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End of the world movies we will miss because of the end of the world

 

It's a shame that the world, according to Rapture experts, ends May 21 because that means we'll miss some interesting end of the world movies. Not necessarily films in which the world ends with a bang,  like "Armageddon" or '2012," but more the whimper kind--  reflective and philosophical.

Like Lars Von Triers's "Melancholia,"  which just premiered at Cannes. It sounds kind of like "Rachel Getting Married" meets "Deep Impact," as the upcoming nuptials of one of two contentious sisters looks like it might be disrupted by the sudden appearance of a hidden planet on a collision course with Earth. Bad news? Not necessarily for the ever optimistic Von Trier. "The Earth is evil," says the bride-to-be, played by Kirsten Dunst. "Nobody will miss it."  

Maybe it was that kind of devil-may-care, we're-all-doomed-anyway attitude that inspired Von Trier to announce his Nazi sympathies at a Cannes press conference.

 

"For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew," he is quoted in the "Hollywood Reporter" as saying.  "Then I  met [Danish-Jewish director] Susanne Bier and I wasn't so happy. But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler...I sympathize with him a bit."

So perhaps not the end of the world for the rest of us, but maybe for Von Trier's career, if the anti-semitic lapses of Mel Gibson and designer John Galliano are any indication. At least for those who don't see his comments as ironic.

Another end of the world, sort of, movie is Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life."


Actually, here we not only get the end of the world, in the form of the cosmic shut down billions of years in the future postulated by astrophysists, but the beginning as well, and then a kind of recap of the highpoints between the two, which some have compared to Kubrick's "2001" and others to Mel Brooks's "History of the World, Part 1."  Montaged between the beginning and end is a moody family melodrama spanning the 40s to the present day featuring occasional sightings of a frowning Sean Penn.

Okay, maybe at this point we could use a doomsday scenario of the old fashioned Hollywood sturm und drang type. Like Rupert Wyatt's  "Rise of the Planet of the Apes,"

 

a prequel to  Franklin Schaffner's  great adaptation of the Pierre Boulle novel. From the trailer seems oddly reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys," with befuddled scientist James Franco recalling the goofball animal rights activist played in that film by  Brad Pitt (who, incidentally, plays the part of a tyrannical father in "The Tree of Life") responsible for releasing a world dooming plague.

But the end-of-the-world-story I'd be looking forward to, if there was anything to look forward to after May 21, is Tom Tykwer's planned film version of David Mitchell's wonderful book "Cloud Atlas." Like "The Tree of Life," it takes in the big picture, from 1850 in the South Pacific to a dismal post-apocalyptic dystopia. The Wachowski siblings are producing and Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Jim Broadbent are among the stars. It's projects like this that give me hope for the future.


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