Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maggie 2010: Day of The Earthquake Edition

82. Volcano

After experiencing my first earthquake of note yesterday, I picked up a discount DVD from Gen X to whet my one-third-world appetite for disaster porn. (I mean, really, most of the world has *real* systemic problems, natural catastrophe- or war-related, to worry about; you think anyone the world over really cares if John Cusack's family gets saved from the ridiculous doomsday scenario in 2012?)

Considering the egocentricism of the entire genre, Volcano is a surprisingly memorable entry therein. Yes, it helps that Tommy Lee Jones was born to play the role of a world-worn man whose troubled unibrow bears the quiet prescience only age and wisdom can. And yes, it helps that a pre-mental-breakdown Anne Heche provides impeccable blonde eye-candy for most of the ride. But there's more to this film's success than that. Despite traversing considerable thematic ground in the realms of tragic loss and sacrifice, race relationships and community outreach, Volcano almost never forgets its roots. Sure, there's a precocious little boy who spews a couple ham-handed messages at crucial junctures in the film, but mainly? This 1997 disaster flick is about a volcano erupting in down-town Los Angeles -- with all the awesome lava trails, building explosions, subway disasters, and people covered in ash or fire you can handle. Living perfectly up to its title, Volcano gives you exactly what it promises; and because of that modesty of scope, anything more it provides truly manages to be a pleasurable bonus for the ride.

Oh, and for those of you fearing that Gen X's disaster porn inventory only includes Criterion classics like Armageddon and our SCI: End of the World section, rest assured, there's still a nice double-feature of Volcano and 1974's The Towering Inferno (Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Paul Newman, Fred Astaire, and more) for sale at Gen X as of Friday, June 25. In the meantime? While contemplating your next disaster pick?

Please consider donating to any of these fine organizations working to restore parts of the world affected by much graver earthquakes and related natural disasters:

Haiti Earthquake Funds, The Humanitarian Coalition

Chile Earthquake Funds, Oxfam

Yushu, China Earthquake Funds, Tibet Foundation

Because, yes, donating money's not as cool as drilling to the Earth's core or shooting out into space to jump-start the sun... but the little things count, too!

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