High Museum of Art: Films


Apocalypse Now: Film Mavens’ Picks by Linda Dubler

Continuing with the theme pulled from Misrach’s On The Beach exhibition, my film world colleagues contributed these suggestions for outstanding apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies.
Linda Dubler

From Bruce Fletcher, Idaho International Film Festival

Zardoz
Things To Come
Panic in Year Zero

La Jetee
No Blade of Grass

No Blade of Grass:  “And then one day the polluted Earth could take no more.” So begins No Blade of Grass, director, co-writer and producer Cornel Wilde’s adaptation of The Death of Grass by John Christopher. Wilde’s too little-seen (yet very influential) dystopian nightmare gets bleaker (and more brutal) soon thereafter.  A global viral pandemic has killed all the cereal grasses causing global starvation and the total collapse of civilization. Nigel Hawthorne leads a ragtag band of survivors across Northern England as they scavenge for food, kill to live, and fend off marauding biker gangs. “Yesterday, they were decent people letting their environment die. Now they are savages, killing to keep themselves alive.”

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Apocalypse Now: Staff Picks by Linda Dubler
July 10, 2009, 10:36 am
Filed under: Staff Picks | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve asked Museum staff again for their two cents on their favorite apocalyptic movies. (Learn about the inspiration for the current exhibition Richard Misrach: On The Beach here >>)

Johan Harper, Security
Damnation Alley and
Night of the Comet

Why does the end of the world have to be so depressing? Damnation Alley has everything you need in a Post-Apocalyptic movie. Bad special effects, cheesy dialogue, a strange monster truck that floats called “The Land Master”, man-eating cockroaches, George Peppard, and Jan-Michael Vincent! What more can you ask for? O.K. the movie’s beginning is pretty grim and serious, but the low production values turn the whole mess into an unintentional comedy before too long. The scene where the actors fail to pretend to be afraid of tons of plastic cockroaches tied to long strings pulled across the floor is comedy gold! “This whole town is infested with killer cockroaches. I repeat: KILLER COCKROACHES!” Too funny! damnation_alley_ver2

Another enjoyable end of the world movie is Night of the Comet. If you wake up one day and everybody else has become little piles of red dust, wouldn’t you really rather just go shopping at the mall? If everyone is dead, everything is free! Night of the Comet has it all – zombies, mad scientists, and gun-toting valley girls! It is a comedy, it is a horror movie, it is a time capsule from 1984!

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Goodbye Cruel World by Linda Dubler

As I wrote in an earlier post, landscape photographer Richard Misrach’s On the Beach, a show of exquisite, large scale pictures shot from an overhead vantage point in Hawaii after 9/11, is currently on view at the High. Some of the images are populated, some devoid of human presence, but all suggest both seaside paradise and doomsday unease. Earlier posts looked at the beachy aspect of the Misrach pictures, so now we’re turning to the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic currents that run through the series.

What are your favorite movies from this genre?

I’m not a huge sci-fi and/or horror fan, so apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies aren’t my strong suit. Though I enjoy cinematic suspense, the surreal, and things blowing up real good as much as the next gal, I tend to avoid the gore and gross-outs that pop up in most sci-fi and horror. (I remember next to nothing about Soylent Green, which I saw when it first came out, but I still feel vaguely icky even thinking about it).

Johan Harper, a security officer and the High’s resident B-movie connoisseur, steered me to this brilliant post-apocalyptic cheat sheet, which rates a bunch of films based on such PA hallmarks as cannibalism, warlords, mutants and degraded culture. You’ll hear more from Johan when we run staff picks on Friday.

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Summer Movies/YouTube, Part 3 by Linda Dubler
Endless Summer

Endless Summer

Summer bliss has been distilled for as long as moving images endure in Bruce Brown’s 1966 glorified home movie, the surfing classic Endless Summer. A daring example of a filmmaker taking on his own distribution, the film remains a cult favorite.

For the funhouse mirror version of the surfing life, see Doug Pray’s Surfwise. It’s a dysfunctional family doc that will leave you grateful for your own less-than-perfect upbringing. Surfwise focuses on the lives of Paskowitz family, dominated by dad Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, a surfer, health nut, and self-appointed sex god. Doc (a one-time physician) and his Mexican-Indian wife Juliet had nine kids — eight sons and a daughter — who were raised to be natural creatures, not products of American middle-class conformity. Everyone lived together in a minivan and like the surfers in Endless Summer, chased the waves.

Paskowitz, who was 85 when the film was made in 2007, is Jewish, and the film explores how his devotion to fitness, strength, and self-sufficiency was a direct response to the widespread vision of Jews as helpless victims during the Holocaust. As one son wryly comments, “Doc wanted to repopulate the world with Jews.”

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