Strange Days, Indeed
End-of-the-World Films Battle the Clock
How many visions of our impending doom does it take before Hollywood finally gets sick of the millennium and moves on to lesser numerics? Three, apparently. In the absence of any major Y2K-glitch scenarios, filmmakers have fallen back on that most tried-and-true bugaboo to come around the pike since A.D. 1000: the apocalypse. Peter Hyams leads off with box-office mayhem king Arnold Schwarzenegger in End of Days, which pits the ersatz Kennedy kin against Gabriel Byrne as Satan himself, who has come to (where else?) New York City looking for a bride. With a script by Andrew Marlowe (Air Force One) and visual-effects wizardry by Stan Winston, End of Days at least promises some sublimely Teutonic, Satanic butt-whomping. Taking a more subdued tack is Don McKellar's (writer of The Red Violin) Canadian version of The End, Last Night, which thankfully promises to examine the cessation of human existence via a more ambivalent, humanist eye. McKellar, Sarah Polley (Go), and Geneviève Bujold are among the Torontonians who find themselves quietly (and not so quietly) preparing for their demise in a variety of ways, some with wild sex and all-night partying, others with the calm mundanity of doing the dishes. Even Canadian auteur David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch) pops up as a gas-company employee towing the company line until the bitter end. Anyone who recalls how effective Cronenberg was as the hooded serial killer in Clive Barker's Nightbreed will want to check out Last Night just to see what he has up his psychotic sleeve this time. But for plain ol' atomic holocaust, there's always the comfort of Stanley Kubrick's apocalyptic comedy, Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which is being re-released in Austin on December 31.