January 03, 2005

Double Feature Picture Show

Some couples simply belong together. In the case of movies, watching a complementary pair of films is a texture experience. It's all about how one movie leads into the other, how the first affects the perception of the second, how the second informs understanding of the first—and, how the viewer feels from the cumulative effect.

You got your Willy Wonka in my Apocalypse!

Some couples just go together!The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) / The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (2002)
Drink a bottle of Campari during Life Aquatic to adjust your mental capacity for the Crocodile movie. Life Aquatic knows it's clever; Crocodile Hunter knows its mental health is questionable. Both are thoroughly enjoyable. Goldfish and Animal crackers will help mute the munchies.

Harold and Maude (1971) / Better Off Dead (1985)
Classics of two different generations, on the same themes of love, death, despair, and dealing with parents. Serve these films with french fries, french toast, and Perrier.

Apocalypse Now (1979) / Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971 Gene Wilder version)
This recommendation comes from dorm friend Larry the Really Smart Guy, who says they are structurally identical. Chocolate or any sort of candy for Willy Wonka. I'm not sure what to serve with napalm; you might try ordering out.

Time Bandits (1981) / Brazil (1985)
Pairing two movies by the same director (Terry Gilliam) may be a no-brainer, but these two in particular work well in chorus. Usually I recommend watching the "heavier" film first and the second one for relaxation or wee-hours silliness, but in this case I suggest letting the wild whimsy of Time Bandits soften you up for the mind-trip through Brazil.

Little Big Man posterSilverado (1985) / Little Big Man (1970)
Substitute Dances With Wolves in place of Little Big Man for an evening of dancing with Kevin Costner. Silverado is the movie that won me over to the Western genre, with young Kevin Costner in young-Keanu Reeves mode. It's a sometimes-serious, sometimes-hilarious flick, good for folks who find Blazing Saddles too much wild, wild unreality. Little Big Man is a lot of movie, alternately slapstick and poignant, the tall-tale life of a pioneer boy (eventually Dustin Hoffman) raised by Sioux. As an ancient man he looks back over his long life, including his encounters with Custer and Faye Dunaway. Pork and beans and hash and pemmican, with an order of sarsaparilla for your horse.

Warlock (1989) / Timeline (2003) or
The Navigator (1988; Australia/NZ) / Warlock
The Navigator posterWarlock is a beloved guilty pleasure; I watch it when I'm feeling down and it never fails to take me away from whatever I'm escaping. It is so deliciously awful it may be my favourite bad film of all time; it doesn't eclipse Plan 9 From Outer Space's sheer incompetence, but it is a near-perfect B. The movie features Richard E. Grant, spectacularly slumming; Julian Sands, exuding the usual evil beauty; and time travel, one of my two favouritest scientifantasy themes (the other one being "last man on earth"). Timeline almost reaches the same froth of pure brain candy, so makes a good match. Or, if you'd like to start out your time-travelling jaunt with a thoughtful movie instead, track down the lovely and touching The Navigator, a 1988 Australian/NZ film about a group of 14th-century miners who try to dig their way to a nearby cathedral in search of a cure for the plague but end up in the 20th century instead. Recommended cuisine: anything extra salty.

Becket (1964) / Lion In Winter (1968)
This one is for you history buffs with time on your hands—these are two long movies. If you survive Becket (Peter O'Toole and the prince of players, Richard Burton, who set the screen on fire when they have at each other or when O'Toole's Henry II takes his exasperating family to task), reward yourself with the sharp-tongued wit of Lion (Peter O'Toole as Henry II again, and Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins and the most excellent John Castle and Timothy Dalton and now I have to mention Nigel Terry and Jane Merrow too). Serve these films up with a mediaeval banquet, but you might want to hide the knives.

Lady Jane (1986) / Princess Bride (1987)
Cary Elwes, I still adore you, even if you dyed your floofy hair black for the recent unfortunate adaptation of Ella Enchanted. This double-feature pairing of two princesses and the same dashing princely blond couldn't be more different from each other—one a heady costume epic and the other a sarcastic romp. I'm not actually a huge fan of The Princess Bride, but a marathon viewing of the two movies together, what with all that Cary Elwes, I couldn't resist. Bring Twinkies—blond on the outside, fluff on the inside. (Oh, I'm only kidding, Cary Elwes.)

Looking for Richard (1986) / Henry V (1989)
Henry V, young and energetic and romantic, is still the best of the Kenneth Branagh films. The post-battle tracking shot alone is worth the price of admission (or DVD rental). Looking for Richard is postmodern and deft, infused with New York cynicism, and has what is possibly sly-eyed Kevin Spacey's best performance ever. It's half documentary (can Americans do justice to the Bard? Does the average American on the street even know who the Bard is?) and half the play itself (Richard III), filmed largely in Manhattan's Cathedral of St. John the Divine (the world's largest Gothic cathedral). The only wrong note in Richard is Winona Ryder's flimsy Lady Anne. The only wrong note in Henry V is . . . is there a wrong note in Henry V? Bagels and ale all around.

Looking for Neverland (2004) / Shadowland (1993)
Authors (J. M. Barrie via Johnny Depp and C. S. Lewis courtesy of Anthony Hopkins) and their fragile muses. And their initials. Don't confuse the latter film with the 1985 BBC-TV version Shadowlands starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom (which I haven't seen). Both these stories are quite bittersweet, so sweeten them up with peanut butter cookies (Peter Pan brand peanut butter) and Turkish delights.

Shadow of the Vampire (2000) / Young Frankenstein (1974)
Nosferatu, meet Frankenstein. Sly gruesome humour, meet classic send-up. Don't adjust your dial—both these movies are in black & white. On the menu: Garlic pasta eaten with a pitchfork.

Image from The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course © 2002 Metro Goldwyn Mayer. All Rights Reserved.

Posted by OutsideFood at January 3, 2005 08:45 PM

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