Thursday, December 20, 2012

"The End of the World As We Know It"

Ancient Mayan culture apparently predicted that the world was going to end on Dec. 21, 2012. Or that the calendar was going to turn over or something like that. Either way, many people, rightly or wrongly, seem to have bought into that theory. Unfortunately, the Mayans didn’t have the courtesy of providing a time that the impending doom would begin. As a result, society is left to ponder whether the world will end on Dec. 21 Eastern Standard Time or Japan time or what. However, because it is already Dec. 21 in some time zones, it is safe to assume that the Mayans were likely not talking about those time zones. In fact, in all likelihood, they were talking about Central Standard Time, as that it is the time zone where they dwelled.  That leaves people living in the Eastern Standard Time zone will have until midnight on Dec. 22 to watch all the movies they can. Below are the official recommendations of the Times Herald Movie Blog for movies that everyone should see before the apocalypse.

Movies were chosen on three criteria, each weighted differently, including popularity, quality, and running time. Quality carries the most weight because nobody wants to spend their last moments watching “Batman and Robin” or “”From Justin to Kelly.” Popularity is also important because, if people plan on spending these remaining moments with family, as would be expected, the films have to be ones that everyone can enjoy, which means “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Chasing Amy” are not going to make the cut either, no matter how good they are. Finally, running time is important. There are only so many hours in a day, which means the Lord of Rings and their 10 hour combined running time will not be making an appearance on this list, nor will “Titanic” or “The Thin Red Line.” With that, the following movies are easily the best way to spend time while waiting for Ahpuch to take over, or whatever it is that is supposed to happen.

Midnight - Beautyand the Beast It’s short, with a running time of only 84 minutes, incredibly popular, making nearly $350 million at the box office between its original release in 1991 and 3-D re-release in 2011, and incredibly well done. It was the first animated film to ever get nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and has a stellar 92 percent on

1:24 a.m. - StarWars This one needs no explanation. With the running time clocking in at just a hair over two hours, it fits in perfectly with the time restrictions that a forthcoming apocalypse presents. It made a bazillion dollars in its three, THREE, separate runs in theaters and it is ranked in the top 20 of the IMDB 250 and has a 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. “Star Wars” is about as clear of a choice as you can get. Plus who doesn’t want to see a giant dog get a medal. Everyone loves dogs.

3:25 a.m. - PulpFiction Quentin Tarantino has made a career out of making hyper-violent films that are thinly-veiled homages. The “Kill Bill” movies are basically samurai films mixed with a spaghetti western. “Reservoir Dogs” is a re-imagined heist/gangster movie. “Death Proof” is a terrible attempt at a drive-in B-movie. Some say that Tarantino has become a shell of himself. However, in 1994, when “Pulp Fiction” came out, he was at the height of his abilities.

The movie was insanely popular, especially considering the violence and 265 F-bombs contained in it. The IMDB 250 has it ranked #4 all time and it has garnered a 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Although it’s run time is a little long when time is a factor, as is the case with an impending apocalypse, “Pulp Fiction” is a movie that needs to be seen be whatever is apparently going to happen happens.

5:59 a.m. -ThePrincess Bride The only people who don’t like this movie are people who have never seen it, yet, as “inconceivable” as it may sound for a movie that is constantly on TV and is often cited by celebrities as an all-time favorite, this fantasy/romance/comedy/action movie is still somehow underrated. Perhaps the name throws people off or the thought of a professional wrestler (Andre the Giant) is a turn off after seeing Hulk Hogan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson make attempts on the big screen. That is no excuse for not seeing this masterpiece before the world ends.

Coming in at a brisk 98 minutes and earning a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes is enough to cement “The Princess Bride” as a movie that needs to be seen before the Mayan apocalypse hits.

7:37 a.m. – TheNatural Sports movies have been a backbone of American cinema for almost as long as there has been American cinema and nothing is more American than baseball. Few movies have blended together both the appeal of sports and the necessary drama of movies better than “The Natural.” As if the general story of a rise and fall and redemption wasn’t enough, the film also features what is probably the most iconic scene in sports film history. With a running time just over two hours, it won’t consume too much time before the clock strikes midnight and every goes ka-plut, either.

9:51 a.m. – OldSchool Up until now, this list has suffered from a severe lack of true comedies. Sure, “The Princess Bride” has some humor in it (like basically anything Andre the Giant says) but it’s not really a comedy. “Old School,” however, is a truest of true comedy that still manages to have heart and mass appeal. College kids love seeing the college parties and fart jokes that are plentiful in the movie and anyone who has ever gone through a mid-life crisis can certainly relate to what Luke Wilson goes through in the film. Plus, this and this happened.

11:22 a.m. – OneFlew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest An iconic actor (Jack Nicholson) giving an iconic performance, this film also features one of the best movie villains of all time in Nurse Ratched, who really is probably mislabeled with that title. Instead, she was simply someone who did her job well and would not let Jack Nicholson create chaos. This movie was the first movie in more than four decades to win every major Academy Award, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. A real “no-brainer” for this list. (pun intended)

1:35 p.m. – CitizenKane It may seem clichéd to put this film on the list, but there is a reason that basically everything ever created considers this one of the best, if not the best, movie ever made. Orson Welles life story of Charles Foster Kane, which *wink, wink* was only loosely based on the life William Randolph Hearst *wink, wink*, completely revolutionized film making, from using non-linear storytelling to the way in which it was shot. Without “Citizen Kane,” it is probable that many of the other movies on this list would either not have been made or been made very differently.

2:34 p.m. – TheUsual Suspects While “Citizen Kane” may have invented non-linear storytelling, “The Usual Suspects” really perfected it, telling two completely different stories  that were held together by a single, mysterious character: Keyser Soze. Even more impressive with this film is that even after knowing how the film concludes, it remains eminently watchable. Even if “The Usual Suspects” was none of those things, though, this scene alone makes it worth consideration. 

4:20 p.m. – Dr.Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb While this is arguably the best work of master director Stanley Kubrick, this scathing satire is almost definitely his most attainable. And with the world slated to end in less than eight hours, it somehow seems appropriate. Peter Sellers plays multiple roles and George C. Scott gives one of his best performances in this light-hearted comedy about a not-so-light-hearted subject that produced iconic moment after iconic moment.

5:55 p.m. – TheShawshank Redemption The IMDB Top 250 ranks this as the best film of all time and rightfully so. This film proves that love and friendship are enough to survive even the toughest time and optimism even in the face of impossible odds will get rewarded. This film was almost certainly the high point in the careers of all those involved.

8:37 p.m. – Up This gem of a film is really Pixar at its finest. It is also really a film of its time. Carl, one of the film’s protagonists, is an introverted senior citizen who recently lost the love of his life who would routinely pull him out of his shell and enabled him to have fun and Russell, a Boy Scout from a broken home, is just trying to earn a merit badge to impress his parents. The two end up going on a crazy adventure and become find that they are able to provide the help that each other need. The movie ends in exactly the opposite place of where it begins, which may be the saddest 10 minutes of a Disney film this side of “The Lion King.” Plus, its short run time allows for one final film.

10:13 p.m. – Shaunof the Dead An incredibly appropriate movie to watch before the end of times, as it takes a light-hearted approach to another kind of apocalypse: a zombie apocalypse. Await the end of the world with a laugh as 30-something Shaun plays X-Box and with his friend Ed and wait for the zombies to come, even if it means losing the second record he ever bought. Ultimately, Shaun develops some courage and saves his friends. He is exactly the kind of hero that we need while waiting for the world to end.

11:52 p.m. - With eight minutes left to go before the end of the world, now may be a good time for a quick snack or maybe a bathroom break. After that, though, let’s bring on that horizon.
--Tony Fioriglio


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