So You Want an Apocalypse? Hollywood's Got You Covered
|4:44 Last Day on Earth|
|It's the end of the world as we know it.|
films about the End of Days should be an indication that it might be time to start looking through your closet for appropriate apocalypse wear.
Discussing what will lead to the end of Planet Earth with friends over chips, salsa, and margaritas is one of the best ways to spend a chill Friday night. So naturally, Hollywood wants in on the fun, and lately has been piping in with some of its own suggestions.
Abel Ferrara's 4:44 Last Day on Earth, which played at the Miami Beach Cinematheque a few weeks back, predicts that the dwindling ozone layer will lead to our undoing. As I look around at some of the tans on South Beach, I'm starting to believe that Ferrara may not be too far off.
Later this month, the romantic comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World comes to the Regal South Beach. It stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, and tells us that it'll be a giant asteroid that will wipe out civilization. Personally, I've been convinced that it's Freightly Kneightly's acting that would do that, but an asteroid is also a possibility.
Of course, Rohland Emerich's mediocre disaster film 2012 suggests that this is the very year that the earth goes bye-bye, and that the Mayan calendar is proof. Never mind the fact that the Mayans weren't smart enough to manage survival, let alone predict the world's ending -- or that it was just a crappy movie.
The fact is, if we are indeed going the way of the dinosaur this year, we might as well get ready. And what better way to do so than watching the best films on the subject? While there is a never-ending amount of movies that talk about Armageddon disguised as a thriller or merely unapologetic disaster porn (including Armageddon, for starters), here's my own brief list of some apocalyptic cinematic journeys with real gravitas. You shouldn't miss these films, so hurry up and see them while there's still time.
Dr. Strangelove succeeds at being a masterful work of cinema in any genre, and a pretty kick-ass satirical story about the world's end and how we ultimately may be responsible for our own destruction. Made during the height of the Cold War, when the threat of a nuclear showdown seemed imminent, Stanley Kubrick's vision seems just as relevant in our current landscape. In it, we don't see the world's ultimate destruction -- but we do see that the megalomaniacal hunt for bigger, badder, and more dangerous weapons could lead to our own
end. As if the story weren't enough, the flawless Peter Sellers under Kubrick's direction is reason enough to see this film... and to sign a non-nuclear treaty.
In Children of Men, the human race is slowly dying off due to a two-decade-long pandemic of infertility. The end of the world is clearly in sight. The UK remains the only place on earth with some semblance of normality, but even then it's a dystopian society run as a police state dedicated to keeping immigrants and those who support them underfoot. Clive Owen becomes the unwilling accomplice to an African refugee who soon reveals she's pregnant and needs help avoiding British forces. While a world that is kids-free sounds delightfully appealing to me, I'm not sure I'd want it to go down quite like this. Alejandro Cuaron's Children of Men is an allegory rich with religious symbolism, strife, and hope -- one hell of a good movie.
Danish bad boy Lars Von Trier's Melancholia is a film about family drama, severe depression, and yes, the end of the world. Inspired by the filmmaker's own struggles with bipolar disorder, Melancholia presents a world where only the despondent are even-keeled enough to deal with doom. Kirsten Dunst (in the first role she's ever been truly great in) is the only calm one as the impending apocalypse approaches, courtesy of Melancholia, a star that is on its way to crash into our world. Not that she has much to be sad about. As the film starts, she's just married hunky Alexander Skarsgard at a palatial estate, and they end up fucking in the gardens -- that's the best medicine for the blues I can think of. But I digress.
Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg, this is a film of epic proportions and startling visual beauty. It also makes you hope that the world's end really will feature a soundtrack by Wagner.
Though the cynical among us might nod their heads in agreement when Kirsten Dunst declares, "The earth is evil; nobody will miss it" in Melancholia, I, for one, am not sure. So here's hoping the Mayans are wrong. I'd like to stick around at least a little longer -- if not to see the newest crop of doomsday flicks, then to see what the Magic City can do next to top our Zombie Cannibal. After all, we have a reputation to uphold.
Kareem Tabsch is the co-founder and co-director of O Cinema.
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