A new genre: empty-space operas

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Until a few weeks ago we looked to the movies for haunting spectacles of great cities suddenly stilled by epic events, their streets and squares devoid of visible life. Now we don’ have to look farther than our own doorsteps. We’re living inside a frightening drama with an indeterminate running time, beset by barely imaginable special effects. The films we choose to watch when we’re able to pry ourselves away from the news are likely to be life-affirming uppers. Yet another category might be worth checking out every now and then—movies celebrated for their scenes of eerie emptiness. They can do what art has always done, heighten and clarify our perceptions, help us understand what we’re feeling in our all-too- real lives.