My 2nd Annual 24 Hour Movie Marathon
I finally watched Sleeping Beauty, Sorcerer, and many others.
Summer is officially over.
I’m a middle school teacher and not only are we back to school after ten glorious weeks, I have now made it a tradition to spend one of my final free weekends engaged in my very own 24-hour movie marathon.
The idea is simple: Watch movies for 24 hours. The rules are simple: Minimize time spent doing other things and focus on the movies.
The execution is harder than it sounds.
I attempted it for the first time last year and ran out of steam as I approached the ~18 hour mark. But I learned many lessons along the way and this year I was determined to make it without falling asleep or getting too distracted. Armed with endless cold brew and a will to live, I set out for the sophomore effort.
Movie #1: Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Started at 8:04am on Saturday, August 21.
A beautiful princess born in a faraway kingdom is destined by a terrible curse to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep that can only be awakened by true love’s first kiss. Determined to protect her, her parents ask three fairies to raise her in hiding. But the evil Maleficent is just as determined to seal the princess’s fate.
I woke up thinking, “Oh no. Why did I do this to myself.”
I hadn’t even started yet and doubts were already creeping in. 24 hours seemed so far away. I grabbed my first coffee.
Sleeping Beauty is one of those movies where you go, “Yeah, of course I’ve seen that. I don’t really remember that much about, but I know x, y, and z, so that means I’ve seen it.”
And then you watch it and you realize you’ve only really encountered the Disney iconography. Like many people my age, if you didn’t have the VHS, you didn’t watch it. And we didn’t have this one in my house.
For a movie only 75 minutes long, there’s a lot of filler. But the two most notorious things about this movie are the fantastic animation and the immortal villain Maleficent, and all the padding in the middle is worth it to see those two things collide in the epic finale.
Movie #2: El Dorado (1966)
Started at 9:21am on Saturday, August 21.
Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.
My favorite movie of last year’s marathon was 1955’s The Night of the Hunter. Robert Mitchum’s performance in that movie alone made me want to see as much of his other work as I could — I plowed through Cape Fear, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and Holiday Affair. I knew I wanted to do another Mitchum film this year.
So I turned to the VCR and popped in El Dorado.
Unfortunately, he’s barely in this! And when he is, he’s playing a drunkard (Sheriff Mitchum’s hangover cure? Just never stop drinking!), so we don’t even get the usual swagger that I’ve come to expect from one of his performances. John Wayne and Jimmy Caan are always fun to watch, but they just don’t scratch the same itch.
I like a hangout movie as much as the next guy (Hawks’ HATARI! might be my favorite Wayne picture), and Wayne, Mitchum, and Caan seem like the perfect recipe for one, but this just isn’t it for me.
Movie #3: Blue Collar (1978)
Started at 11:28am on Saturday, August 21.
Fed up with mistreatment at the hands of both management and union brass, and coupled with financial hardships on each man’s end, three auto assembly line workers hatch a plan to rob a safe at union headquarters.
More coffee goes into me and the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray of this Paul Schrader picture goes into the player.
I’ve yet to see a Schrader film I don’t like, partially because I’m avoiding the notoriously bad ones, mainly because First Reformed, American Gigolo, and The Comfort of Strangers are all brilliant. (I’m cautiously optimistic for this year’s The Card Counter.)
Schrader is on point here as always, but the real emphasis here is on the performances. It’s become a notorious story that the trio of Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor, and Yaphet Kotto didn’t like each other, leading to high tensions on set. While I do believe it, it’s almost impossible to believe because their chemistry is unreal. They are the highlight of the film.
Movie #4: True Stories (1986)
Started at 2:10pm on Saturday, August 21.
A small but growing Texas town, filled with strange and musical characters, celebrates its sesquicentennial and converge on a local parade and talent show.
In between the last film and this one, I ran out to pick up some lunch (no time to cook on marathon day!) and to visit the library to grab a movie later in the evening. Once I got there, I pointed out that the movie was missing — they just shrugged and told me that it was stolen. Alas.
With traffic also getting on my nerves, needless to say I was annoyed when I got home. And I think I carried that energy into the movie when I popped the Criterion disc into the player.
I wish I loved this.
It has strong “early part of the journey that led to American Utopia” vibes and if I’m correct in that, then this is indispensable for fans of that project.
Movie #5: The Deer Hunter (1978)
Started at 3:40pm on Saturday, August 21.
A group of working-class friends decides to enlist in the Army during the Vietnam War and finds it to be hellish chaos — not the noble venture they imagined. Before they left, Steven married his pregnant girlfriend — and Michael and Nick were in love with the same woman. But all three are different men upon their return.
Back to the VCR for this two-tape epic. It felt bad taking it out of the original seal.
I chose this for two reasons:
Another of my favorite actors makes his second annual appearance in the marathon: Robert De Niro is back after last year’s The King of Comedy.
I once had an acting gig where I played a Vietnam vet. One day the director invited me to lunch with him in his office. He showed me the Russian roulette scenes and explained everything that happened in between. It was weird.
But now I’ve seen the whole thing. And it doesn’t disappoint. It’s just as heartbreaking and powerful as you expect it to be.
Another cup of coffee.
Movie #6: Apollo 13 (1995)
Started at 7:18pm on Saturday, August 21.
The true story of technical troubles that scuttle the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1971, risking the lives of astronaut Jim Lovell and his crew, with the failed journey turning into a thrilling saga of heroism. Drifting more than 200,000 miles from Earth, the astronauts work furiously with the ground crew to avert tragedy.
Before this movie, I needed to pair my stop by the video store with a 7/11 run. I grabbed a drink to pair with my leftover Chipotle and then I came home to the LaserDisc player.
At this point, I was really starting to feel the length of the day. Every time I got up to flip the disc, I felt that 45 minutes pass in every part of my body. I had been sitting on the couch watching movies for over 12 hours and I could tell.
It’s a fun movie and I enjoyed it, but knowing that I wasn’t even halfway there in terms of flicks definitely slowed me down.
Movie #7: Angel’s Egg (1985)
Started at 9:37pm on Saturday, August 21.
A mysterious young girl wanders a desolate, otherworldly landscape, carrying a large egg.
I’m sure this movie is excellent, but let’s just say I didn’t realize it was mostly without dialogue when I planned to watch it 14 hours into the marathon.
Movie #8: Chopping Mall (1986)
Started at 10:54pm on Saturday, August 21.
A group of teenagers that work at the mall all get together for a late night party in one of the stores. When the mall goes on lock down before they can get out, the robot security system activates after a malfunction and goes on a killing spree. One by one the three bots try to rid the mall of the “intruders.” The only weapons the kids can use are the supplies in other stores, or if they can make it till morning when the mall opens back up.
Another cold brew…
Getting late, forgetting to take notes…
Wanted a ridiculous horror movie. This turned out to be considerably more action than horror, but still stupid fun.
I have now officially made it to “tomorrow,” but there are still eight hours left.
Movie #9: Infernal Affairs (2002)
Started at 12:18am on Sunday, August 22.
Chan Wing Yan, a young police officer, has been sent undercover as a mole in the local mafia. Lau Kin Ming, a young mafia member, infiltrates the police force. Years later, their older counterparts, Chen Wing Yan and Inspector Lau Kin Ming, respectively, race against time to expose the mole within their midst.
This was the movie that was stolen from the library. Luckily, they had it at the video store.
Another cup of coffee.
I watched this because I loved my first time viewing of The Departed earlier this year. I wanted to visit the source material. Yeah, it’s fun and all, but it doesn’t have Mark Wahlberg doing the trashiest Boston accent you’ve ever heard.
Movie #10: Holy Motors (2012)
Started at 2:11am on Sunday, August 22.
We follow 24 hours in the life of a being moving from life to life like a cold and solitary assassin moving from hit to hit. In each of these interwoven lives, the being possesses an entirely distinct identity: sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes youthful, sometimes old. By turns murderer, beggar, company chairman, monstrous creature, worker, family man.
How is it possible that I chose two movies with minimal dialogue?
Not the best movie for 2:00am, but after seeing director Leos Carax’s eccentric film Annette in theaters about a month ago, I was definitely curious about the movie many consider to be his best. I was not prepared for two things: First, Annette is totally and completely normal compared to this circus. And then, of course, the very little talking after 18 hours of other movies.
With about thirty minutes left, my tv randomly turned off. Was it a sign? Turns out it had to update, but I still felt like someone was trying to tell me something.
Movie #11: Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
Started at 4:27am on Sunday, August 22.
A collection of key events mark Bruce Wayne’s life as he journeys from beginner to Dark Knight.
The final connection to last year’s marathon: Batman. I watched Batman: Mask of the Phantasm around midnight last year and for some reason thought that 4:30am was a better fit.
I haven’t liked a single DC animated movie post-2000. What am I missing? I decided to quickly disappear for a fast wake-up shower and this may or may not have continued to run in the background…
Movie #12: Sorcerer (1977)
Started at 5:48am on Sunday, August 22.
Four men from different parts of the globe, all hiding from their pasts in the same remote South American town, agree to risk their lives transporting gallons of unstable nitroglycerin across dangerous jungle.
No notes. It’s a classic, but watching it after being awake for 22 hours and 11 other movies is not the way to enjoy it. However, the suspense did keep me awake for the final portion of the marathon.
7:48am: Good night.
(Of course my eyes had been closing for the past six hours but the second I laid down in bed, I got a burst of energy and couldn’t sleep.)
See you next year.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.