apocalypse

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Apocalypto (2006) The Plot: In the early 1500s, a family group of Native Americans live a happy life in the rainforest jungle. Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) is becoming a strong hunter under the guidance of his father Flint Sky (Morris Birdyellowhead). However, Jaguar Paw’s nightmares tell of a change that is coming. A group of bloodthirsty warriors attack the village, killing many and enslaving the rest. The warriors bring the victims with them a massive Mayan city, and the women are sold while the men are taken to the top of a pyramid for human sacrifice. Jaguar Paw tries to survive and eventually get home to his pregnant wife and child whom he left in an underground cave.

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We all know the basic staples of the approaching end of days – zombies, aliens, nukes, robots, viruses, asteroids, global warming – all those good things. When a movie uses one of these go-to death-day scenarios we can’t help but to shell out the cash to watch it all go to hell on the big screen. However it takes some real brainpower to pull away from these apocalyptic norms, and when a movie does come along toting some hip new way for us all to die – even if said movie doesn’t pan out – you have to respect their willingness to get creative. Here are some movies that took a chance and gave us an end we’d never see coming.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Ikiru (1952) The Plot: Upon inferring the news of his close, impending death within a matter of months due to cancer, long-time city bureaucrat Kanji Watanabe (played by Takashi Shimura) struggles through his final days fending off his illness as well as deep depression. As he reflects upon the trajectory of his life he looks back and realizes the damaged relationship with his son and comes to understand the relative insignificance of his job duties over the past decades of city service. After a few weeks of shuffling through different attempts to find some temporary form of happiness he gets invigorated one day at work when he stumbles upon the request of some lower-end neighborhood tenants seeking city approval to fix up their community playground. With only a few months left to live Watanabe fights both time and seemingly endless layers of bureaucracy to see one positive accomplishment come to fruition before he passes.

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Boiling Point

In the cinematic world, protagonists face a lot of challenges. It can be Sasquatch or Yeti, German thieves or vaguely ethnic terrorists, zombies, aliens, werewolves, or vampires, and that’s just the exotic list. Our heroes might face down against a redneck hillbilly, a couple of gangbangers, or some cracked out carjacker. Simply put – it’s hard out there for a pimp. To combat these varied dangers, a hero must go armed. The proper choice of weapon depends on the threat faced, availability, and the environment. I’m not sure anyone has ever fought a hillbilly without the aide of a bow or crossbow, stopped a robbery without a pistol, or put down a zombie apocalypse without the use of a shotgun. In the face of such great dangers, you’d think that the protagonist would make sure that he and his companions were always well equipped to face adversity. But you’d be wrong.

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After the crucible of Antichrist, Melancholia is the closest thing to a palette cleanser that Lars von Trier is capable of producing. The problem is that a palette cleanser is not what anyone should want from the director who normally pushes the envelope to the point where it can’t even be called an envelope anymore. This is von Trier at his least challenging. The film consists of two halves that almost make a whole. They both focus on a pair of sisters — the first giving more attention to depressive Justine (Kirsten Dunst) on her wedding night, the second to the troubled mother and wife Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) on the eve of the earth coming into contact with another planet. However, more than just characters, the pair act more as a platform for delivering archetypes, ideas and more than a bit of visual poetics.

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Despite having only made seven feature films, Andrei Tarkovsky is largely considered one of the most important Russian filmmakers of the twentieth century, perhaps second only to Sergei Eisenstein (who was, aesthetically-speaking, his polar opposite). However, after enduring enormous troubles with Soviet censors, Tarkovsky expatriated to Italy, where he made his sixth film Nostalghia (1983) and later to Sweden where he made The Sacrifice (1986), which became his final film as he succumbed to lung cancer shortly after its production. Earlier this summer, one of Tarkovsky’s most beloved titles, Solaris (1972), was updated to Blu-ray by Criterion, and now Kino has updated their DVD of The Sacrifice to Blu as well, making this summer something of an embarrassment of riches for American Tarkovsky fans who have longed to see the filmmaker’s intricately beautiful work in high-definition.

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2012

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. Personally, I think chocolate pudding will somehow come into play. A new teaser for 2012 suggests it may also involve giant walls of water.

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