Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: 4:44 Last Day on Earth vs. Cosmopolis, two films by cult directors in which too-cool-for-school city slickers must come to terms with their imminent demises.
Premise4:44 Last Day on Earth chronicles the final hours of a super cool, loft-dwelling actor-painter couple (played by Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh) as they, along with the rest of human civilization, await the inevitable apocalypse set to occur at 4:44 AM. Cosmopolis, on the other hand, is centered on a hotshot young billionaire named Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson). On his way to the barber, Packer, an asset manager, discovers that some financial missteps will cost him his entire fortune. Oh, yeah, he’s destined to be the victim of assassination, as well. Both films revolve around well-off protagonists, a circumstance that could possibly blunt the emotional impact of each. That being said, our own fictional well-being wouldn’t be at risk in the latter; so why should we care what happens to Edward, er, Eric?Advantage: 4:44 Last Day on Earth
Director Abel Ferrara (4:44) is known for his gritty depictions of New York City and violent, self-destructive characters (he really likes killing off leads). Because of this, Ferrara hasn’t broken through to popular directorial heights despite an impressive list of projects, 1992’s Bad Lieutenant being the director’s cinematic peak. Cosmopolis director David Cronenberg has a similar taste for darker themes but has, unlike his counterpart, been able to establish a niche within the mainstream as an artful provocateur. 1986’s The Fly and A History of Violence, Cronenberg’s 2005 drama starring Viggo Mortensen, stand as masterpieces of modern film. Advantage: Cosmopolis
Lead ActorOne simple question: who would win in a fight, the Green Goblin or a sparkly hipster vampire? That’s what we thought.Advantage: 4:44 Last Day on Earth
Protagonist Coolness Factor Willem Dafoe is a successful actor who lives in Manhattan with his artist wife. That’s cool. Pattinson is a 28-year old billionaire with a sweet limo (which you have to admit this one is, even if you don’t like limos), tons of influence, and just about everything he could ever want at his fingertips. The best part: he takes part in his own self-destruction. One billion tearful Willem Dafoe brow-trembles couldn’t even come close.Advantage: Cosmopolis
Use of New York City Ferrara’s film captures New York City on the precipice of destruction, the city etched in unnatural contrast during the daytime shots and cloaked in murky darkness at night. Conversely, Cosmopolis emphasizes interior environments (Packer’s luxury limo is a key physical feature of the plot), and because of the film’s singular focus, the camera stays in close proximity to Pattinson, losing sight of the city at large. Advantage: 4:44 Last Day on Earth
VerdictCosmopolis looks like an intriguing vehicle for the maturing Rob Pattinson, and David Cronenberg is an icon behind the camera. Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth, however, seems to have the upper hand with its compelling storyline and a proven lead actor-director combo. Advantage: 4:44 Last Day on Earth
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