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Apocalypse Bow-Chicka-Wow-Wow!

March 25, 2012

Perhaps it was Prince who put it best (if not first): “Two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time/so tonite I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.” Thirty years after Purple Rain Man first sang those lyrics, a pair of indie flicks now available on VOD examine the question: What would you do if you knew the world was coming to an end? Spoiler alert: Neither one’s a party movie.

Abel Ferrara’s 4:44: Last Day on Earth reteams the derelict director with frequent collaborator Willem Dafoe, who stars as a New Yorker whiling away his final hours before a hole in the ozone layer causes the planet to explode (turns out Al Gore, who’s seen repeatedly in an interview with Charlie Rose, was right all along). He makes love with his much younger girlfriend (Shanyn Leigh, another Ferrara muse), Skypes with his estranged daughter and ponders whether to end his years of sobriety by doing heroin again—or end his life.

You might be considering suicide yourself after enduring this grim slog, which feels long, even at 84 minutes. At least it’s shorter than Melancholia, a similarly themed end-of-the-world tale directed by Lars von Triers, whose previous film, AntiChrist, starred Dafoe. This guy’s gotta find some more upbeat friends.

Like the former Green Goblin, Ewen McGregor has spent his career toggling back and forth between multiplex blockbusters and arthouse curios like Perfect Sense. The latter-day (or would that be earlier-day?) Obi-Wan Kenobi plays a chef who engages in a torrid love affair with a scientist (ex-Bond girl Eva Green) against the backdrop of an apocalyptic virus that robs victims of their senses, one by one.

The first sense to go is smell—and clearly, director David Mackenzie (Young Adam) has been infected, because he seems to have no idea just how much Kim Fupz Aakeson’s screenplay stinks. After they lose their sense of taste, McGregor and Green hop in the tub and chow down on a bar of soap in one typically distasteful scene. I would’ve enjoyed eating a Dove bar (and not the chocolate kind) more than forcing myself to swallow Perfect Sense. To paraphrase another pop song from a quarter-century ago, it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I don’t feel fine.

What’s your favorite apocalypse flick? Hurry and post a comment—the end is near!

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