Thursday 28 July 2011

'Double Feature' Blogathon

I can seldom resist a film meme or blogathon. (For proof, see herehere, and here.)  And Go, See, Talk's Marc Ciafardini’s proposal to bloggers was an especially fun notion. “The idea here is that we all get to imagine ourselves as bona fide theatre owners,” Marc writes. “As such we set up our schedule for a week's worth of Double Features… The criteria is completely up to you to pair the movies be it actors, directors, a common theme, original/remake, you name it. Nothing is wrong and everything goes as it's your theatre… Only change is that on Sunday make it a Triple Feature. Be as creative or simple as you want.” The choices below tend more toward the simple than the creative, I think, but this is a week’s worth of films that I’d be happy to see at any time.


Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954) / Hidden (Haneke, 2005)

Those dastardly provocateurs, Hitchcock and Haneke, deliver two oddly complementary films here: disturbing and implicatory treatises on what it means to watch and film (or be filmed), artfully disguised as slick, entertaining thrillers. Feel like a triple bill? Then add A Short Film About Love (1988), Monsieur Hire (1989), Talk to Her (2002) and Four Nights With Anna (2008), to taste.


Brief Encounter (Lean, 1945) / Lost in Translation (Coppola, 2003)

Quivering English reserve scored to Rachmaninoff and po-mo alienation/connection scored to Kevin Shields, Death in Vegas and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Two lovely, insightful movies that recognise that the people we go home to very often aren’t the ones who’ve meant the most.


Shattered Glass (Ray, 2003) / Breach (Ray, 2007)

Based on events that would defy belief were they not true, each of Billy Ray’s smart, subtle dramas has the pull and charge of a thriller. Neither was quite as widely seen as it should have been but both offer rich rewards. Breach deals in chilly post-Cold War intrigue as Ryan Phillippe’s FBI rookie investigates Chris Cooper’s double agent. Shattered Glass, meanwhile, probes truth, lies and journalist ethics through a depiction of the notorious Stephen Glass’s last year at The New Republic and boasts a performance by Peter Sarsgaard that thrills me just a little bit more every time I see the movie.


Crimes of the Heart (Beresford, 1986) / Blue Sky (Richardson, 1994)

Imperfect films, both, but I can’t resist a chance to showcase two of my favourite-ever Jessica Lange performances in a double-bill. Lange’s work here lifts both of these fairly ordinary pictures into another dimension. Her Oscar-winning army-wife Carly in Tony Richardson’s Blue Sky combines contemporary neurosis and old-school glamour as only she can (witness her spectacular seductive swaying to “It’s Only Make Believe” in the dance hall sequence). But for me it’s the scene in Crimes of the Heart in which Lange, as Meg, returns from her night out on the bayou with Sam Shepherd’s Doc, and tells her sisters about it while fixing her broken high heel, that confirms Lange as one of the most inventive and captivating actresses the screen has ever seen.


Nashville (Altman, 1975) / Magnolia (Anderson, 1999)

Altman’s finest paired with one of its contemporary descendants, Paul Thomas Anderson’s thunderous yet tender emotional epic. A long haul, to be sure, but rewarding on every level. And you’ll probably find out all you need to know about America from these two movies.


The Last Waltz (Scorsese, 1978) /Stop Making Sense (Demme, 1984)

“Hi, got a tape I want to play…” Two of the greatest concert films ever, combining the exhilarations of the live experience with the exhilarations of the cinema experience. And who doesn’t covet David Byrne’s great big suit?


Zelig (Allen, 1983), The Purple Rose of Cairo (Allen, 1985), Radio Days (Allen, 1987)

Many options present themselves. The Three Colours films? The Wajda War Trilogy? Kelly Reichardt’s perfectly pitched trio of dramas? The first three Critters movies? Love 'em all, but I’ve opted instead for these three gems from my favourite period of Woody Allen films: firstly, Zelig, Allen’s exquisitely crafted mockumentary about a "human chameleon"; then The Purple Rose of Cairo, perhaps the funniest and saddest valentine to movie-lovers ever made; and finally Radio Days, with its warm, evocative family snapshots and Mia Farrow’s immortal enquiry: “Who is Pearl Harbour?” What’s more, each of these fine films comes in at under 1 hour and 30 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to spend in the bar afterwards.


  1. Great choices, I especially love Monday and Tuesday. I might have to slope off early on Sunday though, I just can’t get into Radio Days.

  2. really great selection. i think i'd never spend a night at home if your cinema was in my town.

    monsieur hire is on my must watch list and my noirathon list. and any time brief encounter shows at a cinema i'm there.

  3. Nice collection. So far this is my favourite - I would so be there for the long weekend :D

  4. Thanks, guys. Glad you enjoyed the choices.

    @Andy Yep, RADIO DAYS does divide people. But it's one that I've really grown to love over the years.

  5. Great picks! I love especially the old/new (or classic/modern if you don't want to use the word old) combos on Mon and Tue! I'd check those out any time.

    Great meme from GST, I really enjoyed it.

  6. Nice picks! Especially love Monday and Friday!

  7. You have been featured in a follow up to Double Feature Theatre, take a look here

  8. Rear Window is one of my favorite movies. I loved your Monday and Wednesday!

  9. Thanks all, glad you enjoyed.

    @Andy Thanks for including me on your follow-up post!