Cody watches the world end, Canada style.
Well, if the rumors we've been hearing for the last two years or so hold true, the world should be ending any moment now. According to some, since the Mayan calendar supposedly reaches its end on December 21, 2012, so will all time. There will be no tomorrow, although it already is tomorrow in some time zones. But in case the apocalypse is indeed now, this week I decided to revisit a movie I saw many years ago, rented on VHS, a movie made back when the end of the world hype was all about New Years 2000.
LAST NIGHT (1998)
Unlike the January 1, 2000 or December 21, 2012 apocalypse theories, there is no question that the end of the world is nigh in writer/director/star Don McKellar's film. When the clock strikes midnight in Toronto on this unspecified date, life on Earth will cease. The exact reason is never given, everyone just knows it's going to happen and has accepted the fact. The Canadian government was closed down a couple months earlier, cell phone service has been out for weeks, and when the film begins Earth only has six hours left. It should get dark sometime during those hours, but as midnight nears it's still as bright as day outside. And getting brighter.
During the countdown to midnight, we get to see how several people are preparing for the end. Some are participating in the expected looting and random vandalism, and seem rather unfulfilled by the damage they cause. A woman jogs around the city all day, announcing how much time is left. Some are going to a concert, others talk of taking canoes out on a lake, the religious are going to join together in a prayer circle, old home movies are watched. Famed director David Cronenberg appears in an acting role as the owner of a gas company who spends most of his last day calling all of the company's customers to assure them they won't lose service before midnight. Basically, that they'll have it for the rest of their lives. Another man has his day scheduled out, as he has every day for two months, with sexual encounters to fulfill curiosities and sleep with people he didn't have the chance to before, like his former French teacher (Geneviève Bujold).
At the center of the story is Patrick, a guy who just wants to be alone when the end comes. Things don't go quite as he intended.
First, Patrick has to venture out of his apartment to attend his family's Christmas celebration, making this movie appropriate viewing for this time of year whether the world ends or not. It's not really Christmas day, the family is just pretending that it is. The end of the world would be a fine time to empty out the savings accounts and max the credit cards to give people some outrageous dream gifts, but Patrick's parents have taken a different approach, a nostalgic one. They gift him and his sister (played by Sarah Polley) with presents that are their childhood toys, unearthed from the attic and gift wrapped.
Returning to his apartment, Patrick finds a woman sitting on the stoop, a pregnant woman named Sandra and played by Sandra Oh who is trying to get home to her newlywed husband (Cronenberg's character) before time runs out. Trying to help Sandra totally disrupts Patrick's plans.
It's an interesting concept McKellar dealt with here, making for a good, interesting film that causes you to think - what if it was real? Not like the usual situation where hardly anyone believes the apocalypse has arrived, so most people don't really do anything differently. What if you knew for sure that the planet only had a couple months left? How would you spend that time, and how would you face the final hours?
I have to say, I'd probably cut way back on my movie watching.
In the off chance that the world will continue on and we don't need to cut back on movies in the next week, if you get TBS watching at least some of the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon is a yearly must, but I also want to recommend a movie that isn't mentioned nearly often enough when the subject of holiday films comes up. Any list of Christmas movies that includes the likes of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon but not this one is incomplete. Celebrate the season with one of the best films in the James Bond series: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, George Lazenby's only turn in the role of 007. It's set around Christmas, includes an original holiday tune written by John Barry, and features some great, snowy action sequences.