Drink every time a protagonist repeats the same routine with a different result.
On paper it seems like a terrible idea to have your protagonist relive the same day over and over. How could that possibly be interesting or exciting? But Groundhog Day came along and proved us wrong. In fact, there’s a perverse pleasure in watching someone relive the same events, especially once they begin to realize what’s going on, and on the heels of that realization, they find out they can’t do anything to stop it. Or can they? For many of the characters who encounter this plot device, the repeating day proves to have symbolic value, like a puzzle to be solved. Why this day? What is so significant about this day, and how can they end the infinite time loop? Continue reading
Stream it with us: Watership Down, The Secret of NIMH
The late 1970s and early ’80s was a great time for animated adaptations of high fantasy literature. Rankin/Bass studios adapted fantasy classics like The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn, and Disney turned out more mainstream, kid-oriented films like The Black Cauldron. In the midst of all this, two fantasy classics that had previously been thought unadaptable finally got the film treatment they deserved: 1978’s Watership Down and 1982’s The Secret of NIMH. Both feature talking animals, both tackle conservationist or animals rights concerns that were way ahead of their time, and both are just a touch scary—or at least I thought so as a tiny child. My younger self was impressed with the films’ fantasy landscapes couched in an atmosphere of danger. Revisiting them both as an adult, I still love them; now I find myself empathizing with each film’s reluctant leader while also squirming at the damage wrought by humans. Continue reading
Watch it with us: Netflix
I admit my love for movies about mountaineering disasters is a little strange. Not only do I not climb mountains myself, I actively avoid it. I’m not a thrill-seeker, and I hate being cold. I think this love comes from the same place as my love for horror movies: a sort of “thank god I’m safe and this isn’t happening to me” feeling, combined with a prurient fascination with other people’s misfortunes. If that sounds remotely like you, The Summit, the story of the deadliest day in K2’s history, should give you plenty to be fascinated and horrified by. Continue reading
Watch it with us: Filmstruck
Fritz Lang’s 1931 proto-thriller M still feels fresh, eighty-plus years after its original release. It’s not exactly a lighthearted romp—one of its major contributions was to introduce the world to the concept of the serial killer, something that we had never seen on film and didn’t even have a name yet. (In fact, the German word for serial killer was coined in an article written about M some thirty years after its release.) Films about serial killers are old hat now, but Lang’s take on them is still uniquely humane and empathetic, rather than lurid and lascivious.
Watch it with us: Tubi.tv
Fish Tank is a real punch in the gut, in a good way. I went into the film looking for answers to two questions. First, what did director Andrea Arnold accomplish by casting Katie Jarvis, a teenager with no prior acting experience, as her lead? Second, what’s the significance of the title? I think I found answers to both, but like all great works of art, Fish Tank leaves room for interpretation. It’s not an easy sit, but it’s riveting in the moment and tough to shake afterward.
Watch it with us: Amazon Prime, Tubi.tv
The Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None was simultaneously one of my best and worst reading experiences of all time. I was thirteen and it was my first murder mystery—I had purchased it through my school’s book order, if I remember right. I settled in to read it before bed and ended up staying awake until 2 a.m. so I could finish it, completely out of my mind with terror. It was such an unnerving experience that I didn’t go near a murder mystery again for a couple of years. The premise is uniquely effective: ten people arrive at a mysterious house on a deserted island, and one by one they begin dying off. Now that it’s been twenty-plus years and I have somewhat recovered my wits since that night in seventh grade, I couldn’t wait to see how René Clair’s adaptation of this pivotal (for me) novel capitalizes on the book’s structure. Continue reading