Monday, August 20, 2007

26 Miles on a Single Disc

For some strange reason, I've been hearing quite a few suggestions for a DVD marathon over the past couple of weeks. With all the talk about stringing a bunch of movies together for a day of popcorn and wide-screen TVs, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to run into a serious get-together one of these days.

One of the interesting things that have come up is the possibility of holding a "focused" DVD marathon -- that is, watching a bunch of movies that all have a single thing in common. Marcelle seems to love the idea of a Frat Pack marathon, for example: That means that everything we watch should involve some combination of Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Steve Carell and their fellows.

While I'm generally okay with the idea of a Frat Pack marathon (in fact, I'm looking forward to Ferrell's and Carell's stuff), it does strike me as a little monotonous. A bunch of Frat Pack movies will almost definitely be equivalent to a handful of comedies, and I usually like a little variety to my marathons. I don't want to start laughing at the first movie, only to be totally sick of their brand of humor at the end of the day.

In the end, this got me thinking about other possible ideas for DVD marathons. I mean, there are about a million possible focal points out there; Which of these go across different genres and touch various ends of the spectrum? I want to experience some combination of comedy, drama, action and whatever else when it comes to my movies... if I can somehow find a category where all of these can fit in, then so much the better.

As a result, I came up with a few ideas. You're welcome to suggest anything else that's good with the criteria, by the way -- I'm just considering the following topics below.


Short-of-Best-Picture winners: Sometimes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sure can pick 'em... and sometimes they can't. There are a few movies on my "must-watch" and "must-watch-again" lists that were nominated for Best Picture yet fell short of the mark for whatever reason. Although dramas are usually singled out for the Best Picture statuette, the nomination finalists are far broader in terms of genre: There are light comedies (The Full Monty, As Good as It Gets), a few mob movies (Goodfellas), action flicks (The Fugitive), animations (Babe), and even a Baz Luhrmann musical (Moulin Rouge!). That would make quite a program, in my opinion.

My contribution: Dog Day Afternoon. This 1975 nominee stars a young Al Pacino in what was supposed to be a quick bank robbery; Instead, everything goes terribly, hideously wrong, and we're there to watch every second of it.


Martial Arts demonstrations: I grew up watching the chop-socky, and I get pretty jaded with a lot of the mundane modern-day stuff. So whenever the martial arts even so much as appear in a movie, I feel that the picture must be interesting enough for me to even consider it redeemable. With that said, I would be glad to see stuff like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Shaolin Soccer on a marathon playlist. Even dogs like Kung Pao: Enter the Fist might be worth watching, if only because they're such curiosities.

My contribution: Kung Fu Hustle. It's not your typical martial arts comedy, because it takes everything that's absurd about the genre and somehow attempts to play it straight. That, and the humor is remarkably insightful.


Tom Hanks movies: The thing about Tom Hanks is that he started off as an actor working in comedies, then somehow moved into doing dramatic roles. What makes his career interesting is that a lot of his movies actually turned out well... which means that a Tom Hanks marathon would probably hit a certain level of quality. You could run award-winners like Philadelphia, or 80's comedies like Big. You can even run into romance (Sleepless in Seattle) or animation (Toy Story). As long as you don't get tired of hearing his voice all the time, I suppose that this would do fine.

My contribution: Punchline. This forgotten movie has Tom Hanks as an unknown comedian, mentoring Sally Field on the skills of the stand-up act. But when everything comes down to a single contest for discovery and stardom, their line between friendship and individual achievement gets placed into question.


This doesn't cover everything that's floating in my head right now... but it's a good reference.

Of course, I'm open to other ideas or feedback. If you want to suggest something, or figure that my taste in movies somehow appalls you, feel free to sound off. You know my wants here -- I'm looking for a focus that can cover multiple genres, or at least a few interesting pictures that won't necessarily blur together after eight hours.

Heck, you're free to suggest anything, just as long as it won't obligate me to track you down for a marathon or two. :)


Ida said...

What about categorizing films by director? Their styles are usually less obvious, and you don't see their faces or hear their voices (unless they make a cameo appearance--and they don't always do that), so you don't get sick of them as much as people normally would with actors (I know I'm sick of Julia Roberts :P).

The director of Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet, for instance, has directed other famous classics like Murder on the Orient Express and 12 Angry Men.
Or maybe by Story Writer. Only one comes to mind at the moment (because he's my favorite). Andrew Niccol. His works include The Terminal, S1m0ne, The Truman Show, and Gattaca (Jude Law and Ethan Hawke! (okay, you probably won't get excited by this :P))

Maybe you can also marathon some films by location. For instance, a lot of movies have New York as a setting (from Home Alone 2 to The Day After Tomorrow). Although I guess this sort of implies that you've already seen the movie, to know where it's set, and that might defeat the whole purpose of a DVD marathon.

Perhaps some local films, then? I'd like to say that Judy Ann Santos has played several different characters and have a variety of leading men, but somehow I just don't think you'd be interested to know that. :P

Well, it's up to you, but I hope you post what you decide on, because I might want to have a DVD marathon with my friends as well. :)

[Er, sorry again for the long comment. Talking about movies is quite addictive (to the point of unhealthy) for me. :P ]

Sean said...

Ida: Doing a director or screenwriter marathon seems like an incredibly good idea. A Sidney Lumet collection may be out of our hands, but Andrew Niccol looks good. Somehow Sam Raimi comes to mind... we could run Army of Darkness, The Quick and the Dead, and any of the Spider-Man movies. Or Joss Whedon... I hear he's good. :)

Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

If you're going to do a movie marathon by actor, I strongly recommend Pacino. Watch his films in chronological order and see him in varying states of anger: seething, roiling, boiling, fuming, spitting, spewing, erupting, exploding. :)

If you're going to go by director (and provided you can stomach a lot of blood and gore) I suggest Quentin Tarantino. Mad, hella crazy fun. Or if you're in an 80s mood, go with John Hughes, and make sure The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off are on the list.

Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Follow-up: Come to think of it, you can go with John Hughes as both director and writer. That way you also get Pretty in Pink and a bunch of National Lampoon movies. :)

Sean said...

Ailee: (Homer Simpson voice) "Mmmm... Pacino."

Seriously, though -- an Al Pacino marathon would give me the opportunity to add Dick Tracy to Dog Day Afternoon. I might lay off Quentin Tarantino because his movies might blur together after a while... but John Hughes would do well for both comedies and coming-of-age stories (despite the constant 80's teenager angle).

Ida said...

Joss Whedon... Aside from Buffy (and Angel), I don't think I've seen anything else he's done. But I hear Serenity's supposed to be good. I just don't know where to find a copy of it. But yeah, I'm a fan of Buffy, so I say he's good. :) I like his humor. :)

Sean said...

Ida: to the rescue -- interestingly enough, Joss Whedon has writing credits for a lot of animated features, too :)

Hailyn said...

My suggestions:

1. Dance movies - "Save the Last Dance", "Dirty Dancing", "Grease" and something I haven't personally seen yet - "Billy Elliot"

2. Pixas or Walt Disney cartoons - There's always a little kid inside all of us. "Lion King", "Little Mermaid", "Finding Nemo" etc.

Sean said...

Hailyn: I'd love to see Billy Elliot. For that matter, I'd love to see Grease again. And a lot of recent musicals fall under the same category...

Animated features would be a good suggestion, too... but I fear that they're too popular for their own good. Chances are that everybody's seen most of the animated movies floating around nowadays...

Ida said...

Billy Elliot is cute. It might take you a while (perhaps 20 minutes into the movie) to get used to their accent though, so you might not understand the first few scenes. At least that's how it was in my case. But since it's about dancing, I guess the visuals are more important than the words. :)

If you like that though, I suggest you also do a marathon of European movies, e.g. Amelie, Malena, Cinema Paradiso, Life Is Beautiful, Il Postino, etc.

And if you're going to start on foreign films, I strongly recommend Japanese movies -- and I don't just mean anime or the scary movies, but movies like Sinking of Japan, Battle Royale, Sekai no Chusin de Ai wo Sakebu or Waterboys :) - I'm just not sure where you can find these though... Er... I guess you can always download them. Just make sure they've got nice English subtitles. Ahehe. :P

Sean said...

Ida: Well, that's always the risk when it comes to non-English movies. I'd definitely have something to throw into either category, though -- I found Pan's Labyrinth to be a hell of a ride, and I've always wanted to see Kurosawa's original The Seven Samurai for myself. :)