The Original BENEATH THE MARQUEE – The first (but second on WordPress) Double Feature suggestions post

A few weeks ago, as per the 31 Nights of Halloween, I made a variant of this post that started back when Motorbreath was on blogspot – suggesting horror double features that could be tied in via themes or other points of interests.

I did not realize I didn’t add the original Beneath the Marquee post on the WordPress site, so here I am to fix it… bringing in completely unchanged – horrible ghastly non-English speaker typos and all – the original Movie Motorbreath “Beneath the Marquee” post… eventually intending to make it a feature…


… Well, that title was a lame way to incorporate a Red Hot Chili Peppers lyric.

Anyway, to force myself to make more posts during November (totally failed NaNoWriMo already), I’m going to do another post inspired by Lost in the Movies (formerly the Dancing Image). Pretty soon, I’m going to need to come up with my own topics, until then, I have that blog to inspire me. Please don’t kill me, Joel Bocko and/or MovieMan.

Anyway, what I like to do frequently at my house whenever I’m back from college (or sometimes in any home or dorm area that has a big enough tv and will allow me to do so – school or break), is hold screenings. I like to hold screenings of my favorite movies to my friends. It’s a habit that began with, being a  metalhead, inviting friends to my home for a showing The Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria, a screening that had a grand total audience of… 2.
I guess people really hate Metallica now.

And then I look at Lars’ face and remember why…

But, eventually this audience grew, though. It’s not a large number of people who show up to each screening (and I’d rather it not be), but more so people who can enjoy watching movies and a number enough to make it a sort of gathering and fun for others. It doesn’t distract from what’s on the screen, but it doesn’t discourage commentary neither. I usually attempt to show movies that most of the audience present hadn’t seen before. In fact, last year, among my dormmates, many of whom would see the movies at a nearby lounge at my insistence, began showcasing movies on their own time. I doubt it’s my influence, but it was great to see such an interest in sharing their cinematic tastes.

To my knowledge, the movies I have screened are: Alien (Scott, 1979), Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984), Re-Animator (Gordon, 1985), Aliens (Cameron, 1986), Akira (Otomo, 1988),Heathers (Lehmann, 1988), Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992), Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994), X-Men (Singer, 2000), Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001), 28 Days Later… (Boyle, 2002), Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (Tarantino, 2003), X2 (Singer, 2003), Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (Tarantino, 2004), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Black, 2005), Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007), In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009), Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009), The Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria (Wickham, 2010)

There may be more, I’m uncertain… However, I had always played around with the idea of doing multi movie screenings. I had done a Tarantino Day (which took up the ENTIRE day – providing a breakfast and dinner for the attendees and going to Sonic’s for lunch). I had long dreamed of a neo-noir night, but there are so many I love that it’s hard to choose, just three – let alone two. The same goes for horror and classic noir. I’d love love love love to show my friends the Vengeance trilogy by Chan Wook-Park, but I’d have to give complimentary blindfolds for their sensitivities. A lot of my friends would not be able to stomach the experience, I’m certain of it. I wanted to do a screening ofGrindhouse – But I wanted to do it specifically in my garage, projected onto a sheet. I am unable to provide that experience yet, so it’ll wait… one day…

In the meantime, I decided to play around with pairing specific movies in my extensive collection and came to  some interesting ones I liked. They had a small fraction of each movie’s ingredients that connected them, and I liked to juxtapose polar opposites. I also tried as best as I could to consider running times, so if anybody wants to try these at home, they don’t kill themselves but sitting on their ass for too long.
So, sheck out these eight double feature ideas…

Messy Break-Ups

Annie Hall (Allen, 1977)Brick (Johnson, 2005)
I wish I could’ve come up with a wittier title, but I promise it’s more than just a messy break-up. Everything the male lead attempts to do to patch up with their ex makes the situation from tolerable to worse. The problem with both leads is that they’ve had something towards them that forced the relationship to not work out: Alvy being a neurotic mess, while Brendan being a holier than thou bastard. As it turns out, Brendan brings his own ex to (literal) rock bottom early in his picture, which moves the main plot into motion. While Annie Hall is more a viewing of how one can get to a (metaphorical) rock bottom – between Alvy and Annie.

Sympathy for the Devil(s)
Natural Born Killers (Stone, 1994)A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

These two movies have more in common than their title suggests. These are the two movies that after watching I thought ‘Wow, that was fucking great – Am I never going to see that movie again!’. Lo, and behold, both are now among my collection and my favorite movies. They assaulted my morals, they assaulted my thoughts on society and crime and how they work.

But, why group them together? Because they made sympathetic characters out of people who should not be sympathetic at all. Namely, they did it by showing how every other character in their respective movies are worse and just as capable to providing horror to others. Especially with two completely different methods of discomfort to the audience – Stone looking into the usage of pop culture bombardment, soundtrack sabotage and editing/jump cut/subliminal assault and Kubrick, in his Kubrickian fashion, touches on giving us images on the frame that suggest things we absolutely would not want suggested to our minds – and bringing us into the perspective of our narrator/protagonist, Alex.

(Un)Welcome Wagons
The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973)Yojimbo (Kurosawa, 1961)

I truly fear that Nicholas Cage gave The Wicker Man a bad name with his participation in the horrid remake. I don’t think he’s as bad an actor as people give him hate for, there’s a lot of his performances which I personally enjoy. That said, the original Wicker Man is a great tale, a movie I’m certain Hot Fuzz was remaking. While Yojimbo has a badass action hero waltzing into a town entirely based on Hammett’s Poisonville. The movies both feature a character entering town intending to do the best good, being serviced horribly and attempting to turn the town upside down on its head. The difference being namely in the protagonist, The Wicker Man‘s strict uptight headmaster-like official on business and Yojimbo‘s wandering nameless outsider, sitting and watching others tear the town apart themselves.

NOTE: Other movies I considered for this type of theme are High Plains Drifter (Eastwood, 1973) and the afore-mentioned Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007).

The Beautiful Purgatories

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Coppola, 1992)Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)

Alrighty, here’s one that’s going to be quite a joy to watch. It’s going to be like looking at two separate paintings from different eras: One historic and one futuristic – two separate concepts to consider. And they are beauties to see, certainly a hint of the Eastern influence with both pictures. What is more notable is the themes that despite these amazingly wondrous (and practical effects-laden) worlds that the characters inhabit, they simply do not want to be there and its obvious. Bram Stoker’s Dracula holds upon its head a question of heaven with Blade Runner holding a question of existence and purpose – Death being the Sword of Damocles that threatens to cut our ambition for answer short in both pictures.

I love movies that make you inhabit worlds. They cannot tell you how this world works, you just are forced to live into these moments. I rarely like it when a movie spells everything out for you. Half the enjoyment of the storytelling is having your own imagination participate in the construction. Since these two, easily among my top 20 movies, are guilty of forcing this onto the audience, it would really be a trip to showcase both movies together.

Standing Still While the World Turns 

La Haine (Kassovitz, 1995) Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989)

I know Mathieu Kassovitz is not encouraging of any comparison between La Haine and Do the Right Thing, but I’m sorry, it’s there and it has to be seen. These are characters with revolution and history being made around them and all they can do is sit and talk among themselves and walk around but never really go anywhere while things are happening all over them, issues are rising that they are ignoring or using as a plaything. Both pictures end with a different ultimate reaction on the part of our characters, however. It’s an interesting comparison.

NOTE: An apolitical yet fun version of this type of theme could be utilized via Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004), American Graffiti (Lucas, 1973), The Big Lebowski (Coen/Coen, 1998) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Zemeckis, 1988). The latter two could definitely be used for a mystery stylization – since the two leads are more wrapped up in their cases than what’s going on in their country/town. Especially noted when what’s going in L.A. happens to be a MacGuffin for Roger Rabbit.
I have not seen The Dreamers (Bertolucci, 2003), but it sounds like it’d fit as well.

Standing Together While the World Crumbles
The Host (Bong, 2006)Akira (Otomo, 1988)

Inadvertently both Asian films, but the best, most entertaining examples I could come up with, we have the opposite of the previous theme. Sure, these characters could’ve just tried to keep their heads down and their ears pinned back, but they were forced to be involved when somebody close to them is brought into the government fiasco of the picture’s focus. This certainly brings out the oncoming (and supernatural at both points) destruction of their setting and town – especially the deterioration of the mass mindset as the world around the characters goes into hysteria.

But these people stand strong, if only to rescue one of their own before succumbing to the pressure of the end of their world. It’s made more strongly bound by the fact that these are groups that could (and should) easily dissolve. Ones an adolescent biker gang (with the inclusion of a revolutionary girl that the leader simply take a fancy to) and the other’s the most dysfunctional family this side of the Bluths and the Tenenbaums.
If you really want to fuck up your audience’s brain afterwards, showcase The End of Evangelion (Anno, 1997), an absolute abstract, no answer to it at all… Except that’s one is more about failure.

The Eighth Passenger
Alien (Scott, 1979)Serenity (Whedon, 2005)
I blame Joss Whedon for implanting this idea in my mind by naming Serenity as an attempt of the ship’s crew trying to figure out if they’re living in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or Alien. Also, I blame this line for implanting it even harder from Serenity.

The Operative: ‘That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.’
Mal Reynolds: ‘The way I remember it, albatross was a ship’s good luck, ’til some idiot killed it.’

In both movies, there’s a new burden for an already burdened ship to carry and its brought the eye of the ‘evil’ establishment and their interests shining a light on it. And it’s the crew finding out what they can do about their situation brought upon by this new addition to their lives. Of course, River Tam is nowhere near as volatile and sinister as the Xenomorph, but she’s certainly dangerous and frightening enough to the crew of Serenity. Also, note the familiarity of Serenity as opposed to the dark, frightening and uncertain horror of the Nostramus.

Oh yea, and is Serenity not scary enough to balance Alien? Wait for the Reavers…

The Absolute Western Good
The Untouchables (De Palma, 1987)The Magnificent Seven (Sturges, 1960)

Enough villainy and ambiguous heroes. It’s gotta be a straight up battle between good and evil and it has to be the American way. It has to be us knowing where the villains come from and knowing where to find the good guys at. The old days of chivalry. Of cowboys and of G-Men. The type of stuff that made me want to be a hero in my childhood (Of which Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen’s presence was definitely appreciated – namely Brynner, though. He was so cool!).

And more so, forgive me for this (granted, I’m not even natural-born), but I want them to be just so goddamned fucking American, sometimes.

I want heroes who will never give up the fight even when the odds are down. I want heroes who always have the last line to shut you up, like Malone did. Heroes who will avenge their fallen friends like the Seven or Elliot Ness and Giuseppe Petri.

These two movies are the stuff of straight away good guys and bad guys. There could be better movies to maintain that, but I’m not seeing them yet.

Well, now I (and you readers) got a great amount of ideal screenings… One of these days…

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