Kino Lorber

Tabu (1931) was the final film of renowned German filmmaker F.W. Murnau. Created on the edge of the sound era, the movie is silent, black and white and shot on location in the South Seas. It’s fairly unimaginable that an American studio would have attempted the feat, either with sound or color, yet it was distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is one of the last, great gasps of the silent era, and perhaps a fitting capstone to the career of Murnau, who died even before the film’s premiere.

How much does it matter that filmmakers accurately portray the scientific details — of cosmology or physics for instance, or evolutionary theory or genomics — on the big screen?

My initial response — "It matters a lot, of course!" — has changed after attending a Sundance panel presentation called "The Art of Getting Science Right" at the Park City film festival this week.

Pages