#282. Baz Luhrmann

What’s more important: quantity or quality? Obviously, most people would say that quality should trump quantity every time. Of course, there are challenges to producing quality products, which may lead to an increased cost for the consumer. Similarly, in the triangle of quality/cost/schedule, if a product is of high quality, it won’t appear very often. The dichotomy of quantity vs. quality can be seen in the film industry as well. There are some directors who direct at least one film every year, while others can take four years or more to release a movie. The former relies on the chance that one of their many films is successful, thus making up for less-than-exemplary performance on other projects. Director Baz Luhrmann definitely falls into the latter category. This week’s two films highlight some of the rare works of Baz Luhrmann.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby
Year: 2013
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes / 2.38 hours

It’s difficult to tell what motivates quality directors to take so long to create their films. Perhaps they’re trying to find the right source material. Perhaps the creative process takes a long time. Perhaps they’re controlling more aspects of the film than most. Whatever the reason, the results speak for themselves once the film is released. Aside from Luhrmann, other directors who seem to follow this format are Christopher Nolan and David Fincher. Each one of them has received plenty of recognition for their works and each one of them has their own, recognizable visual and thematic style. For Luhrmann, after his love-letter to his homeland, Australia (2008), it took him five years until The Great Gatsby (2013) was released. It’s now four years later and there isn’t much (if any) word about Baz Luhrmann’s next project; but I’m sure it’ll follow the same style he’s used for years.

Recovering from his alcoholism, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) finds the only relief from his struggles to be writing down the words that float around him, describing the events that led him to this state. With a cousin who was supported by “old money” and a neighbor who has profited from the “new money”, Nick finds himself in between Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), respectively. As everyone’s affairs become more entangled, emotions run rampant and feelings are inevitably hurt. Divorces are being discussed and accusations of murder are now part of the mix. Everything happened so close to Nick that he finds himself unable to cope with it until he finally breaks down and returns to his true passion: writing. Thus, the cautionary tale of “The Great Gatsby” was born.

Moulin Rouge!Moulin Rouge!
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

While it isn’t in the format of a traditional trilogy, Moulin Rouge! (2001) is actually the final act of Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy. Starting in 1992 with Strictly Ballroom, Luhrmann followed this film up with Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge!. These three films only came four years apart from each other, which was much faster than his two most recent films (Australia being released seven years after the end of The Red Curtain Trilogy). Why Luhrmann holds his first three films as a trilogy is due to a single motif that appears in each: the theatre. There are many elements that make the theatre what it is, and each film explores a different part of it. From the dancing of Strictly Ballroom, to the poetry and wordsmithing of Romeo + Juliet, to the singing of Moulin Rouge!, the theme of the theatre is what ties these films together.

One of Baz Luhrmann’s other talents, besides directing, is mixing music. This is a common theme throughout his movies, each one featuring at least one remixed song. The film that exemplifies this part of his style is Moulin Rouge! Set at the turn of the 20th century, Christian (Ewan McGregor) finds himself ready to engage in the Bohemian culture of Paris. As a writer, his talent is encouraged by his upstairs neighbors: a troupe of actors who need his help to finish a show they want to sell to the Moulin Rouge. Through a case of mistaken identity, Christian is given prime treatment by the dance hall’s primary star, Satine (Nicole Kidman). Even with the mistake rectified, the two still fall in love, which creates a problem for the Moulin Rouge, since Satine is needed to woo a benefactor so that it can stay in business. On top of this, Satine is gravely ill, but hides it from everyone, including Christian.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 of the best from Baz Luhrmann

Bacon #: 2 (The Great Gatsby / Tobey Maguire -> Beyond All Boundaries / Kevin Bacon)

#281. F. Scott Fitzgerald

What makes an author’s work unadaptable to film? Over the years, there have been many stories written that have been deemed “impossible” to transfer onto film. Sometimes the limitations come in the content: something that can only be captured in our imagination. Sometimes it’s the scale of the story: with so much to cover, what do you cut out to get it within a reasonable running time? Sometimes it’s simply the wishes of the author’s estate. Nevertheless, these factors haven’t stopped filmmakers from trying. CGI has helped bring imaginative content to the screen. Two-part films split one long story into more manageable chunks. One of the most difficult authors to adapt to film has been F. Scott Fitzgerald, despite his prolific bibliography. This week’s two films focus on works adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button                                        The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Length: 166 minutes / 2.77 hours

From The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) to Watchmen (2009) to Ender’s Game (2013), each of these films have been “impossible” to capture on film and each has tried, to varying levels of success. Part of the reason that these films were even attempted was due to the advances in computer technology that allowed these stories to be told. Of course, many detractors of these films cite the fact that much of their source material was cut out during filming because of time constraints. But what about short stories? If the works of Philip K. Dick have proven anything, it’s that short stories can make great film adaptations. It is then no wonder that the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, eventually became a feature-length film. This would not have been possible without CGI, but there was still much that was added to the story to pad it out to almost three hours.

Much like the peculiar clock of Mr. Gateau, which advances backward in time instead of forward, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was born as an aged man. His birth killed his mother. His father, Thomas Button (Jason Flemyng), not knowing how to raise such a child, drops Benjamin off at a nursing home. Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) finds the elderly baby and decides to take care of him. As his time at the nursing home passes, he gradually becomes strong enough to leave, but not without meeting Daisy (Cate Blanchett) first. The two individuals go off to live their lives, occasionally intersecting as Benjamin becomes younger and Daisy ages normally. Despite a few missed connections, they eventually become romantically involved. This too, does not last as Benjamin becomes more youthful and Daisy continues to grow older. Now at the end of his life, Benjamin dies as an infant in the elderly Daisy’s arms.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby
Year: 2013
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes / 2.38 hours

While F. Scott Fitzgerald only wrote five novels (only four of which were published in his lifetime), only three of them have seen life on the big screen. The Beautiful and Damned (1922) and Tender Is the Night (1962) are the only adaptations that have been attempted once. Of course, it stands to reason that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous work would be attempted multiple times. The Great Gatsby has seen itself adapted four times (not counting at least one adaptation for TV). From 1926 to 1949 to 1974, each film has tried to capture the spirit of the book that Fitzgerald penned in reaction to the state of the American society of the 1920’s. The most recent adaptation is that of the 2013 Baz Luhrmann version. Even though the visuals of this version were quite enthralling, some say that defeats the point of adapting The Great Gatsby at all.

Searching for a new job that will support him, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) finds himself in New York renting a small house next to the mansion of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). After a few weeks as neighbors, Nick is eventually invited to one of Gatsby’s lavish parties. This is an odd occurrence, since most people have just showed up at Gatsby’s parties, with very few of them actually having met the man. Gatsby and Nick develop a friendship which leads to Gatsby meeting Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), rendering him immediately smitten. In the struggle between old money and new, events transpire that drive Gatsby to madness and causes Daisy to drive through the valley of ashes, accidentally killing the lover of her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton). With infidelities and accusations flying, many others die and are killed as the story becomes trapped in Nick’s head.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Fitzgerald fables

#280. Brad Pitt

How does an actor become a household name? Most of the time, this occurs not because of their acting, but because of the things they do off-screen. This is a bit of a Catch-22 because, in order to be notable for their off-screen activities, they need to have some semblance of on-screen success. Perhaps it’s the schadenfreude in us all that attracts us to the personal lives of movie stars, because deep down we want them to fail. We want to see them come back down to our level. This would explain the almost constant attention that tabloids give to actors like Tom Cruise, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt. That’s not to say they aren’t successful actors, it’s more that our society makes them household names because of the notoriety of their personal lives. An added benefit to this is increased attendance at their films. This week’s two films look at the work of a household name actor: Brad Pitt.

Se7enSe7en
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

One of the draws that Brad Pitt utilized in his early career was that of his sex-appeal. The “pretty boy” used his looks in such films as Thelma & Louise (1991) and Interview with the Vampire (1994), both of which did not necessarily showcase his acting talent. Almost all at once, Pitt started to flex his acting muscle, showing the depth of his talent in such films as Se7en (1994) and 12 Monkeys (1995). While the latter of these two films earned him his first acting nomination (for Best Supporting Actor), the former was the first in a series of collaborations with director David Fincher. After Se7en, Pitt starred in Fight Club (1999), further proving his commitment to these grittier roles. By this point in his career, most people had heard of Brad Pitt, but he still had many more years to refine his craft from there.

Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) has just moved to a new town with his wife, Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow). As part of his transfer, he’s been assigned to work with aging detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman). While the two detectives have drastically different methods for investigating cases, they’ve nevertheless been placed together to find a mysterious killer who is using the seven deadly sins as themes for his murders. Following this thread, they find a suspect in John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who runs away upon their first meeting. The two detectives arrive moments too late to stop two more murders, but now John has given himself up and offers to lead them to the final two murders. Along the way, Doe admits that he’s jealous of David’s wife, egging him on to become the penultimate “wrath” in his string of serial murders.

The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Length: 166 minutes / 2.77 hours

Action and comedy worked well for Brad Pitt in the years after Fight Club. From the Ocean’s Eleven (2001) trilogy to Troy (2004) and from Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) to Inglorious Basterds (2009), Pitt proved that he could run the gamut in a variety of roles. Joining up with David Fincher again, he earned his first nomination for Best Actor with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). This was followed by his second nomination in 2011 for Moneyball. By this point in his career, he had turned to producing films, earning him three Best Picture nominations for Moneyball (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and The Big Short (2016), all three of which gave him small acting roles (but only 12 Years a Slave earning him his first Oscar). If people don’t know who Brad Pitt is by now, they haven’t been paying attention.

Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was born near the turn of the 20th century as an old man. As time passed normally for the rest of the world, Benjamin aged in reverse. Once he was young enough to walk again, Benjamin ran across a seven-year-old girl by the name of Daisy (Cate Blanchett). Becoming younger and stronger, Benjamin takes to sea and is involved in World War II on a tugboat that comes across a sunken military boat, as well as a German U-Boat. Returning home, Benjamin meets up with Daisy, who has a successful career as a dancer. After an accident ends Daisy’s career, she is frustrated with Benjamin’s decreasing age, as well as her own limitations. Years later, when they both arrive at close to the same age, they finally start a life together. Unfortunately, as Benjamin becomes younger, they end their relationship. Eventually, the elderly Daisy cares for Benjamin as he reaches the “start” of his life.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 of the best Brad Pitt roles

Bacon #: 1 (Sleepers / Kevin Bacon)

#279. David Fincher

Many directors in Hollywood will stick to a particular genre, mainly because their artistic style matches well with the mood of the genre. Wes Craven directed horror, Charlie Chaplin directed silent comedies, Steven Spielberg directed science fiction, Alfred Hitchcock directed thrillers. In terms of modern directors, there are very few that have tackled the psychological thriller well. Christopher Nolan falls into this category, but David Fincher succeeds in this genre as well. What’s even more interesting is that Fincher seems drawn to film adaptations of stories and books. This is the niche where he excels as a director. There are a lot of books out there that cover some pretty dark material, and David Fincher’s artistic direction certainly brings that element out on the screen. This week’s two films highlight some of David Fincher’s best works.

The Social Networksocial_network_film_poster
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

While Fincher’s filmography is not extensive (he’s only directed 10 films), his skill is quite apparent. A number of his early films have attained cult status, including Se7en (1995) and Fight Club (1999), the latter of which was an adaptation of the book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. In terms of recognition by the Academy, within two years, he directed films that were nominated for Best Picture, as well as Best Director. His first nominations were for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), which itself was based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, he didn’t win that year, but his second set of nominations came with The Social Network (2010), which was also based on a book (this time being The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich). Once again, he was passed over for an Oscar, but I know he’ll soon be nominated again . . . hopefully claiming a win along with it.

Jumping back-and-forth between the deposition of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the time he spent at Harvard, The Social Network’s tagline reads, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Zuckerberg’s first enemy was none other than Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), the girl who dumped him. Fueled by anger and frustration, he created a website that compared the physical attractiveness of women on the Harvard campus. His next enemies would be the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer), who found out that he created a popular social networking site named Thefacebook after they had asked him to code a similar idea they had. As the social media empire expanded, his final enemy would be that of Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), the close friend who helped him start Facebook in the first place. Now he’s being sued and remains a lonely, apathetic man.

Se7enseven_28movie29_poster
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

As I mentioned before, one of the directors who directed thrillers was Alfred Hitchcock. David Fincher has directed thrillers as well, but his style is much darker. Perhaps this is due to the types of thrillers that he has chosen to direct. From the aforementioned Fight Club (1999), to the film adaptation of Gone Girl (2014) (based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name), these psychological thrillers really play with the audience’s mind. Even though mystery thrillers come closer to what Hitchcock has done in the past, Fincher’s mystery thrillers are considerably more violent, merely on their source material alone. Case in point: Zodiac (2007) and the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) (based on the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson) both examine serial killers. One of his first films, Se7en (1995) certainly set Fincher’s style, as it’s a psychological mystery thriller.

Nearing retirement, detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is reluctantly paired with hot-shot detective, David Mills (Brad Pitt). Their first case involves a pair of murders, both of which are linked to two of the seven deadly sins: “gluttony” and “greed.” At these crime scenes, there are clues to the next murder: “sloth.” It is at this point that the two of them realize the killer has been taking an enormous amount of time to set up and execute these murders. Doing some research into the seven sins, they find John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who manages to escape. Meanwhile, the detectives are moments too late to prevent the murders of “lust” and “pride”. At this point, Doe surrenders willfully, but not without a few conditions. Revealing the location of the last two murders that have yet to take place, all three of them drive out to the middle of the desert to learn how “envy” and “wrath” will die.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fantastic Fincher films

Bacon #: 2 (Being John Malkovich / Sean Penn -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)

#278. Jesse Eisenberg

Some actors just seem to appear out of nowhere. There can be many reasons for this, including having a breakout role in their debut film, being paired to a successful filmmaker’s masterpiece, or even just appearing in a lot of films. Jesse Eisenberg seems to fall into the latter two categories of this list, having appeared in 2-4 films almost every year from 2005 until now. This seems to be a similar technique to Domhnall Gleeson, who has had some very recognizable roles in films as of late. As for Eisenberg, he seemed to hit his stride in 2009 by capitalizing on his ability to play vulnerable, smart, and often comically awkward main characters. While this may have typecast him somewhat, there always seems to be a need for these types of characters, as many “non-jocks” can relate to them. This week’s two films highlight some of the best of Jesse Eisenberg’s current career.

ZombielandZombieland
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

Perhaps the reason that Eisenberg’s characters come off as awkward and neurotic stems from his personal life and his affliction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Channeling this into his characters has certainly produced notable results, one of the most prominent being that of the Spix’s macaw, Blu in Rio (2011) and Rio 2 (2014). However, Eisenberg might not have gotten that role had he not given an excellent performance in Adventureland (2009). With his comedic talent clear, he eventually teamed up with his Adventureland co-star, Kristen Stewart, again in 2015’s American Ultra. While Adventureland made his name recognizable in the romantic comedy genre, his starring role in Zombieland (2009) cemented his name as one of the comedic actors to keep an eye on for years to come.

If “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) has a piece of advice for you, it’s Rule #1: Cardio. If he has anything else to add to that, it’s Rule #2: Double Tap. These rules, along with others, have kept him alive during the zombie apocalypse. After teaming up with “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson), the two men are conned out of their weapons and car by “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin). Despite this, Columbus and Tallahassee chase after the girls, but for different reasons. Tallahassee wants his stuff back, but Columbus has fallen for Wichita and longs to woo her, even though they’re just trying to survive the end of the world. When the group finally arrives at their destination, an amusement park in Los Angeles by the name of “Pacific Playland”, Columbus finds that his chance to get close to Wichita is also his chance to save her from attacking zombies.

The Social Networksocial_network_film_poster
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 120 minutes / 2 hours

While the neurotic stereotype works well for Jesse Eisenberg’s comedic characters, the remaining characters he has played certainly fall into the intelligently confident stereotype. In fact, these characters’ intelligence is almost seen as a character flaw, as they end up feeling superior to everyone else. A good example of this trait/flaw was his portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), who used his intelligence to combat one of the most powerful beings on Earth. On the flip side of the intelligence coin is that of the con-man. 2016 also saw Eisenberg reprise his role of J. Daniel Atlas in Now You See Me 2, the sequel to Now You See Me (2013). Despite many of these characters being fictional, the one, real-life intelligent character he has portrayed on film was none other than Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (2010).

During the fall semester of 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) created a website called Facemash in order to spite a former girlfriend. Due to the site’s exponential popularity, it gained the attention of Harvard’s disciplinary board, since Zuckerberg hacked into college databases to steal photographs of the female students. He also gained the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer), who want him to code a dating website that’s exclusive to Harvard students. It is at this point when Mark gets an idea for a social media website and asks his friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a loan to get it off the ground. Thefacebook quickly takes off and soon expansion efforts are underway to bring the site to other colleges. In the process, new people are brought on board, old friends are turned away, and legal action is taken. All this just because a girl dumped Mark Zuckerberg.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 engaging Eisenberg roles

Bacon #: 1 (Beyond All Boundaries / Kevin Bacon)

#277. Zombies!

If there’s been one trope that’s been done to death recently, it’s that of zombies. Perhaps this is due to the influx of post-apocalyptic stories that have been fueled by pessimism about the current aspects for our future. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that these films seem to make money. Perhaps these films are actually spreading via their own version of a zombie virus. Even films that I wouldn’t have thought could have zombies in them end up having zombies in them. Whatever the reason, it seems that almost every year passes with at least one new zombie film gracing the big screen. Of course, just like with any subgenre (this one being of the horror genre originally), eventually they become self-aware. This week’s two films examine a few different methods for dealing with the topic of zombies.

Night of the Living DeadNight of the Living Dead
Year: 1968
Rating: Unrated
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

Even though it feels like zombies have been in film for a long time, the accepted canon version of them has only been around for about 50 years. Before 1968, zombies weren’t depicted as the reanimated corpses that hunger for human flesh. This distinction was first explored in Night of the Living Dead (1968) and has stuck ever since. The reasons for zombies have varied from genetic experiments, to nuclear disasters, to chemical exposures; regardless of the method of introduction, the destruction of zombies has always remained the same: destroy the brain or set them on fire. There have been many films that have taken zombies seriously, including 28 Days Later (2002) and its sequel, 28 Weeks Later (2007). I’m not a fan of zombie films, but I did appreciate the logic applied in World War Z (2013). Still, Night of the Living Dead stands as the original by which all others are measured.

Scientists couldn’t explain it, but for some reason the dead were coming back to life and craving the flesh of the living. The leading theory was that radiation from a probe that returned from Venus was causing these zombies to attack people. In a small farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, a collection of survivors have holed up and continue to rebuff the onslaught of the undead. With a few of the survivors being bit by the zombies, the opinion of the remaining survivors is split. Some think they should get medical attention, while others think they should stay put. Setbacks cause the group to remain in the house, waiting for the vigilantes roaming the countryside to come and save them. Unfortunately, now there are zombies inside the house as well, giving the one lone survivor only one option: hole up on the second floor and hope that help will come soon.

ZombielandZombieland
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

As with any genre, eventually it’s taken too seriously. This is when the parodies start to appear. The parodies then evolve into comedies. Even well-known zombie films start to become aware of their ridiculous nature. For instance, Sam Raimi‘s The Evil Dead (1981) was a serious take on the zombie theme, which was made a little funnier in Evil Dead II (1987), finally becoming completely self-aware by Army of Darkness (1992). This essentially paved the way for such films like Shaun of the Dead (2004), which takes the classic survival theme and flips it on its head. Even classic plots have been subject to the zombie treatment, the best example of which is the version of Romeo and Juliet that is Warm Bodies (2013). What’s interesting to note is that, even though they’re self-aware, these comedic zombie films still need to follow the same rules as more serious ones.

With the entire United States almost completely wiped out by “mad zombie disease”, the few survivors that remain roam the country for their own purposes. “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived this long by adhering to a set of “rules” that he has discovered to be the key to surviving the apocalypse. On his way back home to Columbus, Ohio, to check on his parents, he runs across “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson) and the two team up to increase their safety. While on the way, they come across two girls, “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin), who trick them and steal their car. After the two guys catch up, the four of them decide to travel to Los Angeles to have some fun, mostly because Columbus now has no home to go back to. Along the way, they meet Bill Murray and accidentally kill him before finally arriving at their destination: Pacific Playland.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 takes on the zombie theme

#276. Spread the Sickness

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Winter is now weeks behind us and the colds that go with it have been replaced by seasonal allergies and the arrival of spring. Most of the time we tolerate being sick because we know that it will soon be over and we can go back to our regular lives. In fact, we might even continue to live our lives, despite our ailments. Because some people resort to this, and not to resting in bed, they spread their sickness to everyone around them. Sure, they might cover their mouth when they cough, and they might sneeze into their elbow, but those germs still get out and infect everyone else. This is what can make being sick a gamble: germs are so small that we can’t know where they’ll spread. This week’s two films look into the theme of spreading a sickness.

ContagionContagion
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes / 1.76 hours

We live in a global environment. Consequently, certain diseases that might have caused endemics before inter-continental travel became common can now reach pandemic levels. The Ebola scare from a few years ago showed that some of these severe sicknesses can travel across the oceans to potentially infect whole new populations. In film, this topic is rarely covered, but when it is, the result is usually catastrophic. Take Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) for example. A deadly virus that affects humans, but not apes, accidentally infects a traveler on his way to an airport. From there, the virus spreads to each continent and the death toll becomes enormous. By the time Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) rolls around, humanity is just trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. If only the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) could have stopped the spread of the virus, the issue could have been contained.

Never before has a film impelled an audience to wash their hands. From bat to pig to human, the unknown virus, MEV-1 spreads from Hong Kong to the United States. Once it reaches America, some sudden deaths prompt the CDC to investigate. While they try to extract the origins of the virus so that they can develop an effective immunization, panic grips the population. With the mortality rate of the virus being above 25%, most are afraid that they will catch it and die. Not helping the situation, some people are immune, but others lie about their gained immunity to help boost sales of medications that cannot cure the disease. Since tensions are high around the country and in the CDC, certain corners are cut to progress the research of the virus, and some employees of the CDC use their insider information to attempt to save their families. Fortunately, an inoculation is found and the world is now saved from MEV-1.

Night of the Living DeadNight of the Living Dead
Year: 1968
Rating: Unrated
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours

In terms of a global war on sickness, the World Health Organization (WHO) is leading the fight to help keep the entire planet from experiencing a debilitating pandemic. One of their most recent representations on film has been through World War Z (2013). While there may be simple ways to keep microscopic germs from infecting humans through vigorous washing, widespread sterilization, and outright quarantine, what if the sickness is a little more mobile? What if the sickness can find you and attack you, even despite your best efforts? The most common form of this type of sickness is that of zombies. Perhaps the reason so many zombie-related storylines devolve into a full-on global apocalypse is because their mobility and mob mentality help to spread the sickness of the living dead.

After a bizarre incident in a graveyard, Barbra Blair (Judith O’Dea) finds herself on the run after a stranger attacked her and her brother. With her brother now dead, she makes her way to a farmhouse where more individuals like the stranger in the graveyard appear and start to scare her away. Fortunately, Ben (Duane Jones) pulls her inside the house and repels the monsters. What they don’t yet know is that a married couple is locked away in the basement with their daughter. From the radio, Ben learns that the reason the recently deceased are coming back to life and devouring the flesh of the living is due to some radioactivity from an exploded satellite that came back to Earth. He also learns that groups of vigilantes are killing the zombies all over the countryside. Unfortunately, he has enough zombies to deal with inside and outside the house and just barely survives long enough to enjoy the sunrise of a new day.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 spreading sicknesses