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[Death Issue Extra!]

Movies about the afterlife

After Life (1998) This hauntingly beautiful Japanese film posits a sort of afterlife way station, where everyone who dies spends a week determining the most cherished memory from their life, and then takes a movie of that memory (and only that memory) with them to their final destination. Filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda heartbreakingly sketches out a range of characters looking back on their lives with joy, regret, satisfaction and sadness.

Defending Your Life (1991) Albert Brooks takes his neuroses beyond the grave in this look at another holding pen for the recently deceased. His typically nebbishy character must literally defend his life in a trial that determines whether he deserves to move on to the next world. Brooks mixes humor and pathos, and even throws in the idea of falling in love post-death.

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) This movie, too, features a love story that blossoms in the hereafter, a vast wasteland that serves as a repository for people who committed suicide, where there’s not a whole lot to do, and smiling is literally impossible. Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamon play two troubled souls who make a connection in this drab purgatory, finding a reason to live after they’ve already died.

What Dreams May Come (1998) And here’s love from life that transcends death, as Robin Williams plays a man who dies and goes to heaven, then travels literally to hell to reunite with the love of his life, who committed suicide after Williams was killed in a car accident. The lush, painterly conception of heaven won this movie an Oscar, and its visual effects are generally better remembered than its rather schmaltzy storyline.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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