Back by popular demand, more double feature tips for your viewing pleasure.
I love movies, yet I don’t consider myself a critic of movies or television; I’m more of an analyst. I’m always looking for synthesis and to compare and contrast films. I love those rainy/snowy weekends when it’s okay to sit down and dig into a number of good movies.
Thanks to technology, I’m often watching two movies at the same time and will toggle back and forth between them as I did the other night with, “The Witches of Eastwick” and “The Love Witch.” Doing so doubles my enjoyment.
These double features are paired because when viewed together they seems to enhance each other by contrasting their similarities and differences.
So without further ado, here are my latest suggestions:
Double Feature #1: “The Witches of Eastwick” & “The Love Witch”
John Updike is an amazing writer and his “Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels” should be required reading for anyone over 40 years of age. His most famous work, “The Witches of Eastwick” had been made into a movie and a brief but quickly forgotten television show.
“Witches” (starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher) isn’t just a satire of men and women’s relationships. The film explores feminism, the tragedy of sexism and the insidiousness of the prevailing patriarchy and moralism. Plus, it’s funny as hell with brilliant exchanges like this:
Daryl Van Horne: I like women. I admire them. But, if you want me to treat you like a dumb twit I will. What’s the point? You have brains Alex, more than brains, and you don’t even know it do you? Well most women do not.
Alexandra Medford: Are you married?
Daryl Van Horne: Good question! You see, brains! The answer is no, I don’t believe in it. Good for the man, lousy for the woman. She dies, she suffocates. I’ve see it! And then the husband runs around complaining that he’s f***ing a dead person, and he’s the one who killed her!
“The Love Witch” is a different beast altogether. It tackles similar issues but does so with less humor. “The Love Witch” is disturbing and often bizarre in the best ways. The film challenges you to experience an upside down world where a witch (Samantha Robinson) basically acts with a level of narcissism and nihilism that’s a reflection of today’s world: little care for others while in the single-minded pursuit of one’s goals.
Guiding Questions: Taken together these two provide interesting commentary on men and women but which film does it better? Which better identifies the actual root cause of sexism and which film offers the better prescription for moving forward?
Double Feature #2: “Nocturnal Animals” and “Frida”
If you haven’t seen Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” you’re in for a treat. It’s a brilliant mix of Flannery O’Conner and Alfred Hitchcock. High praise indeed, but well deserved. The film is ultimately about two artists heading in two very different directions and how their lives intersect and the sacrifice that it takes to commit to one’s gifts.
Watch the amazing Salma Hayek in “Frida” and you’ll see a similar story of sacrifice.
Guiding Questions: What does it mean to commit to one’s gifts as an artist? What does it mean to be a sellout? What’s the similarities between Frida and Tony Hastings in their commitment to their work?
Double Feature #3: “Finding Dory” & “Mulholland Drive”
I love these two movies back-to-back because they are essentially 100 percent the exact same story in terms of plot and outcome. It’s like “Finding Dory” is a stripped down to the bone version of “Mulholland Drive” and yet it’s just as quirky in its own way. I know you won’t believe me until you literally watch these back to back, or even better, 20 minutes of one and then 20 minutes of the other You won’t be disappointed when you realize that Dory and Betty/Diane Selwyn are the exact same character…
Then it gets really interesting as you dive deeper.
Guiding Questions: If you accept that the story is the same and that Dory and Betty are, too, then who’s the “Marlin” character in “Mulholland Drive” and who’s the “Hank” character?
Double Feature #4: “Two Moon Junction” & “Below Her Mouth”
Another double feature where the movies are identical, but be sure to put the kids to bed before diving in. Both contain some intense and interesting sex scenes and both the main character’s depend on a “rough and tumble” stranger to bring out their intense passion lurking within.
I love these two as a double feature because even though “Below Her Mouth” seems edgy because of the lesbian content it’s not any different than the shit going down in “Two Moon Junction” and that’s fascinating to me… maybe we’re not really evolving?
Guiding Questions: What does the “dangerous stranger” fantasy say about how we view blue collar work in our society? What does it say about our repressed sexual desires? Everyone who’s approaching marriage in these two films treat it like it’s a death sentence for sexuality, is that true? Are marriage and sexual exploration incompatible? If true is the sacrifice worth it… meaning are there better things that come from marriage that make it worth the sacrifice of sexual exploration?
Double Feature #5: “Lars and the Real Girl” & “The Bridges of Madison County”
We’ve been deconstructing the love story for the past few decades with movies like:
“Her,” “Blue Valentine.” “Scott Pilgrim versus The World” and “500 Days of Summer” to name just a few. It feels like love and romance get a bad rap (that it’s just a psychological projection and/or mental breakdown). That’s why it’s refreshing to watch “Bridges” after anyone of these films and reconnect with love as powerful and wonderful emotion, even if, as “Her” points out, most love is unrequited.
Guiding Questions: Is love just a projection, a fantasy shared by two people? Or is there an actual connection taking place, a meeting of hearts?