The weekend was approaching and my wife had informed me she was taking off to go to her mother's house for the weekend. She was taking our young son with her. I was going to be all alone. So... Last weekend, like any rational movie critic, I said to myself, "Hey, how cool would it be to do a 24-hour movie marathon?" This wasn't one of my better life decisions.
Before sitting down to watch a stack of movies, one after the other, I took my dog Ponyo out for her morning walk. When my chain-smoking neighbor's dogs tried to attack poor little Ponyo I should've recognized it as a bad omen and quit right there. It was too late though. I'd told everyone I knew. I'd even announced it on the High-Def Digest Facebook page. There was no turning back.
I tried to allay my fears about how grueling a task this was going to be by remembering back to a time where I, along with a group of my friends, spent all night at the local bowling alley during a specially planned all-nighter. What I failed to realize is that it's easier to stay awake when you have people to talk to.
I had made a run to the store and gotten all the essentials for my 24-hour movie binge. Atop the list I had written in big bold letters, "CAFFEINE!" I know people say to stay away from caffeine if you're trying to stay awake for long periods of time because of the inherent crash that comes afterward, but that only happens if you stop drinking it. Advantage, me! I stocked up on other movie-watching necessities, like microwave popcorn and Cheetos. So I could feel good about myself I did buy a bag of carrots to munch on, but I only touched them once.
My top choice for a caffeine drink is Total Zero Redbull, but drinking it over and over can get pretty old. So, if any of you are planning on an all-nighter and need something yummy to drink/wake you up, here's a little recipe for you.
Rasberry Redbull Wake-up Juice Slushie
1 can Redbull (8.4 oz. can)
1 cup Simply Raspberry Lemonade
3 – 5 good-sized ice cubes
Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Add a quarter of lime after blending if desired.
Now you have a wonderful slushie full of all the caffeine you'll need to take in countless numbers of movies. Plus, it tastes like raspberries, but with a kick.
With my caffeine blended and my munchies readied, I sat down on my couch and prepared myself for an entire day of movies.
#1 'Shame': 101 min.
Time: 10:15 am
My first movie was 'Shame,' which seemed very strange watching it at 10:00 am. I don't know why. This seems like a movie that you should be watching in a darkened basement at 2:00 am somewhere.
I could hear the kids next door playing in their backyard while I watched Michael Fassbender navigate a life of emotionless sexual conquests and a steady stream of hookers filling up his lonely nights. It was all just too weird.
The movie, however, is a fascinating study of sex addiction and what it could/does do to a person. I've seen 'Shame' twice now and both times I've come away with the same conflicted thought, "I never want to see that movie again, but I really need to watch it again to make sure I understood everything that happened."
Fassbender got a ton of praise for his part (heh), and rightly so. Carey Mulligan on the other hand didn't get nearly as much talk about her performance which in my opinion is as good as, or better than, Fassbender's. Her musical solo in the middle of the film is heart-breaking and hauntingly effective in providing insight into the broken characters of Brandon and Sissy.
Seriously, see 'Shame' if you can. It's tough to stomach at first, but you may find yourself wanting to watch it again right after you've finished. Do I want to watch it again? Not really. Will I watch it again? Almost definitely.
1 hour 41 minutes watched
#2 'Splintered': 88 min.
Time: 11:54 am
Okay, truth be told, I don't do well with horror movies, especially when I'm alone. That's why I decided to watch 'Splintered,' a low-budget horror movie from across the pond, early in the day. That way the light streaming in through the windows would relieve many of the fears I'd undoubtedly have during the movie.
I have another confession to make. I judge horror movies by their covers more than any other genre. I can feel my brain tensing up whenever I see an overly bloody, or scary-looking movie cover. That's why the cover of 'Splintered' (see above) made me think it was scarier than it really was. It looked like a torture porn title. A sub-section of films that I never seek out because I simply don't like them.
My fears were soon put to rest when I stuck in 'Splintered' and found a cliché-ridden mess of a movie. Almost like the filmmakers wrote as many horror movie clichés as they could on a piece of paper, tore it up, and picked the remnants, one-by-one from a bowl deciding which cliché to use next.
A group of teenagers head into the woods (sound familiar?) to track down a mysterious thing that has been killing animals (these kids are smart I tell ya). They spend the next 80 minutes wandering off on their own even after wondering if splitting up is the best idea (idiots). They decide calling the cops would be completely silly, even after they find dead people (oh dear). And the worst part of it is that they play it all straight-faced like this is the scariest movie that has ever been made. These guys needed to watch 'Tucker and Dale vs. Evil' before they made their movie. That would've solved so many problems.
3 hours and 9 minutes watched
#3 'Beautiful Wave': 96 min.
Time: 1:50 pm
A new restaurant just opened a couple blocks from my house. It's tucked away in the middle of a neighborhood. If someone didn’t tell you that it was there you'd never know it existed. It's called Herm's Inn. A breakfast and lunch place that serves pancakes the size of manhole covers. I ordered some takeout from them for lunch. A tasty tuna melt smothered with jalapenos and served with a side of spicy potatoes.
As I chowed down on my tuna melt I stuck in the third movie of the day. Another screener which I had to watch in order to review. The cover of 'Beautiful Wave' shows a spunky teenage girl hoisting up her surfboard in triumph. My feeling when I saw this was, "Ugh. How many coming-of-age surfer movies can realistically be made?"
This is one of those movies that is so proud of its title that it repeats it at least 42 times during the movie, each time with even more emphasis than the last. It's the story of a young girl trying to find herself as she learns to surf. It wasn't fair that I watched this movie so early in the day since it started putting me to sleep before I was even tired. There's nothing more lonely than watching a bad movie alone.
'Beautiful Wave' exhibits a distinct formula for frustrating its viewer: one shot of a rolling wave, one shot of a contemplating face staring off into the distance, all followed by musical surfing montages. Wash, rinse, repeat, yawn.
4 hours and 45 minutes watched
#4 'Walking Tall': 124 min.
Time: 3:25 pm
A sigh of relief came over me when 'Beautiful Wave' ended. It was time to move onto something that I was sure to like, and what's not to like about a vigilante sheriff named Buford Pusser. When Pusser runs for the office of sheriff in his small town, I couldn't help but think that today someone with that last name would be unelectable, then I remembered Anthony Weiner got elected, so I guess Pusser has as much a chance as anyone with a hilarious last name.
Pusser doesn't take law breaking lightly and he abhors douchbag criminals, probably because they remind him of the kids who used to pick on him at school because of his last name. So, Pusser fashions a giant stick and walks around town beatin' on people.
Fight choreography has come a long way since the 70s. So have effective props. There are a few times where Pusser's law-keeping stick bends as he swings it, like he's swinging a giant Styrofoam tube painted like wood. I also had to laugh around the 23:00 minute mark when the camera dolly noticeably rolls over something big on accident. The whole frame bounces up and down, while a loud KER-CHUNK can be heard in the audio.
6 hours and 49 minutes watched
#5 'Blade of Kings': 106 min.
Time: 5:40 pm
I never, ever want to see 'Blade of Kings' ever again. If you ever show up on my doorstep with that movie in your hand I'm going to go all Pusser on you (I know, I chuckled at that phrasing too) and start beating you with my giant stick.
Good God, what an awful movie experience. Imagine if the SyFy Channel decided that they were going to do a martial arts film, but that's not all. This martial arts film would also feature comedy! I couldn't tell what was worse. The hackneyed special effects of people flipping through the air, or the acting.
The most fun I had watching this movie was when I was teaching my dog Ponyo to sit up before I'd give her a piece of the carrots I was eating. Yeah, she loves carrots. We still have no idea why she loves carrots, but she can't get enough of them. All it takes is one loud snap of a carrot breaking in your mouth and Ponyo is right there, under your feet, looking up at you with those big puppy dog eyes, begging for a crunchy morsel.
Sorry, what were we talking about? I forget. Let's move on.
8 hours and 35 minutes watched
#6 'Camel Spiders': 85 min.
Time: 7:30 pm
When I attend the Sundance Film Festival I'm able to take in five movies on a good day, but it's always tough. Four is usually my max. So when I was pulling out my sixth movie, which was a screener for 'Camel Spiders' that I've been dodging for a few weeks now, I couldn't help but feel a bit dejected. I'm coming up on my movie watching record for simultaneous movies in a row and I'm trying to take on a movie called 'Camel Spiders' right in the middle of that feat? Truthfully, I thought this movie would doom me.
I had already started feeling a bit shut in and claustrophobic. A friend or two said they might stop by, but no one did. Apparently, they knew I'd be watching 'Camel Spiders' and fled. There I was, alone. Only Ponyo to keep me company, but even she wanted nothing to do with this idiotic movie. She scurried from the couch and made herself at home by the open front door, feeling the breeze coming in from the screen.
I gulped, sighed, and stuck it in. At first I thought live-blogging the movie would be a good idea. At least it would keep me busy, but I soon realized that the movie was even too stupid for that. You know a movie is bad when it's preceded with a trailer for 'Metal Shifters.'
I hate spiders. I absolutely loathe them. So, even though the movie's effects were one-step up from paper cut-outs of spiders scuttling across the screen, I still jumped when Ponyo brushed against my leg late into the movie. Then I was glad no one was around to see it.
My favorite part of the movie though was how the movie's "scientists" kept saying "They aren't really spiders, check out their legs. There's only six of them." Then we'd see a non-spider spider crawling along the ground with what appear to be eight legs plus two giant pincers up front. I wonder if they even let the special effects guy read the script. Or if there was a script at all.
10 hours watched
#7 'Heat': 170 min.
It was starting to get late, and it was starting to hit me that I was only just over halfway through with my marathon. I decided to take a short break and shower. Our swamp coolers haven't been turned on yet since winter, so all that was keeping me cool from the 75-degree weather outside was an anemic ceiling fan and the occasional licks from Ponyo. To put it lightly, I didn't feel all that fresh after marinating for that long.
I decided to stop with the screeners and dug out three movies from my collection that have worn shrink wrap since I bought them. They're all packed away in boxes since we're moving in a couple weeks, so I had to dig to find the still shrink-wrapped movies. Luckily I pulled out three worthy titles. The first to come out of the box was 'Heat,' followed by 'Thor,' and 'Inglourious Basterds.'
It was a bit daunting starting a near 3-hour movie at 9:00 pm. I remember renting 'Heat' at the local video store. I probably did so four or five times in my youth. It was the time of VHS, and 'Heat' was one of the rentals that came in a VHS 2-pack. Every time I watch it I have a feeling of accomplishment wash over me because I remember feeling the very same way after finishing the second VHS tape. Two VHS tapes, that was a big deal.
I've seen the movie so many times that there's no reason to talk discuss the movie as a whole. Instead I wanted to focus on random things I noticed this time around.
- Remember when Robert De Niro did good movies and actually seemed like a guy that could kick anyone's ass? Yeah, those days are over. Sorry.
- Remember when we thought the very same thing about Al Pacino? Dammit!
- Remember when Val Kilmer was still considered a sexy dude and didn't look like he'd just raided the craft services table on set?
- I had totally forgotten that Natalie Portman was in this movie.
- Remember when Tom Siezmore was a somewhat respectable actor/citizen?
- I like revisiting 'Heat' if only for that huge gunfight. Why can't gunfights be more like that in today's movies? There was a gunfight/action scene that actually had a keen awareness of its geographical space. You could always tell where the bank robbers were relative to the cops. And there's no damn shaky-cam!
- Pacino's eyes bugging out when he says, "Because she's got a GREAT ASS!!!" is the single best moment in the entire movie.
12 hours and 50 minutes watched
Stay tuned for Part 2...