Sunday, September 5, 2010

Double features on DVD


Roger Ebert suggested ideas for double features. It was in the back of one of his books. His idea was to rent two movies to watch together.

I don't really remember them, except he kept suggesting you watch the original movie, then the re-make, which seemed rather uninspired. And he suggested this with some really long movies---The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven which would be awfully long.

But okay, here are my suggestions. Double features. Movies you can compare and contrast:

Psycho
and
A Touch of Evil


A Touch of Evil exemplified Orson Welles' approach---long sequence shots and composition in depth---while Psycho was a stunning vindications of the theories of Pudovkin and Eisenstein. Made within a few years of each other, both black and white exploitation films and both with Janet Leigh in a motel with a nutty desk clerk. The movies are similar, but so different. Makes more sense to compare these two than Battleship Potempkin and Citizen Kane.

Shane
and
Slingblade


Strangely similar storylines. Was it really such a good idea letting Shane hang around with that kid? Could it be that Shane belonged in an institution?

Exodus
and
Little Shop of Horrors


Made the same year, both shown by special invitation at the Cannes Film Festival. One an overblown epic, the other filmed in just two days. And they're both about Jewish people.

Dead Man
and
The Outskirts
(Russia, 1998)

Somewhat similar, both black & white. The Outskirts (Okraina) was filmed in the style of a 1930s Soviet film; Dead Man was filmed in the style of a Jim Jarmusch movie. If you like one, you'll probably like the other.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
and
They Live


A cold war paranoia movie, about Communists from outer space. Then watch John Carpenter's movie about Bourgeoisie from outer space.

The Maltese Falcon
and
Yojimbo

Movies with seemingly amoral heroes who deal with criminals on their own terms, play one side off against the other and destroy them both.

Yojimbo, by the way, borrowed elements of the movie The Glass Key which was based on a Dashiell Hammett novel, as was The Maltese Falcon.

Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway
and
Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood


Opening scenes show high-brow artistic types talk about art being more important than human life. Low-brows put the theory into practice.

Malcolm X
and
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story


Biopics. One anti-miscegenation, the other pro-miscegenation.

The Ice Storm
and
Max Mon Amour


The first is about wife swappers in the early '70s. The other is a surreal French comedy, played straight, about a married bourgeois French woman secretly dating a chimpanzee.

The Bicycle Thief
and
Angelo, My Love


The Italian Neo-Realist classic, and Robert Duvall's brilliant movie about Gypsies living in New York which I thought exemplified the theories of Italian Neo-Realism.

Suddenly Last Summer
and
Mondo Cane


The first, based on the play by Tennessee Williams. A guy liked to take women to southern Europe and show them how horrible the world is. And Mondo Cane, made in southern Europe by a depressed director who wanted to show audiences how horrible the world was.

Bad Day At Black Rock
and
Yojimbo


I already used Yojimbo, but here it is again. Bad Day at Black Rock was directed by John Sturges, who went on to direct The Magnificent Seven, which was a western remake of Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. So it's sort of appropriate that there were parallels between these two movie. Bad Day at Black Rock pre-dated Yojimbo, of course.

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