It’s Valentine’s Day, which gives me a flimsy excuse to do another article about what was already a fairly weak basis for a post anyway, movie marathons. That’s right I found an excuse to do another one of these things. Last time I selected a dozen horror movies to binge watch and some alternative titles for those who like to live life on the edge. But horror is a much broader subject and comes in so many varieties, as well as being much more tolerable.
The reason is, this time I have fewer titles and can’t offer any alternative ones, but do not fear, because instead of the usual farce of romantic comedies involving a post ‘Dazed and Confused’ but pre ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Matthew McConaughey I decided to pick out a few alternatives to watch back to back. In my opinion, even if you’ve seen these before, they are just as much fun on repeat viewings.
(500) Days of Summer
Probably the closest thing to a standard romantic comedy on this list is Marc Webb’s indie romantic comedy, but it manages to be so distinctive and innovative, from its nonlinear structure and surrealist moments. There are so many inventive moments and ideas permeating the film, such as starting on day 488, and then jumping about through the assorted memories of a relationship or my personal favourite scene the reality vs expectations montage. But it’s not just the writing that excels, the performances are all pitch perfect, especially from the two leads Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zoe Deschanel. It may seem like a depressing film to start with, especially if you’ve never seen it before but the ending evokes hope of better things to come.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Edgar Wright’s visual comedy is unparalleled in modern cinema, and ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ is yet another example of how innovatively funny he can be as well as how brilliantly heartfelt. Also, wow is it fun. It just heaves with such a vibrant sense of energy that you can’t help but fall in love with it just from its exterior alone, with so many examples of great visual comedy, innovative direction and the constant stream of references towards video games, comic books and rock bands. It has the quirky humour of an indie comedy (which makes watching it after ‘500 Days of Summer’ even better) but also some fantastically choreographed fight scenes (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, despite being a comedy director Wright is better at directing action than a lot of action directors).
So you’ve just sat through two rom-coms with a few moments that verge on the edge of surrealism, now prepare to dive right over the edge. This stands as the only Adam Sandler movie I like, mainly because it’s not an Adam Sandler movie in the traditional sense, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson who wrote and directed the film and somehow thought that the best person to convey his words to the big screen was Sandler. And amazingly he was right, so brilliantly right, it’s why I get so annoyed today because Sandler has proved that he has a great talent for dramatic acting. But enough about that, ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ is an arthouse film in one sense, but it’s a fantastic portrait of a personality with plenty of unique and funny touches to keep you hooked for its relatively short running time (by PTA standards) of 95 minutes.
Some Like It Hot
The greatest cross dressing film of all time. But Billy Wilder’s screwball masterpiece is more than just a film about men in drag, it’s about falling in love and defying convention and, most prominently sex. A sentiment that it conveys in the simplest terms, look, sex. The point I’m basically trying to make, it that you should make a drinking game out of it by taking a shot for every subtle innuendo, then you’ll understand. The film is about two musicians played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon who dress in drag in order to escape from mafia gangsters whom they witnessed commit the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre and was basically Wilder’s homage to the screwball comedies of the 1930s featuring what could be Marilyn Monroe’s best performance. It is such a carefree and joyous film, brimming with craftsmanship and meticulous design.
The Princess Bride
Rob Reiner’s classic fantasy comedy is not a film about falling in love, but proving what you will do in the name of love. Young farm boy Wesley falls in love with peasant girl Buttercup, but when she’s betrothed to marry the tyrannical Prince Humperdinck, adventure awaits to rescue her. The Princess Bride may initially seem simplistic and melodramatic, but through some self-referential humour and by playing so brilliantly with the viewer’s expectations the film ends up working so perfectly. There’s the mix of comedy, swashbuckling and romance that you’ll be quoting for the rest of your life (fans of the movie, say a line now, go on, fun isn’t it, don’t you just want to watch it again now?).
When you take a script from Quentin Tarantino and put it in the hands of Tony Scott, and include what has to be the best ensemble cast of all time that includes Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, James Gandolfini, Val Kilmer, Chris Penn, Tom Siezmore, Bradd Pitt and Samuel L Jackson. Like The Princess Bride, it’s not about falling in love but proving what you’ll do for love, but in this case proving that requires taking on drug dealers, hitmen that look like the Sopranos (because they’re played by Tony Soprano) and journeying across America in a wonderfully fun, violent and stylish movie, supported by a stellar Tarantino script and the sheer energy of Scott’s direction as well as that cast that make amazing in every sense of the word.
So those are the movies to binge watch in my opinion, but what do you think? Leave a comment below if you have any better suggestions.