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My 4th Annual 24 Hour Movie Marathon
I finally watched Fight Club, Face/Off, and more!
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Welcome to the live diary of my 4th Annual 24 Hour Movie Marathon. I've had varying levels of success in past years, limping over the finish line in Year 1, pumping myself so full of coffee that I was awake for a few extra hours in Year 2, and giving up at midnight in the last attempt, Year 3.
Since I didn't finish last year, I thought I would mix up my formula as it was getting a little stale. I usually made sure to include a Disney classic, a Robert Mitchum film, something from Robert De Niro, and an animated Batman movie. This year, there was only one theme: unseen movies from my DVD and Blu-ray library. 24 hours, 12 movies I've never seen before, and little to nothing else.
I'm writing this blog live and throughout the day. In fact, I'll be hitting publish on this piece in 24 hours without proofing or editing, so you can watch me grow more and more tired, see my honest reactions, and pinpoint the exact time I abandon my sanity.
I woke up at 7:00am to let the dog out, grab some Panera Sip Club coffee, and get the Blu-rays ready:
Movie #1: The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes.
started at 8:05am on Saturday, August 12
This is my first marathon as a pet owner and since the little man would be joining me intermittently throughout the day (and night), I thought I would program a little something for him at the start of the day. I usually start with some Saturday morning cartoons, so this seemed like the perfect pick. He loves watching movies (we watched Isle of Dogs on his birthday and he loved it so much that Taylor wrote her Letterboxd review from his perspective), but seemed largely unimpressed by this one. He only sniffed the tv once. His french fry-shaped bone was much more interesting.
Unfortunately for our bambino, he is crated during the day. Not because I'm worried he would break a vase or escape and join the local stray dog gang, but because I'm pretty sure he would just eat a random rusty nail and die.
This was cute though!
Movie #2: Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Kermit, Long John Silver and Young Jim Hawkins set sail for riches using a dead pirate's treasure map. (Rotten Tomatoes)
started at 9:27am on Saturday, August 12
I always seem to like the Muppets a lot more than I like Muppet movies. For example, I am the proud owner of the controversial (but completely honest) opinion that The Muppet Christmas Carol is not only not nearly as good as people say, but nowhere near as definitive a telling of the Scrooge tale that people want it to be.
That being said, this was a lot more concerned with being Treasure Island with Muppets. It reminded me of those Wishbone specials I would watch as a kid. Where's Muppet Beowulf, Muppet Time Machine, or The Muppet of Monte Cristo?
Anyway, Tim Curry is a Character Actor first ballot Hall of Famer.
The first film in an embedded pirate triple feature.
Movie #3: The Pirate (1948)
A girl is engaged to the local richman, but meanwhile she has dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and to impress her he poses as the pirate.
started at 11:04am on Saturday, August 12
No breaks heading straight into the second pirate feature.
Who doesn't love Gene Kelly? Who doesn't love Judy Garland? They both get to do what they do best here: sing, dance, and be cute. Gene gets to do his favorite thing, running around in a dream sequence. Judy is as beautiful as ever and you'd never know (of course - why would you?) that this, at twenty—five years old, was the beginning of the end for her mental and physical wellbeing. She was such a jewel and MGM just ran her into the ground. I always get a bittersweet feeling watching her movies, especially those from this point on. She gave us too much.
Movie #4: Project A (1983)
In late 19th Century Hong Kong the British may rule the land, but the pirates rule the waters. One Coast Guard officer is Dragon Ma, who is determined that his beloved Coast Guard will not be made a fool of.
started at 12:50pm on Saturday, August 12
Still no breaks!
I typically program an international entry in the wee hours of the night, hoping that reading subtitles will encourage staying awake. However, I couldn't help but put this movie here, thus completing my pirate triple feature. Little did I know that it wouldn't matter since my Blu-ray is dub only!
All of the things that the A in Project A could stand for:
Arts of the martial variety
Awful English dubbing
Ain't no way this is high definition
Almost broke my damn neck!
Movie #5: Dark of the Sun (1968)
A band of mercenaries led by Captain Curry travel through war-torn Congo across deadly terrain, battling rival armies, to steal $50 million in uncut diamonds. But infighting, sadistic rebels and a time lock jeopardize everything.
started at 2:33pm on Saturday, August 12
Still no breaks. Unlike last year, I scheduled them in this time around to try and avoid burnout. However, I genuinely haven’t felt the need for them so far. As a result, I’m currently on track to finish an hour early. Since this isn’t a 23 hour marathon, I’m not sure how I’m going to handle that.
As for Dark of the Sun (which is currently listed on Letterboxd under the UK title Mercenaries), yes, it delivers on the chainsaw fight depicted on the poster. And despite the fact that this is a flick from ‘68, that’s the least of the movie’s worries when it comes to violence. It’s a dark, bleak film that cares way more about body count than geopolitical affairs - after all, it’s nothing but exploitation either way, right?
Movie #6: Gator (1976)
After his release from prison, notorious ex-con and moonshine distiller Gator McKlusky moves in with his father in a cabin in the Okefenokee Swamp. His bootlegging plans are cut short, however, when a federal agent tells McKlusky that he will lose custody of his 9-year-old daughter unless he helps bring down local crime lord Bama McCall. McKlusky enlists the help of reporter Aggie Maybank and a few local eccentrics to bring down McCall’s empire.
started at 4:20pm on Saturday, August 12
Still haven’t taken a break.
When I programmed Gator for this spot in the marathon, there were two things I didn't realize: First, I didn't know this was a sequel, the follow-up to 1973's White Lightning. It also didn't occur to me (until about two days ago) that I put two different '70s Burt Reynolds backwoods flicks in the schedule - you can probably guess the other.
Truth be told, I bought this disc (and subsequently programmed it) because of how hot Burt and Lauren Hutton look together on the poster. Sue me, I was sold.
Burt returns as Gator McCluskey (an all-time great character name) and makes his directorial debut (the second actor/director piece of the day after Jackie Chan’s Project A), while Hutton doesn't appear until 35 minutes into the picture, doesn't speak until the 42-minute mark, and doesn't do anything substantial until the film's 68th minute. That is simply not enough, even if he does “charm the shirt off her back” (her words) some 25 minutes later.
Taking a necessary break now to take the dog on a walk and catch some fresh air, while Taylor grabs dinner in anticipation of joining me for the next two movies.
Movie #7: Fight Club (1999)
A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground “fight clubs” forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.
started at 7:03pm on Saturday, August 12
Fresh aired and dinnered and watered and ready to come back to the couch...
I have to be honest, I didn't want to like Fight Club. (What? Why?) Well, I gave Pulp Fiction a perfect five stars on Letterboxd. I think The Dark Knight is the best Batman film. And I named my dog after two people from The Godfather. Fight Club is the fourth film on the Film Bro Mount Rushmore. What would happen to me if I like all four movies?
Unfortunately, I suppose I'm a card-carrying Film Bro because it's probably just as awesome as everyone has ever said it is. I'm sure I'll get more thoughts out later, but none of them are coming to me because this (a 24 hour marathon) is never the right way to watch a movie for the first time. For now, I'll leave you with this: if Taylor got up and left halfway through while I couldn't wait to see where it went, what does that say about me? God, I really am a Film Bro, aren't I? Oh no...
Movie #8: Face/Off (1997)
An antiterrorism agent goes under the knife to acquire the likeness of a terrorist and gather details about a bombing plot. When the terrorist escapes custody, he undergoes surgery to look like the agent so he can get close to the agent’s family.
started at 9:25pm on Saturday, August 12
In his Nicolas Cage biography/career retrospective Age of Cage, critic Keith Phipps compares (and edited here for brevity and clarity) Cage and Travolta, the two performances at the core of making this completely insane premise play out live and in person, "Their approaches offer a study in contrasts...Travolta echoes the (character) whom Cage sets up in the first act...but also draws on the tics of Cage's past work...a skilled impressionist...he offers an eerily precise take on Cage...Cage opts for less an impression than a reinterpretation."
Approaching midnight and the 16th hour of eight straight movies, increasingly disoriented critic Patrick Regal wrote, "One of these actors is Fritos while the other is Honey BBQ Flavor Twist Fritos. One works as both while the other just can't." Did he write this because he was thinking about the 2am snack that would get him through many more hours of movies? We may never know...but probably.
Movie #9: Deliverance (1972)
Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
started at 11:45pm on Saturday, August 12
I've included at least one horror film in the previous three marathons, but I don't think any of them have disturbed me the way that Deliverance just did. Even with knowing the basic premise, the ghostliness of the banjo, and what would take place at the film's halfway mark, I still sit here chilled. I knew this was an overnight marathon movie and I was right. I can't imagine sitting with this at two o'clock in the afternoon, two in the morning is bad enough. And despite the fact that I don't need to sleep tonight to have nightmares - I'm glad I finally watched it. This marathon gave me an excuse I'm not sure I would've found, much less gone looking for, otherwise.
I'm still more of a Southern Comfort guy though...
Movie #10: ¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Three unemployed actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village to replay their bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing.
started at 1:35am on Sunday, August 13
When I was a kid, my grandparents took me to Old Tuscon Studios, a now-closed western film studio. They show you some sets, you watch a gunfight in the town square, and have a drink or two at the saloon. There are only two things I particularly remember from that visit: the singing cowboy in the saloon strumming the song "I'm My Own Grandpa" by Willie Nelson - and seeing a poster for Three Amigos.
Why? Well, because I've always loved Chevy Chase - and you can't stop me. I was already well-acquainted with National Lampoon's Vacation and have waited all these years to finally watch this movie. Unfortunately, I waited all that time to trudge through it at 3am, resorting to jumping jacks and sit-ups to keep me awake after my eyes closed for (exactly) four minutes.
It's a one-joke movie and as a result, doesn't quite work for me. Even though I will always unapologetically love Chevy, Martin (is that a first name or a last name?) never really moves the needle for me.
Movie #11: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
When the four boys see an R-rated movie featuring Canadians Terrance and Philip, they are pronounced “corrupted”, and their parents pressure the United States to wage war against Canada.
started at 3:15am on Sunday, August 13
I've never really liked South Park. Growing up, I found obnoxious impressions at the 6th-grade lunch table to be more than my fair share of these guys. The only time South Park has ever even played on this tv before tonight was when the dogsitter used our HBO Max account to catch up on the latest season.
So why did I choose the movie for the middle of the night in this marathon? Well, reaching adulthood has made me realize that there are way more adult fans of the franchise than I realized, particularly fans of this movie that herald it as a masterpiece.
I normally wouldn't resort to the short and dismissive "you're wrong," but I'm feeling a little punchy after 20 hours and eleven movies.
Gonna go take a shower.
Movie #12: Snakes on a Plane (2006)
America is on the search for the murderer Eddie Kim. Sean Jones must fly to L.A. to testify in a hearing against Kim. Accompanied by FBI agent Neville Flynn, the flight receives some unexpected visitors.
started at 4:33am on Sunday, August 13
Changed my mind and decided to opt for snacks instead. I'm thrown off because I have a problem: I'm on track to finish early! 20 minutes would be one thing, but right now I'm supposed to finish 90 minutes early! I only really used one break, I was feeling good and didn't want to lose a rhythm, so I'm way ahead. I think I'm going to have to add a 13th movie. It's not a 12-movie marathon, it's a 24 hour marathon. If it was, I'd choose shorter movies.
As for Snakes on a Plane, it's fun! What was once ridiculed for trying to manufacture a cult audience now looks like a masterpiece in the wake of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming and Cocaine Bear.
I'm tired of this monkey-fighting being awake on this Monday-to-Friday movie marathon.
Movie #13: Rogue Hostage (2021)
A former Marine races against time to save a group of hostages – including his young daughter and a congressman — when armed militants take over his stepfather’s store.
started at 6:33am on Sunday, August 13
It is morning, after all, so I took a shower and let the dog out before my surprise 13th feature.
I was using a Redbox one time when the kiosk asked if I wanted to buy Rogue Hostage for $1. Duh!
So why pick it for the final film? 90 minutes helps, but it looked like silly, easy action fun. Die Hard in a Dollar General with Tyrese Gibson and John Malkovich can't require too much energy, but also shouldn't be too draining.
How's the movie? Who cares! I finished! And exactly on time. 13 new movies. The best stretch by far was the Fight Club then Face/Off then Deliverance triple as the clock turned to today. The second best stretch was this upcoming lay down in my bed...
finished at 8:01am on Sunday, August 13
Credit: Each plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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