Another all-star cast movie (Cate Blanchett, Robert De Niro, James Gray, Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Hopkins, Donald Sutherland) to be released in November. Armageddon Time is a semi-autobiographical film by the director who’s lead character is named Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), his family’s surname changed at some point in the past in an effort to shroud their Jewishness from potential employers. He’s a middle-class 11-year-old living in single-home Queens in 1980, a dreamy troublemaker at school who would prefer to doodle and fantasize rather than pay attention to his dull disciplinarian of a teacher. Paul’s parents, Esther (Anne Hathaway) and Irving (Jeremy Strong) are loving but stern, and he has a special bond with his wise old grandfather, Aaron (Anthony Hopkins). On TV, Ronald Reagan is seen on his way to winning the presidency, while a classmate speaks
That classmate is Johnny (Jaylin Webb), one of the few Black kids in Paul’s class, who has a lonely home life in the care of his ailing grandmother. The two boys find that their rebellious streaks are well-suited to one another, and their antics escalate to the point of tragic disaster. Like Roma, Armageddon Time is perhaps most crucially an expression of guilt, an examination of the inequities complicitly abided by Paul and his family, by the Grays, and by so many other white Americans navigating their way through structures of authority and opportunity.
Armageddon Time is a damning moral drama that is in thoughtful dialogue with complex matters of race and class. The liberal-ish Graffs—with the annihilating memory of the Holocaust and the perniciousness of anti-Semitism in America looming so large at their dinner table—are somewhere in the middle of this country’s fraught hierarchy, trying to climb the ladder all the while ruefully aware of the people struggling beneath them.
with awe of a moon landing—just 11 years prior—he’s too young to remember witnessing.