While we're in the throes of hurricane season and have seen the devastation it has caused here in the States, "survival mode" remains at the forefront of our mind these days. Natural disasters abound and survival kits are all the rage, as are generators to get those lights and appliances on when the utility companies that charge us exorbitant fees fail us. But how ready are you? For real? To get a vague idea, here are five movies you need to see.
1. 127 Hours: No film demonstrates one lone man's will to live more than this James Franco tour de force from 2010. Too bad he also decided to bomb as co-host of the Academy Awards that year (and I do think he decided to), the very one he was nominated for Best Actor, or he might've actually had a shot. Over the course of the titular 127 hours, Franco's Aron Ralston—who endured this in real life—lay wedged between boulders, and for five days obsesses over every detail of his life, if only to muster up the courage to actually amputate his own arm in an effort to break free. Watch this flick and think twice the next time you belly-ache over stubbing your toe.
2. Lord of the Flies: The internet was abuzz recently when word of the latest remake came down the pike—an all-female gaggle of students, as opposed to the all-male squadron depicted in the William Golding classic novel. Made into a feature film twice, both really fell short (as I suspect this third one will) in illustrating just how mad, power-hungry, desperate and devoid of compassion these young people become when left to their own devices to fend for themselves, feed themselves and develop something remotely resembling a community. "Lord" was one the of the first tomes dedicated to analyzing just how capable any one of us would be, never mind the young, to start anew, be adaptable... survive.
3. Cast Away: This is Tom Hanks basically doing "Lord of the Flies: The One-Man Show" with Wilson the soccer ball who becomes his FedEx guy's BFF standing in for The Conch. The isolation is palpable while watching Hanks build a life for himself on this remote island after his flights goes down, and while life goes on without him at home. His delirium makes a sort of twisted sense. But, beyond the befriending of athletic supplies, there is a home to build, food to catch/kill/cook and even a raft to make in an effort to get somewhere. Anywhere.
4. The Impossible: Look, this shit is gonna make you nervous. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and their three sons, decide to spend the holidays in Thailand. Why? That's anybody's guess. Actually, you can ask one Marisa Belon, who this whole thing really happened to. A Tsunami hits, filmed so magnificently you almost forget that real people really endured this—enormous waves come crashing down on streets where farmers' markets are crowded as hell, resorts are nestled just blocks away. They are simply washed away. The family central to the film is divided and the remainder of it is dedicated to them regrouping. Amongst looters, hastily slapped together rescue areas, and moments where trusting complete strangers with the kids you do still have with you is pretty much a must, The Impossible begs the viewer to gauge just how resilient he or she might be at the end of the day.
5. The Grey: So, this is basically Liam Neeson doing his Taken routine, just without the hot daughter in danger or any prostitution whatsoever—plus the enemies here are wolves rather than a man. Well, there's an exception or two. Neeson plays John Ottway, and after a five-week stint working an Alaskan oil refinery, the boys are on their way home for a much-needed vacation. What follows is a plane crash, and only eight of them survive. As they seek out civilization and refuge from the icy elements, they've also got mortal injuries with which to contend. Oh, and those pesky wolves, too. Not for the faint of heart, but survival at its finest.