If You're Not Doing Anything for New Year's...

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Why, oh why 2K? There has to be something better to do than Partying Like It's, well, you know. Doesn't there? For the three sane people in the U.S. who are NOT going to be spending their evening as clay pigeons in the terrorist crosshairs, er, crossroads of the world, Couch Potato offers these millennial movies:

Start with The Book of Life, Hal Hartley's 1998 short starring Martin Donovan as the Son of God, P.J. Harvey as his lovely personal assistant, Mary Magdalene, and Thomas Jay Ryan as Satan. Donovan hits New York City on New Year's Eve 1999 for a meeting with his father's lawyers (the felicitously named Armageddon, Armageddon, Armageddon & Greene) in preparation for the apocalypse. Great fun, with one caution: The whole thing was shot with a very shaky digital video camera — not the sort of thing to view with a hangover.

Still, as cyber-millennium films go, it's megabytes ahead of Strange Days, which is one of those movies that give fresh meaning to the term "guilty pleasure." This time it's millennial New Year's in Los Angeles. Ralph Fiennes is Lenny the virtual reality dealer, delivering taped real-life experiences directly into junkies' cerebral cortexes, while Angela Bassett counters as, well, as the Tina Turner character she played in What's Love Got to Do With It? Director Kathryn Bigelow's action scenes are mesmerizing, but the movie itself is stranded in a dark gloomy netherworld that's part Blade Runner, part Seven, and mostly bad. And since it was penned in part by former TIME film guy Jay Cocks, Couch Potato can only hope that the dialogue was ad-libbed. "Two million years of human evolution and that's the best idea you can come up with," Lenny whines, and we heartily agree.

But enough of the night itself. The big question: What if those predictions were right, and Saddam takes advantage of the post-Y2Khaos to lob a few bio-bombs our way? For a preview of life after a biological apocalypse, check out The Omega Man, Chuck Heston vs. a lot of zombies in a ruined LA, and ponder your options. Or better yet, find the Simpsons parody, The Homega Man, with Homer in the Heston role, and giggle your troubles away.

Of course, not all Y2K troubles are of the man-made variety. Plenty of people believe that 2000 means the end of a lot more than just your operating system, and in The Rapture, writer-director Michael (The Player) Tolkin seriously wonders if maybe they aren't right. Starring Mimi Rogers back when she was better known as Mrs. Tom Cruise and a pre-Mulder David Duchovny, the film takes a long, serious look at the possibility that the Book of Revelation is literally correct. Rogers is great as the born-again mother whose crisis of faith causes her to ask "who forgives God?" at precisely the wrong time. And any film that starts with lots of group sex and ends with what is literally the Second Coming is not to be missed.

Happy New Year. And please remember to rewind — even if you have to do it by hand.

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