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3.6 out of 5 stars
Last Night
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2004
Format: DVD
I love this film, but I'll avoid going into why, since everyone else has already described how great it is. The new Lions Gate American DVD is just a reissue of the old Universal DVD. They are both Pan & Scan (Boo! Hiss!)

Just recently, a widescreen version has finally become available. It is only available in Canada, and is released by Alliance Atlantis. Be careful, as there is an older Alliance Atlantis disc that is Pan & Scan, like the two American discs. You can get the new disc at amazon.ca, where the ASIN number for the widescreen disc is: B0002XGJSW

Note that it has no bonus features and is not anamorphically enhanced. Also, the image quality is no real improvement over the dull, washed out look of the existing discs. It also costs about twenty-five dollars plus shipping, nearly double the cost of the American disc. Widescreen, however, was certainly worth it for me.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon October 18, 2003
Format: DVD
Most films dealing with apocalyptic themes, especially nowadays, likes to use a ton of flashy special effects and thundering soundtracks to convey the imminent demise of our planet. Fortunately for viewers who want something a little more thought provoking, other films about the end of the world occasionally slip through the cracks. One of these films is "Last Night," a chilling, low budget piece of cinema from Canada. "Last Night" doesn't have huge asteroids slamming into the planet, or killer plagues turning the human population into dust, but it does have heavy atmosphere and compelling performances from several actors and actresses you have probably never heard about. The movie even casts famous horror film director David Cronenberg in a major role. If you tire easily of the big Hollywood action/apocalypse films, turn to something like "Last Night" to get your Armageddon fix. About the only problem I had with "Last Night" concerned the play list on the radio station as it counted down the top 500 songs of all time. Personally, I didn't recognize very many of these tunes; I would have picked a few numbers that are more upbeat myself.
"Last Night" distressingly describes the last six hours of the last night the human race will ever see. Set in Toronto, Canada, the movie closely follows the final hours of several individuals, including a reclusive loner and his family, his best friend, an Asian woman desperately trying to reach her husband before the catastrophe arrives, an energy executive and his secretary, and a former high school French teacher. Perhaps surprisingly, most of these people sedately go about the last moments of their lives as though it isn't a big deal. The reason for this maddening calmness rests with the fact that the entire planet has known for some months that the end is coming, so most of the hysterical behavior you would expect to see has already worked itself out of most people's systems (Not everyone accepts their destiny. The streets are dangerous in places, with gangs going around tipping over buses or shooting and robbing people, but many people are staying at home quietly planning their final activities). What remains is a slightly sad resignation of the inescapable as each individual in the film goes about his or her personal business.
Duncan, the energy executive played by Canadian director David Cronenberg, spends his last few hours calling all of his customers to promise them that the power will remain on until the bitter end. Patrick Wheeler, the main character of the film and the loner who wishes to spend his last moments of life alone, makes an appearance at a family Christmas party where some of his pent up bitterness about a life cut short seep out in vitriolic comments to his parents and sister. His friend resorts to playing sexual games, trying to sleep with as many women of different races and physical attributes as possible. One of the women he conquers is his former French teacher, played effectively by a still sexy Genevieve Bujold. Bujold's appearance marks one of the most absurdly comic moments of the film when she quizzes a confused Patrick on his French speaking skills. The best performance in "Last Night" comes from the remarkable and beautiful Sandra Oh, who plays the Asian woman looking for her husband. She soon comes into Patrick's orbit, and seeks his help so she can carry out a grisly pact she made with her spouse. Oh, perhaps better than anyone else in the film, truly conveys the utter helplessness of the unfolding situation.
There seems to be some difficulty among viewers concerning what exactly will destroy the human race in this movie. I find this a bit odd because the ending gives a clear hint, and if that isn't enough, the fact that the sun still shines at midnight should provide a further clue. But what destroys the earth isn't as important as what the characters do regarding their impending fate, and that fate hangs over every action in the film like a black pall. Occasionally, the time flashes on the screen as the characters move another hour closer to doom, giving the whole film an incredible sense of claustrophobic tension. Arguably, the best line in the film comes from Patrick and his oversexed buddy, when Patrick says "See you later" and his friend replies without missing a beat, "No, you won't." Moments like these continually pull the viewer back into the unbearable agony of the film's central premise: There is no hope here, no magical hiding place in the mountains or under the sea where someone can avoid their fate. The ending is never in doubt in "Last Night."
If I had to compare "Last Night" with another film or book, I would say that Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" closely resembles this film in its psychological exploration of an unavoidable apocalyptic disaster. I noticed I was quiet and reflective for some time after watching this film, always a good indication that a movie or a book touched me in some way. Regrettably, the DVD of "Last Night" is a bare bones edition. All you get on the disc is a theatrical trailer and the film. I think a commentary would have been nice, at the very least, but ultimately the movie succeeds without any further elaborations by the director or writers. Hopefully, this great movie will see a reissue on DVD soon.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2000
Format: DVD
No fire and brimstone, no biblical monsters, no masshysteria...not even a crazy old person screaming to all to save theirsouls. This is the story of the last night on earth. For the past few months the people of earth have known that the world would end at this midnight, obviously having something to do with the sun...which even at 11:59:59 shines as brightly as midday. Around the city of Toronto, a family sits down to Christmas dinner, though it is not Christmas. A man working for the gas company (David Cronenberg) calls everyone in Toronto to let them know that their gas will be on for as long as possible. His wife (Sandra Oh) desperately attempts to get home after her car is vandalized by looters. A man elsewhere in the city attempts every sexual fantasy he has ever considered. When another gentleman (McKellar, who also directed) who has every intention sitting home alone listening to music up until the end runs into Sandra, and they wind up spending their last hours together.
There has never to my knowledge ever been a film like this one. No drama, no hysterics, this movie shows the world as it most likely really would end were we to be made aware of it a couple of months in advance. It makes you sit down and think for a moment about who you would like to spend your last hours with. Family, friends, lovers? Who would be important to you during the last six hours, and how would you wish to spend it with them? I couldn't fathom of it, but McKellar, who also wrote this story, does a brilliant job of it. This movie is amazing and beautiful and rarely tragic. It is definitely worth your time and definitely worth the purchase. It's food for thought, and a brilliant accomplishment by McKellar. If you like him, check out some of his other work such as Exotica and eXistenZ. END
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2000
Format: DVD
First of all, I hope you haven't read the Amazon.com review above, as it spoils one of the film's surprises. Second, I would give the film itself 5 stars, but I deduct a star for the lackluster DVD presentation. It's full-frame (not letterboxed) and as for extras, there are none - it's your basic no-frills movie-and-a-trailer. Bleh. (Hell, the trailer is letterboxed at 1.85, why isn't the film?)
Having said that, you still need to own this. Or at least rent it, be blown away, come back here, and order it. Don McKellar has fashioned one of the most subtly moving directorial debuts in recent memory. So many classic moments...Callum Keith Rennie showing his friend McKellar his special room; Sandra Oh's reaction to a message on an answering machine; David Cronenberg (yes, him; great director, kind of a one-note actor, but his presence here is amusing and perfectly Canadian) sitting alone in his apartment eating ice cream; McKellar and his sister Sarah Polley (who deserves more screen time) trying to grin and bear it as their mom throws the final Christmas party they'll never get to have; Cronenberg's employee at the gas company getting drunk and wobbling around the office; Genevieve Bujold saying "Bon voyage" in the elevator.
It's a full package. The movie honestly earns its laughs and tears (I'm not a big crier at movies, but I misted up a few times). McKellar's handling of a variety of characters, and crosscutting between same, should be an object lesson to any filmmaker attempting this type of group portrait (are you listening, P.T. Anderson? A movie doesn't have to be 3 hours long and have characters blurt out their neuroses in order to move us). This is a quiet, understated, very Canadian vision of the end of the world. In 95 minutes it speaks volumes about the variety of approaches to life and death (do you go for the gold and try to fulfill your wildest fantasies? or do you strive to maintain some dignity and integrity in the face of apocalypse?).
Look at this film and look at "Armageddon," and it will tell you everything that's wrong with Hollywood blockbusters and everything that can be terrific about indie films.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2003
Format: DVD
There is no more night, the world is plunged in eternal light. Toronto, 8PM, four hours before the end of the world. The government has closed down two months ago, there is no more police, and the city is under anarchy rule. The masses have claimed the streets : car travel is hazardous at best. Some people work to report or entertain people in the last hours (such as the radio announcer who proudly announces "here at CKRT... with you... until the end"), but most services are down. This is it. This is THE END. What do you do ?
Patrick Wheeler already knows the answer. He is invited to his parents' home, where his mother is preparing a Christmas dinner, even though it is not Christmas. A cynic at heart and seemingly disgusted at the "fake" of a family he never liked, he can't help disparaging his mother's efforts to give peace to her family. After he leaves, he is planning to wait until the last minutes, when he will install his radio system outside, play some good music, sit in a chair, and wait for the end. As good a way to go, I suppose.
Including Patrick, we follow a group of loosely-knit people as they prepare for the end, including Sandra Oh, whose desperation to get to her husband intertwines her life with Patrick, Craig Zwiller, best friend of Patrick who decides to spend his last days in constant sex, a French teacher (played by Geneviève Bujold), a pianist, and others.
In this frenzy of violence in the streets on the one hand, and the desire for a final accomplishment played out by his friends on the other hand, Patrick wants no part of all this and wants to die alone, but events conspire to derail his simple plans. He is interesting to follow, as an egoist character who spurns the superficiality and frenzy of those around him, while deeply aware of the gravity of the situation. Sort of tying the movie together is the president of the gas company (played by known sci-fi director David Cronenberg, an added plus), who has made it his job to call every customer to thank them and wish them good final hours.
The masses go crazy in fear and revolt, as masses are wont to do, but that's not what concerns the movie (a Hollywood take on this plot would have concentrated on the violence, or saving the Earth, or otherwise some meaningless romance, and that's why I don't bother to watch Hollywood movies). There is only as much violence as necessary, but this is not a slow movie - in fact, if there is one thing I have against Last Night, it's that it doesn't stop. Moments of contemplation would have helped.
As for how to define it, you could say it's a mix of black comedy and drama, although I'm not sure that really captures it. It all looks perfectly "natural", if you understand me - the humour and drama seem completely incidental. This is what impressed me most.
Like Cube, it got moderate critical approval but few people seem to think it's a masterpiece. I guess my love for science-fiction shines through again. This is the kind of movie I love - hard science-fiction, no special effects, no more violence than necessary, paced like clockwork (in this case, I guess there was not much choice, huh ?), lots of dialogue, as natural as possible, and very moving despite - or rather, because of - the lack of Hollywood-like action and histrionics. If you have the same tastes as I do, it is highly likely that you will love Last Night. The acting is delicious, especially Don McKellar as Patrick (he really enhances the movie as its main actor), and David Cronenberg.
In his review, Roger Ebert recounts the following anecdote. On a talk show in Toronto, Wayne Clarkson, the former director of the Toronto Film Festival, explained the difference between Canadian and American movies by using Last Night as example : "Sandra Oh goes into a grocery story to find a bottle of wine for dinner. The store has been looted, but she finds two bottles still on the shelf. She takes them down, evaluates them, chooses one, and puts the other one politely back on the shelf. That's how you know it's a Canadian film."
Patrick Wheeler: I think maybe I should mention before you make any faux pas here, that we have a tradition in this family, that we don't kill other people.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
This small Canadian picture from writer/director/star Don McKellar came as a huge surprise. As it begins, there are six hours left before the end of the world. It's never divulged just what has transpired to bring about this catastrophe, but that's completely secondary to the very real and human stories unfolding. As people confront the end in different ways (some dignified, some anarchic) this picture connects with quiet moments and believable characterizations.

Far from typical Apocalyptic representations, this is a refreshing story about human interactions. There is some looting and rioting, to be sure, but much of that is a backdrop to normal people facing the inevitable. They all have different ways they want to face the end: attend a last concert, be alone, have an impromptu Christmas, watch home movies, go to a party, have sex. Realistic and gentle observances are what will make this film linger in my mind.

McKellar is great as a man who just wants to be left alone, having already lost the woman he loves. Sandra Oh probably has the showiest role as a woman trying to get across town so that she may fulfill a suicide pact with her husband. She is understated and powerful. The rest of the cast is a virtual Who's Who of Canadian cinema including Sarah Polley, Genevieve Bujold, director David Cronenberg, Egoyan regular Arsinee Khanjian, and many other recognizable faces.

I really enjoyed this picture. It never tries to manipulate your feelings, it's all so matter of fact. That is its strongest point! It would have been easy to manufacture this tale as a weeper. But that doesn't mean it won't connect with you emotionally, it just isn't obvious about it. The end was surprisingly touching and moving, all the more so because I didn't know I was so drawn in. Mind you, however, this isn't slick and polished Hollywood product. It's a low budget and intimate affair. Maybe it's not for everyone in its understatement. But if you enjoy a character driven story, this could be a nice surprise. It was for me. KGHarris, 5/13.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
This small Canadian picture from writer/director/star Don McKellar came as a huge surprise. As it begins, there are six hours left before the end of the world. It's never divulged just what has transpired to bring about this catastrophe, but that's completely secondary to the very real and human stories unfolding. As people confront the end in different ways--some dignified, some anarchic--this picture connects with small moments and believable characterizations.

Far from typical Apocalyptic representations, this is a refreshing story about human interactions. There is some looting and rioting, to be sure, but much of that is a backdrop to normal people facing the inevitable. They all have different ways they want to face the end--attend a last concert, be alone, have an impromptu Christmas, watch home movies, go to a party, have sex. Realistic and small observances are what will make this film linger in my mind.

McKellar is great as a man who just wants to be left alone, having already lost the woman he loves. Sandra Oh probably has the showiest role as a woman trying to get across town so that she may fulfill a suicide pact with her husband. She is understated and powerful. The rest of the cast is a virtual Who's Who of Canadian cinema including Sarah Polley, Genevieve Bujold, director David Cronenberg, Egoyan regular Arsinee Khanjian, and many other recognizable faces.

I really enjoyed this picture. It never tries to manipulate your feelings, it's all so matter of fact--that is its strongest point! It would have been easy to manufacture this tale as a weeper. But that doesn't mean it won't connect with you emotionally, it just isn't obvious about it. The end was surprisingly touching and moving--all the more so because I didn't know I was so drawn in. Mind you, however, this isn't slick--it's low budget and small. Maybe it's not for everyone, but if you enjoy a character driven story--this could be a nice surprise. It was for me. KGHarris, 11/06.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
I'm usually a fan of the odd and quirky, but this definitively odd and quirky little apocalyptic film never really connected with me in a spiritual or emotional way. I'm used to liking films others don't like, so it's always a little disconcerting to find myself explaining my dissatisfaction with a movie that others found moving or even profound. Certainly, the potential end of humanity should be a profound concept. All I found among the characters of Last Night, however, was an aloof sense of resignation - and very little despair. Tragic figures abound, but any overall sense of tragedy somehow comes up lacking, as far as I'm concerned.

Last Night begins at 6:00 pm on humanity's last day of existence. Six hours later, at precisely midnight, the world is going to end - and everyone knows it. Apparently, it's been common knowledge for at least a couple of months, so by this point most people seemed pretty much resigned to the fact that they are in their final hours of life and have already decided how they will spend their last night. Some choose to act like hooligans out on the streets, some unite with their families, some (even at least one hooker) continue working, some prepare to meet their end in solitude, etc. Patrick Wheeler (Don McKellar, who also wrote and directed the film) leaves his family gathering to meet death on his own terms, only to find himself interacting with others in an effort to help reunite Sandra (Sandra Oh) and her husband Duncan (played by David Cronenberg), a gas company executive who goes to the trouble of making courtesy calls to every single customer of the company before the end comes. Sandra apparently spent so much time preparing for her final moments that she forgot to purchase necessary supplies until the very last day, at which point she is unable to make it back home. While the film centers on Patrick and Sandra, other characters certainly leave an impression upon the viewer. Patrick's friend Alex (Trent McMullen), for example, has devoted all of his final days to fulfilling every sexual fantasy he can think of. Another acquaintance schedules his musical debut for the final hour. Then there are basically throwaway characters who lend an even more surreal feel to what is happening, such as a mother and daughter who sit along on a vacant bus throughout the duration of the story.

All of this is interesting, but I didn't find any of it particularly moving. What we are privy to here are people leading futile lives preparing for their own futile ends. I should be feeling mournful and compassionate towards these people - but I really don't, and that is why Last Night failed to win me over. There just doesn't seem to be any point to all of this. The only thing that kept me hooked was my curiosity concerning how the world would end. That is not something that our characters speak of, although one gets a sense of its potential nature from the complete lack of darkness accompanying the day's late night hours. It turns out that this world goes out with a proverbial whimper, and I think the same can be said of this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
What if you knew the exact date and time when the world would end? What would you do? Last Night explores the answers.

Would you become utterly hedonistic, sampling every perverse pleasure you can imagine like Craig (Callum Keith Rennie)? Would throw one last Christmas party with friends and family even though it's not Christmas like the Wheeler family? Would you try to comfort others in their last moments like local gas company owner Duncan (David Cronenberg)? SPOILER NIGHT: Would you party like Jennifer Wheeler (Sarah Polley), plan to end it all before the end comes (Sandra Oh), run through the streets screaming (Jackie Burroughs), or just become utterly paralyzed with fear (Arsinee Khanjian)? Or maybe, like Patrick Wheeler (Don McKellar), you'd just like to be left alone as you brood the loss of your beloved who left the world too early to share the apocalypse with you. Last Night deftly ties all these choices together in a neat tapestry of woe as the nights get brighter and brighter.

As Last Night progresses a clock ticks off each hour. Unlike the post-apocalyptic visions we've become accustomed to, Last Night's horror has long since worn off on its beleaguered citizens. There are still vandals roaming the streets, but the hopelessness of the situation has begun to sink in. Why steal anything when you won't live long enough to enjoy it? The people who would do harm act out of sheer nihilistic indifference, struggling to feel alive by destroying. The crux of Last Night is these little random acts of living.

There's no eleventh hour salvation, no secret sanctuary to save the protagonists, no major revelation about the nature of the apocalypse. The apocalypse is coming, the world is ending, and Last Night asks: What are you going to do about it?

The answer: You can live a lifetime in under thirty seconds. You just have to spend it wisely. Last Night's economical 95 minutes is definitely time well-spent.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Don McKellar is a hidden Canadian genius in my opinion. His roles in Exotica, a CBC series and other wonderful bits of artistic work have made me a big fan.
Last Night is what someone could call an Apocalyptic Comedy. Ever think you'd see a movie like that? Is it even possible to make something like that? Well, it is indeed and McKellar does it with great humour. The funniest scene is he seeing his family to celebrate Christmas, even though it isn't Christmas - people just want to try and have a final celebration.
Then there is the frustration with the brilliant co-star of the film as she desperately wants to get in touch with her husband and she cannot. At the same time, McKellar weaves a dark yet very funny movie. How is the world ending? How do people know this? You never find out. They just do, and somehow that is enough.
I would not say that this movie was "realistic"; people seemed so accepting that the world was ending. They just were trying to figure out things to do as they wait. I found it chilling in that, as I watched it, i was working in a job that was trying to solve the Y2k problem. I can only look back at THAT and this movie with even greater sardonic humour.
With a cameo by Cronnenburg, some great plot twists and stark imagery, this movie is a cinematic work of genius. Of course, since it is also intelligent, the general public did not see it in droves.
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